After our earlier blog conversation about kitchen heirlooms – appliances, gadgets, cookware and the like that have been passed down in our families – I decided to craft a special Mother’s Day column about the topic. If you have not seen it, click here. It includes recipes for blog reader Bill Joppich’s family’s “Crumbie Chicken” and Kaitlin Kennedy’s great-grandmother’s peanut brittle.
I received a few stories and a recipe I was not able to get into my column before deadline, so I’d like to share those with you here. Enjoy, and happy early Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.
From Debbie Mooty of Botetourt County:
Family food memories for a Southern family include a great deal more than just about recipes or even the meal itself. My grandmother was a fantastic cook –she could fix biscuits and gravy and good ole down home food! She always seemed to be cooking or preserving or working in the garden while I was growing up and some of my favorite memories of my grandparents’ small Blacksburg farm centered around family meals and their preparation. However, nothing brings a tear to my eye more quickly than the sight of those brown Maxwell House mugs that I still have in my kitchen today because they represent who “my people” really were – hard working folks who could take nothing for granted and who worked for everything they had.
Back when I was growing up, my grandmother shopped at the local Radford Brothers in Blacksburg and Maxwell House coffee had these mugs that you could purchase cheaply with a purchase of their coffee. My grandmother doggedly bought one each time she got the coffee until she had 6 and I so remember my grandfather drinking steaming black coffee out of them. They were cheap and not that decorative but they are a treasure to me as I still have two. After my grandfather passed away, there were a few possessions I really wanted and those mugs came home with me the first day. At first I kept them downstairs and didn’t use them and then one day, while cleaning up downstairs, I caught sight of them on the shelf and thought,“no, Buddy and Granny would want me to use these” so I brought them upstairs and we use them daily just like my other cups.
I have purchased a lot of nice things for my kitchen over the years but those mugs to me are priceless and bring instant joy of fond memories – and sometimes a tear for all that I now miss.
From Dorcas Emerson of Bassett:
My kitchen heirloom is an old-fashioned slaw cutter. It was my grandmother’s who was married in 1893. My mother used it as I did until I found a food processor easier to use! It is still VERY sharp. It is engraved “Mdf. by Bluffton Slaw Cutter Co. Bluffton, O. Price 50 cents.”
From Martha Myers of Rocky Mount:
Every day of my life in my mother’s home, she would pull out the large oval wooden maple bowl and make a big batch of biscuits for breakfast and sometimes even in the evening. She was the mother of ten children. When she died, the eight surviving children had a private family auction to divide up her estate items. I was determined to bid enough to get two things: the biscuit bowl with rolling pin and the footed wedding dish in which she always kept a block of honey with the comb. My bids were successful.
I had followed my mother’s biscuit making, but it was not an everyday habit. When the bowl became mine, all my five children were grown and had families of their own, but I still cherished the bowl. I noticed that she had used it and the rolling pin so much that there was a dugout section in the middle of the bowl and the rolling pin was worn down in the middle.
The wedding dish sits on a side table (made by my late husband) in my daughter’s home in San Clemente, CA. It contains a fresh block of Virginia-made honey. I will keep the biscuit bowl and it will pass on to one of the other of our five children. I still make biscuits and sausage gravy about once a month for the daughter and her family who live next door.
Kathy Kiger, who was featured in today’s column, sent me a recipe for her grandmother Ida Lowe’s yeast bread. I could not fit it in the paper but here it is:
Makes 2 loaves
2 1/2 cups plain flour
2 packs yeast
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
3 – 3 1/2 cups flour
1 cup water
1 cup Carnation evaporated milk
1/2 cup oil
1. Heat water, Carnation and oil to 120 degrees F. Pour into a large mixing bowl.
2. Stir together flour, yeast, sugar and salt. Add flour mixture to liquid in mixing bowl. Add two beaten eggs. Add remaining flour to make dough.
3. Let rise once, punch down, let rise again. Separate into two greased loaf pans. Let rise again.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. Coat top of each loaf with melted butter.