Sunday, October 3, 2010

Learning to peel...Grandma Grace style

I was peeling apple upon apple yesterday, readying them for an apple cake I was making.  As I started, knife poised just under the flesh, I was distinctly reminded of the time (in my early years of homekeeping) when I was peeling potatoes under the careful watch of my Grandma Grace.  Not knowing I wasn't doing it correctly, she quickly pointed out that I was wasting too much of the potato.  She showed me how to do it.  She'd be proud of me today.  I can peel a potato, apple, pear...whatever it may be, with the best of them.

It does take practice...this peeling.  Sliding the knife just under the flesh and peeling away the colorful top layer, leaving behind as much of the meat of the fruit or vegtable as you possibly can.  My other goal is to peel the fruit with one swell swoop.  No starts and stops.  I find that I point this same thing out to others at times, too.  I want them to be as proficient as they can be.  Not to waste anything so precious.

I think, my memories of my Grandma are most vivid and alive while I'm in the kitchen.  I can still see her in her kitchen now...21 years after she's passed.  A strong, sturdy woman.  Seems she was in her kitchen all the time.  That's where I remember her most.  It wasn't a big kitchen.  But, somehow, she managed and fed her brood of seven quite sufficiently from it.  There certainly was not a multitude of cabinets, nor counter space.  A very humble kitchen, to say the least.  A very humble home over all.  I loved it there. 

She was a great cook and a very generous lady.  She always seemed to have plenty for whomever was there.  No guest was "one too many".  Never an invitation only household...somehow, we all gathered there.  And, I do mean "we".  It may not have been the same "we" every Saturday, but there were plenty of us.  Saturday nights were hamburger night.  I can see her mixing the hamburger meat and it never failed, she always took one bite of the raw meat, spiced with salt and pepper, only.  Still  makes me gag.  I don't remember anything else being put in it.  I remember that, every single time I make a hamburger patty.  Funny what sticks with you, isn't it? 

Sundays, too, brought another set of "we's" and some of the same from the night before.  It was "just the place to be."  WE all loved it there.  And, WE all miss it terribly, even to this day. 

Right before my Grandma got really bad with her cancer, she came to spend a week with me.  I will forever treasure that time.  She seemed to have gained strength that week.  I wanted to her to show me how to make her vegatable stew, which she did.  Our cherry trees were heavy laden with fruit.  I wanted to learn how to make pie.  She happily obliged.  She rolled out the dough for the crust with every ounce of energy she could muster.  It just came from somewhere.  Maybe we both knew...if I were to learn this from her, and she to show me how, it was right then, or never.  She passed just a few weeks after I had her at my home.  It was one of my greatest care for her like she had me for so many years.

She tired, but did not quit.  She sat down at my table and started working those cherries over.  De-pitting and de-stemming.  Before we knew it, we had cherry juice all over...and, I do mean all over.  I think we must have been so busy talking and cherishing that moment, we weren't really engaged in what we were doing.  It took me awhile to get that cherry juice cleaned up.  It was blissful!  I miss her every single day! 

She was a generous lady and no guest was ever "one too many".  Never a "by invitation only" household.  I learned from her.  She was my mentor.  She is my mentor...she's with me every day and I miss her!  And this folks, is the view from my front porch.

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