Memories Handed Down by Women of the South
Sticky Buns, homemade rolls, spaghetti, catfish, tomato juice, pies. These are my memories of my grandmother. I recall one Thanksgiving when she and my dad were seated at my first hosting of Thanksgiving. My dad asked where the gravy was, and I replied, “I didn’t know how to make it.” My grandmother, in her wisdom said, “Something is lost with each generation.”
Her words echoed in my head. I didn’t want that to be true. My grandmother is an amazing cook. My mother is even better. I needed to step up my game in the kitchen and honor these women with their recipes and rituals. I’ve learned to make bread from scratch, though it still doesn’t compare to my grandmother’s. Pie crusts I still struggle with, but Grandma admits that hers are nowhere near the taste and texture of her own mothers. “Practice. Practice more.” This is my grandmother’s advice.
Armed with recipes from the women of my pedigree, I do the practice. I ask my grandmother questions when the texture doesn’t seem right. My dinners are a tribute to the women before me and their legacy to my daughters.
My mother has often said, “if you can read, you can cook.”
I have discovered an excellent book that takes a recipe collection compiled by the author, Faye Porter, and honors our grandmothers. At My Grandmother’s Knee: Recipes & Memories Handed Down By Women of the South is a unique book in that all of the recipes are from contemporary Southern women who share a recipe from their own grandmother. A short vignette introduces each recipe with a quote from the granddaughter to her grandmother, whose recipe she shares. I love this intimacy. Learning about the woman who made this for her family was so well-received that it became her signature and worthy of passing to the next generation.
Since bread is something my grandmother takes great pride in making, I turned to the section on bread. There’s Angel Biscuits, Hush Puppies, Cheese Biscuits, Hoecakes, Cinnamon Rolls a la Mary, Pumpkin Bread, Cranberry-Nut Bread, Momma Doy’s Banana Bread, and Braided Bread. It’s a versatile and festive collection—some for every day and some worthy of celebrations.
Over breakfast one morning, I found myself reading through the chapter entitled, Breakfast. To my delight, I discovered Biscuits ‘n’ Chocolate Gravy. This was inspiring for me. When we first moved from Utah to North Carolina in my thirteenth summer, I was invited to spend the night with a classmate. Everything about our move had been a culture shock. The morning I woke up at my friend’s house, I was served what I would imagine was a southern treat, biscuits n’ chocolate gravy. I couldn’t explain it to my mother aide from “she let us put chocolate pudding on our biscuits!”. I was elated to discover a recipe in this collection to share with my children my memory and the actual deliciousness.
My Grandmother’s Knee is a great collection of recipes–166 of them. While the book is primarily Southern fare, they are recipes that belong at any table. The stories are delightful, and each recipe has a full-page photo of the finished piece. My time in the South was far too short, and I love that My Grandmother’s Knee: Recipes & Memories Handed Down By Women of the South reacquaints me with Southern hospitality and graciousness.
Mostly, I love that it honors Grandmother in the very fashion that I intend to honor my own.
*I received a copy of At My Grandmother’s Knee in order to facilitate an honest review. The opinions where expressed were my own and were in no way influenced by the sponsor. Others experiences may vary.