Two Good, Down-home, Southern, Country Meals

It goes without saying that I ate better at Grandma’s than at my own house, because with such a large family, there wasn’t always enough food nor were the meals as good as when I went to Grandma’s.

My grandmother was a natural-born, good cook. She didn’t have a lot of the excess that cooks have today, but she was a master at making even a biscuit taste mouth-watering good.

Perhaps it was selfish, but one reason I liked staying with my grandmother is that I could eat more at her house than at ours, and for some strange reason, I was always so skinny and regardless to how much I ate, I was always so hungry. I don’t want to spoil your meal by going into the “tape worm” theory here, so, I’ll go on to the table.

From my bedroom, I was awaken each morning with the smell of strong, hot, black coffee brewing. It was the sweetest aroma I’d ever smelled in relation to food. For whatever reason, Grandma wouldn’t let us kids drink coffee. We had to drink milk instead – and sometimes, it was fresh from the cow. Umm, delicious. Anyway, I’d hop out of bed, wash up and make a bee-line to the table…ready to dig in and chow down.

There awaiting me was a plate piled high with soft, fluffy, melt-in-your-mouth buttermilk biscuits. And boy, could she make ’em. Then, there was always homemade butter. Grandma made her own, and before clamping down on those mile-high buns, we’d slather each side with a slab of butter, layer one side with some homemade peach or blackberry preserves, and breakfast was on. There was usually some kind of meat (bacon, wiener’s, beef steak, pork chops or fried ham), and scrambled eggs, cooked, of course, with a slab of her homemade butter. My favorite meat was yard-grown, Southern fried chicken smothered in gravy and well-seasoned with ample amounts of salt and black pepper…and anything else? No. Not really. As delicious as the meal was, that was all that we needed.

So, with breakfast over, if it was a school day, I’d miss lunch but dinner would be waiting. Breakfast was always (and still is) my favorite meal. Dinner was just as tasty as breakfast, but I just like morning foods better.

Anyway, Grandma usually prepared something from her own garden or perhaps some produce a neighbor had shared, but whatever she whipped up was just simply good – like turnip greens with a big, thick piece of fatback swimming among the leaves; corn bread made with her own eggs, butter, and milk; fried chicken; perhaps, pickled beets; okra; summer squash; again, fried with cow butter and fresh, garden grown onions; butter beans; field peas; snap (string) beans cooked with small, white potatoes; and fresh tomatoes (if it was summer).

We couldn’t eat all of those veggies at one sitting, but over a span of time we did. And the best part about home cooking is that it’s done so carefully, lovingly, and freely. My Grandmother put so much of herself into her meals. Food was never carelessly prepared. Each meal was methodical, planned, not rushed and made with much love.

I still have warm memories of mealtimes at Grandma’s. She could probably tell by the way I ate that I thoroughly enjoyed her cooking. While we ate, there was little conversation but much loud belching, lip smacking and finger licking. Of course, I always had to wash dishes, but for such fine dining, dish-washing was “a piece of cake.”

Published on Sep 28, 2013

Grit Magazine

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