This past week was another family birthday. My other grandmother, Grandma Lucille, would have been 93 this week. This is a photo of her when she was about 16. She and I share a birthday month. She used to always say her birthday cake would last until it was time for me to have one.
Summertime in her kitchen meant canning and preserving fruits and vegetables for colder months. I would hang around in the kitchen with her all day. I watched as she squeezed grape juice through cheesecloth to make jelly and capped thousands of strawberries to make preserves -- the best preserves I ever had.
I have put together two family cookbooks with special recipes from relatives. When I was working on the last book -- just as I was finishing it up -- I had leftover mashed potatoes one night. I had to call her to ask how she made her potato cakes. She gave me the quick and easy recipe over the phone. Since I was almost finished with the book and already made the copies of the section it would go in -- I put this recipe in the forward section of the cookbook.
2 - 3 cups of leftover mashed potatoes, 1 egg, 1/4 - 1/2 cup of flour, pinch of baking powder
Mix well and shape into balls, about the size of an egg. Heat a little oil in a pan. Place the balls in the pan and flatten slightly. Cook over medium high heat until browned well on both sides.
At Christmastime she would get out the cookie cutters and we would make sugar cookies. The kitchen table would be covered with sprinkles, dough, colored surgar, and flour. I have those cookie cutters in my kitchen and use them at Christmas when I make cookies with my kids.
Grandma enabled my love of bringing home creatures that I found. She always had some type of container ready to hold a crawdad, toad, minnow, eggs of some kind, or just some daisies from the field. One time I brought home (with the help of granddaddy) what I thought were frog's eggs. They weren't. When they hatched -- they were salamanders. When we saw a box turtle -- it was mine. Once when she was driving to my aunt's house, we spotted a box turtle. She stopped the car to let me get it. When I was really little -- I remember having a jar of dirt and earthworms. Digging for worms was fun and they were great to take fishing!
I spent a lot of weekends at her house. She let me experiment with cooking. And when I had a want for a new kitten or puppy -- she would let me have one at her house. She saw a lot of things change in her lifetime; from 1916 to 2006. We used to talk about it sometimes when I talked to her on the phone. I used to try to give her a call almost every day.