by Bob Burdick
Not Quite Like Granny Used To Make...
The little town I grew up in had its share of diners and restaurants, but, unlike today, I cannot recall any of those Mom 'n' Pop establishments touting their gourmet cooking or proclaiming their chef held mastery with culinary skill.
But that's only half the story, as the existence of such would not have mattered anyway. That is, the belief I held back then is one I still embrace today. Simply put, my granny was the best cook on the planet.
Those days of my youth were over six decades ago, but last week, as I was mixing cornbread batter, I gave pause to think again of the scrumptious meals Granny used to whip up—especially her Sunday specialty of fried chicken; mashed potatoes; thick-brown gravy; "other fixin's," as she called them, and a batch of golden cornbread.
Way back then, during the days of WWII, I spent a lot of time at Granny's, as Dad was in the Navy and Mom was working two jobs in her struggle to make ends meet.
At Granny's, then, the first order of business on Sunday was to set a kettle of water to boiling over an outdoor fire near the laundry shed and then to make the selection of a chicken, a chore she did not accomplish by opening a freezer or making a trip to the market. No, our Sunday chicken came from the backyard coop situated alongside her vegetable garden. Once Granny pointed out her choice, I slipped into the coop and scampered through the flock to fill the order. Then we pulled 3-legged milking stools up alongside the black-iron kettle and set to the task of cleaning and preparing our prize for cooking.
As the day wore on, the awesome part for me was watching Granny blend all the raw material into a mouth-watering meal. At that early age I was of little help, no doubt, but as she worked in the kitchen and needed this, that, or the other she made me feel important by having me fetch items from the cupboard or panty.
Then, later in the evening, as we enjoyed a slice of pie topped with homemade ice cream, she would always say, "I couldn't have done it without you." My role in it all had been insignificant, of course, but I'd beam upon hearing her praise.
Granny is gone now, and last week while preparing cornbread, I realized most of the ingredients were no longer fetched from the cupboard or pantry; they were now pre-blended and packaged in a box purchased at the grocery store. My tins of cornbread finished baking in time for supper, and while the fare was tasty served with a slathering of butter and a dollop of honey, it was "Not Quite Like Granny Used To Make."
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