I'm writing this post in honor of a great woman. A true "southern woman", in every sense of the phrase.
I never spent as much time with her as I wanted; her being in Alabama and me, California. But she is responsible for everything that feels "southern" inside of me. I never lived anywhere but California but I feel a deep connection to all things southern. I may be a city girl, but my soul is country.
Grandmother taught me so much. Simple things. Things that are treasured and clung to throughout life.
Things you want your children to learn and appreciate as well.
I learned how to needlepoint at the young age of 8. When I was 11, grandmother taught me how to crochet. I shucked my first ears of corn sitting in her living room along with my aunt and was told..."try not to leave any strings in there....granddaddy won't like it". I popped peas in that same living room. I ate my first ever raw peanut, fresh from the garden on her back porch. Nothing says "home" like hand churned peach ice cream on a hot, humid day....where everyone takes turns cranking it until its done. And what about those yellow watermelons? Fireflies at dusk. Frogs croaking and jumping in the branch that runs behind the house. Strawberry jam, fried okra, creamed corn. Have you ever had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich where you mix the pb&j together before spreading it on the bread? My cousin and I use to gather those little gold safety pins out of the sewing room to tie on a thread at the end of stick and try to catch those tiny little fish in the branch. (Btw...little girls use peas as bate instead of worms.)
These are just a few of the memories I have from my many trips to Alabama, growing up. All having a huge impact on who I am today.
Last month I visited my family in Alabama. Besides the fact that it had been way too long since I had last been back there....the main reason I went was to see my grandmother. I needed to say good-bye. A week after I returned home, she left this world to be where her heart longed for.
Even though it was expected....the finality of it doesn't fail to hit hard.
On the day of her funeral, (since I had just been there, I didn't fly back for the funeral) I went online to see if a local paper had written anything about her. What I found instead was one of her recipes!!
How ironic is that?
The article is titled: Some hand-me downs are quite delicious
My cousin had given one of grandmother's recipes to her mother in-law, who in turn had sent it to her local newspaper a while back. It happened to publish on the day of the funeral.
In grandmother's honor, I made her baked beans for Labor Day, and it was raved over. I was told that "this is the way baked beans are suppose to taste", by a fellow 'city girl with a country soul' friend of mine. People who don't normally eat baked beans enjoyed them. I hope you will too.
Miss Elva's Baked Beans
1 onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a yellow bell pepper since I don't really like green ones)
Oil to saute
1 lb ground chuck (if you use a fattier ground beef, you'll need to drain it)
1 - 28 oz can of baked beans (the recipe called for 2-15oz cans of pork and beans)
1/2 cup Golden Eagle Syrup (we don't have that in So Cal so I used 2 parts corn syrup to 1 part molasses as suggested somewhere)
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup ketchup
Preheat the oven to 350' F.
In a good sized skillet, heat about a tablespoon of oil. Saute the onions and bell pepper until tender. Add the ground beef and brown, stirring occasionally.
In a 13x9 casserole dish, combine the remaining ingredients. Stir in the meat mixture.
Gently stir until combined
Bake at 350' F for about an hour.
If you want to make a small batch, it's easily halved and baked in an 8x8 dish, baked for maybe 30 - 45 minutes?
Anyways....for all you grandmother's out there....just do what you do and be who you are. Your grandchildren will pick up what they need and cherish what they learn from you, even if they don't know it yet. Life lessons are best taught just by living and sharing your life with those you love.
Btw....have I ever mentioned that ever since I was a child, I've always looked forward to being a grandmother? I may have mentioned it to y' all a time or two....but now you know why.
I love you grandmother! You are missed but a part of you will always live through your family.