My paternal grandmother was born in 1912 and died in 2007. She was affectionately known as Ka-Ka to her family and grandchildren, both biological and to the numerous children she was connected with through her church and community on her beloved "mountain."
She was a very strong woman. Independent, strong willed and stubborn. I learned so many life lessons from her that help me every single day of my life. Her love for her family was legendary. She always wanted to know where we were and what was happening in our lives. She was my rock.
She was widowed at age 22 in the middle of the Great Depression. She was left to raise two sons, ages 6 and 4. She had a strong faith and a loving family and she did the best she could with her life's situation. She eventually remarried and ran a country store adjacent to her home for many years.
Every year she planted a large garden and spent the summer canning tomatoes, vegetable soup, making kraut and pickles. Her summers were spent on the never ending search for canning jars. Trust me, I know the feeling.
I spent countless hours as a little girl, planting the seeds, weeding and then helping shell peas and butter beans, breaking green beans and silking ears of corn. One of my very first jobs in her kitchen was to put the 1 teaspoon of salt in each of the canning jars before the green beans and tomatoes were added. I learned how to plant potatoes and then as I got older to DIG potatoes.
She taught Sunday School for over 70 years and was the church treasurer for 50 years.
After her death, I took possession of a LARGE tin of recipes. Recipes handwritten very formally, recipes scribbled on the back of envelopes, recipes given to her by other ladies of her generation which were second grandmothers to me as I grew up and dozens upon dozens of recipes clipped from newspapers and magazines. The Lolly Apple didn't fall very far from the Ka-Ka tree it seems.
There are recipes with no title, but written in her handwriting. I'm intrigued (and a little apprehensive) by these. We will refer to them in the future as Mystery Recipes.
Each Christmas I can remember her baking a "chicken loaf." Think meat loaf, but made with shredded chicken. I know it had rice mixed in and I can remember chopped onions and maybe bell peppers. When she was about 93 or so, I begged her for that recipe. She looked at me and said "That was 50 years ago! I can't remember what I put in that chicken loaf." I have searched through each and every faded scrap of paper in the tin and didn't find anything that resembled her Chicken Loaf. I will try it on my own and see what I can come up with through my memories.
I don't think I ever realized what a sweet tooth my grandmother had either. I would say 80% of the recipes in the tin were for cakes, pies, candy or Christmas cookies.
It's emotional for me to go through these recipes and see her handwriting and let the memories of her banana pudding, biscuits, chicken loaf and summertime canning flood my heart.
I plan on slowly going through the tin and cooking as many of these as I can as a tribute to her. I will scan in her handwritten recipes and also the yellowed clippings from the newspaper so you can take the journey with me.
I am eternally grateful I was her granddaughter. I hope I am making her proud.