Great Grandma G.

January 19, 2004

Great Grandma G. was one heck of a good cook. She cooked comfort food, she cooked it well, and she ate a lot of it.

That side of the family, the North Florida/South Georgia side, was split. Either folks drank and smoke and died young of throat cancer, or they were teetotalers and lived into their 80s regardless of what they did. Grandma G. did not drink or smoke. My mom remembers her as a little old lady almost as round as she was tall. You would see this little old lady sitting in her rocking chair, asleep, with a small book in her lap. If you walked over to see which psalm she had been reading, you were more likely to find that she had nodded off over Zane Grey Blood on the Prairie - she liked her westerns.

She was mostly noted for her cooking. She had a most remarkable gift for gravy - it never clumped, it never got watery, it was always rich and thick and yummy. After meals she would take a slice of bread and pour the rest of the gravy on it and eat it with a knife and fork. She died in the 1960s - I have no memory of meeting her, but I do remember the stories about her.

My mom invokes Grandma G. often. As she tells the story, Grandma G. was sitting in heaven trying to dispose of her various gifts to her various descendents. There were not a lot of people in mom's generation - just her and a cousin. Mom imagines Grandma G. saying "well, who gets the gravy? This one granddaughter just goes out to dinner, or throws something on the grill. This other one, C., she may be a terrible cook but at least she is trying." And so, a couple of months after Grandma G. died, Mom was making gravy and poof - it worked. Before that day, the gravy never ever worked for her, after that day it never failed. And so, she thanks Great Grandma G. every time she makes gravy.

I can sometimes make a good gravy, but not always. I do it properly - pour the pan drippings into a cold frying pan, scour the roasting pan with stock or giblet water, pour that into the pan, add flour equal in volume to the fat, heat slowly till it thickens, add stock or giblet water or carving juice if it gets too thick. Sometimes it worked, as it did last night, sometimes it makes a mess.

However, I seem to have gotten zapped with Great Grandma G.'s pastry gift - I started with pie crust when I was a teenager because I wanted pie and mom did not like to bake pie. It does not always work, not like mom and the gravy, but my chewy breads tend to be chewy, my flaky pastry tends to be flaky, and when something works I also remember to give a bit of thanks to Great Grandma G. for sharing her pastry gift with me.

The pizza crust on Saturday was very good indeed. The sauce was not good, and the pie was mediocre, but the crust worked. Thanks Grandma G.

Posted by Red Ted at January 19, 2004 10:12 AM | TrackBack