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Thursday, March 10, 2011

# 75 Home Cooked Meals

Photo: Food & Spirits Magazine
Continuing with the 100 life-enriching little nuances series …

As my relatives got caught up at the kitchen table, I walked by the stove. The smell was killing me – in a good way. I’d heard we were having pork chops and since my grandmother and I had traveled to the south to visit family, I fully expected the pork chops to be done southern style, but I wasn’t prepared for what I was about to see, or not see.

The flame on the stove licked the underside of the black cast iron skillet while the pork chops simmered in so much lard that I couldn’t even see the meat. How in the world had so many of these people lived past 80? Probably because they worked so hard when they weren’t eating pork chops immersed in lard. They worked hard and they played hard. Sounds like a good way to live.

My grandmother brought that same philosophy with her when she and my grandfather moved from Arkansas in the late 1940s. In her later years, she had my sister, my niece and I over for dinner every Thursday night. When she was feeling good, she made home cooked meals for us.

She made the best pot roast known to man. I would stick my fork into a piece of it and it would gently fall to my plate. And the smell ... I think you could get full just by smelling it. Many people have tried to duplicate her pot roast efforts and all have failed. Throw in her mashed potatoes, green beans and the occasional batch of cornbread, and I would put her cooking up against the best chefs in the country.

But for her, it was about more than the food. The food was the vehicle for conversation and laughter. When we paused from shoveling in the food, we told each other about our lives from our assigned seats. It wasn’t always roses and sunshine. Sometimes we fought. But mostly we did what families used to do. We made time for home cooked meals.

And while my grandmother had a television in her kitchen, she usually left it off during this time. We certainly never ate our meals in the living room on TV trays while watching a sitcom. 

I think Grandma was on to something.


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