It's hard to believe I've been writing on this little space online for almost 4 years. Many things have happened in my life since I started this blog. Of course my readers that have followed along or those that just recently found me know how special my dad was to me and how I have written a little about his loss this year.
I have been comforted by my friends and the stories they've written for my Food Memory series. It's interesting with the amount of food blogs that one can find, some just resonate with you. At least that's how it is with me. One of the blogs I came across in the beginning of my blogging career was Heather from All Roads Lead to the Kitchen. I'm sure it was an incredible bread of hers that first compelled me to explore her blog a little. It was also her way of writing and her sweet personality that shines through in her posts. I was lucky enough to meet Heather this summer at the Food and Wine Conference. Heather was sweeter than I imagined she would be. Heather has put together a special story about her grandmother. I think you'll enjoy it as much as I have.
Here is my friend Heather and her special Food Memory story for us:
Food is an entirely sensory experience. The feel of dough being kneaded into silky perfection in your hands. The sound of meat sizzling when it hits a hot skillet. The scent of cinnamon wafting from the oven door. The sight of a holiday meal spread across the table. The taste of a tomato just plucked from a vine, hanging heavy with the heat of summer. Food can introduce you to new cultures, but it can also grab your heart and twist it into submission. That is why I'm so honored to be sharing this story with Lora's Food Memory series today.
Looking back now, I feel fortunate that although my grandma passed away when I was so young, I have lots of memories of her. Those were the days when we would actually load the whole family into the car and make the trip to one, or both, sides of the family for the holidays. Sometimes, just because.
My dad's mom and dad were divorced before I was even born. I always felt slightly strange about that. I didn't know anybody else whose grandparents were divorced. I don't think it was as common back then. Even though they were divorced, they still lived in the same town. We would always visit both of them. Though I'd love to talk about my grandpa, today I'm remembering the feisty, half-Cherokee, half-Scottish woman who had rows of jewel-toned jams lining her pantry, a can of bacon grease next to the stove, and a couple of ponds down the street where we would go fishing for Bluegill.
To this day, I can't see seasoned salt without my mouth watering in anticipation of some of her simple, yet amazing, thin seasoned pork chops. She'd fry 'em up in her cast-iron skillet while some from-scratch biscuits or cornbread were in the oven. There was a big table in her kitchen that I'd set while the kitchen was filling with the scents of sizzling pork and warm bread.
Once the table was set, she'd send me to the pantry to pick out some her homemade jam to set alongside the soft butter on the table. As I ran my finger lazily down the row, the late day sun would glint off glass, throwing rainbows onto the wall next to the jars. I'd carefully pull one out to see what was behind it. But in the end, I always chose the same one, if it wasn't already gone: Boysenberry. It was my favorite.
When we lost my grandma, we also lost all of the recipes in her head. A smell, a site, a song, a game, a color would light that spark of nostalgia, and we'd talk about her pork chops for days. I still pull a batch of warm buttermilk biscuits out of the oven, and find myself longing for a jar of Gram's Boysenberry jam. And I have never been able to recreate that sunny yellow, slightly sweet, perfectly grainy cornbread that lives in the rainbow-headband-wearing ten year old inside my head.
While I'm bummed that I was too young to even think about writing down grandma's recipes, I know that her memory will live on through the glimpse of a thin-cut pork chop. It will live on through a display of jams crafted lovingly by hand. It will live on through the process of trying to develop the perfect recipe.
Thank you, Heather. You really brought me back to your childhood reading about your grandma and her special cornbread, her pork chops and homemade sweet jam.
Heather is quite the bread baker. I found her first through an incredible bread she made (not sure exactly which one it was because there are so many!). If you like Mexican food, you have to check out her "She made-Ella hace" series. Some favorite recipes of mine from Heather are her beautiful pane bianco, decadent German chocolate cake , and these fun roasted banana and coconut popsicles.
You can find more of a Heather on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+.
My other Food Memory guest posters:
- Paula from Vintage Kitchen Notes and her Brown Butter Apple Cinnamon Crumb Bars
- Shulie from Food Wanderings and her Shakshuka