I was lucky enough to grow up in the mountains of Virginia, on one of the many dirt roads in our county, about 30 minutes away from our small, one stop light town. My grandparents owned over 100 acres of land, and you could see their house from ours which was right down the road. My grandpa owned a small dairy farm, and my grandma was a stay at home wife/mother for almost her entire life. You know, that's just how it was back then. They raised cows and chickens and pigs, and there was always this huge elaborate garden. I always spent my summers at my grandparents house after I started school, and they were the ones that got us on and off the bus everyday until we could be home by ourselves. I loved it there. I'd ride my bike over and just hang out, and in the evenings after dinner (I call it dinner because you have, breakfast, lunch and dinner, my grandma always called it supper, breakfast, dinner and supper, old timers jeez...) I'd watch for my grandpa to come driving around the road to check the cows. I'd flag him down outside our house and he'd let me sit on his lap and drive. I liked to hit every hole in the road, and he'd let me even though he'd fuss at every one.
I spent lots of time in their garden, and our own, and tons of time in the kitchen of their house, but I wish my grandma had put me to more work. She'd just let me play and do whatever, graze on whatever was close, and run off when I got bored or tired of it. My grandma could make anything, without a recipe, and it was always good. Oh how I wish I'd have "learned" that. My dad mentioned the other day that she used to make this amazing sweet potato butter. It's like apple butter, but with sweet potatoes. So I went searching the internet and found a recipe. Then I had this bright idea that I'd can some. Let me just tell you, I've never canned anything in my life, despite the fact that my grandma canned EVERY THING! They had a store house FULL of canned food, and I was around for a lot of it being done, but never paid attention.
So needless to say my first batch didn't seal, but I re-made some last night, and it was a success. I was so proud of myself I've claimed that I'm going to start canning all kinds of stuff. We'll see how this works out. I'm pretty late in the game this year, but next years garden will be more put to use than this last one was I promise. I would give my right arm to be able to can green beans like my grandma, and I know they're far more work. Not that hers taste any different than other peoples.
Thinking about her last night and this morning reminded me of this amazing skillet cake she used to make. We grew up calling it a frying pan cake because that's how it's made, in a cast iron skillet, baked in the oven. She made this chocolate sauce to go over it, and right out of the oven this stuff was AMAZING. At some point I'd had her write the recipe down, and I hope my mom still has it. She tried to tell me the whole, oh, it's just a little flour and some oil, and ....... but I needed measurements! I'm on a mission this weekend to find that recipe at my moms, my kids need to experience this cake. And they need to experience some of my grandma's stuff that I experienced. My mom is nothing like her mother and does none of the stuff Granny used to do, and while my Granny is still living, she's not the Granny she once was, and can't do the things she used to do. That generation is almost gone, but I want to do my part to keep it going, pass down things like that. We can benefit from it so much and families were closer back then. Or it seems that way anyways.