Dinner at Grammie's

Dinner at Grammie’s


This story isn’t about a particular incident, but rather a nostalgic vignette from my memory. My cousins and siblings might have some different memories of these events and I would welcome their perspective as well.

As a bit of background, my Nipe grandparents had five children who had provided them with thirteen grandchildren. Until about 1950, all their children and eleven of their grandchildren lived within 5 miles of the farm (the last two grandchildren were born in 1951 and Aunt Florence’s family had moved to the Chicago area in 1950).In any case, holiday dinners or just Sunday dinners could count on 12-18 people around the table (if we all were there after 195, the number could be as high as 26!). Grammie and Pop-Pop’s kitchen was huge, in fact, it spanned the entire back of the downstairs of their house. The dining room table was one of those affairs with two or three leaves that could be put in to expand it.

With that many people at the table, one would expect a cacophony of noise and chaos. It certainly was noise at a high level, but not as high as one might expect. You see, Grammie was in charge and children spoke when spoken to and even the adults would defer to her.

The dinner itself is worth describing as you will soon see. I can’t remember ever sitting down to a meal that only had one type of meat on the table. She would almost always have beef and there would be pork, chicken, ham, or turkey. Of course, for Thanksgiving or Christmas, it would be ham and turkey. When I was really young, I think we even had goose, but that is a dim memory that may be flawed. Beside the two meats, there would be at least three vegetables and often succotash which is two vegetables in one! Grammie had a big truck garden and a freezer to put up meats and vegetables for the winter, so there was always a supply. Of course, in season, we would have fresh. Besides the vegetables there would be potatoes, generally mashed, on the table and occasionally sweet potatoes. Of course, the types and amounts would vary from dinner to dinner, but you could count on three vegetables, two meats, rolls or biscuits, and gravy.

We were expected to eat at least two helpings of vegetables and Grammie kept an eye on us. The fact that she would have a good variety probably often saved my sister from a scolding since Helen would not eat Lima Beans under penalty of death.

Grammie truly believed that her family should be fed well and she was an excellent cook, having had five children and farm workers to feed since forever.

She was well known around town as a pretty good cook, but that was the norm for the farm wives in Pedricktown. Her forte and the place everyone around knew she shined was in her baking. So it was, that the piece de resistance at dinner was dessert. There would be cake, pie, cookies and usually fruit. Her pies were probably the best I have ever had since she knew the secret to a light crust. We were all given choices and seconds were allowed as long as you finished it.

No one ever went away hungry and we knew to thank and praise Grammie for another fine meal. It would take all afternoon for the effects to wear off! It’s sad that we can’t go back in time!

Davdan @ 2008-2018