I have been in the kitchen since I was seven years old and I learned to cook at a very young age from by grandmother, Lottie Gertrude Griffith. This was my father’s mother.
My grandmother was born in Tabor City, North Carolina and was the true definition of a southern cook. Collards, butter beans, okra, grits, squash and so many other staples of the south were all cooked with lard, bacon grease or butter. My grandmother loved her husband, Julious Matthew Griffith, whom she called “old man,” her sons, Winston, Jason and Donald, and her grandchildren and great grandchildren. Growing up my grandmother worked at the Dairy Freeze and I can remember she always smelled like french fries when she came home from work. We always thought we had the coolest Grandma around because she would give us free ice cream when we came to visit her at work. I am pretty sure it was not free and she had to pay for it but as children we did not know that.
This photo was taken in January 1969. This is how I remember my Grandmother in her tiny kitchen behind her stove. That is my brother, Chris in his cute little cowboy suit.
My grandmother cooked on a very strict budget. My grandmother did not cook fancy food just good old southern fare. When we went to visit my grandmother, we could always count on a good meal, a loving smile, and a full belly.
I started cooking at the very young age of 7 years old. I did not know one thing about cooking at that age, but I knew my grandmother did. I would call my grandmother on the phone and tell her what ingredients I had, and she would tell me what to cook. My grandmother would stay on the phone with me the entire time I was cooking and she would not hang up the phone until I turned off the stove. Was she concerned I was home alone cooking? Probably so! But did she let me know her concern? Absolutely not.
My grandmother was the heart and soul of our family she remained that way until she passed away. She was a God loving southern Baptist lady who loved cooking and caring for her family. She loved her bible and her Sunday school class. That is why I had to laugh out loud when looking through her recipes, I was shocked to find a “Better than Sex Cake” recipe she had cut out of the newspaper.
My grandmother made every holiday so special. She would cook cakes, pies, ham, turkey, fried chicken, butter beans, collards, and of course – sweet tea. She would make so much food on holidays that we had to spread the dishes all though out the kitchen because there was not enough room on the table. She would decorate her entire house for the holidays. Christmas at my grandmother’s always included a fresh cut Christmas tree, ribbon candy, tangerines and a bowl of mixed nuts for cracking. That is one of the traditions that I continue in my house at Christmas every year. Traditions were very important to my grandmother and for that reason is very import to me.
While growing up, my Grandmother fixed Sunday dinners for our entire family on a regular basis. It was a huge amount of effort on her part but I never once heard her complain. I know this is why I enjoy fixing Sunday dinners for my family. Bringing everyone around the table to discuss our week, eat good food and fellowship makes our week complete.
I believe that I learned my love of cooking from my grandmother and that is why I want to share my passion of cooking with others.
While working on this blog, I started going through my grandmother’s recipes. Honestly, I cannot ever remember seeing my grandmother use a cookbook. She had recipes written on index cards and a bucket load of recipes cut out of magazines and newspapers, but she usually just cooked without recipes. In a letter to my niece, Summer, my grandmother said, “I don’t have many recipes. We just put it all together and cooked it.”
This is how my Grandmother collected her recipes, newspapers, magazines and index cards. No cookbooks for her!!!
While writing this, I wished I could go see my grandmother or call her and ask her all the questions that were going through my head. I also realized there were so many things I did not know about my grandmother. With the passing of my husband and Dad, I have learned that life is entirely too short. We have to enjoy the moments with our loved ones and cherish them always. If you are lucky enough to still have your grandmother in your life, please spend time with her and ask her all the questions that you may need to know in the future. Have her tell you about her first boyfriend, her best friend growing up, how she met your grandfather, and was it love at first sight? Or any other thing you can think of. I miss my grandmother with my entire being and would love to be able to sit down at her kitchen table just one more time. I hope that one day my grandchildren will love me the way I loved my grandmother and remember me in the kitchen keeping traditions alive.
This is a recipe that my grandmother said was her favorite:
Grandma’s Apple Pound Cake
- Bundt Pan
- 3 cups Self Rising Flour
- 2 cups Sugar
- 1 cup Vegetable Oil
- 3 large Eggs
- 1 cups Pecans
- 3/4 cup coconut
- 3 chopped Apples
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla
- As this recipe is my Grandmother's Recipe – This was her only instruction!
- Mix Well. Put into tube pan (Bundt pan). Bake at 325 for 1 hour, 20 minutes.