Friday, November 21, 2014

My Favorite Food(s)

My beloved grandmother Hattie Hess and me

My Favorite Food  would have to be fried chicken. I  know I’ll never taste one like my Grandma fried up in a couple big scoops of Spry or lard in her black cast iron skillet. She’d dip the pieces in seasoned flour and lay them in the hot skillet to brown. What was special about these chickens was that they were plucked, cleaned and  cooked within hours of being killed. They had a good life for a spell—a big chicken yard with food, water, bugs, little rocks for their craws,  the companionship of a rooster—no coyotes or foxes. A good life until it was gone. 

Home mashed potatoes (lots of butter) and creamy gravy usually accompanied the chicken. In summer, creamed new potatoes with peas was de rigueur. As a kid I refused to taste this dish. We also had string beans cooked with bacon, but I freaked out about the “strings.” A difficult child. I  got the wings which I loved, and I shared the liver with my Dad. My mom liked the ribby pieces and the dark meat. Dad also got the breast and everyone was happy. My grandma always fried two chickens if there were more than three people. She made the best Waldorf salad. And when the tomato crop came in, we had homegrown tomatoes, big red tasty ones—something I know I’ll never taste again in this lifetime. Something about the Kansas soil, or the care and love with which they were grown and tended. Huge luscious tomatoes with a zing that is impossible to find anymore, even if you grow you own. Oh, those tomatoes! 

Did I mention the home-grown strawberries?  Good luck finding a berry that tastes remotely like these berries, red all the way to the center.  Tart.  Sweet.  Juicy.  The very essence of what a strawberry should be.  By the end of the summer I began to get tired of them, dumb kid that I was. 

My grandma baked spectacular pies, with a tender flaky crust and cherries, or apples, or berries. She made those pies seem effortless with her nimble fingers and her rolling pin. Oh god, I would give almost anything to sit in the corner or her modest kitchen at that round oak table with my grandpa in  his overalls and my grandma in her house dress and eat a meal with them just like when I was a child. It was always so wonderful, and of course we never appreciate those days until they’re gone.  

Favorite foods convey love, family and caring for one another.  Without the emotion attached to them, it's just a meal. 

This weekend, other authors are also blogging about their favorite foods.  Take a look at the following blogs: 

Heidi M.
Skye Taylor
Anne Stenhouse
A.J. Maguire
Rachael Kosnski
Margaret Fieland
Geeta Kakade
Marci Baun
Beverley Bateman
Victoria Chatham
Diane Bator
Fiona McGier

Ginger Simpson
Rhobin Courtright


  1. I can smell those tomatoes you mention! And those chickens, would that all table fowl could live so well. A lovely memory!

  2. Love the stories that go with your favorite foods. And what you said "Without the emotion attached to them, it's just a meal." So true.

  3. I'm getting hungry reading this! Good memories are often associated with certain foods!

  4. You are so right about foods conveying love, family and caring for one another. And those fresh food and veges that really have a great taste are harder to find these days.

  5. If you want some home-made pie recipes, including what I call my "never-fail-pie crust", visit my website:
    I have a whole page devoted to pie recipes, since they figure prominently in one of my books, with the heroine baking them often. Not sure if they'd be as good as you remember your grandmother's pies being, especially since I don't use lard in the crust, as my Mom used to do.

    Yes, somehow all of the food memories are so long-lived. We smell a whiff of something cooking, or taste something, and we're transported back to a time long gone, and we hear people who were important to us then, as they filled our bellies and our hearts with love.

    When my Mom was "disconnected" due to her dementia, I could always get her to smile with the taste of something Busia used to make. Or some of my cookies, since she had a real sweet tooth.

    People who think it doesn't matter what you feed to children need to seriously examine their thinking, since it's so wrong. Long after you're gone, children will remember the love you cooked/baked into foods.


Your comments are always welcome!