In our CSA basket last week we received tomatoes, green beans, onions, cucumbers and peaches. Since it has been so hot I was trying to decide how to use all this produce without creating heat in the kitchen. I decided to throw the green beans and onions in the crockpot, along with some ham for flavoring (and so Dave would think it was a meal)! As I was ‘snapping’ the beans, a rush of memories came back to me of my grandma Alice, aka“Big Mommy.”
I can remember sitting on the front porch of her very modest home, helping her snap beans into the lap of her apron. From my young eyes she had a huge garden that included corn, rhubarb, okra, cucumbers, beans, tomatoes and potatoes. For Susie and I, (the girl that lived next door to my grandma and my constant playmate when I was visiting) the garden was a wonderful place to play, run and especially hide in the cornstalks. Big Mom would get so mad at us and was constantly reminding us to stay away from the garden. This picture is of my sister and brother in front of the porch. I was not born yet!
Big Mommy got her nickname when her first grandchild, Sheila, called her own mom Little Mommy and her grandmother Big Mommy. Alice became known as Big Mommy to all her grandchildren, her own children, friends and even casual acquaintances. Alice grew up in a very poor family and her formal education ended when she was in third grade because her family could not afford to buy her paper and pencils. When she was 15 she married a man, Luther, that was 20 years older than her. Big Mom had 5 children, the youngest was my mom. Luther passed away when my mom was sixteen so I never knew him.
The epitome of a woman raising a family in the depression era, Big Mommy could not only fry up a chicken, but could also catch it from the coup, wring it’s neck, pluck it’s feathers and throw it in a large pot of boiling water. I am pretty sure that smell of a fresh chicken being boiled, which I remember vividly, was the beginning of my aversion to eating anything that once had eyes. She also sewed, quilted and made room size braided rugs from leftover fabric. I still have a couple of the quilts she made, including my baby quilt.
Big Mom was able to make wonderful meals utilizing her garden and many things I eat in the summer such as fresh sliced tomatoes and cucumber and onion salad always remind me of her.
My all time favorite dish she made was fry bread. She would cut dough into triangles and fry it in a skillet. As soon as it came out, it would be slathered in butter. We always ate it faster than she could make it.
The dinner I was in the process of making last night consisted of dishes my grandmother would have made, so I decided to also try some fry bread (so much for not heating up the kitchen). I am trying to watch what I eat these days so I needed to find a recipe with the nutritional information included. Click here for the recipe I found.
I have to admit it was not nearly as good as what I remember Big Mom making and definitely not worth the calories, but then again, I spent the evening remembering my grandmother and what a strong loving woman she was.
“There surely can be no death on earth as long as one is remembered with love by children and their children with loving memories passed on thereafter.” Sheila Jensen