Old crocks, bowls, and pitchers are items from the past that I have gathered into a small collection. Several years ago, after my grandparents passed away, our family gathered to sort their possessions of decades. We divided items among family members besides piles for charity or trash. As we sorted, we shared stories about these people who shaped so much of who our family became. Although bittersweet, there was much laughter and joy. One recurring joke was that if it was an old no longer used item, Colleen would want it…and I did. Stoneware crocks, old churns, butter molds, and chipped dishes went home to my house where I have them lovingly displayed.
Recently, I shopped at an antique store with a friend. We slowly walked through treasures from the past and eyed several as unique and interesting. There were several crocks of various sizes, colors, and patterns that I really liked and considered adding to collections I already have, but I didn’t. These dishes could have told stories from the families that owned them, but they didn’t speak to me. They were the treasures from another family. I love the old dishes I have because of who owned them, not because I needed another item to dust.
For this past Mother’s Day, I received a new/old item. My son recently started a hobby turned side business called “woodenbeecompany.” After one of his projects caught my eye, he and my husband teamed up and made me a noodle board with one of my grandmother’s frequently used recipes etched on the surface.
My grandmother excelled in making Zucchini Bread, and this recipe hung on the inside of her cabinet. I also inherited a treasure trove of recipes written in her hand. My son enhanced the lettering on the torn, yellowed paper to create a legible recipe laser etched into the wood. He also got a copy of her signature to add to the bottom for future generations to know where the recipe came from. They used reclaimed wood repurposed for this project that required much more work than newly purchased wood might have needed. It was a labor of time and love.
When I saw the finished project, I was beyond thrilled and excited. Seeing her beautiful handwriting and the recipe brought back many memories. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents while growing up and I have the privilege of sharing many hours with my own grandchildren. I’m hoping that they will have sweet memories of some of our times together too.
What I remember most are the everyday things my grandmother did to take care of us. She always seemed to be cooking, and she was great at it. Dinner after church on Sunday usually included more than one meat and potatoes cooked two ways (one of my brothers had to have instant potatoes while the rest of us devoured “real” mashed potatoes). She often had a dish labeled “without” for those who didn’t want something (like coconut in their fruit salad) along with the full version for the rest of us. Some of the chipped dishes I have used to serve these foods. For smaller meals, I remember her frequently saying that she was NOT a short-order cook and wasn’t cooking different meals for us…as she got out all the pans and made each of us what we wanted the most.
As an adult, I now realize how time-consuming all this was. To get a full menu ready for after church on Sundays must have required her to start very early that day, or the day before. We would have homemade items like noodles, pies, etc. that take time, not a box. While I don’t provide an elaborate meal every Sunday, I have provided varieties for my grandchildren (or spoiling them as my kids say). I don’t have just one or two cheeses, but all the kinds they want on their sandwiches. I also have one grandchild who prefers “fake” potatoes – but rather than make both, we all have her style. I tell myself that since they dehydrate potatoes, they are real – just not as fresh.
Because my noodle board is sentimental, I won’t actually be making noodles on it. Rather, it will provide another surface to serve foods when we have family gatherings. I have already gotten to share memories of my grandmother as I told my grandchildren about the recipe included on top. Someday SOON, I will have to make the Zucchini Bread so they can enjoy the taste.