Granny Tricks

November 13th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

cookiesMy Granmother Mabel was almost certainly the most respected baker in the wee county seat of Romney, WV. That’s a big deal considering the pride country women take in their oven output.

Her cookie jar was the first stop for all her grandchildren. The youngest, Randy, brought smirks and chuckles as he turned around with two cookies in each hand and and one in his mouth. Hey, she made excellent cookies.

Likewise, my mother, Wanda, could scarcely have been more different from her mother, Mabel. Yet it came down to both to please with baked goods, particularly cookies.

Mabel was a kitchen possessive. She did not teach either of her daughters to cook. That was her kitchen. She had a strong identity as a great cook. Life on Marsham Street was her hand to your mouth. Her husband, my Granddad Bill, was a fine cook too, but I knew that only because I spent my summers and holidays in the house. Sometimes Mabel was visiting or on occasion in the hospital. He’d cook then. His dishes had a spare richness that made the most of the meats, vegetables, herbs and spices, without the traditional fats and sugars. I like both their cooking, but like their daughters, he wasn’t allowed in Mabel’s kitchen when she was in the house.

At the memorial service and gathering following the death of my nephew Tom that I saw the coincidence of Mabel and Wanda on treats. Tom’s Santa Fe friends, whom I had known as little boys, were there en masse…except they were men in their 30s then, several them a few inches taller than I. One after another told me of the glories of Wanda’s cookies and her constant catering to them.

From early teens, Tom had been in various local bands. To my incredulity, it was my mother who allowed them to practice their sincere if cacophonous ditties one afternoon upon the next.

That was odd for several reasons. It was understandable in that from elementary school, she had taken care of Tom and his sister Kathy throughout the week and on many weekends. Pat has brought them after she left her husband. In effect, Wanda raised a second set of kids (all the while being annoyed at me for having children in my 40s [ha!]). In addition, just before she moved to NM, her life collapsed. Her beau suddenly departed to Singapore fleeing a financially vindictive ex-wife, her company sold to a giant which paid off the entire sales force and told them to go away, she got a breast/lymph cancer diagnosis, and the abrupt cessation of her menopause hormones made her irritable and sometimes irrational. Whew, even writing that seems overwhelming.

She did not have the makings of a Christmas-movie granny. Yet, when it came to her grandson, she was. She literally gave the loud boys milk and homemade co0kies. It was that combination of letting them shake the house and stuffing teen boys with goodies that those men recalled to me.

So this came to mind again this afternoon as I continue the theme. My 18-year-old is here with his girlfriend. I made them cookies. That seems to be what old folk do.

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