When I started asking people about their keepsakes a few years ago, I learned so many of us women treasure items that had previous lives in the kitchens of our mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers. We hold onto cooking-related heirlooms like rolling pins, pans, cutting boards, and aprons. I'm not surprised. After all, some of my most beloved memories emanate from my grandmothers' old country kitchens. In the South, food and heaps of home cooking equal love, and both of my grandmothers loved everybody who stopped by their houses.
I can still hear their voices saying, "Have some more. There's plenty." I can still see the tables jammed full of platters and bowls of fresh, Southern delicacies. Much of the food was fried— plucked piping hot from the grease of a black iron skillet.
I have a cracked serving bowl that once graced my Grandmother Lanier's kitchen table. Tiny lady peas, brown field peas, and butter beans swimming in a shimmery broth were staples at Grandmother's house, so I feel certain that the little bowl held millions of peas and beans in its lifetime. I wonder how many times it was passed around the table. I think about my Papa Lanier's hands cradling it as he dipped peas onto his plate. After Grandmother died and her house outside of Metter was abandoned, I found the bowl pushed far back in a dark cabinet as if it didn't have any value. To me, it was priceless. I saved it that day.
Karen Phillips has a few cooking-related, kitchen-related keepsakes, too. She wrote a keepsake story about her grandmother's pie plate. Karen infused her story with great imagery like "a kitchen forever filled with the fragrance of love" and the "glorious fluff of her mashed potatoes." And I love the fact that Karen started her story making a pie from her grandmother's hand-scribed recipe.
Like so many of the book's story contributors, I met Karen through the Chattanooga Writers' Guild, a wonderful, nurturing group of writers who inspire me every day. Karen has participated in a few Project Keepsake events in Northwest Georgia. I'm always happy to see her face in the audience, and I love to hear her read her story. She is one of the kindest people I have ever met.
Karen's story starts on page 128 of Project Keepsake. Thank you, Karen!
Yes, there are other cooking-related keepsakes referenced in the collection. Jean Lowrey wrote a story about a spoon her grandmother used to stir custard. Mitzi Boyd wrote a story about her Nanny's cake pan. Marcia Swearingen wrote about a big green mixing bowl she received as a wedding gift. I talked to another writer yesterday who said, "I have my mother's pickled eggs crock." And then last night, I selected a knife from my utensil drawer to slice a peach and realized that it had belonged to my father-in-law, George. He was an excellent cook and we inherited many treasures from the cabinets of his large kitchen in Chattanooga.
If you have a cooking-related or kitchen-related keepsake, please share your story with me. Leave a comment or send me a note. And as always, thank you for reading my blog and thinking about keepsakes. To read more keepsake stories, buy a copy of my book, Project Keepsake.