A Ghost in the Freezer
April 21, 2016 9:21 AM   Subscribe

A moving little essay about the power of food, family, and memory.
posted by katie (14 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
There's a lot of dust in here.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 9:27 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

Oh, thank you for sharing. This is reminding me that I was right and it was good to see my ailing grandparents in Northern Florida this past February. MeMe--my grandma--made me so many wonderful things to eat throughout my childhood, such amazing dishes I have such strong associations with--butter beans, biscuits, lemon pie, coconut cake, doughnuts, fried fish, crowder peas, mac'n'cheese, etc--that I still feel that sharp pain knowing she is too ill to make any of those things again. (Why didn't I appreciate it her cooking way back in 2010 when she was still well enough to cook for us???) Sitting in the house they built with their own hands, seeing all the family photos kept over the years, how nothing ever seems to change there, ah, this essay brings it back. I don't expect either of them to live out the year (I will thankful if they do) but oh, the memories I'll have.
posted by Kitteh at 9:36 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I don't remember all the dishes my grandmother used to make for us, but I do remember her always, always feeding us. Cookies and biscuits, a great big Easter ham and other goodies, some of which I would turn my nose up at, because I was such a picky eater as a child.

But I remember how she loved us, through her food and her stories. I inherited some of her pots and pans, and although most of them are total junk I still can't bear to part with them. It's like her essence is still in there, somehow.

I also still have some of her good china--too much of it really--but I remember having Christmas dinner on those plates and the thought of getting rid of them made me cry, so I guess I'll just hang onto it for a little while longer.
posted by PearlRose at 9:41 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

That's a great story. Defender of the Unchampioned is a fantastic phrase.
posted by Clinging to the Wreckage at 9:47 AM on April 21, 2016 [2 favorites]

That was lovely. I remember when my paternal grandmother died, we cleaned out her freezer and among the foil-wrapped chicken pot pies and steaks were these rectangular packets that we couldn't for the life of us figure out what they could be, until we opened them up and there was about $10,000 in cash. She always knew how to surprise us, even after the end.
posted by xingcat at 10:12 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

The raspberry jam my grandmother used to make in the summer was better than any other I've ever had.
posted by Gwynarra at 10:18 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

My grandmother passed away in 2009 and her deep freeze had dried peaches, raisins and apricots dating back to the Reagan administration. My mom's still eating them.

What I miss the most is home-grown, home-canned peaches and apricots. My mom and sisters can make passable attempts at her baked goods but once my grandfather passed in 2005 my grandma couldn't tend to the stonefruit on her own so she stopped canning. That canned fruit was something neither of them could do on their own, a totally collaborative culinary product of their union, and it was perfection.
posted by town of cats at 10:31 AM on April 21, 2016 [7 favorites]

Good article, thanks for posting... If anyone want's to borrow my grandmother's cast iron to cook their grandmother's recipes, feel free to let me know...
posted by HuronBob at 10:47 AM on April 21, 2016 [1 favorite]

I'd like to borrow her cast iron to cook my recipes, since (except when she was channeling Delia Smith's Summer Collection or making Yorkshire pud) my grandmother's cooking was stereotypically English.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 10:55 AM on April 21, 2016

After my grandmother died, my Aunt Faye and I spent at least 4 years trying to replicate her Apple Stack Cake. Every family holiday, Aunt Faye and I would show up each with a cake and make the family taste test. Christmas of 2008, Aunt Faye got it just right. She gave me the recipe that night and told me to keep it safe. She passed away in May of the next year and one of the first things my cousin asked me at when I called was "Did you get the Apple Stack Cake?"

I have my grandmother's Red Velvet Cake, Apple Stack Cake, and Apple Pie. I have her mother's Date Nut Loaf and 'secret' to fried chicken. We lost Granny's fudge sauce because it was so simple she never wrote it down, the same happened with my paternal great grandmother's cornbread, but I have my mom's cornbread and Daddy always said hers was better than his mom's.

I've made an effort get all my family's notable recipes when they cook them for me. As the only grandchild who really likes cooking, it's kind of fallen on me to maintain them. I keep them in a cookbook, clearly labeled, for my cousins if they every ask for Uncle Richard's Chocolate Cake or Aunt Carol's Deviled Eggs, but so far no one has.

Of course, when I go, I hope someone goes through all the recipes and enjoys the hell out of them. There's generations of Southern grandmothers in my kitchen and they can still cook it up right.
posted by teleri025 at 11:36 AM on April 21, 2016 [8 favorites]

My father-in-law died 7 years ago yesterday. We still have a serving of lasagna in the freezer that he made for us when our daughter was born right before his death. This lasagna has already moved with us once and will likely move with us again. I'm glad we're not the only ones to hold onto such things for so long.
posted by lucasks at 12:42 PM on April 21, 2016 [4 favorites]

This was lovely, thank you.

I am so grateful my aunt and mother, at some point when my paternal grandmother was in her 80s, sat her down and made her write down her recipes for salmon soufflé (we're Alaskan!), scalloped potatoes and idiosyncratic dessert specialties like "Idiot's Delight." And I will never lose the copy of my maternal grandmother's rhubarb pie recipe in my 11-year old handwriting that I transcribed via long-distance phone call while she played with some measuring cups 3,200 miles away.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:29 AM on April 23, 2016

A while back, there was a poetry sharing thread on MeTa, and gauche shared a poem that fits this completely. So many people in my family are excellent cooks, and too many of them have passed away without having left recipes behind.

As I noted in the poetry thread, if cooking is a conversation between generations, I feel as if our decision to not have children means I will have no one to pass recipes onto, myself, and since that realization, it has been an ache inside me.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:14 PM on April 25, 2016

Semi-related MeTa. (No grar!)
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 7:54 PM on April 25, 2016 [1 favorite]

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