She was born in a one room log cabin in the mountains of North Carolina almost 89 years ago. She helped farm shares with her 8 brothers and sisters. She came from a time when water had to be hauled, clothes were washed on a scrub board and whippings were common. She came from a time when you grew your own food, milked your own cows and didn’t waste anything. Whether it be walking 3 miles to school barefoot or watching her sister burn to death in a meadow fire, she certainly experienced, early on, more than her share of hardship and tragedy. Yet, she persevered.
Throughout the rest of her life she continued to encounter obstacles that would pull most people under. Yet, she managed to ceaselessly employ that same perseverance along with a strong work ethic that, although common in her generation, is often lacking today. She didn’t wallow in self pity or overanalyze life and its imperfections. Without question, she plowed her way through it, got over it, and moved on to the good parts.
When she died, my grandmother was almost 89 years old. She was married for 55 years. She had 3 children, 14 grandchildren, 27 great grandchildren and 7 great, great grandchildren. She was the source and anchor of a lifetime of memories for our family. She affected each of us differently but without a doubt, she will forever be a part of every one of our lives. Some of us remember her cooking Some of us remember her gardening. .
Some of us remember her canning. Some of us remember her scrubbing us clean. Some of us remember her yelling at us to keep out of her begonias. But I can guarantee you, all of us remember two things. We all remember the wall in her garage where our family history was recorded. And all of us remember her cornbread.
You see, when life gave my grandmother lemons… she just made cornbread. In a preheated cast iron skillet, of course. With a little butter melted in the bottom. And maybe a pot of green beans too. Made with a dollop of bacon grease. And how could you say no to her applesauce cookies?
Her food may be gone. Her canned peaches may be gone. Her garden and house are certainly gone. And, sadly, her body is gone. But, yet she lingers. The stories are there. The pictures are there. The memories are there. And, I hope, her attitude is there. I hope that all who knew her are able to recognize the amazing gift that she was. I hope we are able to take the best of her. I hope we recognize the value of her life and remember the lessons she taught us. I hope we learn to plow through it, get over it, and move on to the good parts. And then have some cornbread.
In loving memory of Nanny
1 cup cornmeal (yellow or white)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven and cast iron skillet to 400 degrees. Near the end throw in a dollup of butter or bacon grease. Combine corn meal, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Combine milk, oil, and egg in a bowl and mix well. Add milk mixture to flour mixture. Stir just until combined. Pour into preheated cast iron skillet. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes our clean.
1 cup shortening (I’ve always used butter)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs beaten
4 cups cake flour (I’ve always used all purpose)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp soda
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups unsweetened applesauce (I’ve always used whatever is in the fridge)
Cream shortening and sugar together. Beat egg, add to creamed mixture and blend well. Sift all ingredients together (if you feel like it) and add alternately with the applesauce to the creamed mixture. Be sure to add flour first and last. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a cookie sheet. Bake 15 minutes at 375 degrees.