In the 1970s, when I was little, my family gathered at my grandmother’s house in Kansas City every Sunday for dinner. Born in 1901, Grandma was an old-fashioned cook. She grew vegetables in her garden, kept chickens for eggs, and made everything from scratch. She made sure that everyone helped get dinner ready, and it was under her teaching that I learned to make homemade egg noodles and the lightest, fluffiest dumplings. My mom and her nine siblings all learned their way around the kitchen from Grandma, too. On Sundays they would each show up with a dish they’d made. I remember my Aunt Jackie’s perfect meat loaf and her lemon pie crowned with meringue. My Aunt Sue could be counted on for a tuna noodle casserole. And Mom fried chicken like nobody’s business. The method was nothing fancy, but the juicy meat and crisp crust were so, so good. My grandmother has since passed away, and we no longer have our Sunday ritual, but we do get together for just about every occasion you can think of. Take this past Mother’s Day. As the host, I tackled the centerpiece, a glazed ham, and baked a creamed corn casserole to celebrate spring. I set the guests who arrived early to work—Bailey, 12, picked lilacs for the table, and her aunt, my youngest daughter Lindsay, made my grandmother’s sugar cookies. Ashley, my oldest, brought the macaroni and cheese, gooey with cheddar and sour cream. Even though Grandma is gone, I know she would be proud that we’re continuing with her traditions. She’s with us in everything we cook.
No Place Like Home