Fall brings cooler weather and foods remembered from childhood. Mother Olive had an innate ability to put things together, cook them just right and serve what amounted to a banquet, even on nights when the larder was almost bare. Payday and weekly grocery shopping were on Wednesday. Tuesday was often a pot beans slowly-simmered with a ham hock or scraps of bacon accompanied by homemade biscuits. Versatile potatoes were always in good supply, so they took many forms, baked, scalloped, fried, boiled, and in soup. The dabs of toasted, puffy Velveeta cheese atop baked macaroni were a highly contested treat each kid tried to score. Something sweet came at the end of the meal. Peaches or pears canned or fresh in season. Mom’s chocolate, fruit, or custard pies, cakes, cookies, and cobbler were unparalleled. Her Sunday pot roasts, meatloaf and mashed potatoes were blue-ribbon quality. Daddy never went to work without pancakes, sausage gravy over biscuits or slow-cooked oatmeal, (the only kind out there at the time.) As early as the cradle, I awoke to the smell of fresh, perking coffee.
If it sounds like mother worked hard in the kitchen, it’s true. She liked saying about foods she tasted elsewhere, “They call themselves cooks” and we knew she referred to a lack of seasoning. She did her work as a matter of course and we expected no less. Up to the end she prepared hot meals for daddy that included all the trimmings, even if desserts were cups of pudding from a four-pack or Jell-O with a dab of Kool Whip served on TV trays — accompanied by the evening news.
Did we thank her? (I can’t remember.) I honor mom’s efforts on behalf of the family by cooking her specialties for others to enjoy. I wish I could say it in person, but keeping her memory alive through Bobbin-olive gift books are what my sisters and I do today. Get one soon and fill it out. Don’t hold back. Present it to your mom while you still can.