The stove in her farmhouse was eons old.
It had been her mothers’ and no one can remember beyond that. Her stove, a cast iron York, that burned coal and wood, warmed us in the winter, sometimes tormenting us in the summer, had been in the family forever.
It was her friend. She had teased and coddled it into submission. Nothing was ever burned or dried. With a steady hand and watchful eye, it did her bidding. Singing with smells and sizzling with bacon, the fat used for flavoring everything from cornbread to mustard greens, “the kitchen stove is where the magic happens” she once told me with a twinkle in her eye.
I was too young to understand, too bored to listen, but it was her eyes that I remember. If Big Ma had a lover, it was her stove. She would leave great-granddaddy George in a warm bed on cold winter mornings to stoke the coals, add some wood and make coffee, fresh biscuits, fried green apples, eggs and bacon. The smells woke him, though being a farmer, the rooster would have crowed.
At lunch, the big meal, there were pork chops smothered in gravy, boiled or mashed potatoes and collard greens flavored in bacon grease, fresh cornbread and country butter. Dinner was usually lighter, pinto bean soup flavored with bacon poured steaming from a cast iron pot and the rest of the mornings’ bread warmed in the oven, a cup of hot hard cider laced with whiskey.
I remember her gleaming black stove and her strong, nut brown hands making me cornmeal pancakes with homemade blueberry syrup, sausage and a small cup of coffee with too much milk. There were lunches of ham sandwiches on homemade white bread, so thick and meaty you could share and not feel slighted. Dinners of fried catfish and red skinned potato salad and a peach cobbler, so deep and fat it spilled over the pan. It all came from that stove and her hands, stirring and kneading and pounding, feeding us, keeping us warm and happy.
One day, a few years before she died, we were reminiscing about her life and dreaming of what was to be mine, I asked her “how”, all she said was “love”.
“If you share what you have, you always have enough”
My name is Diana Scott-Sho, owner and baker of THE LUSCIOUS LITTLE DESSERT COMPANY. I’ve created Luscious Feast as a tribute and celebration of my great-grandmother, Big Ma who through her boundless patience and generosity filled both her table and my heart with the appreciation of good food and friends to share it with. She taught me to celebrate where we come from, who we are and to be thankful for what we have, but most of all to share that with our family and friends.