Saturday, February 26, 2011

Breakfasts at Giddy's

I've told you about my grandmother Giddy's molasses cookies so big that they took two little hands to hold and her traditional Christmas bread that remains a tradition and brown donuts that melted in your mouth. Her breakfasts were just as special. Whether they were enjoyed in that huge farmhouse kitchen surrounded by wainscoating or some years later in the smaller home she and Grampie and my aunt Claire moved to within view of that homestead, breakfasts at Giddy's surpassed any IHop anywhere.

For some reason Sunday breakfast seemed extra special.I think it was because we took extra time to enjoy each other around the pine table with its drop-in leaf. My Aunt Claire always sat in the same place. She kept her things in the same spot-like pills, pencils, a small pad of paper, maybe a stray button or piece of candy. On the window sill beside her sat trinkets she'd received from her nieces and nephews. Usually a candle was in the mix. If my cousin Carol and I had stayed the night-enjoying Gunsmoke, Lawrence Welk, and Paladin-we lingered even longer.

By today's anti-lard, anti-grease, anti-fat standards Giddy's eggs cooked in bacon grease and served with a dash of pepper and salt would have been considered a no-no. So too would have been her French Goulash-spaghetti mixed with garden stewed tomatoes, onion, and a half a pound of cut-up bacon-all blended together with the bacon grease, dotted with real butter and baked until just brown. One more note on lard and grease: during haying season when Giddy cooked the big meal at noon for all the workers and Grampie, there'd be bowls of grease from whatever meat she was serving. Throughout the feast her homemade bread smothered in butter was dipped into the piping hot grease-and enjoyed! Giddy lived into her eighties. My grandfather died of asthma but lived a long life. While they consumed the grease and lard like we do lettuce and fruits and nuts the difference is their food was chemical free. They grew and raised most all they consumed.

Of all the breakfast treasures she served-the french toast and pancakes both fried in hot fat, then covered in butter and real maple syrup; the hot oatmeal or corn meal, a favorite was her rice croquettes which were simply cooked rice mixed with beaten eggs, shaped into croquettes, rolled in flour or bread crumbs-then cooked in that deep fat until browned and served with hot tomato sauce. We'd stuff ourselves with those croquettes-and pancakes and french toast and eggs and bacon and hot cereal. There was just something about gathering around that kitchen table at the beginning of a new day-where aromas of cinammon and bacon and coffee perking mingled about and the spirit of a woman we all called Giddy made us feel a part of something special called family.

Those breakfasts are now sweet memories made even sweeter when considering I was given that simple pine table with its drop-in leaf. On Sundays when my sister comes for coffee we sit around the table and talk and share-just like days gone by with Giddy cooking and wide-eyed grandchildren talking and sharing and eating. Last Christmas I sat around that table with my 6-month-old granddaughter. When she is old enough I will tell her about others who'd gathered around that table and if she asks I'll cook her rice croquettes or pancakes or french toast. I'll go light with the butter. It's a new generation.

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