Grandma’s Christmas Gift

The year I got married, my grandma gave me her iron skillet for Christmas. “It’s already properly aged,” she said proudly.  “And I’ll teach you all my receipts, too.”  (Grandma, who was from the Ozark Mountains in Missouri, always called recipes “receipts.”)

I loved that old skillet.  Not only because it was a great cooking pan, but because untold years of family history were baked into it.  As Grandma taught me to fry chicken, golden and crispy, she explained how to cook on a wood stove–“Just in case.”  She taught me to fry apples drenched in cinnamon, and as they sizzled in the bacon fat she told me about a neighbor family in the mountains who had twelve children named alphabetically. (The first two were Alice Bettina and Clyde Demont, but I can’t remember the other ten. To this day, when I can’t sleep, I go through the alphabet naming babies.) Grandma taught me to fry green tomatoes, and told me what a treat they were in the mountains when the family had been without fresh produce so long they couldn’t wait for the tomatoes to ripen

Oh, and the cornbread. That was my favorite. Here’s Grandma’s “receipt”:

Heat the oven to hot.

Beat together 2 eggs, 3 glugs of buttermilk from the jug, and a handful of lard, melted.

Add 2 fistfuls of cornmeal, 1 fistful of flour, a generous pinch of salt, and a generous pinch of baking soda.

Mix everything together well.  Turn the stove up hot and melt lard in the skillet. Pour in the batter and leave it until it sizzles. Take the skillet off and stick in it in the oven.  Bake until the cornbread is golden and done.

Mmmmm~! Just thinking about that crispy-edged cornbread makes my mouth water!

If you decide to try Grandma’s receipt, let me know what you think.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you, as you are to them.”

Bishop Desmond Tutu


About kaystrom

Kay Marshall Strom, who am I? Well, I’m a traveler, a railer against social injustice, a passionate citizen of the world. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I’m a 21st century abolitionist who speaks out against slavery of all kinds. I am a beach walker and a gardener and the off-key singer of songs. I’m a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter, a friend. Most people, though, know me as a writer and a speaker. So here is a bit more about that part of my life: Of my 43 published books, eight have been book club selections, seventeen have been translated into foreign languages, and two have been optioned for movies. My writing credits include numerous magazine articles, books for children, short stories, television scripts and two prize-winning screenplays. Along with my husband Dan, I also have produced a series of booklets for writers. My writing has appeared in a number of volumes including three versions of the NIV Devotional Bible and the devotional book My Heart, Christ’s Home, Through the Year. I love to write, and I love to share about topics close to my heart. I speak at seminars, retreats, writer’s conferences, and special events throughout the country. And because I do enjoy travel, I even speak on cruise ships! More and more my writing and speaking are drawing me to countries and cultures around the world. Because I don’t see how a writer can really reflect another people and land without spending time there, I’ve been trekking through India, China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sudan, Senegal, Morocco, Tunisia, and Egypt, tape recorder and camera in hand, to gather stories from the world-wide family of God and to speak on their behalf. I’ve traveled to the hard places of the world to tell “the rest of the story” of our donor dollars at work. Thanks to my “virtual friendship” with 17th century John Newton, slave ship captain turned preacher, I traveled through Ireland with the preview team of the movie Amazing Grace (John wrote the hymn). I recently spoke in Japan and South Korea, and my husband Dan and I taught writing classes in India. And, oh, how thankful I am for every bit of it! I went to West Africa to work on a non-fiction book, but when I toured an old slave fortress off the coast and saw a tiny set of baby manacles bolted to the wall, I was struck dumb. All I could think was: “How could good, God-fearing people ever get to the place where they think that is okay?” From that horror came a story question, and from that question, my foray into fiction: The Grace in Africa trilogy. My seven trips to India led to the Blessings in India fiction trilogy. Come join me as I travel and rail against injustice. Join me as I walk along the beach, or work in the garden, or warble a tune. Be my friend. Maybe you will choose to also be a 21st century abolitionist.
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6 Responses to Grandma’s Christmas Gift

  1. Jean Stewart says:

    Oh, Kay, what memories! Being from Georgia, our relatives cooked much the same way. I have my mother’s black iron skillet and Bill’s mother gave me her prized “Mrs. Dull’s Cookbook” with recipes much like your grandmother’s and statements like “enough salt to fit in the small of your palm” and “cook in a hot oven until done.” We make cornbread the exact same way–no flour, no sugar, just basically cornmeal, buttermilk, soda and lard or bacon grease. Just too good! I make it for our turkey dressing (along with buttermilk biscuits) and have to make extra of both to have enough left after snackers just “take a pinch” to make the dressing! The joys of family through cooking. Thanks for sharing and taking me back. Blessed Christmas, dear friend.

  2. kaystrom says:

    Oh, what a lovely response, Jean! I want to stop by your house for cornbread and a taste of that cornbread dressing! Yum~!

  3. pratap jena says:

    Dear mum,
    it is really made me to remember my Grandma also,she was giving me a bread wich was
    made by Raggi powder with salt ,According to the Area wise we may get the eatable thimgs and really this all for remembernece to us.please remember us in yours
    prayer,Convey our good regards to yours nears&Dears one.

    yours & His.Pratap jena

    • kaystrom says:

      Thank you, Pratap. I would like to taste your Grandma’s bread!
      Thank you also for your earlier note. I will be sending you a message next week.
      Blessings, brother~

  4. Alice W. says:

    Oh for the memories, I have one of those iron skillets also, I bought mine not seasoned, took a long time to season it. I have wonderful meals and bakes with it, nothing like it before or since.

  5. kaystrom says:

    There is a lot to be said for hand-me-down gifts, isn’t there? Mine was well seasoned. Hope you make something especially yummy over Christmas!

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