Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Grandma's iron kettle filled with memories

Spring is here, or perhaps spring has been here more or less all winter.

Hasn’t it been wonderful?

But some experts are concerned. If the next winter is a replay of the last one, it could bring big changes in New York state. Without all the snow melting and coming down from the hills, will we have enough water for crops, industry and homes? What about winter sports?

Most of us don’t think about these things; thankfully we have scientists to worry about them for us. I hope it doesn’t become more than just an academic exercise in the coming years.
I have been thinking about the beautiful weather and talking to friends and neighbors about planting, flowers, trees, vegetables, shrubs and all things to make the place where we live beautiful for the summer.

This all leads up to one of the “planters” I intend to put out on our porch. While cleaning and straightening around the cellar I ran across my grandmother’s three-legged iron kettle all covered up sitting on a table.

It brought back so many fond memories.

The heavy round kettle fit easily on the burner on the wood or coal stove in her kitchen. Whether our ancestors once used to cook in a fireplace, I don’t know, but it was old when it was handed down to her.

Its three legs allowed it to sit on top of the stove and simmer or, when she wanted to hurry something along, she would remove the iron lid from the wood stove’s burner and place it right over the fire. But then we had to watch it closely so it wouldn’t burn.

If it were something she had already cooked and wanted to keep warm, she would move it onto the stove’s reservoir to keep it warm because the reservoir always contained hot water.
Grandma cooked us some delicious meals in her kettle. She always said that certain foods were best cooked in a heavy kettle.

The breakfast cornmeal, cooked long and slow, provided a wonderful morning meal.

There usually was some left, which she put into a bread pan to cool into a loaf. At supper, you might be served a slice of it that had been fried in butter and served with maple syrup or jelly.

Other foods she cooked in the kettle included soup, beef stew with potatoes, carrots, onions, rutabaga and sometimes other veggies with a few spices and brown gravy in the mix.

She would serve this with homemade biscuits.

On a cold winter’s stormy night we would all thank her for such a good meal.

I had forgotten about the kettle; now it will be sitting on the porch with a mix of perhaps petunias or geraniums replacing grandma’s stew.

We’ve replaced her generation’s coal and wood burning stoves with crockpots and microwave ovens.

That iron kettle was really something. And sitting on the table on the porch this summer full of flowers, it will still be.

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