There are a few things I can’t bring myself to discard as I lighten my load for the next fifty years of my life’s journey. One of those “things” is my maternal grandmother’s bigass roasting pan. I’ve been hauling the large, grey, dented thing around for the past thirty years and every time I look at it my grandma springs right back to life.
My grandma, Lucille Goodreau was definitely her own person. She loved to fish, wore bib jeans before they were hip, and cooked on a wood burning stove until the day she died. Grandma died a pretty horrible death- an undiagnosed brain tumor swept her away when I was barely a teenager – but I choose to remember her in the kitchen and not how we saw her those last few years.
Grandma was an amazing cook and her food was the only gift she could afford to give us. My grandparents never owned a home, worked very hard, and struggled to pay the light bill. Those things didn’t matter when my two brothers, sister, and I flew in through the kitchen door during one of our many visits. Grandma was always cooking, the house smelled amazing, and the roasting pan was always filled with something that we knew would make us swoon.
My Mom was an only child and when Grandma died we were the ones who cleaned out the house. I remember my Mom sobbing when we discovered the hundreds of aspirin bottles hidden under the basement steps. Grandma apparently had been trying to cure her headaches without going to see the doctor. We also found her little homemade whiskey making apparatus which made us smile. And I found the roasting pan.
I used it this week when I cooked a Thanksgiving turkey for all the meat eaters and I’ll use it again during the holidays when my daughter comes home and wants another turkey. Sometimes I just open up the cabinet door and look at it. It’s the biggest cooking thing-be I have and I suppose one of these days the bottom will give out but I’ll never get rid of it.
When I look at the pan I think about her bent over the stove, a red bandana tied on top of her head to keep her hair out of her eyes, a stick of wood in her right hand to keep the fire going, wooden spoons lying all over the place, steam rising in waves from all her pots and pans.
Some day I’ll be a grandma (Please – let’s be careful children – not for a while!) I’m not the world’s greatest cook but I do pretty damn good and I’ll cook up some kitchen memories for them.
And just in case you’re wondering – I have Grandma Goodreau’s whiskey recipe too and I’m going to make it for the grandkids. Grandma Goodreau would be proud.