Friday, May 9

A Tribute to Grandma - Grandma's Kitchen

This being the Mother's Day weekend, I would like to pay tribute to my grandmother. This is a story I wrote about her kitchen. I hope you enjoy it.
Grandma's Kitchen

Grandma's kitchen had no modern appliances, no fancy gadgets. It didn't even have electricity. It was a place that throughout my childhood remained much the same.

As I stepped through the door of that room on a hot, sunny summer's day, the interior was cool and dark. The veranda at the side of the house kept the early morning sun from penetrating Grandma's sanctuary. When my eyes adjusted to the dimness, I would see the gas lantern hanging above the old, oak table. This was no ordinary table - nothing like the fancy chrome ones of today. It had two leaves in the center to accommodate the eight people that sat around it three times a day. In the summer kitchen against the wall, stood another eight leaves. This table was gigantic compared to the small drop-leaf table that stood in front of the window in Mother's kitchen.

I was thrilled when Grandpa offered me that old, oak table when he gave up his house to move in with my uncle. It now graces my kitchen and is my pride and joy.

An oilcloth covered the coarse, grained top where scars had accumulated over the years. Around the table, like sentinels, stood six matching press-back chairs.

Besides the table and chairs, Grandma's kitchen was filled with other things that fascinated me. An icebox stood against one wall and a gingerbread clock perched high on a shelf nearby. I loved to listen to it chime out the time.

Once a day, Grandma would climb onto a chair, open the glass door adorned with golden flowers and insert a key into the face. She would wind it several times, being certain not to wind it too tight, then lay the key safely in the bottom of the clock and close the door with a click. I loved that clock. We had hydro (Canadian term for electricity)at home and our clock couldn't hold a candle to the lovely, gingerbread that stood high on the shelf in Grandma's kitchen.

Against the south wall of the room, stood a monster cookstove. I would watch as Grandma blackened it with stove polish. Around the edges the chrome sparkled and a white porcelain circle in the center of the oven door bore the name "Hartland."

At one end was a reservoir filled with water from the cistern. It held warm water for small tasks. But the warming closet was my favorite part of the old stove. Out of it came tasty treats - cinnamon buns, baked bread, and pancakes to be served with real maple syrup and cloverleaf rolls. Grandma made all of these with loving hands.

On wash day water was carried from the cistern and heated in a copper boiler on the top of that stove.
Grandma's kitchen had many other things that were of interest to a small girl. The wainscoting fit tightly to the wall and was painted snow white - the top half of the room was always papered.

Behind the stove stood a woodbox and a butterbox for kindling. We children had the chore of seeing these were kept full - not one of my favorite jobs.

One cold morning, I entered Grandma's cozy warm kitchen to see a large, cardboard box covered with an old, flannel sheet sitting on the oven door. Grandma lifted a corner of the blanket, allowing me a peek. Eight piglets lay curled inside the box. They had been born during the night and the old sow, being an ornery critter, refused to let them suckle. Grandpa had put them in a box and brought them to Grandma, hoping she could save them. Nothing on a farm was wasted and the loss of these piglets would mean a shortage of meat and lard.

Grandma did save them too. Many times a day, she sat in her oak rocker near the stove and fed those piglets with an eyedropper. Then, when they were old enough, Grandma made Cream Of Wheat and let them suck it off her fingers. The only one that didn't make it was the runt of the litter. He was just too frail.

Baby pigs weren't the only creatures that were raised in Grandma's kitchen. Grandma had an incubator. I've watched her clean eggs and place them gently into that odd looking contraption. She kept them warm for days until the wet, sticky chicks emerged from their shells. After a few weeks, I would find them in the yard, scratching up the dirt.

Most every memory of Grandma's kitchen is pleasant. There was only one exception that comes to mind. I must have broken one of Grandma's rules, though I can't remember what it was. Grandma sat me on a milkstool and told me not to get off until the long hand of the gingerbread clock was on twelve and the short hand on three. I sat there, for what seemed an eternity but in reality was probably about ten minutes. When the appointed time had passed, I was allowed to go. Never again did I goad Grandma into punishing me. Though I loved that gingerbread clock, I had no desire to sit and stare at it, watching the time pass ever so slowly.

My memories of Grandma's kitchen are happy ones and remain forever etched on my memory. I laugh now at the recollection of sitting on that stool and watching the hands of the gingerbread clock creep ever so slowly along the face. I can see the spirits of the men and women who sat around that table, laughing and enjoying food and conversation with my grandparents.

I haven't forgotten the good times Grandma and I spent in that room, or the aromas that filled the air. Homemade soup, freshly baked bread, cinnamon rolls, chicken and dumplings, fresh coffee and so much more. Whenever I encounter these smells, whether it is in a bakery or in Mother's kitchen, I take a trip back in time. Back to the good times shared by loved ones. Back to Grandma's kitchen were love was abundant.

Dumpling Recipe:

Boil chicken pieces for 1.5 hours. Remove from the pot, cool and debone. Be certain there is lots of juice in the pot. If not, add water. Put the deboned chicken back in the broth.

1 cup of flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup of milk (you may have to use a bit more or less)

Be sure they are thick enough to drop from the spoon in a large lump. When the broth starts to boil, put a lid on the pot, turn to medium heat and let simmer for 20 minutes. DO NOT remove the lid while the dumplings are cooking or they will be heavy.

Remove lid, lift out dumplings and serve.

Yield: 6 large dumplings

Copyright © 1988 to 2008 Mary M. Alward
Please do not copy or use without permission of the author.

Graphic Credit: Artist Doug Knutson


  1. I really enjoyed this post sweetie.

  2. Very, very lovely! She sounds like a wonderful lady. I have posted more pictures of my past, which I have just discovered.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Aw, what a lovely story, Mary! I was close with my grandma too. ;-)


  5. Aw! What a sweet post. It sounds like you had the best relationship with your grandma. Awesome!

  6. Oh Mary, I really enjoyed your memories of your grandma's kitchen...It reminds me somewhat of my mother in laws kitchen...
    you have some wonderful memories, thanks for sharing them with us.
    Have a Happy Mother's Day!

  7. Great post Mary! Have a wonderful Mothers Day!! Hope all is going well! Lori

  8. Mary,

    A lovely tribute to your dear grandma. I read it before, but enjoyed it even more, a second time.

    You are so fortunate to still have your dear mom around. Hope you get to spend Mother's Day with her. Happy Mother's Day!

    Love and Blessings,


  9. What a wonderful post Mary! I really enjoyed it and kept thinking back to my grandmother's kitchen when I was a child too. Lots of similarities. Loved the pig story, that is so cute! Thank you for such an injoyable post!

  10. Beautiful story, and great writing, Mary. I remember a lot of the same things you do. :o)

    Happy Mother's Day to you, dear friend!

    Love and hugs,


  11. Mary, I loved your story about your Grandmother's Kitchen!! It brought back happy memories of when I was very young. We lived on a farm in Iowa and in our kitchen was a wood cooking stove similar to the one in your picture. My Mom said she never had a cook stove that cooked our baked as good as that one did!!!
    My cousin who was in his late eighty's passed away this past year and he always told every one about my Mom's Chocolate cakes she made on that stove!!!
    Thanks for sharing your story with us!! Love and hugs, Grams

  12. Sweet story, Mary. I've cooked on a wood stove a few times, the taste of food is so much better than what is cooked on a gas or electric stove.

    Happy Mother's Day!

  13. Thank you for the recollection of Grandma's Kitchen....very touching...

    Happy Mother's Day to you....Betty

  14. I went back and read your post a couple of times and it is easy to see your Grandmother standing in that kitchen... It took my mind back to my grandmothers kitchen,, much more humble than your grandmothers.... but a bit more modern........ She could cook up a batch of fried chicken in that kitchen while making a home made lemon meringue pie....... Mashed potatoes and gravy with home made biscuits...... She raised her own chickens and there was just something about her fried chicken.......... How I miss her........... He house burned 8 months before she died and most of those precious little pots and pans were lost in the fire.......... but I so remember her standing in that kitchen, with her apron and whistling through her teeth,,,,,,,,,,, I often wondered what tune was whistling............... Thanks for sharing for the memories and stirring up mine...........

  15. Mary that story brings back memories of sitting around my Grandma's kitchen table growing up. Thank you.

    There is something for you on my blog if you care to visit.

    God bless.

  16. Loved the story... we make "chicken and pastry" at our house... we roll the flour mixed with water with a rolling pin until it is quite large... then we slice the pastry into strips and drop them in the broth with the chicken.. simmer until done... delicious!

    A lady on my road "Emma Cannon Road" has made a fortune selling the strips already to go in the pot. So if you ever see Anne's Pastry in your store, know that it is made just a mile or two from my house. It's good!!

  17. This too is beautiful! Oh such memories. I have them also, of my grandmother's kitchen. Coal stoves, what goodies came from that. And her pies....the crust would melt in your mouth. Tho, she used "Lard" --I can't stand the smell of that any more. But what tasty treats it made. I'm trying to picture any clock in my grandmother's kitchen, and can't - but I see why that gingerbread clock sticks in your mind.

    Cream of wheat to piglets. This too was just an awesome read Mary!!!

    I'm wondering tho, since I'm still not fully awake this morning...was this grandmother, your mother's mother?


  18. Mary
    My Grandma Christian was the only Grandma I knew as Dad's Mom died when I was very young. Your description could almost be of her. We call the top part of the stove, the bread box and it was the first place I looked as there was always something wonderful to the tastebuds inside. My favorite was fried pies. They would simply melt in your mouth. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. Peace

  19. I felt like I was right in Grandma's kitchen with you. I love the part about the piglets in their cozy little box. I had several little piggies, ducks and lambs in little boxes by the stove myself.
    Happy Happy Mothers Day to YOU, Mary!

  20. Ummm! Dumplings. I loved the dumplings Mother made. I made them once in a while but my family doesn't love them like I do. I haven't had any in many years. I could almost taste them as I read about them here. Sometimes I marvel at the many simple inexpensive ways Mother fed her family. She was very creative that way. Your Grandmother's kitchen sounds like a magical place for a little girl.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Mama Bear

  21. My house, now 105 years old, was built by my maternal grandparents so what once was my grandmother's, then my mother's kitchen, is now mine. Doesn't look at all like it did back when I was growing up now though. I had the kitchen re-done in 1989. As you said though about certain smells, it does bring to mind so many memories of my grandparents, aunts, uncles and all my cousins too as we frequently gathered together here at this old house.
    My Dad's family homestead had belonged to his baby sister for the past 55 years or so -that would be my aunt who just passed away two weeks ago. The house was sold now too -new owners already moved in. But when I was up there two weeks ago, the day my aunt passed, being in the kitchen that was now empty, and which didn't look like it did back when I was very young and that grandmother still lived there, I could feel the vibes, if you will, of the old cookstove that sat in the one corner. I could again picture my aunt, seated in the old rocker in front of the stove, with her feet propped up in the oven to keep them warm! I could once again, in my mind's eye, see the old heatola stove that sat in the living room and gave off precious little warmth of the kind needed to heat the body but the whole house gave off warmth enough of another kind to go around for years and years - the love that came through to me from aunts, uncles and cousins I came to know under that roof.
    Thanks so much for your trip down your memory lane and for enabling me to remember once more how much I gleaned from the kitchens, especially, of both these homes.

  22. A lovley description of your memories of your grandmother's kitchen. With my wonderful antique wood cookstove my kitchen still functions a little like your
    your grandmothers. It certainly has had it's parade of little animals to be saved.

  23. Mary,

    I love reading this tribute to your Grandma. What lovely memories!


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