For many of us, if we look back to comfort food from our childhood, much of it comes not from our mothers, but our grandmothers. I remember my grandmother making us simple lunches of jacket potato with tuna mayonnaise. I still can't taste creamy tuna mayonnaise and hot, fluffy baked potato without thinking of her. And my grandmother on my father's side used to make the most of our visits to her, going out and picking broad beans from her garden as me and my sister sat with her, around a bucket, tearing them them from their wispy, fluffy pods.
This book, At My Grandmother's Knee: Recipes and Memories Handed Down By Women of the South, is a celebration of memories, handed down recipes and anecdotes from those who fondly remember their grandmothers' cooking. The book concentrates on the cooking of the Southern states of the US, and the women that fed their families with dishes that are still enjoyed today, or have a special family significance.
Each recipe starts with an interview, someone recalling when their grandmother cooked for them - often an act that comforted them as children. One lady, Janice, remembers "Granny's early morning breakfasts were the best. I'd wake up in her bed to the smell of bacon frying and biscuits baking... I'd scramble into the oven-warmed kitchen to eat, sipping on coffee with lots of milk amd sugar at eight years of age".
The book contains recipes for breakfasts, jams and pickles, drinks and breads and biscuits. There are also recipes for appetisers, main meals and side dishes and the meals reflect the cuisine of the South. Cornbread, sausages and gravy and pumpkin bread are all featured.
As you would expect from a grandmother's cookbook, there are also plenty of recipes for pies, cakes and cookies and - get this - a whole section on chocolate pies, which is definitely worth a mention.
I loved that each recipe had a story. That when you use the book to make Cowboy Coffee Cake, you know the stories and personalities that have created and enjoyed the same dish as you.
At My Grandmother's Knee is, in a way, priceless. It is a record of family recipes that have, over the years, provided comfort, nourishment and a sense of stability. This book is not just a collection of recipes but a recording of emotions, personalities and comforting memories associated with food that could have been so easily lost to time.
At My Grandmothers Knee is published by Thomas Nelson Publishing, Tennessee, USA (2011)
Do you have any dishes you remember your grandmother making for you, or any food related memories of them? Share them in the comments below!