Grandma loved to bake. Every time I walked in the door, I went straight for the office space in her cozy home, to the peacock blue cookie jar. Most of the time, there were homemade sugar cookies in the jar, but every now and then grandma would change it up and put chocolate chip or oatmeal raisin cookies! The best part about going to grandma’s house was that she taught us how to do things. One summer I remember learning to sew, one summer, learning to water color on canvas. But the thing grandma really enjoyed teaching us, was how to cook.
Another weekend at grandma's was underway. As I woke that Saturday morning, my grandfather was already at the table with freshly made coffee in hand. My grandmother was whipping up her homemade, melt-in-your-mouth pancakes and homemade maple syrup. We gathered at that little awkward table, for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks, games, baking, and talking. The table at my grandparents’ home was attached to the wall and adjacent to the counter top—it was a table that no one else I knew, had. It was a half oval and sat three people. It was perfect for me, grandma, and grandpa! I always sat at the “head of the table.” The kitchen was petite; it represented a gathering place, a place of comfort in the home. Grandma was just about finished with her pancakes, when she reached in the fridge to get her jar of homemade syrup. She warmed it on the stove, and she piled high the pancakes for grandpa and me. She drizzled the stack with warm and gooey syrup and brought the crispy bacon to the table.
Grandpa just couldn’t wait, and he dove right in to the warm and fluffy delight. When he did, his face portrayed the look that the pancakes tasted horrible. Grandpa never complained and we weren't allowed to say something tasted "pretty good" because grandma said that was opposite of complimenting the cook, so he continued to eat them. Grandma said, “How are the pancakes Buddy, Annie?” Grandpa replied, “Well, Betty, did you change your recipe?” Astonished, she answered, “No!” Grandma ran over to the table and bit into her fluffy pancakes doused in hot maple syrup, and started laughing. We were wondering WHAT was going on. Grandma said to us, “When I reached in the refrigerator to get the jar of homemade pancake syrup, I must have grabbed the wrong jar.” She went over to the stove and dipped her finger in the “syrup”. To her surprise it wasn’t syrup at all! It was unsweetened tea! My grandmother stored leftovers in glass jars in her refrigerator and syrup and tea were the same color, so I can see how she confused the two! She threw out the stacks of ruined pancakes and started mixing up another batch. This time when she set our pink, floral china on the table with our golden pancakes, I said, “Mmmm, good grandma!” We ate until our bellies were going to pop! Grandpa and I told her we would never let her forget this day in the kitchen!
What I enjoyed most about eating pancakes at my grandparents’ home was that it represented so much more than breakfast. It was the start of a new day, a place where my imagination began. It was then where we planned our activities, chores, talked about our dreams, and read the comics. A few years later, we planned to have our own pancake shop. As we thought of the details of our shop, I told grandma we would have a big pancake hanging outside on her front porch, for passersby to sample. I told her she would be flipping the cakes and I would be the waitress. I told her she would have to sample the syrup a our pancake shop so that our customers would keep coming back. She smiled.
Here are some pictures of Grandma Betty
My Grandma, my cousins, and me: