We are having ham, and hen (as Grandmommy always refers to chicken), and beef meatballs, and pork. There's enough yellow corn to feed a stable, and beans and peas and sweet potato soufflé. And new potatoes, but sadly not those grown by Granddaddy and kept in the cool space underneath the house--those always tasted so fresh! And cake and two kinds of pie for dessert. We're celebrating Christmas today in Dublin--just me, Mums, John, Grandmommy, and my brother Nate, whose arrival from Atlanta we anticipate in the next hour. Grandmommy is busy in the kitchen, all four curled mazes of electrical eyes on her stove crowded with cooking pots and the pressure cooker Presto Model 40 she bought about 70 years ago. This morning we ate homemade biscuits baked in two even more ancient round aluminum cake pans, which her mother used to make four layer cakes in the wood-fired oven at the old homeplace. We always say that one reason Grandmommy's biscuits taste so good is because of those pans. It was the children's responsibility when she was growing up to fetch the kindling in for the stove. I asked Grandmommy how her mother knew how long to bake things, given there was no thermometer, and she said she had to guess.
Grandmommy and Mums are debating the use for the probable leftover broccoli, potentially in a broccoli chicken casserole. It's a beautiful sunny day outside, and is forecast to warm to seventy. John was strolling outdoors and came in to remark on how pleasant it is, and so we're going to have the doors open. Mums is washing the dishes and Grandmommy is concerned about there being too much water in the potatoes. I am sure they'd be delicious even if they were swimming. Grandmommy's cooking is superb. She claims to be just a "plain cook," but her plain food is far better than much fancy stuff. I wish more of the family could be here, but a large proportion of those who had planned to come are sick with either colds or the flu.
It's quiet except for Grandmommy's narration of her cooking process--I'm glad I am not the only one in the family who talks out her planned steps--the rattle of lids on pots, and the swish of water as dishes are washed. Everything is cooked and maneuvered into the oven to keep warm, ready to be placed on the counter for serving at dinnertime. My cousin once referred to Grandmommy's "magic oven, noting that she'd never seen her cook, but that she just would open the oven and a multiple dish meal was there to eat. And the oven itself is like the Weasley's tent in the Harry Potter stories--it's bigger on the inside than in is outside--into than one small space, an incredible number of covered Corningware dishes and tinfoil wrapped plates can fit.
The Christmas cactus is blooming on the back porch, and I just heard Grandmommy wondering where I have disappeared to as she went to turn off the heat, the doors being open for fresh air. The aroma from the kitchen is making my mouth water. And my mother is doing leg lifts as she waits for my brother. He'd better get here soon. I'm hungry!