J ’ E AT
Stepping up to the plate or many of us a step stool in the kitchen meant that as children we were welcome to help our mothers, grandmothers or aunts prepare a meal. My grandmother, who we affectionately called Nonnie, and great-grandmother, Grannie, both practiced this. In fact, when Grannie passed away in 2007 the only piece of furniture I called dibs on was the step stool in her kitchen and it’s been with me ever since. My 3-year-old son even gets to try it out from time to time when he helps his mama stir the spaghetti noodles, crack eggs or decorate cookies. I can’t help but smile when remembering all the times Grannie would drag it up next to the stove in her small Sparta, Ga., kitchen and let me help out. Nonnie didn’t have a step stool — at least none that I can recall — but she did have a certain chair at the breakfast table that I remember dragging up beside her at the kitchen counter when I was little. Cooking — and teaching children how to cook was Nonnie and Grannie’s way of expressing how much they each loved their families. A full belly makes for a happy heart and the Field bellies were ALWAYS over capacity, especially at Nonnie’s Lindsay Field during the holiday season. For as far back as family members can recall, Nonnie and my grandfather, Pops, hosted Christmas Eve dinners at their house in Albany, Ga. And this wasn’t just any dinner, but an eyes-pop-out-of-your-head spread of appetizers, casseroles, main dishes and desserts. You name it, she made it and nine times out of 10, it was from scratch. Nonnie would begin preparing for the big night, which usually included about 40-plus family members and close friends, weeks in advance and on Christmas Eve her kitchen cabinets were lined with lists of when to put dishes in the oven, pull things out of the freezer or warm sides in the microwave. It was a well-oiled machine and with only ONE stove. She absolutely loved cooking for others and practiced this delicious Christmas Eve tradition for upwards of nearly 60 years.
Nonnie passed away in 2007 but our family still spends every Christmas Eve together and enjoys an amazing spread, although that little piece of Nonnie is missed. Her sweet soul can’t help but be on all of our minds during this special time of year, so please make sure you share a hug with or say a prayer for the person who let you slide the step stool or chair up next to them when you were a child so that you too could be a big help in the kitchen. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year ya’ll!
Nonnie’s Mashed Potatoes Ingredients One 5-pound bag of Yukon Gold Potatoes 8 ounces cream cheese 8 ounces sour cream ¼ tsp salt and pepper One stick unsalted butter Cut potatoes in fourths, leaving the skins on and boil until soft enough to easily poke with a fork. Drain water and mash potatoes in the pot. Add all but the butter to the potatoes and use a mixer to whip the mixture. Pour mixture into a 9X13-inch casserole dish, cut slices of butter and scatter on top of potatoes and bake in a 375-degree oven for 15-20 minutes.
Cobb Life Dec. 2013