“Too many cooks in the kitchen spoils the broth” is certainly something I’ve heard before, and at home I tend to lean toward believing it. I enjoy having the kitchen to myself to prepare meals for my family. I can always call one of the kids in if I need help with something, but it’s a kind of “quiet time” for me and I truly prefer it.
Recently, I was able to attend a family reunion in Texas. The families present set up in two houses, but all the cooking was done in the big house. As we all unloaded the groceries and goodies we had prepared in advance, I noticed something interesting: once all the big ice chests and grocery bags had been emptied and put away by the men, they left the kitchen area as the women of the family set to work organizing and preparing the upcoming meal.
There was no verbal communication of this plan, and I hope it doesn’t sound like I am complaining about the men, because I’m not. I just thought it was remarkable we fell into roles that have always been present in my extended families, and everyone is very comfortable with the arrangement.
As I looked around and watched what was happening, I saw my Grannie take a seat and start directing traffic. My mother and aunts were putting things away and planning what was coming next. My cousins and I were following directions and teaching the older generations how to use the newest appliances.
The kids were swirling through and around us, and I realized that was their place, just as it had been my place years before. While swirling through the adults, I was observing and learning my place in the family get-togethers. I remember my young years as Grannie would teach us her secret recipes and we would wash dishes together at the end of the meal. I also remember when I transitioned effortlessly into the next role. It was almost like a rite of passage.
At some family gatherings, I remember the women removing themselves from the kitchen to laugh and share stories and catch up, since getting together didn’t happen often. They usually congregated in their own parlor at my grandparents’ house. It was not a room the kids enjoyed, but when we younger girls grew up, it was the natural place to be at the end of the meal. My aunt and uncle live there now, and it is still the place the women go after the meal.
There is something so sweet about family traditions and roles like these. I’m glad they are a part of my family heritage that I can pass on for generations to come.
Grannie’s Banana Pudding
This recipe only serves about 4 people. We usually double it for family gatherings.
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons flour
2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Thinly sliced vanilla wafers
Begin heating milk on medium heat. Mix sugar and flour, add to milk and stir. Add beaten eggs. Stir mixture continually to prevent clumping until it becomes thickened. Remove from heat. Add butter and vanilla, stir to mix.
In a serving bowl, layer of vanilla wafers, bananas and about 1/3 of pudding mixture. Continue to make more layers of wafers, bananas and pudding until all pudding is used. Top with one more layer of wafers only.
Grannie says the key is to not let the pudding get lumpy. You can also omit the banana and wafers and use the pudding mixture as a base for Chocolate or Coconut Cream Pie by adding either 2 tablespoons of cocoa or ½ cup shredded, sweetened coconut and pouring it into a baked pie shell then refrigerating. Grannie would top it with a yummy meringue as well.
I was observing and learning my place in the family get-togethers.