Forgot your password?

We just sent you an email, containing instructions for how to reset your password.

Sign in

  • I pack letters into words and words into sentences and sentences on top of one another to remember times spent in my grandmother's kitchen nowadays. She is getting up in age, and is too weak to do much cooking at all, or at least not like she used to. Her black cast iron is too heavy for her to lift to fry a chicken. Her hands do not act as a cyclone around her bread bowl anymore to knead sourdough loaves; however, she can and is still required to make sweet tea.

    My palate received a thorough education in the way of food while under her supervision as a young girl. Rarely were recipes used; it was usually a "little of this", "some more of that", or "till it looks right". A child of the Great Depression, nothing was laid to waste in my grandmother's kitchen, and because of this inherent sense of culinary frugality there was always a feast. Managing and preparing, cooking and preserving, were all skills instilled to me from a woman who thought she moved too fast to have an apron twirling about her. Tomatoes, green beans, okra, corn, fruits, stone or otherwise, were setback to be served throughout the years.

    The canning process, or setting back, would take over the kitchen for more than a day at different intervals throughout the hot summer months. The kitchen table was scrubbed and cleared, with clean towels spread over the top. Sterilized Mason jars opened their mouths, and were packed to the brim with vegetables or fruits from vine or tree, then immersed into an aged silver cauldron to bathe in boiling water for what felt like a hot holy hell length of time. Fans would oscillate, windows and screen doors opened, but the job was just hot, there was no escaping that. After the set length of time, the jars were taken out, placed to dry on the towels spread on the kitchen table. You knew your job was done right when you heard the "POP" sound, or what sounded like a big, fat wet kiss on the cheek. This is how you knew an air tight seal had occurred between the jar and the lid.

    Pickles were the delicacy to which much attention and devotion was paid during the canning season. When you came to a meal at my grandmother's house, or be I so bold to say, to the table of most Southern women of her era, you were served pickles with every course. Even dessert. Few know of this strangeness. It was not uncommon to see a piece of pound cake with a pickle, whether it was a cucumber, peach, or mouth puckers just thinking about the succulent tanginess underpinned with peppers, onions, cloves, or other spices.

    Anything could be pickled, really. If it wasn't nailed down, would sting you, or something your body would not process, it was fit for pickling. Honey, everything was used, even the rind of a watermelon.
    • Share

    Connected stories:


Collections let you gather your favorite stories into shareable groups.

To collect stories, please become a Citizen.

    Copy and paste this embed code into your web page:

    px wide
    px tall
    Send this story to a friend:
    Would you like to send another?

      To retell stories, please .

        Sprouting stories lets you respond with a story of your own — like telling stories ’round a campfire.

        To sprout stories, please .

            Better browser, please.

            To view Cowbird, please use the latest version of Chrome, Safari, Firefox, Opera, or Internet Explorer.