To Grandmother’s House We Go

Me, age 5, in the middle. Grandmom Ware, milkshake-maker extraordinaire, far right.

Me, age 6, in the middle. Grandmom Ware, milkshake-maker extraordinaire, far right.

Summer makes me think of my grandma. When the air hangs heavy with humidity and the scent of freshly-cut grass, I remember summer trips to see her at her home in Pennsylvania. We were never bored at my grandmother’s house. There were blueberries to pick and croquet balls to hit in the yard. There were trips to the Dairy Queen my grandfather used to own and walks to be taken at Peace Valley.

And there were the flames of obsessions to be fanned.

For my sister and I, the obsessions ranged from the ping pong table in the basement (the site of hours and hours of rabid sibling competition) to the cuckoo clock in the front hall (noon was a special hour in my grandmother’s house). We liked pawing through the toys and books that my grandmother’s seven children had left behind, and inevitably claiming a few water-stained tomes, or aging Barbies, as our own.

And we were both obsessed with my grandmother’s “milkshakes.”

I thought of my grandmother this week, not just because the park crew was mowing the grass at the reservoir where I go running, but because I saw this article, featuring portraits of grandmas from around the world as they make their traditional cuisine.

To be honest, I don’t remember a lot of what my grandmother cooked. What I do know is that I must get some of my obsessiveness from her, because she was obsessed with not wasting. ANYTHING. Heaven forbid you chopped too much off the top of a carrot, or hacked too much flesh off a zucchini if you were cutting out a bad spot. Into the soup pot, or casserole dish, those pieces would go. I even remember her eating the brown parts of bananas that my sister and I discarded.

“Mmmmmm!” she’d say, with relish that wasn’t even exaggerated. Our revulsion was probably not exaggerated either.

Her milkshakes, however, were a different story. Actually, what they really were were smoothies–although being a woman ahead of her time, as my grandmother was, she was making them long before the smoothie craze began. A little yogurt, some frozen orange juice, sometimes a splash of milk. And then a banana. Always a banana. And who cared if she threw in the parts with the brown spots, because it was all going to get blended up anyway.

Long before wheatgrass or protein powder or chia seeds made smoothies fashionable, my grandmother made us milkshakes in the morning, fueling us for a day of running in the sprinklers, or prowling around her garden, or drawing at the cluttered kitchen table. I like to think that she was ahead of her time not just for making the smoothies, but also for her not-so-secret ingredient, which she included in her cooking, and in everything she did: love.

5 Things I’m Obsessing About This Week (besides grandmas and their cooking), July 17, 2013:

1. I’d love to be any of these places (and not just because of the air conditioning). SWOON.

2. Try not to spend all day looking at this. Though admittedly, that’s hard. (Here’s an explanation.)

3. When it’s this hot, Mr. Darcy needs to cool off, too.

4. For classics nerds like me, these are hilarious!

5. And just because it’s been a bookish kind of obsession week, I have to end with these fantastic literary Google doodles.

Happy Wednesday!

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