After my paternal grandmother died, my father found a couple of notes she’d written. She wanted to make sure that I (the eldest granddaughter) got a few things, like her china, and a curious little rolling pin. I was in my early 20’s when she passed, which makes the notes all the more remarkable. She never mentioned them to anyone, and wrote them when I was barely 6!
The other day, we were clearing out boxes and boxes of unused items and books from the basement. The kids began going through some, and my son came across one of the notes. I long thought I’d lost it. It is addressed to my father and his brother, and reads;
This little rolling pin belonged to your Dad’s Grandmother, Mrs. Beedel and Dad’s Mother (your Grandmother) used nothing but this to make her pastry. Whenever I was there, I would watch her little hands roll this over her pastry. I would like ***** to have this, if she cares to. I have always treasured it.
That this little rolling pin meant so much to her that she wanted to make sure, long before I was old enough to give it to, that I would inherit it, is so touching. As a kid, I took for granted her talent in the kitchen. She baked the best pies. Rhubarb custard and raspberry were favourites. Both fruits came from her own garden, a prudent idea given the price of raspberries, even in season. She is why I have my own patch.
So Much Food
Nana would host New Year’s dinner every year. And every year it was pork roast with cracklings and assorted sides. There were sweet potatoes for my one cousin who ate them, and always a little container of pungent mustard, reconstituted from powder, for my Grandfather. I can still remember the smell. Dessert was apple pie. My Grandfather ate his with a chunk of strong cheddar. I didn’t understand that as a kid.
Nana would often watch my sisters and I when our parents would go out. We’d stay overnight, and in her tiny pantry cupboard would be treats like Dad’s Oatmeal Cookies and those little Laura Secord pudding cups with the pull tab that often broke off, trapping the contents in the tin. On sunny late spring days, my cousin and I would sit in the wooden glider swing in the back yard, reading original X-Men, Casper and Richie Rich comics (sadly long gone) while munching on rhubarb dipped in little Tupperware bowls of sugar that she provided.
So Many Memories
I could write volumes about my food memories and Nana. Chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips, rum balls, hand made mini-quiches, Jello pudding pops (we never got those at home), peanut butter and corn syrup, mixed and smeared on toast (that was such fun to feed to her dog, who would lick his chops for hours), apples eaten straight from the bushel, right in the cold cellar… She was severely diabetic, had one eye, and yet turned out incredible amounts of wonderful food from both her impossibly tiny upstairs kitchen and a partial one down in the basement.
The little rolling pin is very obviously hand made, presumably by my great-great Grandfather. It is tapered, and quite uneven. It takes a bit to get used to, but I like it. It has helped make things that I’m sure my grandmother had never even heard of, like naan bread. And I love watching the kids use it. There is a legacy there, absolutely. I think that’s why Nana wanted so much for me to have it. I’m sad that she didn’t live to meet her great grandchildren, but I know that she would be so happy to see that little rolling pin in their hands.