I was raised on sweet tea, by southern Grace. The soft-around-the-middle woman served up both often and her door was always open with something tangibly sweet on the washer for whoever would drop by. She often chided that a little “mouse” seemed to get into her pound cake after school many afternoons while she was at work. I was sneaky like that — minus the crumbs I would leave.
Around Granny Grace’s table, life and lunch were sweeter and slower and always as good for the soul as the taste buds.
She was my Granny by blood, and a hundred others by love. You never knew who may be eating lunch with us any given Sunday, but she always made room.In the same way true love knows no boundaries, neither does true hospitality.
My cousins and I sat around the small brown-topped card table we would set up in her cozy, but always “kept,” living room, and afterwards we would make our way back to the kitchen for dessert and maybe eavesdrop on some of the grown-up conversation. Especially if we had heard our name in-between bites of fried chicken and biscuit.
There were times in those years when my britches were both too big for my ego and yet too small for my size, when I didn’t like sharing her with everyone else. But it couldn’t be helped.
When someone is full of Jesus, the only thing they can do is give a bit of Him away.
Granny Grace gave away Jesus one heaping spoonful at a time through every meal she ever served or event she ever catered. And I watched.
I watched her roll the pastry out for her famous chicken stew.
I watched her beat the meringue that would drip liquid gold atop frothy white waves on her velvety chocolate pie.
I watched her fry cornbread, as holy as it was holey, that rarely made it to the table. And yes, cornbread can be holy y’all. One taste and you’d understand.
I looked and I listened. But not enough. Never enough.
Now that she’s gone and those days are distant memories, I wish I’d leaned in closer.
Paid attention to the details.
Memorized the rhythm of her hands and the ways of her quick whit that always put you at ease and left the same smile on your face that lit hers.
A good host does that. A good host models grace and gives it to others to try on until it fits.
She gave the grace she wore — all she had, wearing it as well as the soft, worn house coats she always cooked in. I don’t think they make those anymore. I’ve looked.
Granny Grace lived up to and into her name more than any other person God put in my raising up, rearing up path. That single mother of three taught me more about life, grace and love than any single person could and she did a lot of it around a table.
Just like Jesus.
He poured Himself out to His disciples…around a table.
He ministered to outcasts…around a table.
He served and was served…around a table.
He spent His last night on earth with those He loved most…around a table.
I’m poised to carry on the tradition of my Granny Grace and my Savior by sharing more grace…around my flea market table.
It’s not big or fancy. It rocks a little if you lean on one end. It’s scarred and the veneer is peeling. But life happens around our table and there’s always room for one more and a heaping helping of grace.
Grace is one thing that never wears out and always wears better the more it gets worn.
Now, if I could just figure out how to make her pound cake. I declare I think she left something out of her recipe she wrote in a recipe box of her favorites that she gave to my cousin and I a few years before she passed. Maybe I just haven’t found the right amount of Grace yet to equal what she put in hers. That’s most likely the culprit and a good ingredient to strive to match.
Here’s your copy to try. Let me know how you fare and if you find the secret ingredient…
**A funny side note about Granny Grace’s pound cake. The first time I made it while she was still living, it turned out hard and heavy. I mean HARD and HEAVY. I went back to her and asked exactly what she meant by “sweet milk.” She said, “You know. Just sweet milk.” I assumed that had meant condensed milk, which I considered to be very sweet. Yeah, that’s not what she meant. If you aren’t familiar with the term, “sweet milk” is…wait for it…milk. Just the plain jane white stuff you buy in the gallon at the grocery store. There’s your one free tip. The rest is up to you…
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 cup crisco
- 1 stick of butter
- 5 eggs
- 3 cups Swan Down cake flour (or plain flour)
- 1 cup sweet milk (**see note above)
- 1 tbsp of vanilla or you can use lemon flavor or almond extract
- Cream sugar, crisco and butter together until smooth.
- Add 1 egg at the time until all have been added
- then add flour and milk alternately until all is gone.
- Start with flour and end with flour, adding flour last.
- Mix well.
- Bake at 325 for 1 ½ hours in a greased and floured pan.