Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Magic of a Meal

First born called me last week. “Mom, I haven’t really seen you since Christmas”. Translation: “Mom, you haven’t fed me since Christmas and I need something besides Mexican food” So an invitation was issued, a rump roast was put in the oven, and the table was set on a Monday night.

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A simple meal, but one of his favorites—salad, roast, rice, gravy, black eyed peas, squash casserole, and cornbread (recipe here). It reminded me of the lunch my grandmother served every Sunday after church. How did she do it? Dressed to the nines in a two piece suit with a matching hat and costume jewelry and always on the same pew—two behind the minister’s wife. She waltzed in after church and thirty minutes later we were all saying grace…as if by magic. I set the table today as she might have and used some her things.

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She would have used the everyday china—the Haviland was for holidays and birthdays. Her tablecloth would have been white. I used vintage looking lacy placemats instead. The standby by white Gibson china will work just fine.CIMG1229

She would never have used paper napkins. Old and a little worse for the wear, these are the same ones we used back then and I still sometimes use with care. Like an old lady with wrinkles, the napkins have earned their frayed edges. My grandfather liked his peas or butterbeans in a separate bowl. These would be just the right size.

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The silver plate came out of its velvet-lined box for Sundays. Of course, there would have been an iced tea spoon. This is her First Love pattern by Rogers International…not as valuable as sterling, and yet, more so to me.

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There would have been flowers—something simple from her yard or a blooming potted plant. These primroses tease at spring to come…color in the midst of white. There would have been tall glasses for iced tea…no stemware on the Sunday table. These Dollar Tree glasses remind me of something she would have used. The white snowflake candles add a simple elegance.

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We would have passed bowls of vegetables, discussed who was at church or noticeably absent, who had died or was dying, what we had done or were planning to do. It seems bonding around tables and food is a tradition passed down to me. I thank my grandmother for teaching me that.

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In a nostalgic mood, I made an old favorite—Waldorf salad. It’s a colorful salad and good for this time of year. Apples are always in season. And as I was serving this I was brought back to my original question: How did she get that meal on the table as if by magic. Sadly, that secret was not in the velvet –lined box.

Waldorf Salad

This salad was first served in the Waldorf Hotel (later the Waldorf Astoria) in New York around 1893. Developed by the maitre d’hotel, and not the chef, it was instant success. The original version did not contain raisins or nuts.

2 cups unpeeled, chopped tart apples

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/2-3/4 cups chopped celery

1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts

1/2 cup raisins

2 tablespoons mayonnaise

Coat apple pieces in lemon juice. Toss all ingredients with mayonnaise and chill.

Please join Susan at Between Naps on the Porch for Tablescape Thursdays and Michael Lee West at Designs by Gollum forFoodie Friday. Click on the buttons on the sidebar for immediate transportation!

70 comments:

  1. What a great post. I love how you incorporated both you son and your Grandma.
    Very neat.
    ~Amy

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  2. What a lovely trip down memory lane! And they did it without all the gadgets in today's kitchen.

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  3. What a lovely post, Susan. Memories of my grandma's dinner table are some of the most precious I have. Your napkins and placemats are just the kinds of things she would have used for a special dinner. Waldorf salad was a favorite in my family too.

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  4. Susan, I have MY grandmother's First Love and I cherish it! Wonderful post!

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  5. My Mother In Law was a marvel at getting the table set, food hot and delicious and dessert ready right after church. Some of the best times I had with my family was at her dinner table!

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  6. Susan~~

    Your grandmother sounded like a very lovely and traditional lady. I vaguely remember both my grandmothers cooking in their dresses and pearls, but it was always chaos in the kitchen!! I love that you still have a few of her things and she would be happy to see her Sunday meal recreated!!

    xoxo
    Jane

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  7. This was so sweet and reminded me of a meal at my grandmother's house. Mine would have on a skirt (removing the jacket to cook) and an apron. We always had homemade noodles that she cut paper thin...I've tried it, I simply can't get them as thin as she did.

    I loved this.

    Sue

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  8. What a nice post. Dinner sounds yummy. I think many use to get up at the break of dawn and have Sunday dinner cooking before breakfast was even started.

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  9. A really lovely post, beautiful memories, wonderful treasures, delicious comforting food and your sons company, enjoy. Kathy.

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  10. Wow, this post brings back an entire flood of wonderful memories for me!! I think we had the same grandmother! And I always wondered how mine went to church then came home and presto ~ a meal!! I think it had to do with getting up before dawn, thO!

    Big TX Hugs,
    Stephanie
    Angelic Accents

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  11. Everything looks so pretty, we used to go to our Grandma's everyother sunday for lunch and it was a similar affair. She made the best meatloaf. Have a great week!

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  12. Now that is the kind of Sunday I've always wanted! Growing up in a pastor's home we always had a meal of pot roast, yes, it was a rump also! But then my dad was so tired he always went down for a nap right after we ate. And now that I'm grown, I try to do a nice meal on Sundays but I always have to be back at church early for worship rehearsal and find it's a rushed event as well. One day I will be able to enjoy a meal with a table setting like this on a Sunday. Beautiful dishes!!!

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  13. OH, that is nice and it just makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside, nothing better than Grandma or Mom. Cindy

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  14. I think dinner together at a well dressed table is the most upbuilding thing a family can do together! How wonderful that your son values that even though he's all grown up and moved out!

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  15. Oh I love your tablescape, Susan, it looks so clean, pure and simple. And I love how you made us feel like it was your grandma setting it all over again. She sounds like such a wonderful lady. Thanks for the Waldorf salad recipe. John has asked me to make some but when I copied a recipe from the web, he said it did not taste like it, lol. So I never made it again. I will try this...Christine

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  16. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog...please visit often! Your table-scape is so pristine... I love the crispness of the Gibson dishes, the velvety leaves, and the lace against the dark wood. Eating at table is not done as much with the fast pace we lead, but a pretty table is a way of life worth preserving, and a heritage from your grandmother, neat that your son appreciates it. Lezlee

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  17. You are such a great mom ! Love your table setting and enjoyed such a cute post with all your sweet memories !
    Kammy

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  18. A lovely post with beautiful table and beautiful food. What a sweet mom you are! ~ Sarah

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  19. Squash casserole? Lace, cream dishes. Lovely, all the way around, and you definitely made me homesick tonight!

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  20. Oh lovely! I love your post -- the waldorf salad reminds me of my grandmother too. I love the sweetness of your memories and the table you've set in honor of your grandmother. Those were sweet sweet days.

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  21. Lovely and elegant! No wonder first born wanted to come home for dinner...that meal on that table would spoil anyone. It is all just wonderful and so sweet.
    Susan

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  22. Very clean and pretty table! And your menu sounds wonderful!

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  23. After seeing this post I am going to have to buy some primroses, they look so springy, I know they are a winter flower but the pink and yellow make me think of Spring! I love a good Waldorf salad, Kathysue

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  24. Lovely! My favorite group to table set for...the adult kids!!

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  25. The dollar tree snow flake glasses where a big hit this year LOL! I have them as well on my table setting, please come see:)

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  26. Susan,
    I have to tell you I have tears in my eyes reading this post. My grandmother too, had Sunday dinner for the whole family as if by magic. I also learned that the best family memories came from around the table. We would sit for hours as dinner lingered on, and on. We continue the tradition now with my family, but how I would love the opportunity to sit at Sunday dinner with my grandma, I would ask her so many questions.
    Thank you for such a lovely post. I loved your table and I bet you too could have it served and on the table in record time.....just like the old days.

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  27. We always had a Sunday Dinner as well -- in winter, it was often a roast and vegetables -- and always in the dining room, always with a tablecloth and REAL napkins! Loved this post -- it's a beautiful table!

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  28. Susan -- Thanks for visiting my blog today! I'm so happy to see new people! Be sure to check back at the end of the week for my 1st giveaway.

    I LOVE waldorf salad. Reminds me of home!! Okay, I'm craving it now!

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  29. Isn't it nice our kids still want to see us (i.e. need us to feed them!) and what a nice meal and table you prepared for him! I have tried to have guests over after church for a simple lunch and even that is hard to do! I can't imagine back "in the day" how women got full course meals on the table after stepping in from church.

    DD

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  30. Your tablescape is beautiful, and cozy and chic. Makes me want to sit down and have Waldorf Salad...yum!

    Holly @ 504 Main

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  31. What a great post! Such special memories and I just adore the silver plate. Thank you so much for sharing all these memories.

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  32. I think your post was charming! Very nostalgic. My grandmother used to do the same thing for every Sunday dinner. Beautiful table.

    Carol

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  33. That was wonderful! What wonderful memories of your gparents...
    The table looks lovely, and I like your primrose in the tureen..
    I love feeding my son..the gkids not so much! They don't like anything I make, prefer the blue box to my mac and cheese!
    Hope Mr. Rainbow liked the post, LOL!

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  34. This is just gorgeous. I LOVE those wonderful lace placemats. They are just wonderful. Your china and all your accessories are just so pretty. Love it all. Love the salad too. Hugs, Marty

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  35. Beautiful table and I love that you used some of your mom's most cherished pieces for the table. The primroses are so pretty.

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  36. Oh I just adore Waldorf salad. Sometimes if you chop up snickers bars and throw a few bits in it is like you are in heaven.

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  37. Lovely table. I have the snowflake glasses on my table this week. Have a great day!

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  38. Very simple and elegant table. I love Waldorf Salad too.

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  39. Lovely table and such a nice post about family....plus it made me super hungry!

    Thanks so much for checking out my blog, such a funny story about the H.Depot guy......not wanting to paint wood must be written into men's DNA...

    Have a wonderful day.

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  40. I love this table. So fresh and the touches of the old...beautiful! Makes me want to join you!

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  41. Simple, but...oh, so elegant.

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  42. Oh my,Susan! What a beautiful, elegant tablescape! And what a wonderful story to go along with it..I am so moved be 'Heilooms' (hence my blogname!) and how you displayed and wrote just made me smile!
    Thank you for stopping by my blog and saying hello, and your sweet comments!
    I'll be back again, too!!
    Blessings!
    Myrna

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  43. Simple but classy indeed, Lady.

    Thanks for the recipe of Waldorf's. Now my daughter is drooling of your sallad and promised to make her on week-end.

    TY a mill for sharing.

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  44. Such a nostalgic tablescape! I love the primroses as a centerpiece.

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  45. What a lovely post. So glad you shared all of those family treasures and the Sunday family story with us. Brought back a few memories of my own...Nancy

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  46. What a beautiful table and I love Waldorf Salad!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

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  47. Having family over..is better than our fancy china and antique silver...
    Glad you felt the love that a child can give to their Momma :)

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  48. Ah yes, a classic! Love your tablescape - stunning!!

    :)
    ButterYum

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  49. I love when primroses arrive! They make spring feel closer ;) What a wonderful spring-like salad recipe.

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  50. I loved this post. I have thought so many times, "How did they do it? How in the world did they make it look so easy? Don't think I didn't ask. I did. But I didn't get the magic formula. They just did it. Your table looks beautiful, and you are building a new tradition with your family. BTW, I've got the same dishes and love them.

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  51. Hi Susan,

    The magic of a meal ~ such a great heading and so true.
    I enjoyed hearing about your family meal and the history and seeing the lovely table all set.
    Waldorf salad is good and one I often make.

    Happy weekend
    Hugs
    Carolyn

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  52. Your table is wonderful and I feel like I know your grandmother! She would have been friends with mine. I always marvel at the Sunday dinners of my youth also! And I like my black-eyed peas and butter beans in a separate bowl just like your grandfather!!!

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  53. Such a wonderful post! Everything looks so inviting and delicious, too!

    Jane

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  54. That looks so great. Thanks for sharing.

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  55. What wonderful memories were made with Sunday dinners. My mom had that same First Love pattern and now that she is gone, I have it. I used it at Thanksgiving and thought lovingly of her and our own Sunday dinners.

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  56. Love this tablescape and waldorf salad,your pictures are so clear,and your food/meals sounds so delish,you cook like my mama.I miss my mama,she held the family together,we all showed up on Sundays to eat,she passed in 1983.If only I could cook for her on Sundays NOW!Your menu is so like the way I cook and I was taught by her.

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  57. Beautiful post,Susan. I love waldorf salad. Yours looks absolutely delicious!

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  58. My grandmother had Sunday dinner for us at 12:00 sharp. I was so shocked to see your grandmother's silver as my grandmother had same pattern. I was so lucky to have been at a craft show and a gentleman was making bracelets from old flatware and I purchased the very same pattern as my grandmother's. Thank you for such a memorable post!

    Mary from Virginia

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  59. Thank you for your very kinds words -- having sweet friends is such a comfort during sad times.

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  60. (Re: prose~At Times I Am A Flower~(SMILES) I think I would be a sunflower... mathematical perfection :)
    What about you?

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  61. Oh Susan, this is the sweetest post, and it makes me miss my own grandmother SO much. I loved it and loved seeing all of your grandmother's special things in use. And that's funny about your grandfather and the butterbean bowl. I had this same discussion on another blog today about how there are things that you like to eat separately from other foods and don't want mushing into them. I love butterbeans and black eyed peas, too! May I PLEASE join you??? Yum!

    My favorite part of the post, though, was comparing the frays on the old linens to the wrinkles on a lady's face who has earned every one. You know, I think far too many people look on wrinkles and aging as the enemy. I think they represent dignity and grace, a life well lived. Now, in ten years from now, I might change my mind about my own wrinkles, but I doubt it. :-)

    Thank you for this post. It was lovely...

    XO,

    Sheila :-)

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  62. Beautiful!

    When we lived close to my MIL, I occasionally called her seeking a dinner invitation. There is nothing like homecooked favorites by some one that you love! She always set a very pretty table and cooked my favorites. Boy I miss living near her, but at least I have her recipes and she made me take her grandmother's silver so that I could continue the tradition with my children.

    I am looking forward to adding your Waldorf salad to my collection.

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  63. You set a beautiful table, this is kind of a lost art in the busy world we all live in now.

    My Mom used to have wonderful Sunday dinners, when I was growing up, all the family and friends would visit. Funny how something that used to frustrate me so much, [dishes, and more dishes] is now something that I long to recall and work into our life again. Since we don't live near my Mom and Dad, it will have to wait for a little while longer.

    That cornbread looks to die for! And the waldorf salad, my Mom still makes that, for when we visit.

    Thanks for dropping by, what a absolutely lovely blog.

    Jen

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  64. Susan!

    I am teary --reminds me of my Meme--she would do the same!

    Wonderful post.....lucky boy! Looks delicious and elegant!

    love, kelee

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  65. Hello Susan, I found your delightful blog bwo Mary at One PerfectBite. Beautiful table and the kind of food that reminds me of family gatherings. Your stories of family warm my heart. I look forward to getting to know you. Diana

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  66. Love this table setting and love the stories of your grandmother. You have such a way with words, and I always enjoy reading your posts. I have often wondered the exact thing - how did they do it? I can put a roast and veggies in the crockpot and have them ready when we come home from church, but they didn't have crockpots. laurie

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  67. Looks yummy! I can't wait to try the recipe!

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