Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

July 6, 2008

Grandma's Kitchen: Chicken's neck or our own?

What a different world we live in from the one my mother and even I knew 75 years ago. I stood in the cereal aisle of the supermarket yesterday and scratched my head. Whatever happened to just cornflakes, shredded wheat and Quaker oats? There should be recliners in strategic places to sit and read the numerous boxes and study the many exciting trinkets hidden among the sugared stuff to entice the children.

Breakfast around 1933 was vastly different. Visualize this: It's daybreak on a blistering hot fall morning in Arkansas and a lot of noise and squawking jarred this 7-year-old from her slumber. I pulled back the curtain to see one of my pet chickens contorted and flopping on the ground, neck skillfully wrung by my mother.

This was my little buddy. I'd loved her since she was the downy puffball I'd rubbed under my chin. Now she was on her way to becoming the chicken and biscuit entree for our breakfast. I closed the curtain in horror, beat my pillow and vowed not one bite of Pearl would cross my lips. Never. Ever.

As upset as I was with my mother, I had to admire the 100 pounds of grit and grace that enabled her to do what she had to do. The heart of the Depression was no time for the fainthearted. Every woman's priority was feeding her family, whatever that required.

I'm sure our mothers never dreamed that one day we'd buy breakfast from a cereal jungle or a freezer case to nuke for five minutes. What a stark contrast from the almost full-time job of splitting wood, killing, cleaning and cooking your breakfast -- as well as the other two meals! Today's mom has it so much easier, doesn't she? Doesn't she? Let's look ....

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