Traverse City Record-Eagle

Edna Shaffer: Grandma's Kitchen

August 9, 2010

Grandma's Kitchen: Dog days of summer

When I think of the dog days my mind goes back to a skinny 10-year-old who was terrified just by the words.

Living in one of the hottest states in the union, I didn't connect the heat to the position of the Dog Star, Sirius, like the ancients did. I only knew that I along with everyone else was suffering from the heat; the temperature still 100° at 6 p.m. and most of the night. The sidewalks burned my feet. Few homes had electricity, hence no fans or refrigerators. My brother and I developed some strong biceps from carrying blocks of ice home on ropes from the ice house.

It was a fearful time for me because we believed dog days meant all dogs were rabid (and some were), and biting every person in sight. I was afraid I would become their new chew toy. I remember running and screaming at the sight of a strange dog on our block.

It saddens me to think of my little mother firing up the wood-burning cookstove to cook for our family of six. Our kitchen became a sauna. Today, I am doggone thankful for my blessings and know you are, too. My simple fan would have been an object of worship then.

• • •

You would have thought I was goofy from the heat if you were here this morning. By the time I got up, Molly had two dozen chocolate cupcakes cooling on the kitchen table. Would you believe I looked until noon for a special frosting recipe I wanted for her before I finally gave up?

My house is full of recipes, most of which are seldom used. I treat recipes like I treat my clothes, using the old favorites over and over. I keep promising myself that one day I am going to organize them, but somehow other things seem more urgent. I'd be so happy to hear that some of you have the same problems. That always helps me feel more normal!

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