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Grandma's Kitchen: The Heart of the Family & the Farm (Lynda Painter)

July 22, 2021

In this article from the archives, 16-year-old Stephanie Painter reflects on her grandma's kitchen, which she dubs the heart of the family and the farm. Get a taste of her experiences growing up among family and members of her community who passed through Grandma's Kitchen.

A series of relaxation with an over exceedingly amount of excitement stirs when I smell the delicious aroma of one of my grandmother’s homemade pies. The smell is no stranger to me; it is something I have known ever since I can remember. My grandma’s kitchen is more than just a place where my belly meets satisfaction, it is a place where jokes are laughed at long and hardily, family is bonded and business is held orderly. The diversity of my grandma's kitchen makes me love being home.

Every morning just as the milker pump shuts off I can almost guarantee that grandma is setting the table for breakfast. She never really is sure of how many people she will be having every morning but she never complains, she improvises. Making new and tasty meals out of the leftovers or making extra food for the person that didn’t get as much. She never lets anyone leave with an empty stomach. The breakfast she makes is actually no “breakfast” at all’ it is more like a dinner. Hearty meals worthy of a farmer’s work always completed with a delightful dessert. It is a comfortable and nestled feeling I have helping my grandma in the kitchen or just watching her move about gracefully working her magic.

Everyone accumulates for breakfast in the kitchen after their individualized help on the farm. It is a chance for them to warm up, relax, and prepare for their rigorous day of work ahead. It is also a chance for them to share stories of what their day has consisted of or what has been going on with their families. Most everyday someone has a story that makes everyone heave the stress off of their chest and laugh a little. There is barely ever a dull conversation at the table especially at the end of morning chores. 

The people who are in grandma’s kitchen the most are family. We own a family farm and most of our immediate family lives near grandma’s house so it is a good place to reconnect. 

Almost all holidays are celebrated with a dinner, which includes all of the families. Around Christmas time grandma has all of her grandchildren helping make cookies. I cherish this time to visit and catch up with my cousins. A lot of family memories take place in grandma’s kitchen. 

A lot of other people besides my family visit my grandmother’s kitchen. They are usually there for a variety of reasons, all are very interesting. I love to hear what the people visiting my grandparents have to say. Some are friends of my grandparents looking to catch up and some are business acquaintances ready to pounce on a deal. The range of topics discussed is so interesting to me. I also get a sense of joy to be a sort of host to the people who do not frequently visit my grandmother’s kitchen. I love the different personalities that visit and the different agendas of the people who visit my grandma’s kitchen. 

It feels like everything comes together in my grandmother's kitchen. My worries slip away and my ears open to take in the knowledge that comes from listening to the people who sit around the table. Being in the kitchen is where a perfect mix of social skill and technical skills take place. It is an environment that is filled with love and sometimes tension. Being in my grandma’s kitchen keeps me on my toes waiting inquisitive for the next event to occur. 

When I’m in grandma’s kitchen, I’m home. 

My favorite place to be!

Stephanie Painter, 2010

Stephanie Painter

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