© Another Day in the Country
A short while after we moved back to Ramona from California, another family moved into town. They weren’t here long before tragedy struck and the whole area responded by coming to their support. It’s what small communities do best. We signed up for bringing them a meal.
If I say to you that we cooked a standard country dinner, I’m not sure anymore what you think of, because times have changed. However, we cooked what we call a “home-cooked meal,” which consisted of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, salad, and hot rolls.
Afterward, the youngest little boy in the family said, “Boy, you guys are really good cookers!”
That phrase has stuck with our family as one of the highest of compliments. And we pretty much still declare that a good old country dinner consists of fried chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy, corn, salad, and hot rolls. When we’re in need of a little special nourishment and don’t feel like cooking, we head over to Durham where right on the main street is a café that still offers that kind of meal. They are definitely good cookers.
We’d just been there for lunch a couple of weeks ago for our “mashed potato fix” when we got a call from our cousin’s kids who live in Colorado. “We’re in Hays,” they said, “We’re coming to your area for a job interview.”
“Come for supper,” I said. The minute I got off the phone I went hunting for my sister. “Guess who’s coming for supper?” I said in one breath, followed by “What are we going to cook?”
“Oh, let’s just do mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken …” she went on down the litany.
“We just had that for lunch,” I protested.
Long story, short, I thawed the chicken in the microwave and started peeling potatoes. As we cooked the meal, we talked about how exciting it was to have family returning to this area.
“Now I know what Aunt Gertie and Uncle Hank felt like when we came back,” my sister said.
When we first came back to Kansas, we had quite a few family members still in the area. Being vegetarian, the first thing we had to do was learn to cook meat so that we could have the relatives over for a meal they recognized: mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken, corn, etc. We also mastered making pot roast with potatoes and carrots — although some of them wouldn’t eat the carrots which just happened to be our favorite part, so it all worked out.
We’ve always loved having family and friends nearby so we could invite them in for meals. I don’t know that people do that anymore. Maybe we’ve transitioned into an “eating out” kind of gathering with friends and family, but there is something we miss when we don’t cook together.
At Easter, we remembered all the Easter dinners we’d cooked when we first moved back to the country. We were mourning the fact that we didn’t have relatives in town any longer who we could invite over for dinner. When the aunts and uncles were still here they would first go to church and then converge on our little cottage at the corner of 5th and D. We’d stretch out the table as long as it would go, put out the fancy dishes and the cloth napkins and like all good cookers, for generations, serve the mashed potatoes and gravy, fried chicken and corn — maybe this time with a Jell-O salad.
The job opportunity worked out, by the way, and we are so jazzed that some of the younger generation in our family is coming back to spend another day in the country with us.