This is my grandmother, Mary Jane, and yes, I was named after her. She was a young woman when this photo was taken. I think she was beautiful. She was born in Oakwood, Illinois and lived there most of her life. She is my mother’s mother.
One of my favorite memories of her is her tradition of sending us candy at Christmas time. I’m not referring to store-bought ribbon candy or candy canes. My grandma made candy from scratch. A huge box would be delivered to us in Steep Falls, Maine, filled with fudge, peanut brittle, divinity, nut rolls, buckeyes, potato stick candy and chocolate covered coconut bon-bons.
It was so much fun to pull the decorated tins out of the box. They usually had Santa, or Poinsettias, or winter scenes painted on them. I thought they were so pretty!
Never once did it occur to me, back then, how much work, and love, she put into making the candy. That is until I took it upon myself to make some of her candies. Not only were there the many different kinds of candy, but the quantity she produced is sort of mind-boggling. (The box we received had to have contained at least 30 pounds of candy!)
About 10 years ago, I decided I would make a few of her candies and send a box to my parents’ place. She was living with them at the time.* I actually had a little bit of performance anxiety, knowing that Grandma was going to taste these candies that I made.
So, I looked over the recipes, made a grocery store run, and spent a weekend making fudge, buckeyes, peanut brittle and potato stick candy. I didn’t make divinity candy, because it seemed to be a little above my skill set at the time.
Let me tell you, candy making is chemistry! Measurements have to be precise, timing is important, and I highly recommend that no-one should ever walk away from a pot of boiling sugar. It’s hot, time sucking work to make candy. And then people eat it and your creation is gone. But it’s worth it!
As I worked in my small kitchen, I pictured in my head Grandma working in her kitchen. The ingredients on the counter, the pots on the stove, the finished candies set out on the table in the sun room behind the kitchen. I honestly have no idea how she actually did any of it, because I was never there at candy making time, but it was fun to imagine.
When my candy making was complete, I packaged the different kinds and put them in a box. Then I sent them east with all of my love. I had no reason for anxiety. Grandma loved it! (Of course, she never would have said anything else.) My parents loved it, too.
There you have it. Food is love.
Do you have a “food is love” story to share? I’d love to hear it!
* My grandma was staying with my folks in Maine because she had dementia. She hadn’t made her candies in years. She passed away a couple of years ago.