Summertime was a wonderful time of the year for Young Papa. I lived within an easy bike ride of two grandmothers and one great-grandmother’s houses, so I was blessed with a thousand-and-one culinary delights growing up.
As soon as I escaped school for another summer and finished my chores, I was foot-loose and fancy free enjoy the sweet and glorious bounties of my grandmothers’ kitchens. From Granny Delia’s fried apple pies to Mom Bonnie’s “Lady Baltimore” layer cake to MawMaw’s homemade strawberry ice cream, I can still taste all three. Of course, I don’t have a clue as to the proper recipe for any of them.
A typical day would start with me completing any chores that MaMa and Daddy had left for me; then I was off on the bicycle to Granny Delia’s house for some fried pies. Granny would gather up the apples and Miss Pearl Hall would sit with us on the porch peeling and cutting the harvest. Granny never drove, but she was cool and always had her ’55 Chevy parked out back. We would then spread the apple slices out on the shelf behind the back seat of that car. Once dehydrated, they would be stored in a cotton pillowcase hanging in the pantry closet. We had them fried apple pies all year long ‘cause my great-grandfather W.P. Burson was an amateur horticulturist with one apple tree that produced three different types… we started in early June with ripe apples and had them right on through October.
Later, I was off to Mom Bonnie’s for cakes and other baked fixins (my favorite was her “Lady Baltimore” which was a white layer cake with raisins, coconut and some sort of yellow icing).
On other days, I’d head to MawMaw’s. Her strawberry ice cream was always a delight, especially if she had made teacakes to add. However, if Uncle Junior had made a trip to Atlanta there was no telling what there might be to eat. Uncle Junior was a “truck-farmer.” He would make trips to the farmer’s market in Atlanta and return with a load of watermelons, cantaloupes and other things not locally available at the time. We always waited until the peaches were ripe in Clanton. Wow! -- those “Chilton County Peaches” were just as special back in the day as they are now. They were the key ingredient in absolute greatest “Sweet Fun in the Summer Time” delicacy of all time: Miss Jeanette’s Fresh Peach Ice Cream. Mama made that ice cream ice with our own churn, covered with ice and salt and slow turned until the handle could no longer be turned. I can still remember how sweet and creamy that ice cream was… Oh, my – I wish I had some right now.
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