Grandma’s Porch Refrigerator
In the winter, my grandmother would often store food that needed to be kept cold on her front porch, especially if there was a family gathering and the space inside of her white Frigidaire refrigerator was at a premium. With a clan as large as ours, even finding a place to serve the food, finding a place to sit, or even finding a place to stand was considered to be a blessing.
At Christmas or at Thanksgiving, everyone would bring a large covered side dish to the gathering. Grandma always provided the meat; chicken, ham, or even roast beef, that had been raised on her own farm.
Food covered the center of the kitchen table and on the cast iron coal stove (Which kept the kitchen cozy and warm.) Food often filled the middle of the large oval dining room table, or on the wide oak sideboard. The family wandered around the house with plates in hand taking spoonfuls of this and sampling a little of that. It was an all day affair; visiting, chatting, telling stories, and nibbling. Everyone had a great time.
Any of the food that Grandma and the aunts thought would spoil, would be put into the refrigerator or back onto the front porch in covered pots and containers. That didn’t stop the eating. Cookies, cakes, pies, and candies were still sitting around for snacks.
Grandma always made two things for the holiday meals other than the meat. One was candied popcorn. Her popcorn was unusual in that the syrup she made, coated the popcorn in a bright pink glaze. I felt odd eating the soft pink popcorn, but the other ingredient gave it the most unusual flavor. She always used nuts in it. I like nuts and nuts are good, but the ones that she used were butternuts.
Butternuts have a black walnut flavor, but much stronger. I usually picked the nuts out and ate them first or gave them away. I thought they competed with the sweet popcorn taste.
The other thing that Grandma made for any of the gatherings was some flavor of Jell-o with fruit mixed in it. Most of the time it was orange Jell-o with sliced bananas deeply submerged in the jiggling dessert.
Her Jell-O was always made in a pink enamelware pot with a matching covered lid. She would store it on the front porch with the rest of the food until she served it with the evening meal. But one year something unusual happened. Much to the embarrassment of one of my cousins who caused the surprise.
When the Jell-o was brought in to be served, there was an added ingredient. Laying on top of the shiny surface of the orange Jell-o were three tiny turds. The cousin had a pink potty similar to the Jell-O pot at home and when nature called, it was natural for her to think this pink pot was hers.
Every year someone would say, “Check the Jell-o.” and Grandma would be quick to remind them, “Just be thankful that she had to poop or we might not have known and eaten it.”