As a child I didn’t realize that The Lord’s Supper and Church Potluck Supper were different things. Maybe it’s because Baptists didn’t use lofty language like “the sacrament of communion” or maybe as a 5-year-old I was more interested in snacks than theology. And c’mon, they both have the word “supper” in there. Fortunately, my observant mother corrected my misconception and restored me to the proper path of salvation. It was an understandable mistake, though. Being from a long line of church ladies who made my soul soar with their fried chicken and banana pudding, I knew that no matter where we were eating, I was not to take even a tiny bite before somebody asked the blessing. Thus it was that the sharing of food was forever linked to gratitude to the God for the hands that prepared it.
My favorite recipes are the ones handwritten by the women I love most. They are stained with Crisco, Eagle Brand Milk, and Cream of Everything soup. There is a collective food consciousness among women my age consisting of weird recipes that used Coca Cola as a cake ingredient and held grated carrots together with Jell-O, but then, every all-star cook, even MawMaw, is going to strike out sometimes. The important message was that breaking bread together was a way to express love and faith and joy and all the things that matter. Maybe my 5-year-old self wasn’t too far off after all.
If I had to pick one recipe as the most memorable, it would be the roast beef made by my mother-in-law, Hazel Case. I promise that the instructions below are straight from the great woman herself.
“Get up early on Sunday morning and begin by dredging a roast in flour, salt, and pepper. Heat a small amount of oil and brown the meat in a skillit. Place the roast in a large covered cast iron pan and put in the oven at 325 degrees. Go get ready for church. Add peeled potatoes, carrots, and an onion to the roast and return it to the oven. Go to Sunday School, then stay for preaching. The roast will be perfect by the time you get home.”