Last week, I introduced a new series here at The Grumbling Belly called Family and Friends. I am inviting people from around the world and across the country who appreciate the connection food has with our lives and community to share their favourite recipes and stories. This week, I am excited to introduce you to Kate from North Carolina. We met while working as Hall Directors in Tennessee almost four years ago and, with our kindred passion for food and people (and other things of course), we soon became great friends. She is a talented cook and baker and this is a wonderful story that perfectly illustrates how food can be so meaningful as well as delicious.
My maternal Grandfather passed away a year before I was born. He died far too early, when he was only 54.
I have heard stories about my Papa Mac nearly every day of my life. I have been told how much he would’ve loved me, how much I look like him with my dark hair and eyes, how much of a gentleman he was, and how deeply he adored the women in his life (namely his wife and two daughters).
I grew up missing a man that I have never met. I think about him often and look forward to the heavenly day when he and I will hug and smile at each other for the first time. Oh, all that we have to look forward to!
My Papa Mac loved to cook. He did most of the cooking and baking in the house, enjoying the act of spoiling his three ladies. His specialties were meatloaf, beef stroganoff, fried fish (that he and his Brother-in-law caught on their beach trip the weekend before), and any food that provided comfort to friends and family. We still use the recipes he left us, and my mouth waters each time we look through those cards.
Papa Mac had a bit of a sweet tooth as well. He indulged those he loved (and himself) by making cakes, fudge, and candy. There is a particular candy recipe that my Mother made often during my childhood. The main ingredients were dates and rice krispies, which formed a bite-sized log. Somehow, she lost the recipe and I hadn’t had this particular candy in many years. A few years ago, I mentioned that this was my favorite “Papa Mac recipe” and I wondered what we could do to recreate an important-to-me childhood memory. My Grandmother (Gran), Mom, and I started looking through an old tin box Gran kept with recipes from her early-adult life. There were a few of Papa Mac’s mixed in, so we were hoping to find this particular one.
I’ll never forget the moment she held up the card with my favorite recipe scribbled on it, as all three of us were baffled by its title…
The top of the card read, “Kate’s Candy”.
My Papa Mac named his Granddaughter Kate’s favorite candy recipe after her – before he even knew of her existence! We tried to explain it away at the time, figuring that there must have been a friend of the family he named it for. But, I’ve decided to always believe that Papa Mac named it just for me, his Granddaughter that he’ll meet one day in Heaven.
And so, I share with you my favorite recipe, one that my family holds so incredibly dear:
Take some butter and spread on your hands to form candy and roll in coconut. This is helpful as the candy is very sticky.