My grandmother, Leona, passed away not quite two years ago. I still have to fight back tears most times when I think of her. At age 95, her passing wasn’t completely unexpected. Her health had been declining for several years, and she had recently been moved from her home into an assisted living facility. The twice-a-day visits from in-home nursing care just weren’t enough anymore. They would often times find her on the floor unable to get herself back on her feet. On those occasions, she might have tried to call my uncle (who lived a few miles away) for help, but she couldn’t always remember his phone number. So after much deliberation, the family decided it was time to move her into assisted living where she could receive 24-hour care. She fought the idea at first, but she realized it was either pointless to fight or that it was safer for her to be there.
I hated seeing her there. We all knew that’s where she needed to be, but living there seemed to have broken a bit of her spirit — of which she always had plenty. She remained there for just over six months, but in a way, I’m glad she didn’t have to endure it for long.
A child of the Great Depression and farm wife for most of her life, she was strong, tough and stubborn — but kind, warm and caring. Visiting Grandma’s house was always an adventure. It was the place where cousins became best friends, where trees were begging to be climbed, where you picked fresh strawberries for warm homemade shortcake. She had quite an influence on my life. She shared her knowledge about life — things big and small — like how to be kind to neighbors and how to be a generous soul, and how to prune roses and grow tomatoes, how to play dominoes, about the importance of family and unconditional love.
The gifts she imparted upon me have helped shaped me into the person I’ve become — sometimes strong and stubborn, and other times warm and caring. Grandmothers — and grandparents in general — hold a unique place in our lives, and I am blessed to have shared so much time with mine. In today’s society, where families are so spread out and we are overly concerned with answering emails and text messages, I hope we are still able to make time — even if it is only FaceTime — for all the grandmothers out there. There isn’t much I wouldn’t give for the chance to sit across from mine to share a story or a game of dominoes. So if it has been awhile since your last visit or phone call with your grandmother, take this opportunity to pick up the phone or drive a few miles for a visit. I promise, you both will be glad you did.
Strawberry Shortcake Cobbler Receipe
2 packages (16 ounces each) Driscoll’s Strawberries, hulled and sliced
3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup cornmeal
2 tablespoons baking powder
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 large egg
1/2 cup milk
Whipped Cream Recipe
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar
Combine strawberries, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, lemon juice and cornstarch in a medium bowl. Let sit 15 minutes.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 10-inch cast-iron skillet.
Whisk together flour, cornmeal, remaining 1/2 cup granulated sugar and baking powder in a large bowl. Add butter and salt and cut into flour mixture with a pastry cutter or your fingers until the butter is incorporated. Whisk egg and milk together in a small bowl. Stir egg mixture into flour mixture.
Scrape strawberries and juices into prepared skillet. Drop batter by the spoonful on top of strawberries.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until the shortcake cobbler is golden brown. Remove pan from oven and let cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Use a hand mixer to beat cream and confectioners’ sugar until thickened. Spoon cobbler into serving dishes and top with sweetened whipped cream.