Monday, February 8, 2010

Beans and Cornbread

Mmmmmmmm! I can smell the savory pot of beans right now as I sit here and type. Talk about comfort food that takes me back to warm memories of my Momma in the kitchen. It's one of those meals you rarely find in a cafeteria or on the menu in a restaurant. That bowl of yum that is so deceivingly simple? Well, I guess I gave it away in the title of this blog, now didn't I? Yep. Beans and cornbread.
Simple, yet sort-a complicated. In more ways than one.

Brown Beans. Beans and Cornbread. Ham and Beans. Whatever your Momma called it. Simple enough. But layer on some chopped ham. Some chopped red onion. Some cornbread. Maybe a little cilantro and sour cream, if you're lucky. Add a glass of sweet tea and a side of fried potatoes. And there you have it. Southern comfort, that comes only from your Momma. De-lish!

So I started thinking about a pot of beans and cornbread. It's definitely a southern thing. It's definitely a comfort food. It takes me back... takes me way back. In reality, I think it's a meal more representational of the old days. I mean, this meal probably costs a total of $3.00 to feed the whole family. And that's 2010 costs. Back then, maybe a $1.00? It's not fancy. It's not what some would call delectable. It's hardly "cookbook worthy." And to those of us who remember those days when Momma would cook at home every day... when meals were homemade from scratch and eating left-overs the next day was understood... the days when a pizza was a "treat" and Pepsi cans were rationed in your own house... the days when a pot of beans and cornbread was considered a "hearty dinner" and I'm pretty sure the cornbread counted for dessert too ~ just add milk! ...those were the days when comfort perhaps had a little different meaning than we might think of today.

Back then, comfort entailed having a job that provided a house, some furniture, a trip to the store every other week for groceries, a pair of shoes, and a few pairs of jeans. Comfort was having Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles, and cousins over every Friday night to laugh and eat with until it was so late the kids fell asleep on the ride home. Comfort was watching my Momma make dinner at the stove top, while I helped chop the salad. Comfort was seeing Dad's well-worn boots sitting by the front door every night. Comfort was taking turns praying at dinnertime, and being tucked in bed each night.

So what's a girl to do when her Momma isn't here to make her that comfort meal? When one of the few things she didn't teach me before she left this earth was how to make a simple pot of beans!?!? Well... that girl instead... makes soups. Chilis. Chowders. And they suffice. But now I'm the Momma, and my southern babies must have their chance at good ol' southern Okie-style beans and cornbread.

I now have a simple, yet sort-a complicated chance to teach my 4, 6, and 7 year old children about comfort. In this world today, comfort might bring to mind the state of being comfortable, or comforted. It might have more concrete applications such as secure numbers in the stock market, a vacation to somewhere tropical, down feather comforters on the bed, even a pair of nice furry UGGS to wear in the winter.
Webster (1990) defined comfort in several ways: (a) to soothe in distress or sorrow; (b) relief from distress; (c) a person or thing that comforts; (d) a state of ease and quiet enjoyment, free from worry; (e) anything that makes life easy; and (f) the lessening of misery or grief by cheering, calming, or inspiring with hope.

Definition (D) is what I'm getting at here: A state of ease and quiet enjoyment; free from worry. That sums it all up.

So here I am. Early 2010, bringing this blog entry to a close. And thanks to my Aunt Lynette's recent instructions on how to make my Momma's beans and cornbread, I'm heading downstairs to dish up a bowl for my family. Hopefully a dinner to make their little bellies warm on this snowy day. And hopefully a gesture in their memory to let them know just how blessed they truly are are. To have heat within these 4 walls we live in. To have a Momma that cooks for them each night, and a Dad who plays games with them around the table after dinner. The state of comfort is more than the absence of discomfort.

And for my kids, I'm pretty sure they have the comfort-thing down when it comes to the "free from worry" part.

Comfort. That is what a pot of beans takes me back to. Mom in the kitchen. Dad's boots by the front door. Free from worry.


kenziekylanmom said...

Oh, I just love to make beans and cornbread but my hubby doesn't like it, the kids do though! Sounds yummy on a cold, winter night!

Steph T. said...

LOve this mom always makes Beans and cornbread. It is one of our family favorites. It always makes me feel comfy. You such a good little mom!