Pickled beets and applesauce

Gram MilesMy grandmother, whom I’m named for, has been gone for more than thirteen years, her house closed up and sold longer than that in order to pay for her medical expenses in her final years. But memories of her are vivid and sweet in my mind. It’s funny to me the odds and ends that remind me of her, specific things that will always mean “grandmommy” to me. Homemade pickled beets and applesauce, for instance. Whenever we’d visit, she’d have a home cooked southern mealβ€” think fried chicken, cornbread, green beans with hamβ€” and pickled beets she’d canned herself. I think the only time I ever had pickled beets as a child was at her house.
Breakfast always included her homemade applesauce from the apples fallen from trees in her yard. One summer I stayed with her and got quite sick, including nausea and a high fever, during the time she was stewing the apples and making the sauce. I had a bad mental association between cooking apples and feeling deathly ill for years. Now applesauce and stewed apples bring only sweet memories of my grandmother and her house.
Jordan almonds were another item I only ever had at her house. She always had a jar the candied nuts on the bookcase near the back room where I slept. Jordan almonds weren’t my favorite, but they were the closest thing to candy in her house so my sisters and I helped ourselves.
Her house had a wide wrap around porch with rocking chairs where we sat and chatted with my grandmother for many hours. I have those antique chairs now on my tiny porch, and they are among my most treasured possessions.
The sulfur smell of a paper mill stinks to other people, but to me it always meant we were getting close to my grandmother’s house after a long drive. I still smile when I smell the sulfur scent. An odd collection of things that will always remind me of a woman I treasure.
What odds and ends remind you of a loved one or favorite memory?