The Grinder

We went to Huntington for a family funeral last week, and stayed at my cousin Fred’s on the Coal River in St. Albans.  Fred is an enthusiastic cook, and he devotes a lot of time to it, since he has retired and his wife Anne hasn’t.  Among other things, he had homemade pimento cheese spread.   I can go years without thinking of pimento cheese, but recently we have been having pimento cheese sandwiches for lunch.  I didn’t try Fred’s because it has pickle in it.  Pickles are one of the many things I didn’t eat when young that I still don’t, although I’ve learned the joys of a few things.

Two of my aunts went to the “big city” when young and raised their families there.  Two of their children, Fred and our cousin Mike, are still there, and another is not far away.  They are like me in holding onto our history, including things, all kinds of things from the past.  We’re all interested in the family genealogy and history, and we all have furniture, books, magazines, pictures, papers, stuff, from the family.  Fred has my grandfather’s ’56 Chevy.  I sleep in my great-grandmother’s bed, but worse, I had my mother’s curling iron from the ’70s in my luggage.

So the pimento cheese came with a story, about Aunt Roberta, Mike’s mother, getting an electric grinder for Christmas, and Aunt Doris, Fred’s mother, thinking it was wonderful and getting one, too.  They still have them, of course.  My mother had an old cast aluminum hand grinder.  I can see it clamped to the kitchen counter, but I can’t quite see what is being ground.  I can’t think of what it could have been except pimento cheese.  Mincemeat?  Did she really make her own mincemeat?  She made chocolate-covered cherries, so anything is possible.  There was a tube to attach to fill sausage casings, but we never made sausage, although I always wanted to.

Coming home, we stopped at Sisters Antiques in Flatwoods.  There was not one, but several, old cast aluminum grinders.  When I was making the pimento cheese today and pushing it through with a wooden spoon, I remembered the other accessory – a sturdy wooden pestle.