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.

2 thoughts on “The Grinder

  1. This is a beautiful post, Lisa. I love it of course being a writer and artist of food subjects myself. What great memories and I love the way you write about them, saying for instance that you can “see” the grinder but not what is being ground. This quality memory has of leaving us with some things in sharp focus and others less so is fascinating. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Hi Lisa from your local cousin :)
    My mother had and used the same type of grinder as did my paternal Grandmother. I don’t recall what my Grandmother used it for, but my Mom – oh yes I remember that! She used it to make what I remember as being such a delicious roast beef spread. It was a real treat, as canned roast beef was a bit pricey (and now the same beef canned in gravy is sold at Family Dollar – go figure!). She would run the canned beef and gravy through the grinder, then a couple of sweet gherkins, and a hard boiled egg or two. Last would come a heel from a loaf of bread – to clean the blade. The beef, pickle and egg would be mixed with enough Miracle Whip to just hold it all together and it then was ceremoniously (or so it seemed) spread on white bread. It was wonderful.
    Well, several years ago using a similar grinder, I made this spread. It was OK LOL. Better than OK, but not as spectacular as I remembered and a REAL pain to clean up the grinder…..
    No pimiento spread that I recall – I do like it though and without pickles. But I LOVE pickles in many other things and all by themselves. Sorry that pickles have not won you over by now as I have a killer Bread & Butter pickle recipe :)


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