It’s not just a bowl.

by balanceofbliss

Me and Grandmom at my cousin's wedding in 2011.

Me and Grandmom at my cousin’s wedding in 2011.


About a month ago my fiance, Matthew, and I were fiddling around my office moving furniture, when all of the sudden BAM! I knocked over my great grandmother’s deep red vase.  Aside from a compact mirror of hers I had as a child (which got carelessly lost), this was the only remaining item I had from her estate.  Everything happened in slow motion as I felt my hand swipe the side of the fragile vase, watched it trip off the edge of my desk, and crash onto the chipped tile floor below.  Shattered – myself and the glass.  Pieces of me and pieces of it were everywhere.

I stood in disbelief.

This vase had traveled with me through highschool, college, 4 apartments, and our current home for 18 F*CKING YEARS!!!! I lifted my gaze up at Matt, still frozen in the moment.  For the first time in our relationship, he just looked back at me and said “Babe…. I am… I am so sorry.”… it was as if someone had just died, and I guess in a way she did again.  Without words I swept up the glass as my mind floodedwith memories, stories, and just sheer heartache… I moved on.

Oddly enough, I had found an identical vase about 5 months earlier at the flea market which I purchased for $5 and gave to my sister so we could have matching heirlooms.   The irony, right?

Fast forward to the holiday season….  The other day, Matty asked me to make my Great Aunt Arlyce’s Sweet Potato Casserole for his potluck Thanksgiving luncheon.  This casserole has been a staple on all of our holiday tables since my mother was a baby (and I think it may be a majorreason why Matt asked me to marry him).  Regardless, I said sure without a second thought.

Well, here I am!  8:45pm on a Monday night, listening to Sade and Sting, waiting for the sweet ‘taters to soften in the oven, as I stare at my mis-en-place and a yellow pyrex bowl.  Now, this is where the story gets good (if only to me).  To me, it’s not about the casserole.  To me, it’s about having that bowl out on my counter and mixing the same ingredients in it that my grandmother mixed when she developed this recipe back in the 1950’s.

So… why?  Why do I care about a bowl and why did I tell you the whole story about my great grandmother’s vase?  Because, unlike the vase, if this bowl were to shatter into a million pieces – or even 2 pieces for that matter – I wouldn’t be able to just sweep it up and move on with my evening.

It’s the fact that she physically held this bowl in her hands.  It’s the fact that her name is still scribed on the bottom of it.  It’s thefact that it lived in her cupboard carrying nesting bowls like a mother holds her babies for years.  It’s the fact that when I was a little girl I remember mixing chocolate cake and ambrosia and sweet potatoes and pasta dough in this bowl with her.

Strangely, my source of strength is also the source of my greatest weakness: my grandmother.

‘Tis the season…. here’s the Sweet ‘Tater Casserole Recipe.  From my family, to yours.  FYI: This is NOT healthy, but I’m not about to alter the recipe… you’ve been warned.

1.5 cups Sweet Pot’s (~2.5#s)

1.5 T Flour

.5 c Sugar

1 Egg

.5 c Evaporated Milk

.5 T Vanilla

.5 Stick of Butter, melted

…mix together.

Now for the topping…

.5 c Brown Sugar

.5 Stick Butter, soft and mashable

.25 c Flour

.5 cup o’ nuts (walnuts are classic, but pecans are fatty and delicious)

…mix together and crumble on top.

Bake this in a 350 oven for about 35 minutes.

Bowl and Sweet Taters