The Stainless Steel Bowls

It’s a little surprising to me how much of my childhood is wrapped up in stainless steel.

How’s THAT for an interesting sentence to start with? Makes my toes tingle just having written it. *woo*

Now, those of you who recall that my grandmother owned a restaurant for 28 years won’t be startled by that sentence – you know that a lot of my growing up years were spent around that restaurant, so needless to say the tools and equipment of that place are as much a part of my childhood memories as, say, a beloved stuffed animal…

Like Bun…

The purple bunny…

Whose ears were long gone…

And whose white muzzle was pretty much grey and grody…

And whose whiskers were only a distant memory, if they every really existed at all…

And who had seen more hard action and battles than many a warrior…

*SOB!!!* I MISS THAT BUNNY!! *SOB!*

WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!

sniff sniff sniff… *honk*

All better. That’s why I always carry a clean hankie. Or at least, one that starts the day clean…

Ewww…

Those of you that didn’t recall or know about the whole restaurant thing, well, you do now. So on we go.

A lot of my young life, then, involved being surrounded by stainless steel bowls, many pans, a big ol’ meat slicer (that we weren’t even allowed to stand near, let alone touch…), a walk in freezer and cooler (in which I received some fairly grisly threats, and rightly so, since I’d do my best to try and hide in the freezer on a hot summer day. But it felt SOOOO good. Really.), and big ol’ ovens that said Viking on the front in silver letters.

I still get a little misty-eyed when I see one of those ovens someplace, like when I visit a church and they have one of those puppies in their kitchen.

Metal prep tables, fryers, a steam table, and the flat-top grill, all a part of childhood for me.

Including knowing how to clean a lot of them, and what a really messy job it was. Especially the fryer – yerch. Messy messy messy.

I remember the first microwaves – instant baked potatoes! Pizza! It’d be nasty by today’s standards, but in that day it was amazing!

And, last but not least painful, the big, old, HOT dishwasher.

Manual dishwasher. VERY manual dishwasher. Totally.

Put the dishes in a basket. Lift the basket into the wash tank (filled with runoff from the lake of fire), set the cover on, turn on the washer, turn OFF the washer BEFORE taking off the cover (yes, I did have to remind myself of that step a lot during one of the very, VERY few times I washed dishes at the restaurant…), lift out the scaldingly hot basket (’cause hand protection is for wimps – ain’t nobody got time for that…), plunge it into the rinse tank (filled with water sufficiently hot to make Old Scratch himself say, “Ooooh… that’s a little too warm for me!”), swish the basket up and down multiple times, place the basket on the draining board (whereupon the dishes would be instantly dry because of the watery inferno they’ve just passed through), then unload the basket while the dishes are still sufficiently hot so as to remove any fingerprints… from your hands. (Witness Protection Program got nothin’ on the dishwasher…) Then take the still-semi-nuclear dishes, neatly stacked in piles heavy enough to give an Olympic weightlifter a hernia, and place them in their various locations, while dodging cooks, waitresses, and my grandmother’s right hook.

I kid. I jest. I ha ha. But only about the right hook.

She was a lefty, after all. Hee hee hee *snort* woo.

No – I’m the only lefty in the bunch. Ok – I’m also a righty. I’m confused…

So, this is my childhood in a nutshell. Which explains a lot of my mental issues.

Again, I jest. A bit. And a lot. You can sort out which is which.

Anyway, the reason that all these things came rushing back is three stainless steel mixing bowls. They started life in the restaurant, came home with Grams when she and Mom built a house together and Grams retired from the restaurant, and came to us after Mom died.

They, the stainless steel bowls I mean, sat in storage for a few years, and I’d think about them once in a while when mixing something in a small, thin plastic bowl that almost buckled under the strain. But before I’d remember to go get them, life moved along.

Last year, when we really wanted to start doing some canning, I remembered the bowls and brought them home. The canning never happened, and the bowls disappeared into a pile of something, someplace.

Then, mere days ago in a fit of domestic bliss, I shoved enough clutter aside to do some cooking, recalled the bowls and how much easier my tasks would be with them, and got them out.

Two of them are quite large, the other is medium. They’re still very shiny, have a few scratches, but don’t really show a lot of wear for all the years they’ve been in action. They are heavy, solid bowls that really earn the description “Professional.”

I love these bowls.

And I didn’t anticipate all of the memories that would come flooding back as I washed their shiny surfaces. The things I’ve seen my Mom and Grams do with these bowls, the love and joy shared with food made in these bowls, the blessings passed on with things Grams would whip up and pass along to families in the church.

A whole lot of love in three steel bowls.

And, on this day, I followed in their footsteps. I made chili, one batch especially for my beloved, just the way she likes it, and one batch for my tastes, just the way I like it. And had the joy of sharing some of the chili with a dear friend who also likes chili the way I like it. Win-win.

I made a no-bake cheesecake, similar to something I remember my mom making, in one of the bowls that she probably mixed hers in. Then I took something I first encountered with my beloved’s family, seasoned oyster crackers, and made them in the bowls from my family. And we took the cheesecake and some of the crackers to a friend’s house and shared them.

Mom and Grams would have loved it – the sharing, the fellowship, the joy.

(They would have loved the crackers too, even with my own little additions like toasted sesame oil and garlic-infused oil and such.)

Because just as Grams did wonderful things with those bowls, food made with love to be shared, Mom also did wonderful things with the bowls.

And I will too.

Hopefully someday one of our nieces or nephews will receive these bowls, and though the memories I have won’t travel along with them, I hope that the love does, and that it continues…

’cause there’s a lot of love in those three steel bowls.

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