Y’all love your mamas and their kitchen tools.
We were deluged with essays about treasured family heirlooms in your kitchen drawers and cabinets or proudly on display on your countertops or inside china cabinets.
We share many of our favorites here and more at charlotteobserver.com/food-drink. We’re sorry that we could not print them all.
A cup of memories
Kim Love Stump, 55, of Charlotte, wrote about the measuring cup that belonged to her mother, Betty Keeling Love.
The measuring cup was a first anniversary present from my father to my mother. The only measuring cup of my childhood, it was constantly in use. I learned to cook using its lined measurements. For 50 years, it sat on the counter in my mother’s kitchen. When she died, it remained in place, greeting my father each morning. When he died, I locked their door and left everything of monetary value. I would deal with those things later. But the cup? It came home with me that very day. It now sits on my kitchen counter, offering a full cup of sweet memories.
Two in one
Sandra Whitten, 58, of Davidson, wrote about 1960s Pyrex casserole dishes that belong to her mother, Mytrice Cotney.
They aren’t pretty, nor particularly stylish. But one of my two 1960s Pyrex Casserole dishes grace our table at family holidays. My mother bought them so that she could prepare two identical casseroles. She would serve one at Thanksgiving and freeze the second to serve at Christmas. The dish is our traditional favorite, chicken ’n dressing. Mother worked as a clerk at the local mill office and she organized her holiday cooking to save time.
The dishes and the recipe have passed to me and no holiday is without its presence. Buttermilk cornbread is mixed with herbs, chicken stock and chunks of chicken and baked to a golden brown crust and lovingly placed upon the table.
From the Austrian Alps
Karin Lukas-Cox of Charlotte wrote about the yellow Finnish dishes that belonged to her mother, Heidi Lukas.
My mother’s yellow Finnish dishes served hot creamy stews for dinner; salami with dark bread and raspberry syrup for lunch; petit fours with hot chocolate for snack; or nutty bread, butter and marmalade for breakfast. These dishes added to the invigorating smells and tastes that our mother spoiled us with in our tiny getaway nestled in the Austrian Alps. My mother performed magic on a two-plate electric stove in a windowless kitchen. A generation later, I relive the magic with these cherished dishes in my kitchen, although I am far from the kitchen magician my mother is.
One special knife
Sue Ellen Frye, 71, of Hickory, wrote about a knife that belonged to her mother, Margie Love.
Peel and slice a tomato? Separate and cut a frying hen into pieces? Chop collards? My mother always reached for her favorite knife. Often she took out her file to sharpen her knife before starting to work on the vegetables from my father’s backyard garden.
Today I have an array of knives in a butcher block holder on my counter. My mother’s favorite knife is not there. Instead, it rests on my desk where I use it as a letter opener. Touching the knife’s handle, worn smooth from years of use, reminds me of the hours Mother spent cooking meals and canning vegetables for our family. Each time I open a sealed envelope with it, this knife peels back a memory.
Anne Osani, 57, of Matthews, wrote about the ravioli cutter that belonged to her mother, Mary Osani.
It’s a small, worn, green wooden-handled ravioli cutter. It sits in my kitchen tool carousel and I see it daily. I have all the newfangled pasta mixers, makers, filling trays and forms. But when I see that cutter, it reminds me of the long, labor-intensive process that produced loving meals for so many. That little cutter traveled long and far from Long Island to Connecticut to Iowa and to North Carolina. When mom was in her 80s and living in assisted living, it was my job to clean out her apartment. I gave away the furniture. But when it came to that ravioli cutter, I kept it like the treasure it is.
Mixing up the cake
Ann Gillon, 75, of Concord, wrote about the mixing bowl that belonged to her mother, Mamie Gunter Bullock.
Mother said my first cake had the prettiest texture she had ever seen. But it was inedible. I had mixed up teaspoon and cup when I added the salt. My dad teased me and said he was afraid to throw the cake out the door for fear it might hit his bird dog and kill him. The mixing bowl is cracked and pitted but I wouldn’t part with it. It brings back wonderful memories.
Lois Channell Kilkka of Charlotte wrote about a gold-plated spoon that belongs to her parents, Nelson and Rose Channell.
Our gold-plated spoon comes from humble roots.
My grandparents lived a simple life in rural West Virginia. When they passed away 50 years ago, family members arranged an estate sale. After the sale, my mother took one last stroll through the vacant house. On a windowsill in the back bedroom, she spotted a tarnished silver spoon. “Dad used this spoon every day to sweeten his coffee,” she recalled. Her father often cooled and drank his coffee from a saucer, Old World style.
My father owned a metal-plating shop and one day surprised my mother by gold-plating the spoon. The sugar spoon, once discarded and nearly lost, has since become a cherished family heirloom.
Gene Moore, 78, of Charlotte, wrote about the one-burner hot plate, skillet and spatula given to him by his mother, Lorene Moore.
My mother grew up at a time when being careful with money was a way of life. When I went to UNC-Chapel Hill, she bought me a one-burner hot plate, a small aluminum skillet and a wooden-handle spatula and suggested I could stretch my dollars by occasionally cooking my own meals.
The hot plate has been gone for many years, but the skillet and spatula are still treasured items. The skillet is just large enough to hold the contents of a can of beans, to cook an egg or to hold two or three pieces of livermush. Occasionally I cook something in the skillet and remember Mother and the wonderful days at Carolina.
Best friend’s plate
Patricia Shanklin Weekley, 74, of Charlotte wrote about a plate that was owned by her great-grandmother, Sarah Margaret Wood Hope.
My parents, my brother and I lived in my great-grandmother’s house early in their marriage. Since I was 6 years older than my brother, I had no one to play with. My great-grandmother was my best friend. I also had an imaginary friend, and she always had a place at our table for meals. I had a special plate for her, not like any of our regular dishes. When I was 12, we built our own house and the plate was given to me. Everywhere I have lived. that plate has been on our kitchen wall or table.
Pouring out history
Ann Marie Blackmon, 61, of Conover, writes about several kitchen heirlooms.
Times were hard in the 1940s. People who had survived the Great Depression were sending their sons to war. When my father, a farm boy-turned soldier-turned GI student, married the orphaned city girl in 1945, there was no wedding hoopla. There was a civil ceremony, then back to the barracks and work. Gifts? Hardly. But there was one wedding present, a Shawnee Pottery teapot that now graces my summer table with ice tea. It is seen here with a canning jar from my grandmother’s kitchen and the meat fork from my great-grandfather’s kitchen. The real history is not in these things, but in the life stories they represent.
You can’t beat it
Karen T. Newman, 55, of Cornelius, wrote about the Sunbeam Mixmaster that belonged to her mother, Helena Newman.
For decades, this Sunbeam Mixmaster was nestled in the corner of my parents’ kitchen counter. This wedding gift was always ready to be called into action. Every time I enlist its services, I’m transported back to when I’d be standing next to my mother, watching her place the ingredients into the white glass bowl. She’d lock the beaters into place and lower the Mixmaster into position. I’d hear the soft clicks of the Mix-Finder dial as she chose the proper speed. As she dialed, I’d catch a faint, not unpleasant, whiff of the motor as it started spinning. All the while, my anticipation would grow, knowing only moments separated one of those beaters from becoming mine for the licking.
The taste of mint
Sheila Snipes Smith of Charlotte wrote about Wagner Ware Magnalite cookware that belonged to her aunt, Margaret Snipes.
My late mother was not a cook. However, my dad’s sister-in-law was an excellent cook and took me under her wing. One of my favorite memories was taking a big gulp of iced tea at Aunt Margaret’s lavishly set dinner table. That was the day I was introduced to the mint that she grew in her own backyard. Today I have an herb garden, make mint tea and use her Wagner Ware Magnalite cookware as I prepare meals — gourmet or not.
Biscuits and sacrifice
Doris Wheeler, 74, Monroe, wrote about her mother’s biscuit pan.
One morning I was reading about Jesus’ sacrificial death when my mother’s old cracked enamel biscuit pan caught my eye. I realized Jesus’ cross was like the biscuit pan. Each week, she converted 20 pounds of Red Band into biscuits for six children. Bought for a dime at Woolworth, the pan’s value and beauty lay in the love and sacrifice it represented. Mama worked at Springs Mill in Fort Mill so we would have the essentials. We didn’t have luxuries, but Mama gave us her best.
Adventures in cooking
Meg Morgan, 71, of Charlotte, wrote about her mother Margaret Evelyn Martin’s Pyrex measuring cup.
My mother and dad raised two daughters in an uncomplicated but adventurous household. She cooked and baked all the time. One Easter in the mid-1950s, instead of the usual ham for dinner, we had lobster tails. Lobster tails? Another night, we ate eels. When she died, I claimed a Pyrex measuring cup that she had used most of her cooking life. I still use it, although I cannot read the numbers very well. Every time I measure something, I say “Hi” to my mom, the most adventurous cook in New Jersey.
Wanda Gilleland, 77, of Statesville, wrote about her mother’s rolling pin.
My kitchen treasure would be my rolling pin. My mother, 95, remembers her father hewing the rolling pin out of ash for her sister when she began housekeeping. When I married in 1956, my aunt gave it to me and made me promise that I would never dispose of it. I have no idea how many biscuits, rolls and pie crusts that I have rolled over almost 59 years. I plan to give it to my first great-granddaughter when I no longer need it. She will have to make the same promise.
Shiny pots cook best
Teresa Franz, 70, of Burke County wrote about her mother Kaye Stefan’s Revere Ware pans and other family heirlooms.
. I still prefer to use my mom’s Revere Ware pans every day. As a child, it was one of my favorite tasks to keep the bottoms of the pots shiny, and Mom said things cooked better because of it.
Rolling out memories
Joann Scuderi, 64, of Charlotte, wrote about the rolling pin that belonged to her mother, Ethel Lewis.
In 1937, a good friend gave my parents a solid maplewood rolling pin with gleaming green handles. I can still see my mom rolling out dough for the greatest cinnamon rolls in the world. A rainy day takes me back to watching her roll out the dough for homemade egg noodles for supper. Today, the handles are worn from those many meals. When I hold the rolling pin, I can feel the loving connection to Mom.
A good cast-iron skillet
Beverly Bonifay Merritt, 65, of Charlotte wrote about the cast iron skillet that belonged to her grandmother, Minnie Bonifay.
We were from the South, and my grandmother fried up just about everything she could put her hands on in the cast-iron skillet. Before she died, the skillet was given to my dad. It would go on vacation with us and every morning we’d find a camping spot and fry bacon and eggs. Decades ago, I became the proud owner of the skillet. I fix just about everything in that skillet. I wish that skillet could talk.
Using it every day
Danny Randall, 74, of Mount Holly, wrote about the china that belonged to his mother, Jewel Randall.
In 1953, my mother purchased a 16-piece set of Vernon Kilns china for $10.45 and a set of William Rogers silver-plated flatware. I use the china and silverware daily and remember my mother every time I open the drawer.
Tough pin, tough woman
Donna Love, 67, of Mount Holly wrote about her grandmother Vickie Mahaley Snider’s rolling pin.
My grandfather, Leroy H. Snider of Walkertown, had the rolling pin carved out of a single piece of wood for my grandmother.
She was what the French might call trés formidable. During the 1930s, when my grandfather’s business did a lot of trade in barter, but not much in cash, an apocryphal family story has her chasing a “repo man” off her property, brandishing a cast iron skillet over her head. Among her redeeming virtues was the fact that she could make a mean apple pie.
A taste of Sweden
Pat Christopherson, 66, of Concord, wrote about the ableskiver and krumkake irons that belonged to her mother, Kathyrn Louise Johnson Raymond.
Kathyrn Louise Johnson Raymond was known from LeGrand, Iowa, to Petoskey, Mich., for her “Sticky Buns.” All the kids and grandkids learned to knead the dough. She shared our family tree through her cooking. Her father left Sweden at 11 and settled in Iowa. Her “irons” bring the grandkids a Swedish smorgasbord.
Taking a turn
Pat Shaw, 58, of Davidson, wrote about her mother, Huguette Strauss’s mouli, a hand-turned food grinder.
My kitchen treasure, which belonged to my French mother, is a mouli, a hand-turned food grinder. My sister and I always helped with our mother’s gourmet meals and the mouli was something we easily could use. The mouli was perfect for making baby food for my infant sons and the best way to make mashed potatoes. My sons later stood on stools and delighted to see the mouli capture the stringy bits from sweet potatoes.
Come on, Ethel
Suzy Urban, 42, of Charlotte, wrote about the Kitchen Aid mixer that belonged to her grandmother, Ethel Starr.
When my maternal grandmother went into a nursing home and all of her household items were divided, I got her Kitchen Aid mixer. I come from a family of “from scratch” bakers and cooks, and much of that came from her. My grandmother didn’t have a lot of money, so she showed her appreciation for others’ help by cooking and baking for them. When I would ask her how to make something, she would always say, “It’s easier if I show you.” Her house always smelled like something had just been baked, even if there was nothing in the oven.
Her mixer, which I named Ethel, is still working today, and every time I use it, I think of her and say, “Come on, Ethel, make mine taste as good as yours!”
Not so secret recipe
Katie Pendergrast, 39, of Weddington, wrote about the biscuit bowl that belonged to her grandmother, Elizabeth Pond Goodrich.
One of my fondest memories growing up in rural, southern Virginia was eating my grandma’s delicious homemade biscuits. For every meal, she would get out the Texas Ware bowl that she had received as a wedding gift in 1948. I would watch as she would magically knead and shape the dough. Then she would carefully place them on a small baking sheet and place a thumb print in the center of each biscuit before putting them in her toaster oven to bake. The result: the most mouth-watering biscuits I have ever tasted. I inherited the bowl and couldn’t wait to replicate her recipe. To my surprise, I discovered that the recipe was just Bisquik and milk. I guess it was the love she added that made them taste so good.
A gift gives back
Anita Bantley, 55, of Lake Wylie, S.C., wrote about a spoonrest that belonged to her mother, Ruth Lagow.
I have a daily keepsake right on my kitchen counter. This family heirloom was a Mother’s Day gift I gave to my mother in 1965 when I was 8. I remember saving my money for the occasion. For 40 years, it sat on her counter. Now it has a place on mine.
It perks her up
Pam Washer, 57, of Blowing Rock, wrote about this percolator, a gift to her parents from her grandmother, Margaret Earle Roark.
I am now the proud owner of this percolator. My mom (90 and going strong!) has been cleaning things out. I knew my mom always made coffee in it when I was growing up, but I didn’t know it was their wedding gift from my dad’s mom.
My grandmother didn’t have much. She became a single mother of a houseful of boys and had to run a farm. But my mom said grandmother was so proud to give them that percolator – even though Mama is pretty sure she had to buy it “on time.” That’s why my mom hung on to it, and now it is special to me.
Kim Laster, 55, of Charlotte, wrote about the apron worn by her great-grandmother, Rose Wishneski Saner.
I have my great-grandmother’s apron. I don’t recall ever seeing her without it on; my mother says the only time she took it off was to go to church. She was a second-generation Polish-American. She cooked Old World style: a lot of organ meats and nothing fancy. She made her own sauerkraut in a crock in the basement.
Cooking every day
Heather Breedlove, 44, of Indian Land, S.C. wrote about items that belonged to her grandmother, Virginia Dare “Teeny” Walkup.
Grandma cooked mainly from scratch and made biscuits every day. There was always a cake or pie or both for dessert. You didn’t come to her house without eating something or at least having a glass of sweet tea. When she had to move into an assisted living facility, it was time to clean out her house. The things I wanted most were her frying pan, potato pot, cake bowl and My Kitchen Prayer plate. The plate now rests on my kitchen counter and I use the others often.
They waffled around
Jean White, 75, of Lancaster, S.C., wrote about the waffle iron that belonged to her mother, Mable Eugenia Green.
This waffle iron was one of my parent’s first appliances. My dad had finished Wake Forest College and began a job as manager at Roses in Spartanburg in the 1930s, where he met and married my mother-to-be, Mable Eugenia Green. I can imagine the wonderful, hot waffles that often became one of their meals.
It started something
Janet Batrouny, 66, of Charlotte, wrote about a glass jar that belonged to her mother, Virginia H. Haselden.
In the 1970s, my mother received a sourdough starter in a Hudson Bay jar with a recipe for angel biscuits, A starter is a living thing. It must be fed twice daily and it doubles every time it’s fed. Baking dozens of biscuits and gifting starters is the way to reduce the volume. Mother’s rigorous determination to “bake and gift” often resembled Lucy and Ethel’s best comedic schemes. Eventually, all the starter was gifted to a friend. Mother kept the jar and now I use it to hold coffee pods.
Worked just fine
Cozette Stacy Nowak of Fort Mill, S.C., wrote about a makeshift rolling pin that belonged to her mother, Lennie Louise Harris Stacy.
In 1934 at age 20, my mother delivered her first child, a girl crippled by cerebral palsy. The country doctor in York told her and daddy “to enjoy the child for the five or so years she might live.” Wanting to help, my grandmother provided a worker from her boardinghouse to assist them. The helper discovered there was no rolling pin for making biscuits. She returned the next day with a brown glass potent-potable bottle, announcing, “It’d work just fine.”
Every batch of biscuits my mother made was rolled out with this bottle, which will be at least 81 years old this year. And so will my sister. (Sorry, Doc. God’s plan trumped your call on that one!)
A special fork
Jane Crutchfield of Charlotte wrote about the Foley fork owned by her mother, Margaret Jackson.
Our Thanksgiving menu always includes dumplings made the way our mom and grandmother made them: flat rolled-noodle pastry cooked in chicken or turkey broth and milk. My granddaughters and I still use Mom’s Foley fork to cut the shortening into the flour. My mom has been gone 15 years. My sister and I each have one of her forks. I’ve tried to find another one but haven’t had any luck.
Cut to the heart
Bruce Yelton, 65, of Charlotte, wrote about a knife that belonged to his grandmother, Mary McBrayer Yelton.
On my kitchen island, alongside my stainless-steel knives, there is a small, wooden-handled knife with a pitted, spotted blade. It belonged to my grandmother and was made by my grandfather Gordon Yelton at Stonecutter Mills in Spindale during the 1930s. He made the knife from a broken band-saw blade, a couple of rivets and piece of hickory. My grandmother swore it was the best and sharpest knife she ever had. She would never cut a tomato with anything else.
Various and sundry
Samantha Robison-Young, 49, of Gastonia, wrote about the stainless steel cups that belonged to her grandmother, Meta Robison.
Two stainless steel cups sit on my counter next to the stove. They came from my grandmother’s house, and my mother remembered using the cups for various and sundry things. When Mom and I moved in together, they moved to our house. Now, they are just mine. One day, they will sit next to my children’s stoves. And they’ll remember using them with me and Mom for their own various and sundry things.
It must be the soup pot
Ann Guin, 68, of York, S.C., wrote about the soup pot owned by her grandmother, Virgie Goodnite.
My childhood friends, without fail, claim my granny’s homemade vegetable soup as their favorite. In elementary school, we were allowed to walk home for lunch. Everyone wanted to walk home with me to have her soup. There was no recipe, just bone-in chuck roast and fresh or home-canned vegetables, made in her cast-iron soup pot. The pot still produces the best vegetable soup I have ever eaten.