GARRISON COOKBOOK0001Our maternal side are “the Garrison’s”. They have been the topic of some of our blog posts about their lives and their grit. Over 40 years ago, one of our cousins went to the effort for all of us Garrisons to contribute recipes and a Garrison Cookbook was born.  There aren’t any “secret recipes” or any particular dish that has become a classic Garrison dish; however, there is a story that has become a classic in our immediate family, because it depicts so much of the attitude that our mother and dad passed down to us.


Newlyweds getting their cast iron skillet and bag of potatoes.

We took a real “vacation” after JD had left for the Navy and so it was just our brother and us 3 girls in the car with Mom & Dad. We went to Colorado and visited the Royal Gorge, Pikes Peak and all the tourist spots. Mom had all the vacation money in envelopes labeled “Food”, “Motel”, etc.  At the end of the trip we were headed home and apparently there was no more money in the “Food” envelope.  Mom had packed a 10-pound bag of potatoes and a cast iron skillet “just in case”. So, we stopped on the side of the road where they built a fire and Mom cooked fried potatoes over an open fire for us to have for dinner. I am sure she probably had some bacon grease and onions to make that taste just right! Can you imagine how good that tasted?  The funny part was when we got home, Dad gave Mom the envelopes back and there was cash left in some of the other envelopes… when Mom asked Dad, “Why didn’t you tell me we still had money?” Dad said, “You asked if we had food money and we didn’t.” Now here’s another side lesson – that was actually a point of great laughter between the two of them. I am sure there are many out there that would literally have to admit, “The fight started when….”

Anyway, it has become a long-standing tradition to refer to having a cast iron skillet and bag of potatoes as all you need for emergencies. To honor that tradition, some of our nieces and nephews have benefited from that vacation trip long, long ago. One in particular stands out because we all happened to be together in Perry at my brother’s farm for a family gathering. Our niece Rachel was getting married and we had quite the ceremony of “Mema” presenting Rachel and Cody with their very own cast iron skillet and bag of potatoes.

Such simple things. When combined, a cast iron skillet and potatoes not only represents a great meal, but a way of life.

Any lessons learned from this saga?  Or maybe just a smile to your face!