Friday, February 27, 2009


Today is Friday!!!! I am taking 1/2 day vacation. My sister and I are going to take my dad to the doctor in Birmingham. He just needs to have a routine check up with his doctor. Nothing serious or anything. After the doctor, we are going to visit my sweet, precious girls!!!! I can't wait! I have not seen them since Valentine's Day. I will post a new picture when I get home tonight!!!

If you want to read about the latest misadventure of my strong willed granddaughter, Annabelle, please click here! Keeping Up With the Kemps.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

West Gadsden Cafe - Part 2

In March of 1963, my granddaddy died of a heart attack at the age of 63. This left my grandmother alone to run the cafe. She did not drive, so she was dependent on my dad or mother to get to and from the cafe. I am sure there was some discussion between my parents as to what to do, but my sister and I never heard it. My mother quit her job and we moved in with my grandmother. It was not easy combining two households. We sold most of our furniture since there wasn't any room at my grandmothers' house. My sister and I were allowed to take ONE toy with us. I don't remember being upset about giving up anything, but my sister certainly does.

My mother and dad sold our house when we moved in with grandmother. They used the money they made from the sell to move and enlarge the cafe. It didn't move far, just around the corner to 12th Street. The cafe was in the same block as West Gadsden Drug Store (Russell Prince), Daniel's Grocery Store, a Doctor's office (Dr. Simpson, I think), a barber shop and a beauty shop. The cafe moved to this location in 1965.

This is a picture of the "new" location during remodeling. It seemed huge to us!

This is my mother in the kitchen of the "new" location as they were remodeling the building.

The move brought many more customers to the cafe. Most days people were standing and waiting on a table. The cafe was in this location until 1977. The cafe only served breakfast and lunch. It was open from 5:00 a.m. until 2:00 p..m. six days a week. My grandmother and mother always got there between 3:30 and 4:00 a.m. to get everything ready for breakfast.

When fresh vegetables were available the cafe served as many as they could. It was not unusual to sit on the front porch in the afternoons and evenings shelling a bushel of beans to serve the next day.

My sister and I were required to work during the summer months. I think I started working there when I was in the 7th grade. I am sure I didn't do too much, it was probably a way to keep me from being home alone. I got married in August of 1972, after I graduated from high school and I continued to work at the cafe until Missy, my daughter, was born in 1974.

I will tell you more about the foods we served next time!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day

Annabelle and Lydia

I would like for you to meet my two valentines.  Annabelle, almost four, and Lydia, almost two months.  These are the two sweetest girls in the world.  I kept Lydia while Missy, Tyler and Annabelle went to the Alabama basketball game.  She is the best baby.  She never cried!  We played and had a good time.  I had to take a few pictures for everyone to see!!!!  

I hope everyone had a great day!!!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Egg Custard Pie

Egg Custard Pie

This is a picture of my grandmother at the second location of West Gadsden Cafe (more to come on that later). She is cutting pies. They made several different kinds of pies; chocolate, coconut, lemon, sweet potato, german chocolate, strawberry and egg custard, my grandmothers favorite. Now before you turn your nose up at the sound of egg custard pie, let me tell you it is very very good!!!! It taste a lot like Creme Brulee. Grandmother didn't eat many of the pies, but she loved egg custard. The pies were made fresh daily. If there was any pie left, the people that worked there were allowed to take it home, it was never saved and served the next day. Usually the pie was gone long before time to go home. The pies had the highest meringue you have ever seen, well at the least the ones that had meringue.

Egg Custard Pie

7 Tablespoons of Melted Butter - measure after it is melted
5 eggs
2/3 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 Full Cups of Milk

Beat eggs and sugar with mixer, add vanilla, butter and milk. Pour into an unbaked pie shell and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. DO NOT OVERCOOK! Mother always said the pie was done when you laid the end of a butter knife on the pie and let it pierce the pie just a teeny bit (do not puncture with the tip of the knife, just barely let the knife pierce it) and a little bit of liquid came to the top. Now I like it when it is still warm and I always serve it before it has been in the fridge.

If you try this one, I expect a comment to tell me how you like it!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

The First West Gadsden Cafe - 1945-1965

This is my grandfather and grandmother standing in front of the very first "West Gadsden Cafe". It was located in the 1100 block of Forrest Avenue, Gadsden, Alabama, across the street from Isbell Hallmark Furniture Store and Chandler's Fabrics. It was also next door to Buck's Boats and The Brace Shop, not sure of the name of it but it was owned by the Barnes Family. My dad told me there was a grocery store in the corner building (12th and Forrest) where Isbell Hallmark Furniture was located.

The cafe was very small at this time, with only 3 tables (2 seated 2 people and 1 seated 1 person) and 12 stools. The cafe was always a meat and three place with the best pies in town. I will try to find a picture of the inside for you to see.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Sunday Dinner

I guess most people call the noon meal lunch, but I was raised in the South where we called the noon meal dinner and the evening meal supper.

I cook for my family most Sundays. My family includes, My dad and his sister, my sister and her son and wife and their twin boys, and my son. My daughter and her family come every now and again when they can. They do not live in the same town as the rest of us, so it is more difficult for them to come to lunch.

Growing up we had two menus for Sunday dinner, fried chicken and roast beef, and you didn't stray from that! Well now that I am cooking for them, we have different menus. The first time I cook something different, my sister declared it a red letter day. She announced just how long she had been in the family (all I will say, it was over 40 years!) and we had NEVER had such a meal as I had prepared that Sunday. Not that she didn't like the meal, oh she did, it was just not our traditional meal. Since that time, we have really branched out, I have even cooked lasagna. Now that raised some Pilgrim (my maiden name) eyebrows, but not a one of them turned it down.

Today we had a traditional dinner with fried chicken, greek potatoes, (now that is a little off tradition) green beans, and rolls. I cooked a yellow cake with my mothers wonderful chocolate icing. My dad's sister came in with the paper plates (I do not have a dishwasher other than me!) and sat them right on top of the cake. I didn't even notice until I was ready to serve it. Now I had cooked it in a 9x13 pan so that might be one reason she didn't notice it. The other reason might be that she is 94.5 years old and was told this past summer that she couldn't drive anymore due to her eyesight. I pried the sack off the cake and we ate it anyway.

Cooking that icing this morning, sure made me miss my mother. She was a wonderful cook. My dad's parents, then my parents owned West Gadsden Cafe from 1945 - 1990. It was a landmark in our little town. I was raised in that cafe, so I know just a teeny bit about cooking, to be exact, meat and three. I will write more about that at another time.

This is my mothers' recipe for chocolate icing.

2 Cups Sugar
3/4 Cup Cocoa
3/4 Cup Pet Milk or any evaporated milk will do
1 Stick Margarine

Mix together the sugar and cocoa then add the milk and margarine.

Cook over medium heat stirring constantly until it boils. Continue cooking for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and beat with a mixer for 5 minutes more. I stir mine with a wire whip the whole time I am cooking it.

Ice your cake immediately! Let someone in the family that loves chocolate licked the bowl!

I don't have a picture of the cake, you wouldn't want to know what it looked like after the sack was removed anyway!