Connie A Thompson

Tag Archives: Sunday Dinner

Sunday Dinner: Naomi’s Legacy

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

Every year my grandmother and mother would plant gardens. They were usually small. Grandmother’s fit in a bricked off area that had once been the foundation for a coal house. What is a coal house? Many years ago their house was heated by coal. There were small grates in every room that looked like small fireplaces.

My grandparents eventually upgraded to a gas furnace, and there was no longer a need for coal. The building, which was about 6′ x 6′ was torn down, but the foundation remained. The floor had been dirt. During the fall and winter months, grandmother would put all the leftover food scraps in the dirt creating a compost pile. Come spring she would plant tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, green beans, and anything that suited her.

I loved to go pick the tomatoes. Grandmother would often slice a tomato, put a thin layer of Duke’s mayonnaise on white bread and a little salt and pepper. She said as a girl, lunch in the summer was often a fresh vegetable from the garden and a leftover biscuit from lunch.
My grandmother, Laura was born in 1918 and grew up on the mill hill. Her parents had a cow, chickens, and a garden. She claimed her mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she was an excellent gardener.

Her mother, Naomi was stern, but kind. If someone was passing through and asked for food, she always gave them what she could. Young Laura watched these travelers pass by other houses before stopping at theirs. She wondered how they knew. Her mother claimed that the travelers left a sign indicating that their house would offer food. Young Laura combed the yard in search of the mysterious welcome sign, but never found one.

When I was ten, I sat on the porch one day with my grandmother. A young woman toting a baby on her hip lumbered off the bus and walked up the street. The baby whined; they were both drenched in sweat. Grandmother called out to her inviting her up to the shade of the front porch. The young woman not much more than a girl looked around trying to decide if she should stop. The baby cried out, and she trudged up the steps. She took a seat on the metal glider, the baby perched on her knees. The baby became mesmerized by her own toes painted with pink nail polish. She babbled. I continued reading my book as I if I wasn’t paying attention to them. I had long before mastered the art of having my nose in a book and seeming oblivious while watching everything.

Grandmother returned with juice and shortbread cookies for the baby. She handed the woman a tall glass of iced tea. They talked about her baby, and my grandmother talked about when her children were babies. When their tea glasses were empty, they sat for a little longer and then the mother tucked her sleeping child on her hip and picked up her bag. Her steps were a little lighter than when she first trudged up the street.

I saw my great grandmother, Naomi’s legacy living on through her daughter. Kindness to others.

Today will be the first Sunday dinner without my son and daughter in law living nearby. Some family members are away at the beach. We’ll have a small group today rather than the usual crowd. Both my grandsons will be here. I know this is a day they won’t specifically remember, but I know that Sunday dinners will be something they will always carry in their heart.

On Cooking My First Sunday Dinner

One of the first Sunday Dinners at my home. Grandmother with two of her great-grandchildren.

One of the first Sunday Dinners at my home. Grandmother with two of her great-grandchildren.

It wasn’t much different for me than it had been most of my life. I got home from church in time to make the cornbread and assist my Mom in preparing dinner. Grandmother moved from her home to live with my mother and stepfather. She needed daily assistance and living alone was no longer an option. Mom claimed her house was too far away for anyone to come to and informed me we would now meet at my house.

My Saturdays were filled with cleaning and a trip to the grocery store. I warned my teens to clean their rooms. They did as they usually did and shut the door. My Mom and Grandmother got onto them.

photo 2-3

Decorative plates that first hung in Grandmother’s kitchen.

photo 1-3 Since I would now be hosting Sunday dinner, I had many of Grandmother’s things: pots, pans, casserole dishes, bowls, etc. I’m sorry to say that most of them didn’t survive a house full of teenagers. There are three things that survived, two plates and a biscuit cutter.

Grandmother's biscuit cutter

Grandmother’s biscuit cutter

There we all were on that first Sunday, a different place, but it became the new home of Sunday dinner. It isn’t the location; it is the people.

At my Grandmother’s funeral, I thought that’s a tradition I can let go of for awhile. I considered convincing my family to meet a restaurant. In the midst of my grandmother’s funeral, the preacher sought me out. He spoke of Sunday dinner and what it meant to my grandmother. He challenged me to continue her tradition.

Meatloaf Beaumont Village Style

IMG_0933Meatloaf has long been a family favorite. We often had it on Sundays at my maternal grandmother’s (we called her Grandmother) house, but for many years we had it every Monday evening at my paternal grandmother’s (we called her Grandma) house.

Connie, Grandma, Dawn

Connie, Grandma, Dawn

Grandma’s neighbor Mrs. Cook would make a pot of pinto beans every Monday for her. Grandma worked in the mill and didn’t have the hours devoted to cooking beans on the stove. Instead of the customary mashed potatoes, she would often make fried potatoes because that is what her four grandchildren coming to dinner loved. Grandma would also slice an onion and there might be another vegetable or two. Grandma always made the best cornbread.

Elizabeth, Grandmother, Ethan

Elizabeth, Grandmother, Ethan

Here is how you make a meatloaf in the Beaumont Mill Village style (both my grandmothers made it this way).

2 lbs. ground beef
1 small onion, chopped and diced (Grandma always diced it in larger pieces so that her picky grandkids would be able to pick it out easier).
2 eggs
2 slices of day old bread (grated or crumbled)
salt and pepper to taste

You mix all this together with your fingers. It is cold and feels gross.
Once mixed, you put it in a loaf pan.
Bake at 350° for about 45 minutes. (You may have to drain the grease off a couple of times, depends on the fat content of the ground beef.)

Once it is cooked thoroughly, remove and add a thin layer of ketchup.
Return to the oven for about 5 minutes.

And then you will have a meatloaf Beaumont style.

The Beginning of a Family Tradition

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

I never got to meet her. She passed before I was born and yet she has had such an impact on my life.

My first reaction when I first saw this picture was to wonder what my mother was doing dressed up in old timey era clothes. I really thought this was one of those pictures they take in places like Gatlinburg, TN. I was wrong. It is actually a picture of her maternal grandmother.

I’ve heard many stories about this woman. She lost her husband in an accident at Beaumont Mill. When management told her she would have to move to a smaller house, she bought one instead. She had to have room for her cow and chickens. Family legend says that management not only fired her but her sons that were working at the mill as well. She took in boarders to help with finances.

This is a story my grandmother, Laura Rodgers once told me.

Sometimes a man would walk up from the railroad to our back door looking for food. Mama always gave them something, and she would try to give them a good meal when she could. I asked Mama how come people always knew she would feed them. She said they had a way of marking houses that were friendly to folks. I searched looking for that mark and never did find it.

My grandmother said she started the Sunday dinner tradition because that was what her mother did. She liked having her children and grandchildren come for dinner. There was never enough room at the table and you’d find people eating their dinner anywhere they could find a spot. On warm sunny days the front porch was a favorite.

Today I will continue the family tradition. I’ll have the roast in the crockpot first thing in the morning. When I get back (we go to the early service) I’ll make the macaroni and cheese and finish everything else up. Since we didn’t get to celebrate a couple of weeks ago for my brother, Dennis’ birthday we’ll do that today. Banana pudding is his desert of choice.

I hope you enjoyed hearing a little about Mary “Naomi” Goudelock, the one my family should thank for first beginning this tradition.

Check back next Sunday. I’ll have another story and I promise to bring you the recipe of a family favorite.

Sunday Dinner: Damascus Pumpkin Spice Pound Cake


Whenever I see pumpkins, I can’t help but think of a little girl named Damascus, who is the antagonist in The River Witch by Kimberly Brock, the 2013 Georgia author of the year. Damascus is a unique and precocious child. Her mother has died and her father is overwhelmed with grief. Damascus decides that she is going to grow one of the largest pumpkins her town has ever seen. She also uses the pumpkin as a raft in the Damascus River. If you’re looking for a book that will touch your heart, make you laugh, make you cry, and make  you cringe (the heroine, Roslyn battles an albino alligator), then read The River Witch. You’ll be glad you did.


In honor of Damascus, October and pumpkins, I’m making Damascus Spice Pound Cake for Sunday dinner. My house smelled so good as it baked. I promise your family will thank you, and trust me, it is so easy to make.


Sunday Dinner: Grandmother’s Applesauce Cake


Grandmother’s Applesauce Cake

This past Friday would have been my Mom’s birthday. My mother loved birthdays. For our birthdays, she would always buy two cards–one thoughtful and serious and the other funny. Mom was also superstitious, but being born on the 13th—she embraced that number.


Randall, Dennis, Me, Mom

To celebrate Mom’s birthday, we’re having a family favorite this weekend—Grandmother’s Applesauce Cake. When you’re celebrating your birthday, it is only fitting that your own mother have something to do with it. So in honor of the two most influential women in my life, here is a favorite family recipe.

When you make this cake, be sure not to follow the directions on the box. Just follow the recipe below. I hope your family enjoys it as much as mine does.

Grandmother Rodgers’ Applesauce Cake

Ingredients for cake:

• Yellow Cake Mix

• 2 eggs

• 1 can applesauce (approx. 15 oz)

• ½ tsp cinnamon

• ¼ tsp nutmeg

• ¼ tsp cloves

• ¼ tsp ginger


Ingredients glaze:

• 1 cup powdered confectioners’ sugar

• ¼ cup orange juice

• ¼ cup butter



Mix all ingredients (do not prepare cake mix according to box instructions).

Bake for 30 to 35 min in 350° oven.


Drizzle glaze over warm cake.

Sunday Dinner: Cubed Steak and Back to School



First day of school 2002


Tomorrow the children in our area are going back to school. Yesterday Walmart and Target were filled with parents and kids searching the aisles for school supplies.



It made me think of back to school shopping with my son. He was only six and it was the beginning of first grade. We had the list of required school supplies. He wanted everything to be purple, his new favorite color since it was Donatello’s signifying color, his favorite Ninja Turtle.

Still excited over Ninja turtle action figures

Still excited over Ninja turtle action figures

While we were in the store a summer downpour came. My umbrella was in the car and I had just spent all of my money on school supplies. We waited. It kept raining. It did not seem like it would quit anytime soon.

Ryan looks up at me with his big blue eyes. “Mama, it’s only water.”

We run out into the rain. The sun is shining in spite of the downpour. We laughed and he splashed in every puddle there was on our way to the car. It was an awesome day.


Cube Steak

Today we’re having one of Ryan’s favorites, cubed steak. Some may know it as chicken fried steak.

You’ll need cubed steak. For the breading you need flour, poultry seasoning, salt, and pepper. There is no exact amount. I just sprinkle the spices into the flour. Dredge the cube steak in the mixture, coating both sides. Cook in a skillet with the bottom covered in oil. I like to cover the skillet, it makes the steak more tender. I usually turn it a couple of times, checking to be sure that it is cooked evenly.


Sunday Dinner: Peach Cobbler


My Mom and Grandmother loved any kind of cobbler. And when the peaches came in, there was sure to be a peach cobbler for dessert. But my mother and grandmother did not always cook with a recipe, they just knew. When Grandmother talked about preparing food, it was a handful of this, a spoon of that, and after decades of cooking, she just knew.

Sometimes in recreating their recipes, their is a lot of trial and error.

When Chuck and I married, his mother sent me a copy of the Vincent family cookbook, a list of recipes she compiled over the years of all the family favorites. I didn’t realize how different Southern cooking can be until looking at those recipes. Artichoke hearts is a favorite ingredient with their family. To me, it was just one of those things I saw on the shelves of the grocery store. Amid the recipes I’m not familiar with, there were many that I was including peach cobbler. Chuck is such a sweetheart. He loves to cook. He offered to make the peach cobbler.

We had to go to two fruit stands before he found the peaches he was looking for, the really ripe ones that demand your immediate attention.

Vincent Family Peach Cobbler 

4 C. pealed and sliced peaches.

Mix with 1/4 C. sugar and sprinkle cinnamon over the top.

Place in a 9″ pie pan and dot with pieces of butter.


1C Bisquick

1/4 C. sugar

1 egg

Mix together and put on top of peaches. Sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of water over the topping mixture and bake 25 – 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Top should be nice and brown.

Chuck also left a couple of the peach pits because his Grandma always said that it adds flavor.

Sunday Dinner: Celebrating Ashley’s Birthday

Amanda, Ashley, and Connie

Amanda, Ashley, and Connie

Families grow in the usual ways through births and marriages, and sometimes God has other plans.

In elementary school, Ashley was my daughter’s best friends despite the one year difference in their ages. They lived in the same neighborhood, rode the same bus, and went to the same church. Ashley spent many nights at our house, much like my best friend, Lisa did when we were kids.

Ashley and Amanda balanced each other. Amanda was adventurous while Ashley tended to be more cautious. Ashley kept Amanda out of major trouble while Amanda encouraged Ashley to try and do new things. Funny how life repeats itself, but in the Connie and Lisa friendship, I was the goody goody as Lisa used to say.

Ashley stayed over so often that she practically lived with us, but any time the girls got too rowdy or obnoxious as preteen girls do, I would threaten to send her home.

I always thought I would have three children, but after my daughter was born, my mother convinced me to have my tubes tied. No more babies for me. I just assumed that I was wrong; two children would be enough.

One night Ashley called and without going into detail, she needed a place to stay. It was only going to be for a few days. She lived with me for most of her teen years. I never replaced her parents. She continues to maintain wonderful relationships with them.

We often find God has plans for us to grow, and being a mother figure to Ashley was one of those ways we each got to grow. Ashley’s presence changed the family dynamic. She and Amanda were still good friends, but things changed and they became more like sisters, at times very close and other times at each other’s throats. Ryan now had two girls to pick on. My brother would tease him that he was living with the estrogen club.

Beach Pyramid

Beach Pyramid

This Sunday we’re celebrating Ashley’s birthday. This past week she finished her internship and will begin working next week as a dental assistant for a local dentist. She makes this Mama proud.

Ashley and Ryan

Ryan and Ashley

Ashley has requested a yellow cake and her favorite Sunday dinner recipe, my Mom’s barbecued chicken.


Grandma Mary Anne’s Barbecue ChickenIngredients:

  • Boneless chicken breasts

•                Barbeque sauce


Place chicken breasts in water on top of stove and boil until done. Check to make sure the chicken is no longer pink on the inside. For added flavor, you can chop and onion and/or celery and add to the water.

Cut chicken into small bite size pieces. Place in casserole dish and cover with barbeque sauce and stir. Thoroughly coat each piece of chicken. Cover with tin foil and bake for 30 minutes at 350°.




Continuing The Tradition of Sunday Dinners

Growing up Sundays usually meant church followed by Sunday dinner at my Grandmother’s house. We would all gather to eat and enjoy each other’s company. There were always family stories, old and new. It didn’t take much to become a family legend.

My Aunt Doris is still asked if her camera has film (even though she has a digital camera now). She arranged twenty of so of us including small children packed on Grandmother’s porch posing for a picture. She took several, each time setting the timer and nearly killing herself to get to her place in the picture. She snapped pictures all afternoon and then began to wonder why she did not have to put more film in – there wasn’t any film in there to start with. This was over thirty years ago, and it still follows her around.

Sunday dinners were always such a huge part of my childhood and I knew one day I would want to keep the tradition going for my own grandchildren. We lost Grandmother back in 2007, but the memories and the things she taught me still remain.


You love your children dearly, but when you get a grandchild, it is a different kind of love. I think perhaps you feel more freedom because you’re the grandparent, you don’t have all the day to day care and responsibility, but you do have all the pleasure. And all I can say about my grandson is that he is just so stinkin cute, even if he did learn to say SpongeBob before GrandMom.

I hope you’ll join me on Sundays. I’ll be sharing recipes and family stories.