Grandmomma’s Apron


On a silvered frame above a doorway at Crady’s Eclectic Cuisine on Main in Conway, is displayed an apron used by the first caterer I knew.

Even though Najgy would never have accepted that title; nor even would she have been familiar with the term. Yet, during our growing up years (my four brothers and I and later my younger sister) the food that she purposed for a family of eight would put some caterers today to shame.

Even later, as the clan grew to include cousins, uncles, sisters and brothers-in-love (my better term for sister or brother in law), grandchildren, great grandchildren — the list could go on and on — Najgy never hesitated and secretly even welcomed the chance to cook for as many as sixty or seventy people. As I admired what she could so easily do, I never questioned or pondered the vast preparation that had to accompany such a feat. It just seemed that the roasts and gravies, the pastries, the pies, the cakes, the myriad vegetable dishes magically appeared on the table, ready for us all to enjoy.

As I recall, apart from the appreciative groans from stretched tummies, no one ever said to her that she had done a good job. She basked in the glow of happy faces-all she needed, it seemed, was for her family to be happy.
Now, as I like to think of myself as a caterer, I can understand what is involved in making a meal that can be complicated seemingly look very simple to our diners. As a caterer, I can only be happy when our diners believe that their meal has been very easy and quick to prepare and smooth in its translation of what they desire. What they have requested must be presented in a way that first appeals to their eyes and then pleases their palates. At Crady’s Eclectic Cuisine on Main, we offer a number of Najgy’s favorite dishes; I have added many more of my own invention, sweet and savory. Then, our Chefs add their interpretation of classics from our cookbook and some of their choosing.

Crady’s can satisfy almost any style of cuisine, hence “eclectic”, and almost any number of diners. We are very small and yet capable of many choices. However, when I was asked to make, decorate and deliver 1000 cupcakes in a 24 hour period, I did have to decline that request as everything we make here is made from scratch and “to order”…so, 1000 cupcakeswas a bit much in a 24 hour period. Maybe over 2 or 3 days..
A favorite of my father, Luther Crady, is a coconut cake I have modified by the addition of a lemon curd. This is especially pretty at Christmas adorned with candied cranberries.

Cake Layers:
1C. unsalted butter
2C. granulated sugar
4 large eggs
2C. cake flour
1C. sour cream
1/2C. milk
¾-1C. all-purpose flour
2 & 1/2t. baking powder
1/4t. baking soda
1/2t. salt
1t. vanilla
1t. lemon juice

Mix together the 1C. unsalted butter, 2C. granulated sugar
Set aside 1C. sour cream and 1/2C. whole milk-mixed

Cream together butter and sugar until soft; add eggs, one at a time and incorporate