GRACE MCKINNEY: Cooking in Nashville since 2011

Dirty Page: Banana Pudding


photo: Andrea Behrends

photo: Andrea Behrends

A junior at Vanderbilt University, Grace McKinney already has a handwritten recipe book that’s as thick as a dictionary.

“My grandmother’s friends gave one just like this to my mom,” she says. “I think on the cover it says something like ‘From My Kitchen to Yours.’ So it’s all recipes that come from the family and our good friends.”

It’s worth noting that Grace’s mother Kim inspired the Dirty Pages. Kim commented on a photo of a splattered and smudged Edna Lewis recipe posted on Facebook: “I always tell my daughters that when I die, they’ll know the good recipes by the dirty pages,” she wrote.

One of those dirty pages—and a favorite of Grace’s—is banana pudding. “It’s my mom’s father’s favorite,” Grace says. “It very much makes me think of home.”

On a summer break from school, her mother asked her to make the recipe. It’s an easy one, she told her. You can’t mess it up.

“I forgot the bananas,” Grace admits. “But the best part’s the Nilla wafers. It just makes me laugh to look at that one and think of all our family occasions.”

Grace calls food a focal point of her family life and a connection to her mother and generations before her.

“My mom will make something from one of these recipe books, and it’s just cool to think how it’s passed on—a cultural part of who we are.”

And regardless of that little pudding mishap, Grace’s cooking has already come a long way.

“I’m no longer on the college meal plan,” she says. 

Cindy Wall