Grandpa’s Thermos

In the evenings before heading to bed Grandpa prepares the coffee pot to make five cups of coffee in the morning: one cup for me and two cups each for him and Grandma. In the wee hours of the morning Grandma gets up; brews the coffee; drinks her two cups; pours the remaining three cups into Grandpa’s Stanley thermos then she starts her day. Three or four hours later Grandpa and I wake up, crawl out of bed, and make our way to the kitchen table to start our day sipping hot coffee out of that thermos.

Yesterday I seated myself across the table from Grandpa. I sprinkled half a teaspoon of kosher gelatine into the bottom of my pretty teacup; reached out; grabbed the thermos; started to pour my coffee and the plastic handle broke. My body was surprised when it came apart in my hand, but my mind wasn’t. That thermos has been around for a very long time. It has grown old in Grandpa’s hands. Across the top of the lid yellow fingernail polish tells us how to position the cap so coffee will flow in a stream, not to fast, not to slow, into our cups. The inside of that thermos is a permanent shade of ‘coffee’. Logically the plastic handle with years of useful stress and strain would have weakened to the point of failure. And mine was the hand that caused it to happen. Grandma and Grandpa looked it over; found the ‘super’ glue. We took some time, worked together, and glued the plastic handle back into position. Neither one of them poked or prodded about my breaking the handle… until after the handle was back together. Then they teased me a bit about being heavy handed.

I teased back about the Stanley thermos prior to this one that had a second life after Grandpa ran over it with the tractor and squished it. The thermos had a strange shape, but it didn’t leak. He kept using it for a year or two until Grandma got tired of seeing it and bought him this one new.

When I joined Grandpa at the kitchen table this morning while Grandma made oatmeal with raisins for breakfast, I saw that the ‘super’ glue hadn’t held, and the handle was back to being broken. I looked at the once hunter green of the handle. Over time the color had mellowed to take on a blueish tint as the plastic oxidized and weakened. Grandpa saw me checking out the handle. “Leather. I’ll make a better handle, even than it had new,” he said. I looked at the two square moving metal ‘rings’ attached to the thermos to hold the handle. One piece of square metal held the handle end that still maintained its integrity. I was trying to imagine how a leather handle on that old thermos could be better than the plastic one and I wasn’t seeing it when Grandpa continued, “out of good thick leather.” (How did he know I was seeing a flimsy, floppy, pliant leather band tied around those two metal rings’) He nodded my direction, “not supple. Thick and stiff.” Then I saw what he was imagining. When he tans hides, he’s aiming for soft and supple for Grandma to enjoy. But there’s quite a few hides in his shop that didn’t make it to the ‘supple’ stage and are stiff as  boards. He wouldn’t be able to tie it on; it would have to be riveted; I could see it; it made sense.

I grinned, “That’ll work. At least this Stanley has a second life that’s still in the round.”  He grinned back and Grandma chuckled.

Coffee ‘Jello’

1 cup hot coffee         

1 teaspoon honey (or sugar)    

½ teaspoon -1 Tablespoon plain kosher gelatine-no flavors or sugar added

Pour hot coffee into a cup or a ½ pint mason jar. Mix in honey or another sweetener. Decide how stiff the ‘Jello’ needs to be and add ½ teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon plain gelatine. (If kosher gelatine can’t be found, Knox will work). Stir, stir, stir until the gelatine is dissolved in the coffee. Put in the fridge and eat topped with whipped cream once it gets solid. (Sometimes my left-over morning coffee will gel in the cup without refrigeration, so I have an ongoing experiment to figure that out.)  Note: I prefer to buy WIC labeled and Kosher labeled food products because I think they are produced under higher standards than other food stuffs. I try to make our food from scratch when I can because I have a better handle on the nutritional value that way. That’s just me.


In 2000 Michele Priddy left the work force to become a stay-at-home mother and wife. Being a one-income family in today’s society meant she had to learn to budget quickly. Food became a priority early because she wanted the children to have the best nutrition, she could offer them even on a budget. She also taught cooking classes on how to stretch the food dollar with simple ingredients at various churches in her community. Michelle has put her kitchen strategies and recipes in booklets, her church newsletter and also in her hometown newspaper, The Goldendale Sentinel. We hope you will enjoy her strategies, stories, and recipes. You can contact the Leavenworth Echo at or 509-548-5286 if you have any questions or comments for Michelle.


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