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Interesting Little Things That We Have Done Forever


Tropicalsenior
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Whenever I see a recipe that is 'Grandma's favorite' or 'Grandma's best' I approach it with trepidation. Being 81 years old, I realize that a lot of these recipes came out of the 60s and 70s when I was learning to cook and let's face it, a lot of these recipes were unadulterated (crap) uh, food of questionable culinary value.

We may not all be cooking with Grandma's recipes today but I'll bet that there are a lot of little habits and Customs that you picked up when you were learning to cook that you still do today. Some of them may have been helpful tips and some of them may have been something that made no sense but you still do it because that was how you learned.

One story has always stuck in my mind. It was about a young bride that was preparing a roast for the oven. She cut off 1/3 of the roast and set it in the pan beside the larger piece. Her husband who was watching asked her why she did it. She said that that was the way her mother had taught her. Curious as to why that should be, the husband called the mother and asked her the reason and she said that she didn't know but that was the way that her mother had taught her. He then called the grandmother and asked her the same question. Her reply, "I always had to cut the end off because my roasting pan was too small."

@Shelby's answer in the topic on soaking chicken in buttermilk is that she does it just because it's the thing to do. It made me stop and think.

How many things do you do in the kitchen that come into this category.

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I grew up on a farm and very often the meat that we had was some animal that had outlived its other purpose and the meat could be rather gamey or rather tough. My mother would always soak pork or chicken in salt water for several hours before she cooked it. It was just the way that I learned and something that I have always done. I've always gotten compliments on my pork and chicken and imagine my surprise when I learned that I have been doing something right all these years and I didn't know why I was doing it.

She also used to always soak liver in milk before she cooked it but that was something that I never followed. I still don't know why she did that but there must have been some good reason behind it. Maybe I'll have to try it someday.

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One thing that I don't do, and my mother never did, is to cut a small end off a cucumber and rub it on the other cut end to supposedly "draw the bitterness out." My best friends mom always did it, but I have never seen how it could be effective. I still use a doube boiler for a lot of things that could be done carefully over low heat or in the microwave (like lemon curd) because my Mom always did. 

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2 hours ago, Tropicalsenior said:

She also used to always soak liver in milk before she cooked it but that was something that I never followed. I still don't know why she did that but there must have been some good reason behind it.

 

It supposedfly reduces any bitterness. No, I've never done it, either but I think it's quite common.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

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I think a lot of people still way overcook pork today as a legacy of the then well-founded fear of Trichinosis in grandma's day.

 

With Trichinosis now almost non-existent (at least in my part of the world) I've realised that pork can be juicy and slightly pink rather than incinerated.

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2 hours ago, liuzhou said:

 

It supposedfly reduces any bitterness. No, I've never done it, either but I think it's quite common.

I understand what it is supposed to do. I just don't understand how rubbing one end of the cucumber would draw bitterness out of the whole thing.

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1 hour ago, FlashJack said:

I think a lot of people still way overcook pork

I think one of the greatest sins of Home Cooks is over cooking everything. My father wouldn't eat anything unless it was cooked into submission and mush. His favorite saying was when it's brown it's cooking and when it's black it's done. The pork of today is also much leaner then it used to be so that if it's well done it's dry.

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11 minutes ago, MaryIsobel said:

I understand what it is supposed to do. I just don't understand how rubbing one end of the cucumber would draw bitterness out of the whole thing.

It doesn't make much sense to me either and personally, I don't consider cucumbers to be a bitter vegetable. I wonder if they have ever tried it with bitter melon.

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8 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

I think one of the greatest sins of Home Cooks is over cooking everything. My father wouldn't eat anything unless it was cooked into submission and mush. His favorite saying was when it's brown it's cooking and when it's black it's done. The pork of today is also much leaner then it used to be so that if it's well done it's dry.

Yes, everything in my childhood was cooked to death! My Dad liked all meat well done, and all veg were grossly overdone. My Mom had taught Home Economics, so I suspect she knew better but catered to my Dad. I was probably the only child I knew who had never had a casserole, as Dad didn't like "things all cooked together." We were very much a meat, starch and 2 veg family.

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3 minutes ago, MaryIsobel said:

catered to my Dad.

My father was the world's pickiest eater so my mother cooked two separate meals. One that he would eat and normal meals for the rest of us. She said that she refused to raise five more like him.

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Two come to mind.

  1. As a very young girl I aways helped great grandma (Alte Oma) make the weekly noodles - dried on a cloth and stored to be used thrughout the week. After the flour well, egg, water - we kneaded and them put a bowl over the ball and did something else for a bit. I had no clue about resting dough and gluten - but it stood me well as a good habit.
  2. Making soup broth with beef or chicken a yellow onion with skin on was aways studded with a few cloves and dropped in. I had no clue about the skin adding color or why cloves from these WW2 refugees from Eastern Euroipe??? I just did it.The first time a friend took me to her favorite pho place for breakfast down the street I had a visceral flashback. The star anise and cinnamon -  a cross cultural pleasure.
Edited by heidih (log)
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31 minutes ago, Tropicalsenior said:

I think one of the greatest sins of Home Cooks is over cooking everything. My father wouldn't eat anything unless it was cooked into submission and mush. His favorite saying was when it's brown it's cooking and when it's black it's done. The pork of today is also much leaner then it used to be so that if it's well done it's dry.

One of my aunts has a rather, uh...unique...method of checking steaks and chops for doneness: she picks one from the pan and flexes it. If it breaks, it's done.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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48 minutes ago, MaryIsobel said:

I understand what it is supposed to do. I just don't understand how rubbing one end of the cucumber would draw bitterness out of the whole thing.

I was talking about the liver in the post I quoted from.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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5 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I was talking about the liver in the post I quoted from.

 

5 minutes ago, liuzhou said:

I was talking about the liver in the post I quoted from.

I'm sorry - reading too fast I guess. 

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I keep trying to think if there's any little interesting thing that I do...but sad to say, I don't think there is.  My Mother hated cooking.  One Grandmother passed away before I was born.  The other one I loved dearly but knew for only a couple of years when I was say, 7 - 9, and then she passed away.  I saw her very rarely.  When I got married the only thing I knew how to cook was a white sauce.  And I knew how to make a oil and vinegar salad dressing which is now olive oil and lemon juice.  And that was it.

 

Ed had to teach me how to cook....and I hated it for decades.  Until that fateful year when I turned 67 and came upon that unknown word 'ganache' in a newspaper recipe...and the rest, as they say, was history.

 

Oh, one thing.  I keep reading about how if you ever get to the second bottle of Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins and pronounced, if you please, 'wooster') , you are very unusual.  Well, we must be on our tenth or eleventh by now.  It goes into salad dressing.  That is one thing my Mother did. 

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Darienne

 

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I'm thinking that this is going to be the kind of thread that goes on forever with people adding to it as they think of additional things!  My favorite kind of thread!  I did think of another thing.  My mother's maternal family is Italian-American for the most part and by and large terrible cooks (my mom was the first generation of good cooks).  But one thing that they all did was to dress the whole salad (sometimes just different lettuces, sometimes with additional veggies) in the bowl, adding one ingredient at a time.  Meaning that they didn't mix the dressing up in another container and then add it to the greens.  The one thing all these awful cooks made that was wonderful was salad.  I've never gotten the hang of it, but for them it was automatic.  My mom could still dress a salad when dementia had claimed so much of her.  

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1 hour ago, Darienne said:

I keep trying to think if there's any little interesting thing that I do...but sad to say, I don't think there is.  My Mother hated cooking.  One Grandmother passed away before I was born.  The other one I loved dearly but knew for only a couple of years when I was say, 7 - 9, and then she passed away.  I saw her very rarely.  When I got married the only thing I knew how to cook was a white sauce.  And I knew how to make a oil and vinegar salad dressing which is now olive oil and lemon juice.  And that was it.

 

Ed had to teach me how to cook....and I hated it for decades.  Until that fateful year when I turned 67 and came upon that unknown word 'ganache' in a newspaper recipe...and the rest, as they say, was history.

 

Oh, one thing.  I keep reading about how if you ever get to the second bottle of Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins and pronounced, if you please, 'wooster') , you are very unusual.  Well, we must be on our tenth or eleventh by now.  It goes into salad dressing.  That is one thing my Mother did. 

"Did you hear about the couple that had been married so long they were on their second bottle of Tabasco sauce?" was how I heard it. 

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On 2/19/2022 at 1:11 PM, Tropicalsenior said:

If you are interested, I have a terrific microwave lemon curd recipe that has never failed for me and it is killer.

I'd love your recipe.  I am just about to make passion fruit curd with frozen passion fruit puree. I wonder if your method would work with passion fruit?

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2 hours ago, Darienne said:

I keep trying to think if there's any little interesting thing that I do...but sad to say, I don't think there is.  My Mother hated cooking.  One Grandmother passed away before I was born.  The other one I loved dearly but knew for only a couple of years when I was say, 7 - 9, and then she passed away.  I saw her very rarely.  When I got married the only thing I knew how to cook was a white sauce.  And I knew how to make a oil and vinegar salad dressing which is now olive oil and lemon juice.  And that was it.

 

Ed had to teach me how to cook....and I hated it for decades.  Until that fateful year when I turned 67 and came upon that unknown word 'ganache' in a newspaper recipe...and the rest, as they say, was history.

 

Oh, one thing.  I keep reading about how if you ever get to the second bottle of Worcestershire sauce (Lea and Perrins and pronounced, if you please, 'wooster') , you are very unusual.  Well, we must be on our tenth or eleventh by now.  It goes into salad dressing.  That is one thing my Mother did. 

I'm surprised that "wooster" sauce last so long for so many. I'm sure that we go through 3 or 4 bottles a year. It's a must in our Caesars, and I use it in soups, stews and anywhere I am looking for a boost of savoury flavour.

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3 minutes ago, MaryIsobel said:

I'm surprised that "wooster" sauce last so long for so many. I'm sure that we go through 3 or 4 bottles a year. It's a must in our Caesars, and I use it in soups, stews and anywhere I am looking for a boost of savoury flavour.

I'm at about the same usage level for my household of two. And we're not cocktail drinkers at all.

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“Who loves a garden, loves a greenhouse too.” - William Cowper, The Task, Book Three

 

"Not knowing the scope of your own ignorance is part of the human condition...The first rule of the Dunning-Kruger club is you don’t know you’re a member of the Dunning-Kruger club.” - psychologist David Dunning

 

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