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tips your mom never told you


highchef
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It dawned on me today: Mom sometimes did not have a clue. I knew she wasn't a foodie like i am when she asked me why I only use butter, when margarine is so less expensive. I got used to stuff like that, and just learned to live with it.

Then I found myself cleaning my dishwasher. I guarantee she never even thought of that. The microwave yes, but the dishwasher?? Yes, they too must be cleaned. On the inside. Whod' thought It?? So for all you other neophites out there, Palmolive power dissolver works well. Do the part where the washer is open and you can get to the hinge. Then do the outside edges that close when the washer is. Throw the rag away, you really don't want to look at it.Another use for this wonder cleaner is the threshold of your door. Just don't let it sit too long.

There are others, cooking stories....margarine for butter etc.. yuk. but she did manage to raise 8 kids, and anyone we brought home, so I cannot fault her dedication to her family.

Maybe I should start a thread of things our mothers taught us instead??

But for now, watch out for that damn dishwasher. Run some bleach inside on a rinse cycle too. Does wonders.

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My Mother, although she's now "retired" from the kitchen, has a remarkable breadth of cooking knowledge. From the basics she taught by my Grandmother, who herself aquired skills over an open hearth in pre-WWI Croatia, to her Bachelor of Science degree in Home Economics from the University of Minnesota post WWII, very little was beyond her scope and abilities.

Maybe because of her instilled appreciation for the hardships endured by housewives of the early part of the last century, combined with knowledge of the science and technology that developed the conveience foods of the 50's, 60's and 70's, she wasn't shy about using these new products despite the fact she could do much better herself working from scratch.

The most egregious example I can think of was her devotion to aerosol Reddi-Whip, and later the tubs of Cool Whip. Except for lavish dinners on major holidays she never bothered to make real whipped cream. Of course, the fact that she wasn't much for eating desserts herself, and nobody ever complained, may have had a lot to do with it?

SB (it was said that my Uncle Carl would happily eat carboard if you put whipped cream on it) :rolleyes:

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Mom was a fantastic cook, and taught me more technique by allowing me to watch her cook than I can begin to recount.

But..she just didn't do seafood. Hated shellfish of every description, and would only prepare things like salmon or tuna croquettes. I had to learn to appreciate seafood on my own after I married, and learning to cook it properly was a real challenge. Learning to purchase carefully by sight and smell was a whole other struggle.

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My mother loves food, and loves eating, but she didn't learn to cook until she had been married a few years. She doesn't have much of an attention span (I think she has ADD), so one thing I never learned from her was how to follow a recipe, and how to use measuring utensils. Even when she bakes, she barely uses measuring cups and spoons, but just kind of throws things together. As a result, she can never bake the same thing twice, and sometimes her experiments have disastrous results (not really disastrous, but her mango pudding with clumps of cream cheese wasn't exactly pretty...).

I, on the other hand, am usually quite anal about following recipes and measuring.

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Until the day my mother died, she did not eat tacos, because "You just never know what's in them." I would make tacos myself and tell her that 'this' is what is in them, but no, no way, nuh-uh, no tacos. She'd whisper that "they" would put donkey meat in them. WTF -- there is no donkey meat in my kitchen, but still, she persisted.

She did eat head cheese, and Skyline chili, and all sorts of weird bolognas but tacos? No ma'am.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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My mother taught me....umm well .....Ah, If you have nothing good to say be quiet.

and get the fire extinguisher

t

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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how to make a good casserole. my mother, you see, raised us on healthy food like broiled chicken, salad and brussels sprouts. sometimes a girl's gotta have a lasagna or, heaven forbid, a (vegetarian) shepard's pie.

mom's a wonderful cook. she's just got more coq au vin than tuna casserole in her!

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FabulousFoodBabe, that is a wonderful story. I am sure it was incredibly aggravating when it was happening, but a great story.

My mom never taught me (and never learned) to clean as you go. The after dinner scene in her kitchen is horrendous--flour and sticky meat juice cemented to the counter where she cut and breaded the chicken, pans with stuck on remnants sitting on the stove, and every utensil used still sitting where she left it.

What is so hard about wiping up as you go, sticking the pans in the sink with some water so the crusties don't become permanent, and putting everything in the dishwasher as soon as you finish with it?

sparrowgrass
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My mothers skills in the kitchen are really perfect, her tools are not! She is working with knifes sharp as a toothbrush. Chopping onions is most effective if you use the blade upside-down.

I once tried to solve the problem by buying her a nice new knife,..... what a fault. She was cutting everything (including the trees in our garden or the grass-edge to the flowerbed) with this knife until it was absolutely blunt again. A sharpening was senseless, because the blade had become the shape of a saw.

I started bringing my own knifes when I am cooking with her to avoid getting crazy because of her blunt ones. Since I bring my own knifes I really enjoy being in the kitchen with her again. She has so many useful tips and so great ideas (for example for knife usage :raz: ).

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how to make a good casserole.  my mother, you see, raised us on healthy food like broiled chicken, salad and brussels sprouts.  sometimes a girl's gotta have a lasagna or, heaven forbid, a (vegetarian) shepard's pie.

mom's a wonderful cook.  she's just got more coq au vin than tuna casserole in her!

Hear hear! I am casserole challenged myself - my Dad didn't care for them, my mother didn't make them, and I have little talent for them!

So I'm always on the scrounge for good casserole recipes ... naturally, I married a man who really likes them :-)

Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

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That vegetables taste a whole lot better when they're seasoned properly.

And if you don't start with Birds Eye Mixed vegetables with those horrible carrot jello cubes.

Marcia.

who likes vegetables a whole lot more now.

Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he wanted...he lived happily ever after. -- Willy Wonka

eGullet foodblog

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That vegetables taste a whole lot better when they're seasoned properly.

And not boiled to death ...

Actually, my mother did learn that one herself, but raised some anti-veg kids originally ...

And if you don't start with Birds Eye Mixed vegetables with those horrible carrot jello cubes.

Marcia.

who likes vegetables a whole lot more now.

Um .. canned vegetables. I still don't much like canned vegetables.

Lynn

Oregon, originally Montreal

Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "holy shit! ....what a ride!"

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The strangest picture just popped into my mind. I'd forgotten all about it. My mother's usual way of serving vegetables (always canned, never fresh or frozen please :biggrin: ) was to heat them in a saucepan then dump them onto the plates, each serving bearing a small slice of salted butter balanced on its top. The butter never melted for some reason, so you'd have to take your fork and try to break it up and of course the veggies turned into an absolute chopped up mess.

On holidays, the veggies were in larger serving bowls with larger slices of butter cut directly from the stick. Rather imperious looking they were with their butter crowns.

But this was only for me and her, which composed our family. Always, in an unchangeable pattern, when I'd bring a friend for supper, she would serve spaghetti, so the secret was safe. :laugh:

(Almost forgot to add "the lesson". Uh, butter does not melt unless a good enough heat is applied to it somehow.)

(And of course one could think of those butter slices as merely unfinished Parmesan cheese shavings - that might work a small mental miracle. :huh:)

Edited by Carrot Top (log)
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But this was only for me and her, which composed our family. Always, in an unchangeable pattern, when I'd bring a friend for supper, she would serve spaghetti, so the secret was safe.  :laugh:

Well, duh! Of course she wanted to keep that in the family. :raz: Now, when you became a chef and served vegetables like that, did you credit Mom?

these stories are cracking me up. Besides the tacos, my mother had odd ideas about sanitation. Peanut butter was kept in the refrigerator so we wouldn't get salmonella. So was Crisco. As a matter of fact, everything was refrigerated due to salmonella. We never got salmonella, but I guess that was because everything was kept cold until it was cooked beyond recognition. I won't even go into vegetable preparation.

"Oh, tuna. Tuna, tuna, tuna." -Andy Bernard, The Office
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My Mother, who was a dedicated cook - incredibly organized and CLEAN never used a speck of black pepper.

When I discovered freshly ground black pepper it was a revolation. Now I have mills for black and white. But I can still duplicate the first dinner she told me how to make.

Pasta and meatballs in Hunts tomato sauce with added union, garlic, green pepper and olive oil.

Salad with oil and vinegar dressing.

Garlic bread.

In memory it really tasted great.

Oh, she also insisted that you never order anything in a restaurant that is chopped like chicken salad. She would say, who knows what's in it. (FOOD POISONING)

Jmahl

The Philip Mahl Community teaching kitchen is now open. Check it out. "Philip Mahl Memorial Kitchen" on Facebook. Website coming soon.

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Well, duh! Of course she wanted to keep that in the family.  :raz:  Now, when you became a chef and served vegetables like that, did you credit Mom? 

these stories are cracking me up.  Besides the tacos, my mother had odd ideas about sanitation.  Peanut butter was kept in the refrigerator so we wouldn't get salmonella. So was Crisco.  As a matter of fact, everything was refrigerated due to salmonella.  We never got salmonella, but I guess that was because everything was kept cold until it was cooked beyond recognition.  I won't even go into vegetable preparation.

Ah, no no no no! Of course I did not serve vegetables like that. Simplify, simplify, simplify! I merely took the butter slices themselves, placed them smack-dab on a lightweight flexible metal spatula, and when the guests sat down to dine, I would come to the table, say "Open wide, dearies!" and fling the chilled butter slices from the top of the spatula with a whizzing sound directly into their mouths. Yum.

But whereas your mother was always on the outlook for salmonella and/or donkey meat, I once was very surprised when I arrived one afternoon at the home of a woman I knew - our children were in pre-school together, and we were going to put together some sort of dinner thing for some function. I was going to cook, she was going to provide the raw ingredients.

Raw indeed. On her kitchen counter was this slab of reddish purple meat in a zip-lock bag, soaking in a strange-looking puddle of its own uh. . .juices. . .to be polite about it. It looked really wierd and I did not want to approach it - it was scary - but I did, and felt it. It was very very much room temperature.

"Sandy", I said. "When did you take this meat out of the refrigerator?"

"Oh, last night!" she breezily replied with a smile. "I wanted to be sure it got defrosted."

Um. She could not understand, really, why I said that I could not and would not cook that meat.

Her mother had often left meat to defrost on the counter overnight - at least when she did cook something not from a package.

I would have had to use A LOT OF seasonings to avoid having that meat taste like donkey meat. Besides the possiblities of the all sorts of lovely buggy things that could have grown in it. :smile:

:sad::huh:

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Oh man, I just remembered the Turkey in the dish drainer the afternoon before Thanksgiving! The the stuffed Turkey sitting out all afternoon, and the gravy in the pot on the stove, then consumed as leftovers around 7 PM after a 2:30 PM Thanksgiving Dinner!

I don't know how Mom managed to not have us all in the ER by midnight Thanksgiving.

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Daddy was a hard-working man, and came home for a hot noon dinner every workday--peas and cornbread, fried chicken, baked ham, potatoes in some form, etc., etc. All the bowls of leftovers were put away AS IS, no covers, to await suppertime.

I cannot believe y'all didn't know---all of you who are versed in every facet of food preparation, sanitation, serving---that the only way to put away leftovers is in the oven, with the PILOT LIGHT ON. That way they stay warm and ready for the next meal.

rachel

hand to Heaven, and still alive :shock:

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Racheld,

Taht brought back memories! My grandparents had a farm and everyday, my grandfather and whatever hired help was working would come in for a hot lunch. The leftovers from that lunch never got any colder than room temp before we ate them for supper.

My grandmother even had a specific tray that sat up in the counter and on this she would palce left over biscuits and breakfast meats from breakfast (sausage, bacon, ham). It stayed up in the cabinet for people to snack on throughout the day. what was left on it the next day thankfully went to the dogs.

Preach not to others what they should eat, but eat as becomes you and be silent. Epicetus

Amanda Newton

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I had to teach myself to chop things properly.  It takes her an eternity to chop one onion.  She blames it on being left-handed, but I think she's just stubborn.

Get her a Left Handed Knife.

SB (Champion of Left-Handedness) :biggrin:

As a member of the Left-Handed Club, I can definitely say that the "handed-ness" of your knife has less to do with efficiently cutting an onion than does practicing the skill many times. :biggrin:

Mother has actually improved as a cook because of me, not the other way around. Mother learned from Grandmother who must have learned cooking from the English during the 1920's -- everything was boiled to death -- all of the green goodness being dumped down the sink and rather insipid looking vegetables being served with a pat of butter on top to make up for the difference.

Now, my mother actually steams her veggies, grinds her coffee right before she brews it (this one was huge), and has even tried goat cheese! There was a time when I thought I would have to slip goat cheese into something (like a pasta salad) so that she would try it without knowing she'd actually eaten it. Kind of like how you mash up your child's medication and mix it in their apple sauce.

"But, dear, it's milk from a *goat*?!?"

"You eat cheese made from sheep's milk, don't you?"

"Yes, but that's a sheep!"

"And ... um ... this is a goat!"

"But, dear, it's milk from a *goat*?!?"

ad infinitum ... or ad nauseum, whichever you prefer.

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We were very fortunate growing up with progressive parents eager to explore foods of the world and expose us to it.

Although certainly not as authentic as it might have been had Ma had access to the ingredients we do today her Indian Curry was great. She would put out about a dozen little bowls of chopped peanuts, raisins, shredded coconut, chutney, chopped scallions, coriander. Quite the spread for a girl from Toledo in the early seventies!

To this day when the family gets together at Christmas each kid (now in our late forties) gets to ask Ma to cook a dish we remember as a kid. Last year I asked for veal kidneys in a wine sauce she used to make. My brother once asked for her version of chicken Kiev with tarragon butter inside, man that was great.

What she taught a couple of us anyway is that if you put some effort into the kitchen and do things right, you will be rewarded.

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My Nannie (English grandmother for those poor souls without) used to put left overs in the oven over night for the next day's dinner or "tea" or late supper. Refrigerated storage space was an issue (her fridge was the size of our bar fridges). Nobody died or got sick in her 74 years of food prep (she died at age 86). Even at my grandmother's (Canadian this one) cottage where we used a tiny inground ice box and a second ice box on stilts to keep the racoons away (no electricity here), most cooked food was stored at room temp and eaten later that day or the next with nary a mishap.... 10 grandchildren and 5 children and their spouces at the table was a normal day there.

My mother in her late 70s learned to use a wok, eat pasta and rice ( they never crossed her lips when I was a child as they were poverty foods) as well as cook veg until slightly underdone. TG she lost her penchant for cooking instant potatoes, instant rice, instant scalloped potatoes and all the other instant horror dishes I remember as a child as well as veg cooked until it was mush.

"Flay your Suffolk bought-this-morning sole with organic hand-cracked pepper and blasted salt. Thrill each side for four minutes at torchmark haut. Interrogate a lemon. Embarrass any tough roots from the samphire. Then bamboozle till it's al dente with that certain je ne sais quoi."

Arabella Weir as Minty Marchmont - Posh Nosh

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