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tips your mom never told you


highchef
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I am sensing from these reports that Foods Themselves were a bolder, braver, stronger sort back then.

Science. Always trying to trick us into buying new refrigerators and plastic wrap.

Pah.

P.S. ( :wink: )

I have to second that. Or maybe it's aliens.

Seriously, since we've all seen it done...leftovers left all night on the counter (but the a/c was on!) And large families have survived this non-knowledge....

yet, they who have died, cannot write, now can they? And to this I leave my motto: CLEAN IT UP AS YOU GO .. can't go wrong there, right..

unless they're idjetts.

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Yes, clean up as you go is my style, as is a firm belief in temperature control.

Then again, the few times I've ever gotten sick from food it was at fast-food places where one *knows* that sanitation policies and procedures *must* be in place and supposedly (apart from human laxness) they are being followed. :wink:

(Yes, I do fast food once in a while though that, too, is obviously an alien plot foisted upon us!)

Yet where food and family and the past converge in talk, so much rises in our hearts, really - whether we are focusing on realizing that fact or not. In the hearts where family interaction was full and good in these past times, a warming glow extends beyond the mundane. And where family interaction in the past was perhaps not all that one could desire, the food and the foodways take on shapes of their own that define and represent as proof in memory of "how things were".

A biggie here - I did not learn at my mother's knee that food could show love. Food was fodder to her, and love itself in her life was something that was not easily accessed.

I did learn it at my mother-in-law's knee, though, and every time I think of that, my heart swells and tears start to my eyes (eh. What can I tell you - I cry easily :biggrin: ). *That* is the one thing, technique, recipes, foodways aside, that I feel truly blessed to have learned.

What's odd is that it is not held in the recipe or the technique, this sense. It's held in memory. The food *might* be frozen veggies (though that is something less possible than if the care was taken to work with fresh good things) but the warmth that the food carries comes through.

That warmth and love was palpable in the posts about the food held in the ovens.

And *that* is good. :smile:

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I remember a pack of frozen vegetables, the mixed carrots-peas-beans thing. It was served to Chris and me at the home of our neighbor, an older woman who lived alone---a medium-tall, spare woman whose home was one of a neat little row of "mill houses" in a little town in Alabama.

We had rented the house next door, a "furnished" one, whose life-long occupant had gone into a nursing home, and whose belongings stayed behind in all their accustomed places. I still have a little picture of that sparse kitchen, with its three feet of counter and scrubbed wooden table, the surprisingly new refrigerator, and cabinets ranged with cookware, utensils, plates, cups, and the most exquisite clear glassware. We'd moved there, far away from our own home, to be near Chris' children, who had been moved away shortly after our marriage.

"Miss Bobbie" had worked some thirty-plus years at the mills, turning out sheets and pillowcases and other such household goods. She loved to read and crochet and was friendly and welcoming to us, giving a cheery "Hello" as I hung the clothes to breeze-dry, or handing a tomato or two over the fence.

The children would come to us in all their riotous energy every two weeks, and many times in between; the smalltown atmosphere was wonderful and they'd climb the backyard trees before breakfast as the scent of frying beignets wafted out into the air. I'd make a whole recipe, and we'd glaze-dip half, powdered-sugar-shake some, and one little bag held superfine sugar and cinnamon. The neighbor children would wander over, drawn by the twin sirens of hot sugar and new playmates. We put the big platters down out under the trees, and poured milk and juice in unending quantities, as the kids ran and played and came back for another snatched bite.

Miss Bobbie would eat with us every now and then, as I'd call to her over the fence as I dished up supper, or made us salads or homemade soup for lunch. She invited us to dinner one night, and we dressed for the occasion and went over. She was an apologetic cook, one of the "it's not quite as good as I usually make it" camp, telling little foibles and mishaps that caused the dish to be less than its usual stellar self. I don't remember the meat or the salad, but she served two things that night which I requested the recipe for, and still make:

Vegetable casserole and sweet potato souffle. The vegetables were thawed, cooked a bit, drained, patted with paper towels, and stirred into a light, cheese-laden white sauce, along with tiiiiiny chips of minced sweet onion, then baked with a good thick layer of butter-drenched Ritz crumbs. The vegetables were tender, the seasonings perfect, and had baked long enough to be "bubbly and golden brown," yet every now and then you'd get a hit of fresh, crisp onion not quite succumbed to the baking. It was delicious, the best (and only real) treatment of frozen Birdseye I've ever found.

The sweet potatoes---ahhh---that dish will grace our Thanksgiving table again this year, with its crunchy, pecan-laden topping.

So that's all I know about frozen mixed vegetables. I DO know, however, that Carrot Top frequents fast-food drive-thrus. My giggle-switch was again jostled into a bubbling, bouncing laugh which erupted as I thought of her dismay as a voice shouted from the back seat for all the world and the PA system to hear, "I wanna Dr. PECKER!!!" :raz:

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It's true that my children are *experts* in the impious art of alternately embarrassing me in public and/or making me laugh so hard that tears fall down my cheeks and it is hard to stand up. :laugh:

It's interesting to imagine how they each might answer this thread, some years forward, when they too are what we call "grown up". :wink:

Lovely story, Rachel. :smile:

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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:

I can assure you, it has nothing to do with being left-handed. She just has a certain way of chopping things that she's comfortable with and she won't consider adapting. My father and I have both bought her new knives and they sit there in their blocks unused because she favors this awful, ancient, and frightfully dull knife that she uses and will continue to use.

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My mom.... only follows recipes. Exactly. I did not learn to cook by general principles at her knee. But damn could I follow a recipe. And now I can read one and tell in advance where the process is screwed up.

My mom hates mustard, horseradish and pepper. All things chili. Most things green & vegetable. All these things I learned elsewhere.

There were many good meals never-the-less. And mom was willing to let me try to cook any recipe I found, tho sometimes she scheduled it for nights on which she had class. (Unlucky Dad!)

One key thing mom taught: Always check the oven contents before preheating it. Turns out some folks store things in the oven. Plastic things, no less!

"You dont know everything in the world! You just know how to read!" -an ah-hah! moment for 6-yr old Miss O.

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Chris' parents store things in top oven, bottom oven, dishwasher, and a discarded refrigerator in the next room. The fridge just sits there, like one of those stuffed-full display cabinets in a cutesy "shoppe," with cans of peas and corn lined up in all the door shelves, and cereals, flour, etc. crowded inside.

The ovens, you can use, IF you find a place for the pots and pans. Dishwasher is off limits, no matter HOW many people you have single-handedly cooked dinner for. The hundred or so I-Can't-Believe and Country Crock tubs have been blessed by a Higher Power and their burial ground is therefore sacred.

So-- in the square inch between the Sweet'n'Low box, the Sam's Creamer, three two-tier turntables of prescription bottles, the ever-full dish drainer and an immovable collection of possibly two dozen empty Maxwell House Instant jars (that we might need SOMEDAY), you can cook dinner. Just don't displace the flyswatter or the flashlight.

And don't move the garbage can or two dog dishes from in front of the sink. The dog gets upset when his things are rearranged.

Cooking there is like playing Twister in a Funhouse. :wacko:

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There was a time, where everything I did was under a microscope. MIL would critique, Mom would defend. It was like a moot court every holiday.

The biggie was....drum roll..... who would get the damn turky carcass.

I think we even played a night of booreea over it ( boureaux?). Those are the good times..

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Later in life I learned that it's spelled "bourre" with a little doohickey over the e.

This was after many years of hearing our bachelor neighbor who regularly hosted a loud, laughing crowd speak of what I thought of as his "boo-ray" parties. I thought it was two words: "Boo" for a bad hand and "RAY!!!" for aces. :blink:

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