In the footsteps of Mom

mabeldingeldine_gwMay 2, 2012

My mother always carefully saved the wrappers from a stick of butter to use greasing the baking pan. Tonight, I am baking some cookies and a pan of brownies. I carefully saved the butter wrapper from the cookie dough to use to grease the brownie pan.

My evil cat knocked the wrapper onto the floor to lick the butter remnants, so I had to throw the wrapper out. I then had to use a smigden of butter from the butter dish and a paper towel to grease the pan. I was just thinking about my mom, who has passed on, shaking her head at me.

I thought I'd share and ask -- what habits do you have that you learned at your mother's apron strings?

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Always salt the pasta water.....and toss a pinch over your left shoulder.
Add the dressing to the hot potatoes for potato salad.....and that means peeling and dicing the potatoes before cooking them, because hot potatoes absorb flavors better than cold potatoes.
If a soup or sauce seems to be missing something, add a pinch of sugar.
Oh.....and always keep a piece of paper towel in the Crisco can for greasing a cookie sheet...
I know! EWWW!!
Linda c

    Bookmark   May 2, 2012 at 9:52PM
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When we were kiddoes, and Mom made cakes, cookies, or frosting, she always took the beaters out of her mixer and offered them to the nearest child to lick clean (I always made sure to be VERY close-by when Mom was baking). The other day, my eldest was helping me make cookies, and after mixing, I offered him the rich chocolatey beaters. He replied "Blech!! No way!"

I think I need to have a DNA test done. I can't believe he is a product of my gene pool.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:21AM
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Every time you add something - taste!

If you don't know what to make for dinner, sautee a chopped onion and go from there.This was a tip from her mother who said that no matter who came into the kitchen, they would say "something smells good."

We eat with our eyes

My Mom was a Home Ec teacher who had my sisters and I making baking powder biscuits when we were five. She has been gone for ten years and I miss her every day. (But both my daughters know how to make baking powder biscuits!)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:32AM
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Love my mom to death, but the best cooking tip I learned from her was to NEVER add Lipton Onion Soup Mix to ANYTHING!

She is not a great cook....sorry Mom!

Oh...and I will gladly lick those fudgey beaters!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:42AM
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Plate the food and serve it nicely. I don't always remember to set the table beautifully, but when I do, I channel my mother.

She was a also a good cook, self taught. There were places that she drew the limit-- baking pies/ crusts or breads were top on that list. But to love chocolate-- and lick the beaters? Yep, she was all about that!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 12:56AM
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Don't know what Crisco is, but apart from that I think Lindac and I had the same mother!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 2:56AM
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I can't think of anything that my Mom told me off the top of my head but I do have a suggestion about the butter wrappers. If you go ahead and take off the wrapper when the butter is just out of the fridge, there will be NO butter on the wrapper to waste.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:41AM
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My mother like her mother before her, had personal space issues in the kitchen so I didn't learn much at her apron strings. But she did give me the same excellent advice that her mother gave her . . . "If you can read you can cook!" Has served me well!!

I use a lot of her recipes though. She also took me along with her to the farm market and I learned to appreciate home grown fresh produce from her. We were eating "locally" before it was fashionable.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 7:47AM
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Never crack an egg directly into a bowl with other ingredients because if you have a bad egg, you've just ruined whatever is already in the bowl. I've never had a bad egg, but I do it separately anyway "for safety's sake" (a favorite saying of my grandma). Also, my mom & grandma would always use a knife to scrape off the yellowish stuff on chicken skin - what is that stuff?!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 8:05AM
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My mother taught me to never crack an egg directly into what you're making, but she said it was to guard against any small bits of shell going in also. She never said a word about it being because you may get a bad egg. When TV cooks started cautioning about the bad egg thing I scoffed as in all the years I've been cooking I've never seen one.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:04AM
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This is timely as it's bugging me that my DD is rolling her eyes at my habits even as I follow in my Mom's footsteps. I'm sure I rolled my eyes too when I observed my mom.

We always laugh that my mother washed her kitchen garbage but I find myself doing the same thing. I.E. Rinsing empty cans, wrappers, etc. before putting them in the trash to keep the trash from smelling and keep bugs at bay.

Also, empty canned tomatoes into the sauce pot then ALWAYS add a little water to the can and swish it around to get every bit of tomato sauce then add that to the pot.

--Not related but DD was really disgusted when she found out that I collect water for my Furbabies. She thinks I'm incredibly cheap but it's more about waste when you consider a gallon of water is only 99 cents. We go to 2 to 8 ball games a weekend. I see dozens of have empty bottles of water (what a waste) laying around the bleachers; kids will drink half then leave it only to get another new bottle later. I bring a gallon jug to collect the discarded bottled water then put the empty bottles in the recycle bin at the park. When my jug is full then I empty the found water on the parched grass or flower bed at the park. The water in my jug is my kittie water; I give my furbabies bottled water and this is an opportunity to recycle and to keep my kitties and neighborhood cats in bottled water. BTW, I'm discreet when collecting at the park.
PROMISE me that you will never to tell Buster and LB that they are getting recycled water!!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:16AM
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Tiffany, purpleinopp GardenWeb, Z8b Opp, AL

My grandma taught me that if your hands are smelly, like from onions or galic, rub them (while wet) with salt, then rinse. Smell is gone! Also works if you forget the laundry in the washing machine.

My Mom uses a lot of waxed paper. I think I'm on my 3rd roll since moving out almost 30 years ago. I guess I need to learn more about that.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:24AM
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I used to do the crack the egg into a small bowl thing....because I had "egg lady eggs"...not from the supermarket. and I would occasionally find a blood spot in an egg.
Then she sold her flock and for a lot of years I was depending on supermarket eggs....and never ever found a bloody egg.
Now I again have an egg lady, but have not started breaking them into a smaller bowl....because I have never found a bloody egg.
Linda C

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 1:51PM
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I crack the egg onto a sauce before adding it to the bowl and I have found a bloody egg from the supermarket.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:26PM
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make that "saucer," not "sauce"

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:27PM
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My Grandmother taught me to crack eggs, individually, into what she called "custard cups"... small Pyrex dishes. Not a shell thing... incase the LAST egg was bad. I honestly can't remember her EVER getting a bad egg and I can only remember one for me!?! She also taught me, not just to open egg carton and look for cracked ones, but jiggle each on to make sure none were stuck in carton. Was doing this one day, when a little boy (maybe 6-7) walked up to me and told me... there are TWELVE in the box!! He wasn't being "smart" about it, and I thought it was very cute. I explained to him WHY I did had a bit of a deer in the headlights look on her face.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:48PM
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Mom taught me how to cut up a whole chicken. Some people only buy chicken parts, but it is much more versatile and economical to buy them whole. None of my children have an interest in cooking, so don't know how much of my knowledge will be passed down...

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 5:55PM
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Had a really long day today, and just now reading these responses really gave me a smile. Lpink, I think our moms were related! My mom said that all the time, and now I do too.

My DH bought a (gasp) cake mix recently to make a cake to take to school (he's a teacher). I commented on the box mix, and he said he didn't know how to cook. I rolled my eyes and started to say "if you can..." he finished the saying, pulled out a cookbook and found a recipe for a one-pan cake! Thanks for the smile, all!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2012 at 9:51PM
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Timely too, as I'm disassembling my mother's apt at the senior living. My mother (may she RIP)could never have enough baggies, paper napkins, TP, Kleenex or her personal favorite-- SARAN WRAP! When we emptied her house in January after we sold it, I told DH I certainly had many years supply of plastic wrap. She passed away quite unexpectedly last month and in her short duration in the senior living she accumulated 5 more boxes of plastic wrap! DD was amused and now she has many years supply too!
Thanks for the giggle!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 1:10AM
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Eileen, I know how hard that was for you. It's been years since my mom passed and I still come across things of hers but it's good as it helps me relive a "footstep". My mom feared a toilet paper shortage so we were covered for awhile.

Mabeldingeldine, I won't go into the whole story but I told my DH that all I wanted for my BD was for him to make a dinner for me (he doesn't even know how to turn on the oven). He called me at work and said that dinner was going to me a little late because he had to go back to the store. He said he bought a cake mix and there was no frosting in the box. I said of course not; he said "but the box shows a frosted cake!".

    Bookmark   May 4, 2012 at 7:03AM
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I love these stories. I lost my mom nearly 20 years ago (can hardly believe its been so long) and I still find comfort in recalling things she said or did in the kitchen, and in using some of her favorite kitchen items. Last night I soaked some beans in her favorite stainless Volrath mixing bowl after rinsing them in her old Mirro star patterned colander.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 7:21AM
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My Mom taught me so much about everything I can't even begin to describe it all. She passed away in 1993 and I miss her sooo much. I still have some of her kitchen stuff because we moved into her house after she died at my Dad's request. I especially remember all the baking advice..she taught me how to measure the flour by scooping and leveling off with a knife and how to make pies and cook rhubarb and make all kinds of PA Dutch treats! Some of her recipes I just can't really duplicate..she made the best ever "wilted lettuce" with a clear hot bacon dressing. I still love her potato salad the best...she melted butter in a small saucepan and added a little vinegar and poured that over the hot peeled potatoes. Then added the minced celery and onion and finished it with mayo. She added Hard boiled eggs on the top! She had one of those different colored sets of pyrex mixing bowls and I still have the largest yellow one.The other colors eventually bit the dust! She would drain the water the potatoes had been cooked in and save a cup or two and use that potato water when she made her roast beef gravy. She was the best cook ever!!!

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:16AM
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My mom was from Italy (Naples area) so following in her footsteps was a challenge. I didn't know I was following Italian footsteps in the kitchen until our first trip to Rome. DH and I went to a family style restaurant in downtown; Raymond said "this is what you cook!". I didn't realize it because my mother rarely talked about things Italian as she wanted to shield us from the treatment she received when she came to the US. Early on I though I was just making Southern food.

Clearly I knew the pizza, bread, and sauce was Italian I just didn't realize it was the "real deal". My 3 brothers have since challenged me to replicate mom/grandma's sauce. I finally got confirmation from them a few years ago that it my sauce was the real deal.

My mom made dynamite Italian bread as easily as I would make iced tea. It was her job to make the daily bread when she was a kid in Italy. Stupidly I signed up for a bread making class; I came home from class and shared with her what I learned forgetting that I had the master under my own roof. Rightfully, she was hurt that I didn't come to her to learn how to make bread.

    Bookmark   May 6, 2012 at 11:32AM
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Mom was a great cook and baker as well. Chase was looking for a butter-tart recipe a couple years ago, and I shared Mom's recipe, and it's now her regular recipe.

The "firsts" are hell...this is my first Mother's Day without my best friend.

She always had the holiday meals at their place (except Mother's Day, we ate brunch out) and would cook over the course of a few days to spread out the work. Many were make-ahead dishes, obviously.

My step-father still wanted to have Christmas, and we all brought the food. I made the standards, that Mom would have made.

When we were all eating, Mom usually said "Eat up, I don't want any leftovers!" Keeping in mind, that she always made a lot of food; her number one fear was running out of anything. Even though others were bringing something, she made extra (desserts, veggies etc) just in case. So there was always leftovers!

I said the same thing as everyone was eating, in memory of her, and to lighten the atmosphere a little bit. Everyone got a good laugh, picturing her saying that.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 8:36AM
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My entire kitchen practially is composed of stuff from my grandmothers that nobody else wanted, and then cast offs from my mom, who thankfully is still alive and using her best stuff! Oh, and a few gifts from some CF'ers! I love to make recipes from good friends and family! Making them with gifted kitchen utensils is all the more sweet! That's why kitchen stuff is one of my favorite things to give! The gift keeps on giving.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 11:10AM
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If a piece of bread dropped on the floor, we'd quickly pick it up and kiss it. and then it was ok for eating. I do the same thing. I like it. Says something about the sanctity of bread and that we can fix it when something happens to it.

I am convinced it is all about budget and not throwing away something which is perfectly edible with a quick brush and a kiss.

There are a lot worse things in the world.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 2:06AM
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I love these stories of moms... so great to read as Mother's Day approaches. I'm making rhubarb pie this weekend for my MIL and will be thinking of my mom.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 8:26PM
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My mother could screw up toast. My little sister and stepdad finally asked her not to cook. They all ate take out and diner food for years. I was raised by my grandmother. All the holiday meals were at her house. I can't say I cook like her or that she shared any great tips. My grandmother was the youngest of 7 and was often shooed out of the kitchen to go play. She eloped and moved to Mexico and learned to cook on her own. She managed. She couldn't bake from scratch to save her life. But I did inherit her ethos of cooking as love. And she taught me how to cut up a whole chicken over the phone.


    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 8:19AM
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My mom's legacy is that by taking the time to make me her kitchen assistant, I did the same thing with our daughters and we all love to cook.

There are phrases that my mom and Nana used to say that often run through my head when I'm cooking.

"Don't bake an orphan." I never bake just one thing in the oven. If I'm baking a cake, I'll add a couple of potatoes for that night's dinner or an acorn squash to have the following evening.

"Don't throw good food after bad." Although my mom was a very thrifty cook, she always weighed whether or not it was worth the time and money to make a pound cake to pour the jelly that didn't jell over it. When a recipe flops, I always stop and think about trying to salvage it or just trash it and chalk it up to a lesson learned.

"What Eater bonnet is that vegetable wearing today?." When I was a girl, we always had a garden and grew lots of vegetables. The women in our maternal family liked to "dress up" vegetables in dozens of ways - adding browned butter or white or cheese sauces, crumbling bacon or crumbs on top, cutting them in different shapes, stuffing one vegetable with another, and many combinations of vegetables so they wouldn't be embarrassed by wearing their everyday hats to march in the Easter parade. LOL

This thread sure makes me miss my mother.

    Bookmark   May 12, 2012 at 10:21AM
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Once while visiting my grandmother, my youngest daughter (around 6 or 7 at the time), who is super picky about potato salad, was watching Granny mix up potato salad. My daughter stood and watched for a while and then whispered to me, "Mama, did you teach Granny to make potato salad?" I laughed and told her, "No, Granny taught my mama and then my mama taught me."

I think there are probably generations of mamas in our family that cooked, not using exact recipes, just a bit of this, etc. My children are always on me to write my recipes down and while I know I should, I don't have recipes! We somehow learned from one another and we cook alike.

Sometimes people will act so pleasantly surprised at some ingredient in one of our "family" dishes but we just thought that was the way you did it.

Our family's world is expanding food wise. I had never tasted a taco until I was almost out of high school. My older sister made them for us. She introduced us to many new foods. My Granny was always collecting recipes and while she cooked much from scratch her own way, she loved trying new recipes. She traveled across Florida in a covered wagon, cooking over a camp fire as a young girl. She was very adaptable and loved using her microwave and other "new fangled equipment".

My Granny is gone on but my Mama is still with us, Thank God! Mamas and Grannies are such blessings!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2012 at 4:20PM
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