Friday, May 10, 2013

Things my mom taught me

I am very lucky to have inherited my grandmother and mother's old, tattered and worn cook books with pages splattered with flour, sauces and goodness knows what! But with Mother's Day this Sunday, it got me thinking about the things that I was taught that weren't written down in a book... Here are my top 5:

ECards created by The Photoshop Queen, Farah Barry of The Fan Girl Diaries
My grandmother used to love yacking away on the phone for hours and it was the absolute end of the world if the telephone rang and she missed it. I mean, it could've been The Queen or an important invitation to a tea party. So, she taught my mother and myself that no matter what, if you're rubbing butter into flour or kneading dough, always make sure you have one hand free to answer the telephone. 


My mother always tells the story of a lady at my grandmother's church who used to be well-known for her outstanding bakes at the annual bazaar. She would willingly hand out her 'secret' recipes with a smile to anyone who asked. But the product of her 'secret' recipes never seemed to emerge from other's ovens quite as perfectly as it did from hers! You can only imagine the scandal and sordidness of it all when it was discovered that she would leave out an ingredient when passing on the recipe. It's a funny story but not so funny when you're the one being duped! Something I learnt but never took to heart - I love sharing recipes so rest assured that all mine are featured in their original glory.  


Occasionally, you can follow a recipe to the letter (or milliletre) but sometimes it will just flop for no reason. Enter number 3. When my mom is cooking a big important dinner or baking something tricky, I swear I can see her pause and have a little moment before she slips that cake into the oven, and say a little prayer. Just incase.


My grandfather was an avid gardener with a beautiful veggie garden and I remember a year when the beetroot had flourished and in an effort to spare us all from eating beetroot every day for a week, my grandmother decided to try her hand at pickling. She spent a good part of the day slashing the cheery purple vegetables into chunks. With the pressure cooker (which probably dated back to the year 1652) doing the rest of the labour, my grandmother got to work scrubbing the bright pink ink from her wrinkly fingers. But with a hiss and a pop, the old pressure cooker abruptly exploded, flinging vinegary purple liquid on the ceiling, the walls, the floor... Everywhere! Her stained fingers were the least of her worries! Obvious to some, but I'll pass it on to my kids nonetheless.


There is some sort of saying about an apple and a tree but I often forget, as I am usually on a constant sugar high. But I definitely get my sweet tooth from my mother. After dinner, she usually offers something sweet to end off the meal, and while you may think brownies, cookies or chocolate would be a perfectly suitable post-dinner delight, my mother will come into the room holding only an opened tin of condensed milk and a spoon. Forget about wasting it by adding it to a recipe. There is simply no other reason we keep it in our cupboard.

Which kitchen secrets did your mom pass on to you? Let me know!

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