As I began making banana bread today using Mom’s recipe I retraced the steps I’ve always used to begin any baking project. Mom taught me to look at the recipe, get out all the ingredients and utensils and get everything lined up before I began. Oh, and just for good measure, I read the recipe one more time. In the “old days” we also used to turn on the oven to preheat and let it get warmed up. I have a gas stove and the oven takes very little time to heat now, and most likely saves money in the process.
As long as I had the oven going, I stirred up six of each, blueberry and apple chunk muffins. As I combined all the ingredients for each baked item I put the canisters away, wiping them off as needed, or refilling them if they were low. When everything was done baking and on the cooling racks I had to rest up a bit. One batch of anything is usually enough for one day, but three different things…that did me in. Mom always ran a sink full of hot soapy water so as we’d get done with a bowl or spoon, etc., we could just put it in to soak and it would be easier to clean later.
As I went along today I could ‘hear’ Mom reminding me to do all these things. I’m probably not a lot different than many other cooks in my age group. Some things have changed though. We didn’t have Pam in Mom’s day, so we’d have to butter the pans with Crisco or actual butter if we had it. Mom always used margarine and I remember she would always keep the outer paper to butter pans or cookie sheets. She grew up during the depression era and there wasn’t much that went to waste.
One of our family stories that Dad would tell on Mom was “remember the time you bought all that firewood…? It was all cedar and Mom was fairly new at buying things like wood. She went to business college in Seattle, but they don’t teach you to buy a mixture of wood types like madrona, fir and some cedar for hot fires and kindling. She was a whiz at shorthand and typing, but had a lot to learn about living in the boonies. At least she never had to cook on a wood stove. I know people swear by them, but she probably thought of herself as Donna Reed rather than Ma Kettle.
I didn’t learn everything about cooking from just my mom. Almost everyone I have met along the way in my life has given me witty ideas and wisdom that was passed on down to them too.
My mother-in-law taught me that when you’re making homemade tomato soup that ‘red into white and you’ll always be right”.
My friend Debby showed me how to combine mustard, ketchup, pork and beans, brown sugar and onions and ham to make the most tasty baked beans ever. Over the years I’ve tweaked the recipe, adding little smokies or putting in BBQ sauce with the ketchup.
Grandma Josie said that if you start a fire in the woodstove to bake bread to begin with cedar for a hot fire when you put the loaves in, then as the fire dies down, add a piece of madrona because it burns for a long time with an even heat. Adding just a little fir will round it out nicely. When Grandma would back yeast rolls for dinner I remember she would always have a little shortening melted in the bottom of the pan and as she put each roll in she would flip it over so it would have some oil on the top to brown the rolls.
One last memory I remember I learned from my father-in-law. He said, whenever you’re in a bar make sure you never have an empty beer bottle. If you get into a bar fight you don’t want to grab an empty one because when you go to hit it on the edge of the bar to break off the end to use as a weapon it’ll just shatter. Partially full ones break leaving some nasty jagged points on the end and are much more effective. See what you can learn by just listening to your elders? Luckily, I’ve not had to use that bit of wit so far in my life.
I’m participating in Wisdom Wednesday, daily blogging theme used by writers to add content to their sites. Geneabloggers is one of those sites. Pay Thomas a visit and see what his offering is for today.
“To participate in Wisdom Wednesday simply create a post in which you share words of wisdom about any number of things including weddings, marriage, children, work, and so on. A post could include such things as favorite sayings of grannies, superstitions, that sort of thing. Words of wisdom should have their origins in the past and have been passed on from generation to generation.
A special thanks to Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman of On a Flesh and Bone Foundation: An Irish History for suggesting Wisdom Wednesday as a daily blogging theme!”
Wishing you all a very safe and enjoyable Memorial Day weekend.