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Dec 14, 2008 03:20 AM

What did your Mom always have on hand, that you NEVER do?

Looking at my mother's Xmas cookie recipe the other day, and I always get a kick out of her listing 1 cup butter (oleo) as an ingredient. I don't think I've had "oleo" in my fridge for at least 20 years, whereas my mom for either economic or "health" reasons only rarely had butter.

And when I wanted to make banana bread today, the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook recipe has shortening as an ingredient, which I almost never have on hand. Mom always used it instead of veg oil to fry chicken, as well as for baking.

So my list of "what Mom always had around, but I never do" includes:

instant rice
cake mix
garlic salt
celery salt
onion powder
Lipton tea
nondairy coffee creamer
canned fruit cocktail

Anyone else? (Of course I have a list of what I have around that my mother never did, but that is a different subject!)

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  1. In the case of the spices, my mom still has the same jars from, like, 1962

    Garlic salt
    Onion salt
    Celery salt
    And all sorts of spices that were so old as to be useless
    Freeze dried onions
    Parmesan cheese in a green can
    Artificial vanilla extract
    Iceberg lettuce
    Sachharin tablets
    Frozen concentrated orange juice

    She was definitely from the better living through chemistry generation.

    94 Replies
    1. re: taos

      <<She was definitely from the better living through chemistry generation>>

      LOL, taos. Ah, those were the days... not! Ugh. Saccharin. My father used it in his coffee, so he could have pie for dessert. (Much like my girlfriends who always make sure to have in their wallets packets of Sweet 'n Lo and Splenda, which they whip out whenever we meet for "coffee and".) That Saccharin. Nasty NASA-jet-fuel stuff. Ever taste it?

      1. re: Steady Habits

        Spices and the rack possibly bought when she got married in the 70s. Including celery salt - I didn't know anyone else used it. I was not allowed to "clear out" the old stuff, so it ended up taking over shelves in the pantry!
        American Cheese
        Tomato Sauce making trifecta - canned puree, canned paste, canned crushed
        Canned veggies - especially corn and peas from Publix for dad and me since she wouldn't touch the stuff
        Fixings for SOS in case I spent the night at a friend's house
        Fake syrups
        Pink packets of Sweet n Low
        Totino's Pizza Rolls or Bagel Bites
        Shaker of Mom-made Cinnamon Sugar
        Canned stuffed grape leaves
        International Creamers
        Jug of white wine - maybe opened once a year
        Matzo - year round but less often during passover somehow

        1. re: TampaAurora

          Celery salt! I have that - you can't make a good bloody Mary without it!

          1. re: cycloneillini

            Bloody Mary's aren't on my list of drinks. I'm glad to know it's useful to someone.

            1. re: cycloneillini

              God save the celery salt. Cycloneillini, I bet your Mary's are sensational. Mine are.

              1. re: amazing grace

                celery salt is good in tuna and potato salads.

                1. re: alkapal

                  Yeah, I use celery salt in tuna and egg salad as well.

              2. re: cycloneillini

                But now there is celery seed which can be used in all those good Bloodys, tuna, chicken, potato and egg salads - allows you to use more celery/less salt.

                1. re: saycheez

                  Strangely enough, celery salt is good on cottage cheese.

                2. re: cycloneillini

                  I like to rim my Bloody Mary glass with celery salt. And I don't care about my sodium intake in a case like this, I'd rather do with out.

                  My mom always had frozen chopped onions on hand. She rarely cooked with freshly chopped onions, ever. Not much else is different in our pantries, she usually tried to make everything fresh.

                  1. re: cosmogrrl

                    Ha! My mother swore by onion salt -- never powder, which I find actually flavors some things better than fresh onions. I only remember fresh onions used by her in beef stew. Whereas I keep fresh onions on hand, but usually reach for the frozen onions when I'm in a rush or making things like chili or a dish where I don't feel like dicing fresh and it won't matter.

                    She still has all the different salts and uses them when she cooks (not often as she is almost 90 and can't taste anything now). I use garlic powder, onion powder and celery seed. Strictly for nostalgia, I have many of my mother's and grandmother's spice tins from when I was a child in the 50s and 60s that I either 'inherited' as a bride in the 70s, or confiscated when my parents downsized a few years ago... :)

                  2. re: cycloneillini

                    You also need celery salt for Chicago dogs. It's tradition!

                    1. re: cycloneillini

                      You mean like the one I'm having right now! There is no substitute for it in a Bloody Mary! No celery salt would be like saying having no Tabasco sauce in the house either!

                      1. re: cycloneillini

                        No spices with "salt" in the title even though I use all those spices: garlic, onion, celery straight. I buy ground celery seed for bloody mary's, use quite a bit in mine, love that taste - wouldn't be right without.

                          1. re: cycloneillini

                            No arguments but you should know that ground celery seed works fine.

                            Mmm, note to self: buy tomato juice and Worchestershire.

                            1. re: Weetje

                              Hey gang - the Bloody Mary Party is at Weetje's house!

                          2. re: TampaAurora

                            Margarine- I grew up thinking it was butter and butter went on *everything* They still keep a large tub of it on the table at every meal!

                            Packets of Carnation Instant Breakfast. We called it chocolate milk and if we didn't like what was served for dinner we had to drink it.

                            The whole sale club sized containers of Peter Pan peanut butter. My dad calls it "survival paste!"

                          3. re: Steady Habits

                            My brother and I used to melt saccharin tablets on our tongues back in the '60s. Kind of like beating your head against a wall because it feels so good when you stop...they tasted so awful it was great! (Probably accounts for why we are the way we are now.) :)

                            1. re: MaineCook

                              My parents have friends that to this day go out of their way to find little bottles of those tiny saccharin tablets to sweeten their tea. I think I asked them once why they don't use NutraSweet or Splenda because they are both much better than saccharin and I really don't remember their responses. It's a little weird.

                              1. re: MaineCook

                                my mom would use just a couple of those saccharin tablets in a big pitcher of tea. she also used the lipton powdered tea. (remember when it was taken off the market for a while?).

                                now my aunt billie made tea the right way, with real tea bags and lots of sugah! ;-).

                                1. re: MaineCook

                                  My mom keeps a container of saccharin tablets in her purse so that my dad can sweeten his coffee with them when they're eating out. Blech.

                                  1. re: MaineCook

                                    Is that because of the chemicals or because of the beating your head against the wall?!?

                                2. re: taos

                                  Way back when I was kid and food got to this little rock in the Atlantic by boat pretty much everything was in cans or frozen. Even butter came in cans from NZ. We are some 600 miles off the coast of the Carolinas, but for some reason butter was shipped from the Antipodes. But I digress.
                                  In my mother's kitchen:
                                  Tins of evaporated milk
                                  Tins of Nestle's cream for trifle
                                  Canned vegetables (spinach was the absolute worst)
                                  Canned fruit
                                  Cans of corned beef from Argentina (which I found terribly exotic at the time)
                                  NZ cheddar aka 'rat cheese'

                                  Bird's custard powder

                                  1. re: taos

                                    Cooks Illustrated did a blind test and artificial vanilla extract rated as high or higher than the "real" kind. Icebert lettuce is my choice for BLTs and lettuce cups and also a wedge salad. Isn't celery salt used in Bloody Marys?

                                    1. re: c oliver

                                      c, please join me in a Hound movement to reinstate iceburg lettuce and frozen orange juice concentrate to their rightful places - up there with anything else given appropriate use.

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        At last my husband has two potential recruits for his organization, F.O.I.L.
                                        (Friends of Iceberg Lettuce) He will so happy --- he's felt really lonely for a long long time.

                                        1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                          My husband will be a happy founding member for F.O.I.L. He uses iceberg to make Greek salad, and shredded on sandwiches. I will confess that in the summer I have been known to order a wedge of it with blue cheese dressing.

                                          1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                            Sign my dad up--you can't have a "combination salad" (as my Grandma calls a simple tossed salad) without iceberg. He actually gets grumpy if you try to sneak something "greener" in. And there's no other way to eat combination salad than with five tablespoons of Catalina dressing.

                                              1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                It is a Kraft product-- my dad calls it French. It's thick and tangy and loaded w/ HFCS. Not good or good for you.

                                                1. re: amy_rc

                                                  Thanks, Amy. I guess I'll stick to home made Thousand Island on a wedge: The Classic! (Kraft French? Ouch!)

                                                  1. re: amy_rc

                                                    may not be 'good' for you, but is wonderful on canteloupe and seedless green grape salad -
                                                    and Iceberg should only be served with Thousand Island ! to somebody else!!

                                                    1. re: ksmith51432

                                                      oh man! catalina dressing with crumbled blue cheese makes any salad, even iceburg, sing.

                                                      1. re: forstton

                                                        a checkout lady told me this one time.

                                                    2. re: amy_rc

                                                      what does HFCS stand for? I love Catalina dressing altho I am normally a totally organic freak-we grow almost all our own food and all of our fruit-apples, blackand blueberries, red and black raspberries, strawberries, pears, sour cherries, grapes, etc and I do all of our baking from scratch and bake for my catering customers as well as bake for customers who have gluten allergies. I developed a bread that actually tastes good instead of like cardboard for my celiac/gluten people. But I am addicted to that red catalina-) I make my own vinaigrettes etc and my own 1000 Island and Blue Cheese but can't give up my Kraft Catalina. lol. Does anyone know where 1000 Island Dressing got it's name? The man who built the castle for his wife Louise-he loved her madly-his chef invented it-and the castle is built on one of the Thousand Islands. It sat empty for years after his wife died and he ordered it closed but now you can tour it. Crazy castle. The islands are an archipelago that straddles the US-Canada border in the St. Lawrence river. It's a cool story if you want to look it up. Gorgeous area. Well that's my 42cents for today-)

                                                      1. re: plantfreek

                                                        High fructose corn syrup, I hate abbreviations of words myself. If you eat everything else healthy in your life, it won't hurt to have one "bad" thing you love (not that HFCS is the most evil thing in the world you could eat).

                                                2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                  He has at least 3 now, iceberg is my favorite, hope my wife doesn't read this, she likes all the yuppie lettuces.

                                                  1. re: malibumike

                                                    I grew up in the midwest, and my mother always had Western salad dressing in the fridge - it was our favorite red French - similar to Catalina. I live in Texas now, and it's hard to find a restaurant that serves any type of French dressing. We have 10 differnt kinds of Ranch but no French. Every place up north still has it. Still my weakness - I love a good red French (I know that's an oxymoron for some of you) with crumbled bleu cheese.

                                                    1. re: cycloneillini

                                                      I'm with you. Grew up in the midwest and like that sweet french. I'll sometimes put it on a baked potato.... just because. Never really learned to love the Ranch.... but even iceburg tastes good with some French. I'm just north of you now in Oklahoma. I can usually find French on the salad bar, but it depends.
                                                      My mom always had some sort of weird bastardized french/ranch/russian, heck i don't know what it was... but still has it.. martha Gooch I think is the name of it. Had some on some salad at xmas dinner.

                                                      1. re: Firegoat

                                                        My mother always combined half-empty jars and bottles of same-category foods. Apricot/strawberry/raspberry jam, for example. French/Thousand Island. Most of them were okay. I didn't like spinach so she smashed the boiled potato on my plate, mixed it with the spinach, and doused it with gravy. My father combined cans of paint. For a while, the asbestos shingles on the second floor of the brick-clad house were lavender-gray. Maybe that's why they kept their mouths shut during my elementary school phase when, having learned about the GI tract, I cut up all my food and mushed it together on the plate!

                                                        1. re: greygarious

                                                          Better than my more sensitive students who, after dissecting a chicken wing, announced they wouldn't eat chicken anymore. At last count, one wasn't eating chicken flesh 4 months later. Chicken in some variety is ever present in my kitchen. The quintessential white canvas of the kitchen. I still apologize to those moms! Emergency vegetarian recipes are always a "pleasure" to a cash and time-strapped family.

                                                          1. re: TampaAurora

                                                            Chicken weirded me out in my 20's. The little arms reminded me of people arms. The little legs reminded me of people legs. It took years to get over this.

                                                            1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                              Hahaha. I had a few boys in the class who kept parroting a line from an animated movie - a T-Rex complains "I have a big head and little arms." Between them and the kid who snuck out a bone (everything was soaked in bleach before even coming to school) to show his old teacher down the hall who was known for her her no-nonsense style. Getting kids to understand what they consume and their impact on the world was one of the great perks of teaching.

                                                              1. re: TampaAurora

                                                                Ah, yes. But I know that movie, and it's a great movie.

                                                            2. re: TampaAurora

                                                              I didn't eat chicken after dissecting it in 7th because of the smell--they must have left those out unrefrigerated for who knows how long. It also coincided with the release of Angel Heart and adolescence.

                                                              By the time I hit 25, I was eating everything again, including frog legs, which look like Barbie legs. :)

                                                            3. re: greygarious

                                                              It's great that your mother and father found each other.

                                                            4. re: Firegoat

                                                              OMG I love Martha Gooch french dressing! I haven't had that for years. Definitely can't buy that in Texas.

                                                              1. re: cycloneillini

                                                                I just had some Martha Gooch last time i went up to Kansas and saw mom!

                                                                1. re: Firegoat

                                                                  If I ever run across "Martha Gooch" dressing, I'll buy some on the strength of the name alone. It's one of those names that evokes a time, a place and a long-lost way of life: Scarlett O'Hara. Toulouse-Lautrec. F. Scott Fitzgerald. Martha Gooch.

                                                              2. re: Firegoat

                                                                I was really hungry coming home from work late the other day and bought a bottle of a sweet onion dressing you'd probably really like if you like the sweet french, Goat. I wasn't impressed by the combination.

                                                          2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                            Another recruit reporting for duty sir! I know it isn't as healthy as real green lettuce, but I still buy it all the time. One, no other lettuce works as well in sandwiches (romaine in a sandwich - yuck), two, still a kid pleasure that remains an adult treasure - a wedge of ice cold iceberg, a thick slice of tomatoe, blue cheese dressing, blue cheese crumbles and some crumbled crispy bacon. Come on, how isn't that good?? I can't resist ordering it at Mandina's in New Orleans even though they don't add the bacon. Lastly my Mom was a "health food nut" growing up in the 70's and iceberg wasn't allowed in the house. So in the normal perverse way of humans, I craved it more than any other vegetable.

                                                            1. re: nosurndr

                                                              I LOVE romaine in a sandwich- it has such panache when it's in its prime, but it's gross when it's all pale and boggy, but it's better than nothing- I love my basic lettuces..

                                                            2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                              I only have one use for iceberg lettuce: when I'm jonesing for homemade egg fu yung and there are no fresh, clean bean sprouts to be had. Thinly sliced iceberg lettuce makes an admirable substitute in terms of flavor and texture, but I believe the nutrient profile is different.

                                                              1. re: gentlyferal

                                                                Thats a great Idea Feral! I wonder how it would work in Pho? I'm thinking the crunch with a little chlorophill overtone (like cellery?)...

                                                            3. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                              Only if we get cool tee shirts - or maybe tatoos?!? I grew up in Atlanta in the 50s/60s and I'm sure iceberg was our only choice in lettuce. But just because our mothers (or fathers) used it, doesn't make it bad. Now that canned spinach she served.... :(

                                                              1. re: c oliver

                                                                DO says No to tattoos --- he's considering baseball caps.
                                                                Canned spinach, wow, I haven't thought about that in years. Repulsive! I don't think my mom did that. Or not much. Or I'm blocking ---

                                                                1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                  After "cooking" the canned spinach, it then went on a plate with sliced hard-boiled egg!!! I think that was 50s gourmet in the south perhaps :)

                                                                  1. re: c oliver

                                                                    Perhaps. Sort of "Fifties Florentine"?
                                                                    In the 50s (and 40s) in the north gourmet spinach was the creamed variety at Horn & Hardart's Automat. In truth, I could still go for that, too bad there are no Automats left. Did you ever know of them, or perhaps even go to one? There's some retro stuff that would still find a welcome today --- mac 'n cheese, baked beans, apple pie. Course it would no longer cost a few nickels ----- (sigh)

                                                                    1. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                      Ooh - the Automat!!!! H & H had a restaurant in Yonkers - Cross County. For special treats my mother would buy their Boston Cream Pie and rice pudding.
                                                                      The Automats were more fun, though.
                                                                      Less work for mother.....

                                                                      1. re: EllenMM

                                                                        Less work for mother.. just lend her a hand...
                                                                        Commercials of yesteryear.
                                                                        And the Automat rice pudding---
                                                                        YES YES YES

                                                                    2. re: c oliver

                                                                      My mother added 1/2 can of water to the canned spinach, ala Campbell's soup. Just inedible.

                                                                    3. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                      Canned spinach...yuck. I only had it once when I was about eight. My brother and I were big Popeye fans, and begged my mother for months to get some canned spinach so we could be like Popeye.
                                                                      I am thankful that our mom didn't make us clean our plates that night.

                                                                      1. re: dratlover

                                                                        Can't sleep......wondering how a response to a new post will appear on a year old thread.

                                                                        "French salad dressing"


                                                                        Thinking about how enamored my mom seemed of "London Broil". I was not quite as enamored in college. I looked up recipes, finding one that said "marinate in French dressing", which at the time, meant to me, some orange stuff in a bottle. Still not sure what the recipe had in mind, but I think I used the orange stuff, SEVERAL times, waiting for an epiphany.

                                                                        1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                          London Broil...such fond memories! Can't say my mother ever marinated it before broiling. And, having looked it up (as I never cooked one because hers were so tough, even cut on the diagonal), I discovered you NEVER broil or grill them unless you marinate them a long time first. Ours came labeled as London Broil, but they were likely round cuts of some sort rather than flank steak based on my recall. We always had the oily version of French Dressing instead of the creamy. I wouldn't go near it after I hit my late teens. How about Green Goddess in a bottle or jar??

                                                                          1. re: Shrinkrap

                                                                            This is not about what I wouldn't ever have in my kitchen, but you need to marinate top round for at least 3/4 hr to 1 1/2 hrs before broiling/grilling. It can be very tender that way. It needs some sort of acid, like lemon juice, red wine, sushi vinegar,etc. The orange stuff has never done it for me as a marinade or a salad dressing.

                                                                            1. re: DavidA06488

                                                                              Back in the early-to-mid '60s (when I was in elementary and jr. high) I don't know if most home cooks in our area (suburban MA) had ever heard of marinade. So many of those in my age group are products of post-WWII abundance of 'convenience' foods that we didn't learn how to cook from scratch, and with true knowledge of what we were cooking and cooking with, until we were in college or beyond. My late sister-in-law (a decade plus older than I) consistently coated steaks, potatoes and bread with Hidden Valley powdered salad dressing mix to create 'gourmet' flavors...then doused the side salad with the mixed version. I shudder to think of the salts and artificial ingredients we consumed as kids.

                                                                              1. re: DavidA06488

                                                                                Yes, oil and acid is probably what the recipe had in mind. I wonder how that orange stuff came to be called French dressing.

                                                                                And what I had growing up was definitely not flank steak. Don't recall mom marinating it either, but she was a sort of an adventurous and from scratch cook.

                                                                          2. re: BerkshireTsarina

                                                                            Canned spinach at my mother's always reminded me of the black, slimy bacteria laden hair that gets caught in the bathtub or sink in the crossbars of the drains. Disgusting!

                                                                          3. re: c oliver

                                                                            I like canned spinach, just heated through and not swimming in juice, with or without HB egg and/or a dribble of vinegar (Tabasco, nowadays). I don't think of it as SPINACH, but as an item all its own. Canned peas I have little use for, and canned green beans are disgusting unless re-cooked with plenty of bacon and onion. Corn, on the other hand, is to my taste improved by canning.

                                                                            Iceberg lettuce: I think I've mentioned this here before, but I once read a piece by James Beard in which he said that if iceberg lettuce were hard to grow, hard to ship and expensive, then it would be the darling of every gourmet and food snob.

                                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                                              Regarding canned vegetables, with a quote from Eleanor Perenyei's awesome old book, "Green Thoughts" : "...I'm sorry to say I like canned beets better than fresh ones...I used to think this a secret vice until the fussiest gastronome I ever knew, who kept a legendary table, tersely told me that of course canned beets were better. Everyone knew THAT."

                                                                              1. re: vjgower

                                                                                that quote needs to be on my canned beets thread. ;-).

                                                                                1. re: vjgower

                                                                                  Oh no! I've converted so many beet-haters with roasted fresh beets, I cant believe a person would not like thgem fresh roasted- INCONCEIVABLE.

                                                                                  1. re: EWSflash

                                                                                    oh go pull that Wally Shawn shtick elsewhere.

                                                                                    roast anything properly and you can even win over toddlers to the cause. this Spring a neighbor dropped off a bag of turnips and I did em up with potatoes, apples, onions, garlic and cheese (I didn't call it a gratin as that would have put some off)


                                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              Right, Sam, good iceberg is sweet and crunchy and delightful in its own right.

                                                                              I hate reconstituted frozen OJ, but in its concentrated form it's quite a palate-waker-upper, esecially mixed 50-50 with vodka or tequila. :^)

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Iceburg sliced into wedges and served under a pouring of bright orange "french" dressing a Just So Incredibly Tasty.

                                                                                One very nice thing about frozen orange juice concentrate is that you can open the container and leave it in the freezer and make oj one glass at a time over several weeks. Or open oj plus a couple of other flavors and mix-n-match lemon-orange-berry, pineapple-orange, etc.

                                                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                  or the quintessential iceberg wedge salad.... topped with diced tomato, bacon, blue cheese crumbles, and blue cheese dressing. I can't help but love it!

                                                                                  1. re: kubasd

                                                                                    This is my all time favorite, old school "salad"
                                                                                    there's a Morton's near my office and we entertain clients there on occasion. I never hesitate to order the iceburg wedge (center cut iceburg)

                                                                                    I like the name because I hate calling even a salad, because it's so far removed from anything you'd consider healthy and salad is after all Healthy right?

                                                                                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                  I always buy frozen OJ concentrate. It's easy to make, it takes up little room so you can buy a few cans and it's always available, it's cheaper. I also use non-fat dry milk in hot drinks, as the drinks stay hot and they are not diluted and it's not full of chemicals.

                                                                                3. re: c oliver

                                                                                  I cannot eat braunschweiger without iceberg lettuce, white bread, mayo and onion. Mainly it is the iceberg. Plus there is "lettuce alone" joke.

                                                                                  1. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                    Funny - I hated HB eggs when I was a child, unless they were buried in potato salad, and then one day my grandpa Kuntz made me a sandwich of braunschweiger, swiss cheese and sliced egg, dotted with plenty of mayonnaise. He must've known something about my taste that I didn't, but I almost swooned with delight, and to this day it is my perfect sandwich.

                                                                                      1. re: Glencora

                                                                                        Yum! Smoked liverwurst. We have a roll of Nueske's in the fridge that we've been working on, and I must say that it's mighty tasty.

                                                                                        1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                          Ours was always Oscar Mayer - I didn't know anyone else even made it for many years. Can't have it very often these days, but every so often I'll indulge. Grilled liverwurst and cheese is another guilty pleasure, first discovered at a drugstore lunch counter in Anchorage, Alaska - talk about exotic cuisine!

                                                                                          1. re: Will Owen

                                                                                            My parents still eat Braunschweiger, unashamedly!

                                                                                            1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                              Oh, man, Braunschweiger on french toast w/ Maple syrup for breakfast. Our childhood treat, now my kids love it!

                                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                Whoa -- Braunschweiger with maple syrup? It will take a little while to get my head around that, I fear. On the other hand, it's not such a distant journey from my favorites of breakfast sausage with syrup, or bacon with grape jelly on the last piece of toast, so who am I to be critical!

                                                                                                1. re: somervilleoldtimer

                                                                                                  Got to try it, although I prefer that combo on waffles!

                                                                                                2. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  Brings to mind a Monte Cristo - I first had it served w/Maple Syrup - and ALWAYS miss the syrup when it's served as a savory dish

                                                                                      2. re: Sal Vanilla

                                                                                        That is one of my favorite sandwiches! My Mom's too (thus no diff in the pantry area). Most people think I'm odd for liking it though....

                                                                                      3. re: c oliver

                                                                                        I bought the imitation after reading that. I do not think I have all that discerning a palate, but to me the artificial tasted awful - I used it in oatmeal cookies - and although I HATE wasting food, I threw it out.

                                                                                    1. Defintely shortening, coney, just as with your mother, and I'd say, canned soups and bacon.

                                                                                      The only other thing I can think of is ice cream. She always had a couple of flavors in the freezer; we hardly ever buy it for the house. (We solve urges by going out to an ice cream place and treating ourselves to something truly shocking.)

                                                                                      My pantry is definitely better stocked than my mother's, with a wider array of goods from far away places, which I think reflects the difference in our generations and how certain ingredients that weren't available to her peers are now staples for us. Because there's really not a significant difference in the way my mother liked to cook and the way I like to cook. It's more about *what* we're able to apply our methods and food philosophies to--e.g., today's accessibility to ingredients from all over the world, and a wider array at our grocery stores.

                                                                                      13 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                        Really? I couldn't live without Crisco. She taught me to bake, and her pie crust with Crisco is the best.

                                                                                        What she had, though? Morton's pies (don't buy them because they have been shrunk), somebody's frozen pot pies (don't buy them because they have been shrunk), Swanson tv dinners and Rice a Roni, just yuk on the last two.

                                                                                        Otherwise, I pretty much follow her branding theme, if the brands haven't shrunk their goods and left the same price or raised it.

                                                                                        1. re: dolores

                                                                                          Shortening pie crusts and I knock heads, dolores. I can't make them worth a fig. (Well, now, every now and then, one might turn out well, but that's by random accident, not due to anything I happened to do right.) This despite everybody's efforts to give me hands-on lessons. But I do pates very well--pate sucree, pate sable, pate brisee and, if you happen to be in the mood for an eclair, yes, pate a choux.

                                                                                          I wish it weren't so, because, if nothing else, I love American pot pies, and I would love to be able to make a decent, shortening based crust for that. But I've accepted that I'm not going to win a blue ribbon, or red, or puce, or any color, for my pie crusts, so I rarely have Crisco here.

                                                                                          1. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                            Turnabout is fair play, Steady Habits. Pate a choux scares me. I can make it, but it never comes as high as I'd like.

                                                                                            And still, I love baking more than cooking.

                                                                                          2. re: dolores

                                                                                            Rice a roni is one of my comfort foods :) 'Course I fix it with some sauteed red onions, capers and cheese at the end on top. But I always have a box on hand.

                                                                                            1. re: dolores

                                                                                              I haven't had or even thought about Rice a Roni in years. I think I may have to have some soon just to remember that crazy processed salty flavour.

                                                                                              1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                Oy. Now I'm going to be hearing the jingle in my head all day.

                                                                                                1. re: JennaBean

                                                                                                  The Long Grain and Wild Rice variety is actually not too bad. It has less salt than the others and doesn't actually have any pasta in it. I don't make it often because it still has excessive salt and I prefer to cook regular wild rice and mix it with other grains.

                                                                                              2. re: Steady Habits

                                                                                                Slightly off topic - but the ice cream reminded me of the Albert Brooks, Debbie Reynolds movie where the mom (Debbie Reynolds) had the ice cream with the "protective layer of ice crystals" on it.

                                                                                                1. re: nvcook

                                                                                                  "Mother" was the name of the movie

                                                                                                  the frozen salad.

                                                                                                  on trips home I assume the role of cleaning out the rancid, freezer burned and pointless bits from the fridge and cabinet after they're asleep. I leave the old spices as 1. they won't use them and 2. if they do they want them flavorless anyway.

                                                                                                  1. re: hill food

                                                                                                    hill food - do your folks even notice that you have tossed the food-stuff? lol

                                                                                                    1. re: lifespan

                                                                                                      not that I'm aware of, as a test I left the opened pickled herring for a while - that went 3 years and a house move. before I axed it. It was probably still fine (just more pungent), but....

                                                                                                      when a good sized fridge is SO packed that 12 things need to come out in order to reach a small thing wrapped in foil at the back...

                                                                                                      thank god they don't like cats or they'd be a special episode on Animal Planet.

                                                                                                    2. re: hill food

                                                                                                      And the frozen hunk of cheese she uses an electric knife to cut!

                                                                                                2. A can or two of fiskeboller (Norwegian fish balls). Definitely, not my thing then or now.

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: grampart

                                                                                                    Fiskeboller er den beste! I used to have cans on hand bought at the fish packing plant until Bumble Bee bought the company and no more fish balls. I wrapped a can once for a high school Christmas grab bag and the kids all knew it was mine. Go figure.

                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                      I was looking at Thai fish balls the other day in my favorite Asian grocery and was wondering how to prepare them. How are fiskeboller prepared and served?

                                                                                                  2. American cheese (or Velveeta - yuck)
                                                                                                    powdered garlic (never had fresh as a kid)

                                                                                                    Here's the big one for me that probably nobody else will mention: FLOUR. I have no interest in baking and flour makes such a mess that I don't keep it around.

                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                      No FLOUR!!?? Poor'll never know the joy of roux! Or making a "bound breading" (flour, egg and breadcrumbs or panko) for cutlets. Couldn't get by without my happy red sack of King Arthur AP flour. Adam

                                                                                                      1. re: adamshoe

                                                                                                        I can make a roux. I just borrow a tiny bit of flour from a friend. No need for a full bag!

                                                                                                        1. re: mojoeater

                                                                                                          You should keep a canister of Wondra flour in the cabinet. It is "instantized" so it pours neatly and dissolves smoothly, making it perfect for roux and for thickening in liquids and cooked fruit.

                                                                                                          1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                            My MIL always kept (still does) a canister of AP above the stove and kept a tea strainer inside for making gravy. Her method: Pull the turkey (or whatever) out of the roasting pan, put the pan across two burners, whisk in the flour, and serve.

                                                                                                            1. re: MissMichal

                                                                                                              And after about a minute of the scrape-scrape of her fork beating the flour smooth, Mom would start humming a little tune she never did any other time. Memories!

                                                                                                    2. The funny thing about my parents is that they were stuck halfway between the post-war love of convenience food and an interest in crunchy, hippie food -- so my list would include Bisquick AND nutritional yeast; garlic salt and onion powder AND granola and wheat germ.

                                                                                                      A few more:
                                                                                                      frozen peas, corn and carrots. (They grew up eating canned.)
                                                                                                      evaporated milk for their instant coffee or postum
                                                                                                      jugs of white wine
                                                                                                      fake pancake syrup and margarine to go on the Bisquick pancakes

                                                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                        Lipton Noodle soup with chicken
                                                                                                        Cheez-Whiz with saltines
                                                                                                        canned green beans
                                                                                                        a jar of cinnamon sugar
                                                                                                        Wonder bread

                                                                                                        I remember the canned beans having a horrible consistency - somewhere between wax and much. The lard was for making donuts. Cinnamon toast and noodle soup were constants.

                                                                                                        1. re: catzen

                                                                                                          Canned green beans in Mom's pantry, but not in mine. Blecch!

                                                                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                            My mom always had the canned green beans too but she also always had a saucer of bacon grease to season them and everything else with. Bacon grease sat on the counter by the stove always.

                                                                                                            1. re: Lewes17266

                                                                                                              Ugh - me too. I hate canned green beans with an unbridled passion. And vegall.

                                                                                                              1. re: gridder

                                                                                                                I hate them too, but the dog loves them. I buy a can of the big fat green beans and chop them up for her. (I call them Mambo Beans, don't ask me why.)

                                                                                                                1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                  the only canned veggies i eat are the delmonte summer crisp corn, asparagus for the relish platter, and the rare can at the bf's that i doctor (when he's not looking) with sriracha

                                                                                                                  1. re: cuccubear

                                                                                                                    We have to put netting over our bush green beans in the garden or our Choc. Lab will graze on them.
                                                                                                                    I can't eat green beans from a can either.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                      I like cold green beans right out of the can. Call me nuts

                                                                                                                      1. re: marymanchester

                                                                                                                        i can, too -- they squeak. tee hee.

                                                                                                                        sometimes i get a craving for canned tomatoes, and i will open the can and start drinking the juice, then eat a tomato or two. hmmm…maybe i need some now.

                                                                                                              2. re: pikawicca

                                                                                                                I think you just brought back a repressed memory. Canned green beans simmering in a little pot on the stove. The only good thing about them is they were slippery enough that I could shove a bunch in my mouth and swallow quickly, so I didn't have to taste them for too long.