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what are the culinary items you can't wait to inherit?

HI all I'm a journalist working on a story for a NYC paper about the culinary items people can't wait to inherit (or pass on). I'd love some more stories & tips. Ideally I'm looking for off beat items- so NOT your mother's Kitchen Aid or an old cast iron pot but maybe something quirkier, like a motorized rotisserie... Thanks!

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  1. I tried that a few months ago and got interesting but mixed results - some were offended, thinking that I was waiting eagerly for my elders to die in order to get my hands on a few cheap (but meaningful to me) tchotchkes.

    Check this out:


    10 Replies
    1. re: Chemicalkinetics

      Someone doesn't have to die in order for someone else to inherit something. My grandparents (grandma is 87 and grandpa is 92) have been giving things away for the past few years. They have six children, and 13 grandchildren, and they said it's easier to give things away now, than to have people fighting over them after they're gone. They also downsized into a condo 25 years ago and put lots of things in storage, so they have been working to clean out the storage so it's not left to their children to do after they're gone. My mom has gotten some lovely silver serving dishes so far, that my grandmother received as a wedding gift. Also my mom and her siblings have expressed which items they would like to have, and my grandparents get to choose who it goes to. So in that case, it's OK to "look forward" to inherit something.

      My mom and her sister have had a bit of competition for a nativity set. Apparently they both helped paint it when they were very young, and they both want it. So nothing has been done with that one but I'm sure it'll be fine.

      1. re: juliejulez

        Agreed. My mother (still alive) and MIL (died 5 years ago) both made gifts to me and other children for birthdays and Christmas of special items over the years -- some that I'd admired and some that I was not aware of. I use them often and I always enjoy the memory of the gift and its history -- e.g., the silver gravy/ sauce boat from my MIL, which was her mother's (my husband's grandmother's) and the Limoges gravy boat from my mother, which belonged to her mother (my grandmother). I use both at Thanksgiving and Christmas and enjoy the thought that pieces that belonged to 2 very different women, from very different social backgrounds, are both on our holiday table.

        1. re: masha

          Oh that's different. I always understood "inherit" to mean receiving something after the death of the owner. Beforehand is a better method as far as I'm concerned. I have several siblings who live closer to my Mom so I don't expect much despite being the oldest (especially after seeing their frenzy after my father's death); but have managed over the years to end up with a few things she didn't want and offered to me when I was visiting. Can't imagine not having a few heirlooms hanging around for good luck. It's a nice feeling.

        2. re: juliejulez

          I ending up going to eBay to find a similar nativity set to what my parents have. Not wanting to "wait" as it were. It was pretty pricy so I have up. Then my father purchased it for me as an early Christmas gift.

          1. re: melpy

            Yes this one in question is handmade and painted so don't think they'll ever find a replacement :)

          2. re: juliejulez

            Well, technically I do not think you are correct. "Inherit" is usually defined as being a verb that means to "receive (money, property, or a title) as an heir at the death of the previous holder."

            But more broadly, I agree - you can acquire cookware or other property from someone who gives it to you without dying. That was the case for me with my aunt - i "inherited" her cast iron skillet and some japanese dinnerware which I very much love and use regularly. She is still alive - just not cooking any more.

          3. re: coll

            I was the "victim" of reverse inheritance anticipation.

            Shortly after marrying my first husband we were invited to dinner at my new inlaws' home. My MIL had an extensive collection of decorative glassware (depression, milk, hobnail, ruby, etc) displayed prominently throughout the house. She walked me around, explaining all the details of each grouping. She was obviously very proud of her collection so, wishing to show my appreciation, I complimented her on a graceful trio of
            vases. She lit up, ran into the kitchen, returned with a roll of masking tape and a Sharpie and proceeded to write my name on pieces of tape and slap them on the underside of each vase. I was horrified! I later learned that this was a common practice in her home to ensure each of her daughters (i guess she included me as one) was certain to inherit the objects they wanted but it really threw me for a loop!

            PS. The marriage ended badly so I guess she had to break out the Goo-Gone.

            1. re: Pwmfan

              How very odd. Even of she wanted to do this, I would hope she would have waited until you left.

              1. re: melpy

                To the contrary. Even though the marriage didn't work out, I think it's charming that she signaled to you in such an overt way that she definitely counted you as a daughter. I would have thought it a very warm "welcome to the family."

                But then, I know many people who mark their possessions for children and sibs so that everyone knows who gets what. If this were the first I'd seen of this, I'd have been surprised, to say the least. Horrified? Nah, MIL was clearly trying to please.

                1. re: DuffyH

                  The masking tape method is pretty common where I live.

                  In my grandmother's generation, most families were huge. My grandmother and her sisters were full of stories about cousins and friends "fighting" over items in. My great-grandmother used the tape method.

          4. I have plans to leave everything I own to four younger friends, but nothing is "offbeat" so no details for you.

            1. Well, I don't know how offbeat this is, but I salivated for many years over my mother's 1950's Ecko spatula. When her new husband took over the cooking he gave it to me. I didn't covet it for sentimental reasons. It is hands-down THE best spatula. Ever. I use it every day.

              I'm so obsessed with it that I purchased another on eBay in advance of the day the handle finally breaks, but it doesn't have the same flex. Pity.

              1. I have a tuna masher. Yup, it's the go-to implement for proper tuna salad. It's produced in upstate NY, so if you want to highlight a local producer of a tuna masher - let me know.

                I am not the producer of the masher, or do not know anyone who works for the tuna masher.

                4 Replies
                1. re: breadchick

                  I have a tuna can drainer. We could crank out a LOT of tuna salad. :))

                  1. re: DuffyH

                    Tuna salad truck!!! Tuna cupcakes (well, no, cupcakes are so over. Especially tuna ones.)

                    1. re: breadchick

                      <Tuna cupcakes (well, no, cupcakes are so over. Especially tuna ones.)>

                      You're a riot! :))

                      1. re: breadchick

                        Wish my family thought cupcakes were over. Since I don't care about cake, it has been decided by others that cupcakes will be our cake.

                  2. Well, it's not that offbeat but it is retro: My mother's nesting Pyrex bowls, which she acquired as a newlywed in the 50s -- i.e., the ones in bright primary colors. There will be 2 obstacles - my sister who may also want them and my husband who will object that we don't have the space or need for them.

                    When my MIL passed away about 5 years ago, my SIL took her identical set of Pyrex bowls.

                    There is an entire generation of us for whom these bowls are associated with mixing cookie dough in the big yellow bowl, tuna salad in the little blue one, etc.

                    14 Replies
                    1. re: masha

                      I've broken my green and yellow ones, Masha. I only have the blue and the red left. I never use them, I'm so afraid they'll break.

                      1. re: Jay F

                        When my mother was 10 (she's 80 now), she put a trio of nesting Hall bowls (blue with gold rim) on layaway at the five and dime, paying a nickel a week. She gave them to her mother for Mother's Day. When her mom died, she got them back, and like masha's Pyrex, they were used for everything, every day.

                        A few years ago Mom gave them to me and was appalled that I hardly used them. She convinced me that they needed to be used to show them they were loved. So I do!

                        1. re: Jay F

                          I have a different philosophy. I'd rather break something than put it up on a shelf and never use. We're all different.

                          1. re: c oliver

                            I don't mind breaking them. What I hate is _cleaning up_ broken glass--to the point, perhaps, of being a bit phobic about it.

                            I don't really need the bowls, either. I have plenty of stainless bowls I prefer to use, and the Pyrex bowls look very nice on the shelf they occupy. I'm thinking of offering them to someone here, actually. I'm getting older, and I just don't need everything I used to think I needed.

                        2. re: masha

                          My aunt has those, and I want them.

                          1. re: juliejulez


                            I even put them in the dw. Mom couldn't believe I was hand washing to preserve what's left of the gold rims. She was so thrilled to get a dw that literally EVERYTHING went in it. Same with with her microwave; if sparks don't fly, why the hell not?

                            Now I have trouble convincing her I do NOT want my plastic ware put in either appliance. Funny, this is about the only place where I'm old school, and she's not.

                            1. re: DuffyH

                              I'm 65 and have my mother's water glasses with gold rims. They've only ever been handwashed and at their age have almost all the gold still on them. I use them regularly at dinner parties.

                            2. re: juliejulez

                              Julie, is it the colored Pyrex bowls you want? If so, contact me at the e-mail address in my profile.

                            3. re: masha

                              Yep, and you can find them at tag sales or sometimes on EBay. Those bowls hold memories.

                              1. re: Ruthie789

                                I've seen them in plenty of vintage shops, but they always want a pretty penny for them.

                                1. re: juliejulez

                                  Mom once estimated she paid about $2 for the set of 3. A fortune at the time, especially for a little girl.

                                  1. re: juliejulez

                                    Don't get discouraged. I have picked up all kinds of Pyrex and never pay big prices. I go to moving sales, church sales, etc. I have now been collecting for 10 years. My best purchase a Pyrex purcolator coffee pot with the blue cornflower and the vintage primary colour bowls at the Salvation Army store. I paid $15.00 for the bowls and $5.00 for the pot. As well I got another set of bowls at a flea market of another pattern for $10.00, the people at the stall practically gave them to me when I told them that I collect Pyrex. And if you are a tea drinker keep a look out for the Pyrex teapot, they make a great pot of tea, and keeps hot for quite awhile. I think I may be encouraging you to shop!

                                    1. re: Ruthie789

                                      HA! I can usually find some pretty cheap Pyrex dishes, but those colored bowls always seem to be pricey. I told my aunt and she just laughed considering how much they cost new.

                                      1. re: juliejulez

                                        The primary colour bowls are expensive. I looked for them for 2 years and one day on a whim went into the Salvation Army store where they were selling for $15.00. I have to admit I grabbed them before anyone else could. Sometimes you can find them separately and bring some back together, reunited!

                              2. Well, I'm not sure that this is funky, but my grandma has a wooden rolling pin that was made for her by one of her uncles. My grandma is the only person who has actually ever taught me how to cook anything (my parents in the kitchen leads to comedy more often than it does a good meal), and I remember baking cookies with her often, with that rolling pin. So there's a lot of nostalgia there. I can't think of anything else, however.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: celesul

                                  I have a rolling pin also. Has ballbearings (I guess) in the center so it rolls easily.

                                2. I'm not waiting for anything, but I can tell you about a few items that I have already inherited. From my aunt, I got a '60s vintage Farberware electric rotisserie, which turns out some of the tenderest roast duck around. And my grandfather was a professional meat-cutter (the word butcher was NEVER uttered in our house), and from him I inherited two professional knives made in the 1950s: a long, scimitar-shaped Foster Brothers carver, which is great fun to brandish in the kitchen, and a huge, heavy cleaver that I virtually never use as I don't do any butchering myself.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: BobB

                                    I have my mom's Faberware rotisserie from the 60's, but have never used it. I LOVE duck and have always wanted to do one on the rotisserie, but haven't for fear of ruining a perfectly good duck. Please give me some specifics on the how-to's, timing, temp etc. The skin must come out amazing!

                                    1. re: Phoebe

                                      Hi, Phoebe:

                                      Those rotis are fantastic. I'm sure Bob does a better duck than I do, but on mine I like to brine the bird for 6hours, then give it about 30 minutes of smoke before spitting and roasting to finish on the Farberware.

                                      There is only one "temperature*--ON. The only way to adjust the heat is to adjust the height of the spit. In most cases, you want to have it as low as possible so that the meat comes VERY close to touching the electric element. You have to run the motor without the heat being on to gauge where the "low" spot is, and adjust the height accordingly.

                                      The manual that came with the roti is worth at least as much as the machine itself--replete with time charts, recipes, hints, etc. Not like today's manual, which are all semi-ridiculous warnings and disclaimers.

                                      These things will make your kitchen smell like Heaven, and make you VERY hungry...


                                      1. re: kaleokahu

                                        Your approach sounds a lot more exotic (and tasty!) than mine, Kaleo. I just put some S&P on the outside, garlic on the inside, and roast away until the internal temperature hits about 165°F.

                                        I agree, the trick is adjusting the height of the spit so the duck is as close as possible to the coil without touching - this usually involves setting each end at a different height as the bird is asymmetrical nose to tail. After you've got it spitted, bind it with cooking twine so the legs and wings stay tight to the body. And be sure to prick the skin all over, holding the pricker (I use a sharp two-tined fork) almost parallel to the surface so as to go into the fat layer only, not the meat. The tray beneath will collect all that wonderful duck fat for future use.

                                        1. re: kaleokahu

                                          Kaleo....I not only have the original booklet it came with, but also a second book for the Shish Kebab accessory. Totally forgeting my mom used to make kebabs all the time. What about splatter when using the rotisserie?

                                          BobB....Thanks for the details on how to set up the "spit". Especially the adjusting each end separately. (You just save me a lot of time!) The booklet suggests 2 to 21/2 hours for a duck 4 to 5 lbs. Any idea how long yours take to get to the 165* you mentioned? I have a duck in the freezer now. I know what's on the menu this weekend!

                                          1. re: Phoebe

                                            I haven't used it in a while (lately I've been more likely to do the "Amazing Five-Hour Duck" recipe that's been making the rounds) but 2 to 2-1/2 hours sounds about right.

                                            Splatter is not an issue, as the meat is only at it's hottest (and splatteriest) when facing downward. Everything goes into the tray below.

                                            1. re: BobB

                                              I'll give it a go and just watch the temp. The "A5HD" is the only way I've cooked duck since the recipe first appeared in '99.

                                    2. My mom's english muffin separator. Keep the nooks and crannies intact.

                                      Also her joyce chen scissors.

                                      1. I've inhereted a sh*tload of super cool stuff from my family members over the years. Highlights include a bunch of "Nick & Nora" style cocktail coupes and martini pitcher, a 1950s meat slicer, a massive lobster steamer (close to a yard in diameter), and more fancy plates than any man could ever want to admit owning. I'd trade it all back if I could make them one last dinner showing off their stuff and the skills I've acquired.

                                        8 Replies
                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Wouldn't that be wonderful? :)

                                          1. re: foodieX2

                                            My paternal Grandfather passed when I was only ten. During the time we shared on Earth, the old man (who was so gritty and self-sufficient that he'd have bested Dirty Harry, Popeye Doyle, Mr. Blonde, and Marsellus Wallace with a single look), taught me about fixin' cars, buildin' houses, catchin' fish, runnin' boats, and bein' a man in the old school sense. His wife was one of my primary motivators in the kitchen. If I had a chance to make that old f*ck a Manhattan in one of those classic coupes of their's and sit him down to a dinner that he didn't think could be improved by ketchup, I'd be ready to join him on the other side of the sunset. Hell, I'd gladly catch the fish, shoot the duck, dive for the lobster. . . .

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              Sounds like a good man. You are making me miss my dad.

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                What a great story, MGZ! My mother has already died, sad to say. She would have been 84 in one month. I don't expect to inherit anything in the future. Dad got a new girlfriend within three months of Mom's passing - but that's a story for another forum.

                                                I DID inherit Mom's old glass coffee percolator. The one that has the glass center that you have to remove to pour the coffee out. I've used it quite a bit w/ a burner diffuser. It now sits on a high shelf in the kitchen and I do treasure it. Strange to think that I'm the only one that drinks coffee in a family of 12 people.

                                                I have inherited, through a sister, some low, shallow soup bowls that have golden stalks of wheat at the bottom of the bowls. I remember meals that were eaten from them. I also inherited from same sis a really old coffee cup from when my parents were in the military. Very heavy duty and squat, it has a deep chip and a crack that runs all the way through it but does not leak a drop. I use that often.

                                                1. re: JerryMe

                                                  I have those shallow bowls with wheat imprints, my aunt gave them to me when she moved to Arizona. She told me they came free in every box of Ivory detergent, she had quite the collection.

                                                  1. re: coll

                                                    That's probably why our family had them - my mom went through quite a bit of detergent w/ 10 kids! Thanks for the insight, Coll!

                                                    1. re: JerryMe

                                                      I still think of my aunt, and Ivory, every time I use the bowls for breading food (too chipped to serve anything in). Totally in the spirit of this thread!

                                                2. re: MGZ

                                                  If I could, I'd reach out and fondly pinch your cheek. I hope you write...you have a gift.

                                            2. Hello all- I am the original poster (and the journalist hoping to write about this). Thank you all for your responses and for sharing your stories- I hope to speak to some of you off-line for interviews (the moderators will help me get in touch). Thanks again!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: funkygirl

                                                Serving, not cooking. I already have from my mother, an ancient ricer, a lamb cake mode, her Cuisinart 14 food processor. She is deceased, and my father has the hand painted fish set from about 1880. Some old folks are Graspers (Greedy, aged selfish persons) and others know that it is obscene to give with cold hand.

                                                1. re: law_doc89

                                                  I wish someone would give me a lamb cake mold!

                                              2. There is a really only spatula that I will inherit. I think it is for frosting.

                                                1. My grandmother has a littl tiny cookbook that my grandfather bought her on one of their first dates. It is from the early 50's about Italian cooking. All the immigrant peasanty dishes, no pictures, I think it is just bound with a staple. Before my gramma was diagnosed with vocal cord cancer and they had to remove her voice box she was teaching me all these older things to make. I am so glad I had a chance to learn a few things before she lost her voice completely. She is still with us but I don't know for how long. I would very much like to have that cookbook if possible because those were my happiest times with her, even though they are from recent years. We did not always get along as well when I was younger.

                                                  1. I almost forgot about one really cool thing I inherited. Technically, my mother inherited it from her mother but she gave it to me. It is an ice bucket made of heavy porcelain on the inside and hammered pewter on the inside. We use it in the summer frequently and I have a friend who really loves it and borrows it often. I'm happy it gets some regular lovin'.

                                                    1. Presently, my mother has an old manual coffee grinder which was previously her own mother's (it might go back further still). It's a little box shape perhaps half the size of a shoebox, square, wooden, with a little drawer to pull out and get at what's ground in it. The inside mechanism is cast iron, and you grind by turning a crank at the top. She doesn't use it. It's decorative to her.

                                                      I used it once, when visiting her, to make a garam masala spice mix, and damned if it doesn't work better than any current electric propeller blade coffee grinder, not to mention being much easier to use than a mortar and pestle. Many of us here will understand how hard it can be to truly pulverize things like cardamom, coriander seed, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and many other things.

                                                      The only modern gizmo that would match it would be a conical burr grinder (which this old thing actually is, just manually rather than with a motor), but few people would shell out for a second burr grinder just to grind spices.

                                                      Plus it will have great sentimental value. Looks like this:


                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: Bada Bing

                                                        Wow I have one of those that I use for an ornament, I'm taking it out right now for spices. What a great idea!

                                                        1. re: coll

                                                          I hope yours works as well as our family's one. It can be REALLY effective.

                                                          1. re: Bada Bing

                                                            Mine looks exactly the same except it's only 10 years old (a gift from the real estate broker last time we sold a house). Only difference is the top part is white and blue ceramic but they must have used yours as a model. It's a shame it sits in the closet, I used it once when we had no power for a few days, but it deserves better.

                                                      2. The cutting board of education.

                                                        When Mom died I inherited a few of her cherished culinary items among which was a wooden cutting board. Awhile later the board split and had to be discarded. Dad liked to tinker with wood and offered to make another one. I gave him the specs. I wanted it patterned after the original but longer and thicker.

                                                        Dad kept making trips to the lumber yard and said he kept messing up the wood. I asked him if he measured before he cut and he confessed he didn’t know how to read a tape measure. Dad had limited formal education but I had no idea he didn’t know measurements. So we spent the afternoon in "tape-reading class" where I taught him the basics of ruler measurements.

                                                        Dad was a quick study and soon was a precise carpenter. He made the most beautiful and durable cutting board that I still cherish 15 years later. I use it several times a week and always think of him when I use it. Dad’s gone now but it is his triumph over ignorance and a father-daughter collaboration that remains.

                                                        1. I have already inherited my treasures due to the passing of my Mom. At the time the things that were important to me were her wooden spoons, her vintage pyrex yellow bowl, her little tin antique recipe box, her rolling pin, her coral pink casserole dish. My Mom had beautiful items, bone china, silver, I just wanted the simple things that she touched and used daily. So did my brother who got the yellow bowl and passed it on to his daughter advising her that it was very special and to treasure it. My sister got the pink casserole dish and I got the rest including the tin box full of written recipes. I reorganized it into categories, and look at it every now and then. As for the yellow bowl, the pink casserole dish, I went on a two year flea market, estate sale quest finding them eventually and collecting a whole assortment of pyrex bowls and casseroles which I passed on to my nieces who say they remind them of my Mom. Don't know if this is what you are looking for but that's my story on inheritance and treasures.

                                                          3 Replies
                                                          1. re: Ruthie789


                                                            I felt EXACTLY the same way. Mom had some amazing things, like a REALLY heavy Russian cut-crytal handled fruit bowl, some vintage limited-run Lenox hunting plates and such. When she was down-sizing, she offered it all to my brother and I. I passed on everything but the Hall bowls (see above), Grandma's rolling pin and butter pat. The pin and butter pat aren't used because I don't bake, but they do look terrific as a wall display in my contemporary kitchen. My brother grabbed an old paring knife and matching fork, plus a few other simple things. Mom was sad that all the gorgeous high-value pieces were going to auction, but I think it really touched her that we both chose everyday items.

                                                            I also scored the cake cutter and server from Grandma's wedding, as well as a wide satin ribbon from her wedding dress. So special!

                                                            1. re: DuffyH

                                                              It's really touching to remember her doing the daily things she did to try and make us happy and loved with her food, Some things bring us back to the connections that we so miss.

                                                              1. re: DuffyH

                                                                Yes, that is a good point and what makes these "inherit" threads so interesting to me. Sure, there are some valuable items mentioned but mostly we treasure the everyday items that remind of us of our loved ones. Plus, those "oldie but goodie" items are often of better quality than new things.

                                                            2. Old fashioned butter churner where you sit out on the porch and make it. Also my mom's English teapots!

                                                              1. My mom has a jar opener that I have dibs on... She calls it an "Amy Open All".