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Lost Arts ('Hounds Talkin' About Love in the Prep)

So fine. I admit it. I'm a bone buryin', floppy eared, sometime leg-humpin', always sittin' under the table waitin' for scraps 'hound. I'm cool with that. I've been makin' food since the first time Mommy and Daddy "had new friends". Hell, I didn't even know they were the "old friends" back then. "C'est La Vie", eh, Chuck? Tune up the Gibson ES-350 - I can play a lick or two.

That bein' said, I am pretty,* as the twerkers say it, "old school", 'bout some things. I make barbecue they way I discovered it. I use the biggest cuts I can lay paws on. I cut logs with a chain saw and split pieces with an axe. I mix woods according to the meat. I modulate "temprtur" based upon humidity and wind direction. I measure time in beers consumed. Shit, I believe in alchemy, magic, and the power of the old gods. I find comfort in the sound of storm surf.

I still make pierogi with a couple tablespoons of yogurt in the dough - like Gammy did it. I make my leckvar filling with Polish brandy, some raisins, and prunes with pits, 'cause that's the way the old widows at St. Mary's in South River did it. "And, Hell, Son", that's the traditional way my original namesake liked 'em. Sh*t, I even still hold to the dogma that "OUR LORD" has some bug up his ass about not tastin' the pierogi filling with any meat in it when you put it together on Christmas Eve. Seasons Greetings, but get your seasonings right the first time!

Now, every summer, I grow lots of stuff in the garden I made outta the first part of my front lawn. Tomatoes**, chiles, herbs, eggplant, etc. But, I've never learned to pickled or can. While I'll preserve peppers in sauce or the freezer, I am truly "hat's off" to those who preserve Nature's Bounty. In fact, that's the kinda lost art I'm thinkin' about. Man, I read them "pickling" posts with a grin across my three day old stubble. Heartwarming (with a tinge of jealousy)!

So, please, my beloved 'hound friends, tell me 'bout the ways you carry the torch. Did you have a grandmother who had a secret latke fryin' fat combination you hold fast to? Do you say a prayer over your Christmas roast in a lost language? Take your bobka to get blessed by the parish priest?*** Do you still circumvent the science of an electric smoker for the glory of the blue smoke? Do you still bury kimche in the yard? Do you still use real pineapple and coconut for your pina colada? (By the way, this is a fun track: http://brushfirerecords.com/blog/cate... - Just scroll down a tad to the Walter Mitty screen) Do you still believe in the Spirit of Santa or the Power of the Full Moon? Do you hold to traditions no matter what "improvements" have been disclosed, even if it's simply borne out of tribute?

*Please read on, 'cause ain't many ladies who see this grizzard scowl as "pretty" unless it saves 'em from an even nastier lookin' ol' wolf.

**I live a half mile from the Atlantic after all.

***My Great Aunt Olga did this. She never wrote a recipe. Her cheese bobka was so good that folks fought over the toasted Easter leftovers 'til Memorial Day. Her son let me look through her "cookbooks" which yielded no information besides how many bottles of Canadian Club her husband bought between 1964 and 1968.

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  1. It's kinda funny, but a client of ours just dropped off a jar of pickled green tomatoes and onions in what she called a "sweet cure". I was struck by having posted this thread earlier and my respect for those who pickle, so I asked, "How long have you been doin' this?"

    Her reply was, "My Sister and I started helping our Stepmother years ago when my Dad first got sick. She had bad arthritis so basically she just talked us through her Aunt's recipes and all the boiling and all."

    "Wow, that's cool! Do you still do it with her?"

    "No, she passed a month or so before the Storm, but Dad loves it and still loves to garden, so every year, we go to his house and get to work. Personally, I hate tomatoes, but I love doing it."

    "That's fantastic!"

    "Nah, it's just something we feel that we need to do." She offered, somewhat apologetically.

    "Precisely. I love it! And, Merry Christmas!"

    "Wow, if you think that's great, you should see the ravioli my Sister-in-Law makes. She says it's her great-great grandmother's recipe and the eggs have to sit on the counter overnight before they can be mixed into the ricotta!"

    1. This is perhaps only slightly on point, but our family has a recipe a basic dinner bun recipe called "90 minute bums".

      The handwritten copy that my grandfather had said "90 minute bums", so when my mother and my aunts copied it, they copied it as "90 minutes bums", and when anyone in my generation has requested the recipe, it gets typed up and emailed as "90 minute bums". Ever shall that recipe be known as "90 minute bums" in our family, Autocorrect be damned.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Jacquilynne

        That ain't really off point, Jacq. In a way, it is, perfectly the point. Sometimes, it has nothing to do with what product shows up on the plate. It's about what we do to get it there, or what process we employ to get it there, or what appellation we ascribe to it, or whatever else about it gives it meaning.

        My Dad calls galumpki "pigeons" 'cause that's what his crusty* father did. Nevertheless, when I stuff cabbage, I only use meat from pigs and cow, and he still takes any leftovers home.

        * Crustiness appear to skip a generation. My Dad still wears pressed, Ralph Lauren shirts and tailored pants, but I favor his father's beat up khakis and stained, solid colored, tee shirt wardrobe. My Dad shaves every day while I share the patriarch's willingness to save the blade 'til the Lord's Day or having to go to a meeting.

      2. "Do you still use real pineapple and coconut for your pina colada?"

        Yes I do. I don't do liquor based drinks often but when I do, I use all real ingredients.

        There are members of my family whose pickling and canning borders on hoarding. My one great aunt had rows upon rows of canned fruits and veggies of all varieties in her basement. I always gagged on her applesauce (too smooth) and yearned for the store bought variety.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cleobeach

          Admittedly, I have never known any real "hoarders". I have, however, had some pretty lousy canned peaches and some even worse wine. Truth is, though, I found uses for the love in the glass.

          The peaches, thrown in a pan with butter, cloves, and brown sugar - then doused with rum and lit, made a fine topping for ice cream. My Uncle's wine would be turned into a vermouth-like substance when I added a bit of sugar, vodka, and cardamom pods to steep. The Manhattans made with it were never left unfinished during the Holiday season. Best if I had some of his Godfather's brandied cherries for a garnish.

          Maybe I'm just a crazy old romantic after all. I open doors for ladies and hold my wife's hand when we cross the street. Hell, after a decade and a half of marriage, I still will occasionally order for Mrs. Z when we go to dinner. Then again, give me a flint and some steel (as well as a fifth of somethin' 80 plus proof) and I can pretty much be good 'til the sun comes up on a new day.

          The thing I've been gettin' at here is, at bottom, please, folks, tell me how you put the "love in the glass". How do you still maintain the ability to conjure the power of the past, your penchants for the prestidigitation of the passed, the sorcery in the sauce, the mystical memories that manifest in the meal?

          Isn't there a little old lady with a bleached mustache, still wearin' black every day even though her husband died seventeen years before, in your mind's kitchen once in a while? Maybe an old pan that your Dad used to make the only dinner he could - some weird meatloaf with too much ketchup and his "secret ingred'nt" that you still don't have any idea what the f*ck it was? Even if you still have that pan only to make duck confit in?

          Surely, I'm not so selfishly surly as to be the sole soul to subscribe to the suspicion that superstition can support a super supper?* I ain't stepped on a sidewalk crack since a week before Reagan's wife dared me to take drugs, and, even though I'm not a god-fearin' fella, I still think that Dean Martin's Christmas album is what makes this time of year precious. Hell, tomorrow, the days start gettin' longer - the pagens were onto a good idea where they made Constantine put his Saviour's birth date on the upturn of the Northern Hemisphere.

          *Sorry, but the alliteration key was on again.

          1. re: MGZ

            Tonight I will serve our cocktail hour snacks on the same cheese board my father used. I took it from his house (with his blessing) even before he passed away. I swear cheese and meats taste better when eaten off of it.

            On Tuesday, a man helped me with my coat after a board meeting. It was the first time I met him and it was like I felt a ghost, no one has helped me with my coat since my father passed away.

        2. For me it's risotto. It needs continual stirring and it always needs to be in the same direction, which for me is clockwise.
          I know there are so called easier methods such as not stirring or god forbid doing it in the oven, This though completely misses the point. The continual need for constant love and attention ,makes preparing a risotto a soothing experience. It's similar with making a bechamel. I still stick to the old fashioned butter, then flour, add the milk very slowly and stir , stir ans stir some more.

          1 Reply
          1. The Virgin of Guadalupe

            Never put the loaf of bread on the table, cutting board, whatever, upside down (from my grandmother)

            Use bacon fat to make fried potatoes (also grandmother)

            The planting of oregano, from seeds whose lineage can be traced to my greatgrandfather

            The celebratory discharge of firearms, at midnight, New Years (grandfather)

            1 Reply
            1. re: BiscuitBoy

              "Never put the loaf of bread on the table, cutting board, whatever, upside down"

              from my mom...

            2. Reading this thread title, I originally thought you meant gettin' some in the walk-in

              1 Reply
              1. re: BiscuitBoy

                I only did that once, but she swore she was from Guadalupe and had never . . . .

              2. We all made claims on the stew pot GG Bessie made every chicken and lamb stew in; I won by default since she lived under my roof the last years. I make chicken soup, stew and dumplings in that pot. Weighs 30 lbs and we still wonder how GG Bessie moved the pot from storage to stove when she didn't weigh more than 90 lbs her whole life.

                Uncle D's bread oven is in my garage still staring me down for a place to call home. Auntie C's starter yeast has seen so many 'children' I've lost count.

                6 Replies
                1. re: HillJ

                  Sometimes, it seems, the hocus can pocus with what they left us. Huh?

                  1. re: MGZ

                    Fun way to look at it, MGZ.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I'm way too smart to think I can understand everything, Hill, but I'm also way too dumb to ever understand thinking about anything.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Oh geez, don't go getting all soft on us now MGZ. You're neither and you know it, brother.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          Shucks. I just wanted to find some old time religion in some 'hounds inherited cast iron pots. Maybe the reason somebody puts a copper penny in their Easter ragu?

                2. My older brother and I continue a tradition that dates back longer than anyone in our family knows knows. As a kid I would watch my Nonno and my Dad make a few prociutto in the "camarin" (wine cellar) every January. We continue this ritual in thier honor. I am the proud owner of my Nonno's vinegar barrel and its contents that was started by my greatgrandfather back in the old country.
                  I give my homemade bacon to freinds and family for Christmas!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: tommg

                    Tell me how to get to be one of your friends? Hell, I'll marry a sister if it'll get me homemade bacon every Christmas!

                  2. when cooking octopus . . . you have to put a cork in the water - it's just how its done :) doesn't seem right without it.

                    I just spent thanksgiving baking with my Mother-in-Law out of her old family tradition cookbooks. I've scanned all of her mother and grandmother's hand written cookbooks so that if anything happens we still have a copy of them. My favorite measure in them is "butter the size of an egg" . . . .

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: thimes

                      I'd be fascinated to know the origins of the cork!

                      A couple of years ago, I tried to get my family involved in a family cookbook project. It didn't take off, but I still remembered the recipes I got from one aunt. While most of the recipes were pretty much what you would expect -- a cup of this, a tablespoon of that, hers contained no set amounts and started with phrases like "On the day you butcher the hog".

                      1. re: Jacquilynne

                        I don't know the actual origins but my grand+ relatives wouldn't cook one with a cork. It was supposed to insure a tender octopus.

                        I'm guessing the cooks just wanted an open bottle around ;)

                      2. re: thimes

                        "Butter the size of an egg was pretty common in days of old. I've also seen more precise recipes that said, "butter the size of a robin's egg, or butter the size of a goose's egg." I've also seen "butter the size of a walnut" in some fairly recent recipes. As long as the ratios are right your recipe will succeed!

                      3. Things I carry from my family's cooking traditions? Well, let's see. I have some very distinct advantages over most of the rest of you by way of seniority, soooooo...

                        From raising our own poultry and rabbits to eat, I learned as a child that a chicken can indeed run around with its head cut off! And I got to learn something about basic anatomy by having contests with my younger brother as to who could take a chicken's foot (called "chicken paws" in most Asian markets and dim sum restaurants) then clench and unclench it by pulling the tendons hanging out where the joint used to be. Whoever could pick up a rock with the detached chicken foot first won!

                        As a kid, I also learned from the "grow your own" department that you will turn a cow's milk to cream of tomato soup red if you feed the cow a lug box full of tomatoes! But the milk will still taste just like milk. To this day I can't figure out why you can feed a cow bright green grass and the milk will stay white, but if you feed the critter tomatoes, boy! do you get in trouble!!!

                        From my maternal grandmother, I learned the house smells disgusting if you come home from school too early while she is still making head cheese! Also a HUGE boiled hogs head sitting in the middle of the kitchen table can make you jumpy if you're not prepared. And for that, I was NEVER prepared!

                        From my maternal grandfather, I learned how to harvest fresh raw honey from our hives of bees. If I can't have fresh raw honey, I can't have chicken and biscuits!

                        From my paternal great grandmother I learned that a wash tub works just fine to boil water over a backyard "camp fire" to dip the Thanksgiving turkey in to pluck and dress it before taking it in the house and tucking it in the oven... Well, she did stuff it first....

                        As a child, I did NOT learn how to ripen avocados "on the tree" by tying a paper bag around them... I thought Aunt Mae did that to keep the birds from pecking at it so she could feed the 9 year old me an avocado at least as big as a football from their avocado grove.

                        I'm grateful I learned to scratch cook from early childhood on because living on into today's world of fast and faster food and "cooking," then ending up with my allergies, I know how much easier it is to cook "from scratch." Convenience foods suck!

                        At the same time, I am oooooooooooooh so grateful for the "state of the art" kitchen my great grandmother, grandmother, and mother couldn't even dream about because the stuff didn't even exist!

                        Life is good.....! '-)

                        But it would be better if we could pass on all that we know and take for granted to the rest of the world today... Money may not buy happiness, but really great cooking damn sure does...!!! '-)

                        And the most amazing thing has made my grandmother's cast iron pans that I still cook in regularly even greater for me than they were for her..... They are my MOST FAVORITE pans to cook in on induction....!!! How about that? Maybe “Everything old is new again” really IS true!

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: Caroline1

                          Caroline, my grandmotehr hung her chickens on the clothesline to prevent the running around. I tended to think of this whenever I helped her hang out the laundry...

                          1. re: DebinIndiana

                            What a unique solution! But I think I'd make sure my clothes were hung on a different line...

                            It's strange, but I'm feeling a wave of nostalgia over the clotheslines I grew up with. The satisfaction of hanging laundry in an orderly fashion, then taking it down and burying my nose in the fresh sun shiny aroma of the sheets or towels my mother and I had just folded... My poor kids! They've never experienced that. And I doubt that either one of them will ever wax nostalgic about opening or closing the dryer door. But then butterflies never land on dryer doors, so why would they?

                            1. re: Caroline1

                              Mom always hung her clothes outside (Pacific NW weather permitting). After about 35 years of this, she started getting flocks of starlings, and had to buy a dryer.

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                And don't forget the sight of a line full of sheets flapping in the breeze. The look like they are ready to take sail.

                                A clothesline is one of the simplest ways to save a buck and save the planet, and your clothes smell good. Win win win. I'm a bit younger than you, and I hung my laundry out to dry in the summers when my kids were young (it was the earth-mother thing to do). I am sure I couldn't do this if I lived in the city, or a snooty suburb,

                                When they got older and I started working full-time, I fell back on the clothes dryer year-round, but we still have a clothesline in the backyard, waiting for me to wax nostalgic.

                                1. re: DebinIndiana

                                  The sad truth in today's world is that it depends on where you live and what the air pollution is in your area. There are parts of the country where it is highly recommended to use a clothes dryer... Bummer!

                                2. re: Caroline1

                                  I decided 35+ years ago that dryers were wierd. Never ever had one, still don't. In cold wet weather, the extra room in the house works fine and you can close the door if company shows up - plus its a humidifier.

                                  Learned to hang everything: shirts (on hangers but hung from the bottoms). smooth sheets, jeans and pants from the bottoms, underwear perfect and lapped over clothespins. Ahh, clothespins - I find the old ones at yards sales, hard wood and strong metal. And clothespin bags, where little Carolina wrens make nests. We have more than one bag so we don't have to disturb the wren's babies.

                                  Blessings of these days is we don't have to go with the current flow, which is usually crappy, cheap and flimsy.
                                  Find the good way, then do it.

                                  1. re: kariin

                                    In the summer, I'll set up our patio chairs back-to back, making a circle. The wet sheets go oven 'em, kinda tent-like. They dry in our hot sun quickly. Smells heavenly. Per our CCRs, we're not allowed to put clotheslines in but there's no restriction on patio chairs! (I do whisk the sheets outta sight as soon as they're dry.)

                                3. re: DebinIndiana

                                  Although only tangentially related, your memory reminded me of how my Grandmother cleaned eels. Mind you, "Skip", as she was known to many, was in her sixties by the time I started payin' attention, and just a tiny, little* thing. The kind of prematurely old lady who seemed like she'd always been that way and that Boy Scouts would follow home so as to get badges for helping carry in the groceries.

                                  Well, if me and the Patriarch went out for fluke and caught an eel or two as well, those slimy bastards would survive the trip back to the docks, the boat wash, several slams into the sidewalk, and the thirty-some minutes the old man spent tellin' his buddies about the "doormat" one of us missed with the net. I used to think that they were the product of a Christian god punishing some ancient, non-believing diabolist by turning his progeny into this vile, waterborne snake.

                                  In fairness, I was a pretty grungy little boy. Not much ever phased or scared me. Hell, once when we went to open the house for the summer, I helped my Grandfather pull a couple dead squirrels out of the chimney - with ungloved hands. But, those slimy, nasty, ever-squirimin' eels - they kinda freaked me out.

                                  So, when we'd finally return, I'd practically throw the basket with the eels in it at my Grandmother. She'd light up, showing no interest in the big, "prized" fluke me and Pop were starting to filet.

                                  Eventually, I began to watch her. She'd grab one of those oily, slithering slimers just under the head and drive a nail through its face into the old Holly tree that held one end of her clothesline. The process would be repeated for each eel before she'd proceed to cut about three-quarters of the way through the necks and slice each through the belly to the tail.

                                  They'd sit, impaled on the tree for most of the afternoon before she went back to finish cleanin' 'em. All the while, the white sheets she insisted upon having on the various beds in the house, dried in the wind, always dancing in the gust but, somehow, just missing the messy sea monsters that would sometimes still flap of their own accord.

                                  Dinner would roll around later. My Grandmother was oddly was cool about AM radio in the kitchen - Yankees games, Meatloaf's "Bat Outta Hell", Fleetwood Mac's "Rumors", "Born to Run" would all squaek from a tinny transister on the window sill, so I'd sit and watch, soakin' in the smells, Phil Rizzuto's voice, Bruce's melodies, reveling in the fact that I had actually drawn dinner from the Bay only hours earlier..

                                  Sometimes, Mom, Dad, "Aunt Seal", "One-eyed Al"**, "That Poor Fella"***, or whoever, would join us. In the late Seventies, on Long Beach Island, a big ol' fluke fry would be an event. I had my first beer at one. I learned more about cookin' fish from Skip back in those lowercase years - without even trying - including the notion that pickled, French gherkins should be finely minced (which eventually became my job) and mixed with Hellman's and a squirt of lemon juice, in order to make Tarter Sauce.

                                  Nevertheless, my favorite part of such dinners, were those f*ckin' fried eels. I'm pretty sure she used Crisco and a separate pan. She swore it was the tree. It don't really matter now, though. It was awesome. My first memory of eating the chunks was dipping in ketchup like the Old Man did. Later, I discovered tabasco.

                                  With all the culinary skill I've earned over the years, I still can't recreate the taste.. When we had to move her a few miles north, back to Manasquan, I caught two eels. At Sixteen, I was manly enough to nail 'em into a tree myself and sliced the bastards in her old ways. I showed her proudly and asked, "Will you make 'em?"

                                  "Sure, but that's not the right tree!"

                                  *Funny, regional Americanism to couple "tiny" and "little" - a true redundancy of colloquial use that you notice more from other folk once you listen for it. Just watch, after dinner on Christmas, someone at the table will utter, "Oh, Dear, I'm so full, I can't even think about desert. Just cut me a tiny, little piece of that pie."

                                  **I still don't understand that name. He had two eyes. Both seemed to work pretty well. Best I could ever gather, it had somethin' to do with a duck hunting trip in the early Fifties.

                                  ***He never had a name anyone shared with me. I'm pretty sure he was a guy my Namesake pulled outta the North Pacific in Forty-three, but he never spoke much besides: "God bless you, Skip" and "Can I trouble you for more of the CC, Matty?" We'd see him a few times a summer and he'd check on my Grandfather's place and report by letter a few times during the off-season. I'm pretty sure he mixed the concrete for the foundation on the house by hand.

                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    Thanks for the memories... umm.. I don't think that's an original line , but nevertheless, "thank you so much." :-)

                                    I'm not sure why, but I like my memories of the past a lot more than the photographs I have. I suspect its because memories have sound and taste and smell that photographs can't touch. But the photographs can be pretty good springboards for diving in and letting it all flood back. But I have to admit that I liked 35mm color film one hell of a lot more than I like digital! Why? Well, when I used film, it didn't matter which camera I was using or how many shots I could take per roll of film (72 was the max with my Cannon, 36 with the Voigtländer) I ALWAYS ran out of film before I ran out of subjects. Since I've gone digital and simply cannot possibly run out of "film," I forget to take pictures before the table is cleared and everyone has gone home! Life can be so perverse!

                                    1. re: Caroline1

                                      Caroline,

                                      I thought of your post yesterday when I stumbled upon a print of a ninety percent focused, 35 mm shot of a toe-headed, fresh off the beach, and definitely lowercase, mgz, grilling hot dogs with his Grandfather. The old cuss would only eat "chicken dogs" since that's what "that son-a-b*tch, New York doctor ordered." I'm holding tongs with one of those monstrosities in the grip over the old charcoal grill.

                                      I laughed at my silly hair cut, croked bangs and all, my narrow shoulders, and the awful, striped shirt my Mom had made me wear. I could smell the lighter fluid still hanging in the air. Then, in a flash of an instant, I remembered how I used to put so much mustard and ketchup on those fowl dogs. I always bitched about how they had no taste (it was probably three or four years before I discovered tabasco). Sometimes, I'd even put two on a bun (the idea of not eating never occurred to me, even as a little pup) to choke dinner down.

                                      A couple of minutes later, after a big swig of beer, I realized just how much I wanted one.

                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        See? It isn't just movies that have flash-backs! Wonderful story, and isn't it a shame that putting two chicken wieners in one bun doesn't double the flavor! '-)

                              2. This sort of answers the OP.
                                My grandmother used to cook a fish chowder made with bacalao (dried salted cod) every year on Xmas eve. So, she always soaked the bacalao overnight on the night before Xmas eve. Now she's gone and so's my mom (though my mom didn't like it or ever make it), so i carry on the tradition.
                                I always use the same pot that my GM used as far back as i can remember. The chowder itself is pretty modest, only the cod, onions, garlic, potatoes, water and for seasoning bay leaves, parsley, olive oil and red pepper flakes. I know folks who make dishes with bacalao with a lot more ingredients, and it's good, but for this dish I never deviate from the original recipe.
                                My kids don't like this, yet, but i'm holding out hope that one of them will carry on the tradition. For many years I made this with bay leaves that i took from the tree in her backyard before we sold the house after she died. Finally i ran out. We thought about transplanting the tree, but it was just too big.
                                When i make this i feel like my grandmother is in the kitchen, too.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: TroyTempest

                                  Can I be nosey? Was your grandmother or her parents from Portugal? Bacalao is a very traditional Christmas Eve dish there... Traditions are heart warming.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Sure. No, she was born in what was then Austria / Hungary. I'm not so sure if this was the tradition there. Certainly it is was (and still, i'm sure) more popular in Europe than the US. But her father owned a cafe in Galveston when she was young. It is my hunch that this was something that he made for the sailors.

                                2. Every year since I can remember, we always make traditional Norwegian cookies called sandbakkelse at Christmas time. My Mom learned as a child, and when she moved from Minnesota to New Jersey after getting married, she brought that tradition with her. Along with her cookie molds.

                                  So my sister and I have always helped bake (and eat!) those cookies every Christmas. It's a labor intensive cookie, and we spend the whole day making them. About five years ago, we added a fourth to the festivities, my sister's daughter. She's become a budding expert at the age of 11!

                                  We keep trying to entice the boys to help, but they are just more interested in eating them. But I'm hopeful that one day they will join us around the table, and help keep the cookie baking tradition alive.

                                  I also make another Norwegian favorite, called krumkake. It's a light, almost lacy cookie, that is cooked on a hot iron, and then rolled around a cone while it's still hot. It cools in that shape, and then you can fill it with whipped cream, fruit, custards. The cone I use is the wooden one my Dad made on his lathe. He's not here any longer, but it gives me a lot of pleasure to use that cone every year and think about him!

                                  2 Replies
                                  1. re: Heidi cooks and bakes

                                    When we moved from Chicago the sandbakke tins/molds disappeared but many years ago they appeared in a big plastic bag at a church rummage sale for $2 and i snapped them up. I have the 1955 Daughters of Sweden blue and yellow spiral bound cook book (no pictures). I invoke my great-Aunt Hilda and my Aunt Ethel when I make them every Christmas. They remind me to chill the dough, work fast and don't overbake.

                                    1. re: kariin

                                      That was a bag of tins that you were supposed to find! It's interesting how recipes vary. We never chill the dough. But we do work fast. My neice, who is 11, has the hottest hands, so we have to get her to work faster. She actually melts the dough in the tins!

                                      And it's good to invoke the elders to watch over us!

                                  2. My mother used to make her marinated bean salad for every potluck we went to when I was a kid. I've always loved that bean salad, and even though she gave me the recipe when I was 19 and newly married, I never made it to eat at home until about 10 years later. It had never occurred to me that we could have bean salad without a potluck.

                                    And at Christmas every year, Mother would make several kinds of cookies. There were coffee balls, and nut butter balls, chocolate chip cookies and butterscotch bars. Those were for Father and us four girls. She also made her Mocha Frosted Chocolate drop cookies - which are totally delicious. Those went in a tin in the cabinet up high above the wall oven, where only Mother could reach them. She would dole out one to each of us a time or two during the holidays, but no more than a time or two. All the rest were for her. She gave me that recipe when I was 19, as well. One Christmas season many years later, she and my father were visiting for the holidays, and Mother and I decided to make the Mocha Frosted cookies. When I told her I'd never made them for myself in all those years and that I really loved them, she looked at me with that WTF look (though being a lady, she'd never say, nor think such a thing, of course). I told her kind of sheepishly that I didn't know I was allowed to have them, so I hadn't made them. Well, she thought that was just about the stupidest thing I'd ever said, and also thought it was pretty amazing that my mind worked that way.
                                    She told me it was okay if I wanted to make my own Mocha Frosted cookies, and just about every Christmas since then, I've made them. For me. I give some away, but most of them are for me.

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                      A wonderful story! It also illustrates the lifelong power some of our mothers hold over us... Mine sure did!

                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                        Merry Christmas, Caroline. Sometimes what's stuffed in our heads is way better than what's stuffed in the stockings, huh?

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Always! And it lasts a lot longer too. May every possible joy of Christmas overtake you this year! And everyone else who happens to read this... :-)

                                    2. We do still can tomatoes, grape sunshine, and peaches. All delicious (maybe not as good as grandma's, but close). I don't have the time or the garden to put up as much food as she and my mom did every year.

                                      Favorite canned item, though, is stew beef. Now, my grandmother canned hers when they butchered, but I jsut do it when there is a great buy on any kind of beef roast. It's our favorite "convenience food" Open a can of beef and you have a quick soup, stew, or noodle dish that tastes like it cooked all day.

                                      I also make Grandma's apple pie for Christmas.

                                      I have cast iron pans that came from Grandma's house, too. I intend to pass them on to my kids, who learned to cook on cast iron, and appreciate it as I do.

                                      Also in good use is Grandma's slaw cutter. I don't make sauerkraut like she did, but I use it for slaw and for stripping corn off the cob for freezing.

                                      1. I only do meatloaf the way my father did, my turkey and stuffing are make exactly the way my mother did (I even go outside and come back in while I'm preparing the stuffing, so I can smell the wonderful smells of bacon and onion sautéing. I used to love to wake up to that smell on Thanksgiving morning).
                                        I make my mother's stuffed cabbage, beef stroganoff, pork chops and tuna casserole. When I try new recipes for some of those old comfort foods, they're just not right.

                                        The OP asked about canning. My mother grew up in the city, first generation American, and canning wasn't in the family tradition. I grow a vegetable garden, and can my own tomatoes, peppers, pickles and relishes, plus jams and preserves. I taught myself to can foods, just because the process was a mystery to me. I found that I can have jars and jars of the most delicious peach jam, canned pears and strawberry jam that are fresher and cheaper than the good stuff at the grocery store or gourmet shops.

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: kitchengardengal

                                          Like I suggested, I'm a leathery countenanced, scarred, and unfriendly lookin' cuss when I squint just right, but I believe in the soul and spirit of what may blossom on the plate. The total is greater than the sum of its parts when one of the parts is magic, no?

                                          I've got a soft spot for kittens, but I'll still turn around before I cross a black cat's path. I'll throw salt over my shoulder every meal - whether I spilled any or not - but I'm prone to laugh if my niece tries to help in the kitchen by spilling honey on the big burner.. Even though many of our family traditions have a dysfunctional Hank Jr. quality to 'em (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IHjaW9... ), if somebody told me that her Nonna only made gravy listening to Dean Martin 33s, I'd go get a new needle.

                                          I'm done ramblin', but couldya save me a jar of the peach jam?

                                          1. re: MGZ

                                            For the pleasure of reading your rambles, I'd save you two of the big jars.

                                            Merry Christmas.

                                            1. re: kitchengardengal

                                              Hat's off, Darlin'. Mrs. Z wants carrot cake pancakes for her Christmas morning present. A) I have no idea how to make 'em, and B) I wish I had some of that peach jam to spread on top. Now, I know you can't help with (B) now, but you got any pointers on (A)??

                                              1. re: MGZ

                                                I've never heard of carrot cake pancakes, but peach jam on them sounds great! I may make those for New Year's Day breakfast.

                                                Maybe a little swirl of cream cheese/sour cream sauce on it, too.

                                        2. When smoking mullet and kingfish, red mangrove is the only approved wood. Substitutions are inadequate.

                                          When making key lime pies, keep adding the juice and salt until it tastes "right". Acid levels vary greatly.

                                          Full Moon Friday has been celebrated for over 15 years. And always will. Something about the moon light on the water that is so special.

                                          We always sing "Alice's Restaurant" after the Thanksgiving dinner.

                                          And 3 families have celebrated Thanksgiving together for 25 years.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                            Kingfish smoked with red mangrove is now on my gullet list. Any suggestions as to where to try such a thing? If it matters, I have a great sense of direction.

                                            1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

                                              Can you legally harvest mangrove in Florida for smoking? Thought it was a protected species.

                                              1. re: thimes

                                                Can't be illegal to burn wood that's already dead in the yard, can it"?:

                                                "Perhaps, officer, you might wanna look here at these coupla pictures of Mr. Franklin, while I crawl up the road a bit to see what my buddy's been makin' in the yard????"

                                            2. Chop, dice, julienne, etc. all vegetables by hand and cleaver.

                                              Dumpling skins made by hand. Same with buns and baos.

                                              Noodles, always hand-pulled.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                I'm good with the first two you list, ipse. Precisely, on point.

                                                On the other hand, though I've never tried to hand pull noodles, just thinking about it brings back the sound of my College Baseball coach's voice in my ear, "Son, we both know you can't hit the hook, but I need you behind the plate in the seventh and we've got runners on with one away. The only thing I wanna see swing this 'at bat' is the side of you thigh into anything down and in. Got it!!!!"

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  When I was working in my parent's restaurant, I wasn't allowed to have dinner until the hand-pulled noodles were done. And done right.

                                                  And, heck, not only could I not hit the curve, I can't catch-up to any heater that's above 80 on the gun.

                                              2. When I was a kid & asked my mother what was for dinner, she was making stew in a pressure cooker, she told me 'Brontosaurus stew'. I challenged her as to where she would get Brontosaurus & she told me that her mother (a schoolteacher famous for wearing Spectator pumps), hunted them with a spear in the Great South Bay when they were frozen in for the winter. Now that's quite an image and stew in the pressure cooker is still called Brontosaurus Stew by me & my children & probably their children when they arrive.

                                                3 Replies
                                                1. re: JoeBabbitt

                                                  Love it (though, I admit, I had to google "spectator pumps" in order to fully understand)!

                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                    MGZ, I'm surprised you had to look that up!

                                                    1. re: kitchengardengal

                                                      Hell, I'm surprised any time I have to look anything up.

                                                      In this case, however, it was truly enlightening. I not only learned enough to appreciate a great story even more, but I now understand one reason why I bought a lot of drinks over the years, as well as what I should've called the shoes that were being looked for under the bed the next morning.

                                                      Regardless, I should point out another bonus borne from Joe's tale. I have a niece who is a picky eater. She isn't really all that into most meats, or any proteins for that matter. Over the years, though, she has had a blast eating my barbecued baby backs, beef ribs, and turkey drumsticks. Last fall, I did an informal gathering with family and kinda cheaped out by emptying the contents of my freezer and putting all of the above on the offset, along with a fresh ham. When each was done, I mixed all the meat together into a slightly bizarre, pulled meat, barbecuey-thing that I sauced heavily and used for sandwiches.

                                                      My darling niece, much to the amazement of her parents, as well as mine, ate two sandwiches on Martin's hamburger rolls - each topped with a coupla pickle slices. "Uncle Stinky, that was so good!!!!! What . . . do . . . you . . . call . . . it?" She gleamed as she asked with the dramatic cadence of a nine year old raised on a lot of TV.

                                                      "I don't know, sweetheart, it's just an idea I came up with yesterday." I gently offered. "While, more drunk than usual and not wanting to spend any money," I thought to myself.

                                                      "Well, you can make it every time we come to your house, ok? I'll try and eat three next time, but it needs a name! Everything really good has a name - Like French fries or macncheez!"

                                                      "You're a gem, Kid. Let me think about it. I'm gonna go get another beer. Want one?" I smiled, scratched my head, and walked away, leaving her to whatever electronic device she could reach for most quickly.

                                                      Now, because of this thread, I think I'm onto something. "Brontosaurus Burgers" has, obviously, been done.* "Brontosaurus Barbecue Sandwiches" is too dull. However, "Brontosaurus Sloppy Joes", that's a real money name! I might even take a pic of all the meats on the smoker together, arranged just so, to help fuel the illusion.

                                                      *I bet Betty had a pair of spectator pumps of two, huh?