Quirky Kitchen Rituals

Neat Tricks
"My mom would peel an apple in a circular method with the peel all in one long piece—I like to do that too if I peel the apple or pear."

Resourceful Mom
"I spend 10 minutes scraping the (insert word: mayonnaise, peanut butter, etc.) jar or last bit of batter. My mom used to say 'There! That's another cookie!'"

"Never Bake an Orphan"
"I always seem to hear my mother's voice saying, 'Never bake an orphan' when I put a pan in the oven. If she was baking a cake, she'd throw in an acorn squash, beets, etc. to roast along for that night or the next's dinner, or make a small apple crumble or similar item.

"I rarely bake only one item in the oven and that's directly due to my mom's cooking habits. She died leaving a [smaller] carbon footprint than I will but in those days my relatives used to say 'waste not, want not,' even when it applied to oven heat. LOL."

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Meat and Just Potatoes
"[My mom] insisted that a meal should only have one starch. We could have potatoes with a meal, or rice, or corn, but not more than one of those items. When I met [my husband], who grew up with a big-time country cook for a mom, that concept baffled him and still does to this day. His mom would serve corn, potatoes, bread, and several veggies along with at least one kind of meat at each meal. I have finally gotten to where I'll serve rice and corn together, but that's for the protein. I still can't bring myself to serve rice and potatoes at the same meal."

(Breaking) Old Habits
"I still find myself breaking the spaghetti in half before adding it to the boiling water, no matter how big my pot is. Grandma's pot wasn't that big and so she broke the pasta in half."

Grandma's Rules
"My grandmother was a bigger influence [than my mom]. I still taste the first piece of any produce cut (she claimed [it was] because no two harvests tasted exactly the same [and] that it was the only way to know how to adjust the seasoning); throw salt over my left shoulder if I spill any; and automatically take out two clean dishtowels when I start a meal (the colored one for hands, one white one for wiping dishes)."

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No Need for Gadgets
"[I] use a paring knife for peeling potatoes, rutabagas and turnips--the peeler gets use only on the carrots and parsnips. [I] shake the milk carton...[and] use a glass to cut out biscuits even though perfectly good biscuit cutters sit in the drawer. [I] peel veggies, dump coffee grounds, scrape plates onto newspaper and wrap [it up] before it goes in [the] garbage."

Kitchen Superstitions
"Mom taught me that when you cut a cucumber you start by slicing off a piece at both ends, then you take one of the cut-off ends and rub the cut part of it in a circular motion on the cut ends of the remaining cucumber. Then you can proceed to peel and slice the rest. She was taught by her mother that it pulled 'the bitterness' from the cucumber.

"I know it sounds crazy, and I have no idea where the practice started or why, but I still find myself doing it. It's a ritual, probably similar to tossing salt over your shoulder. When I taught my own kids to prepare cucumbers, I told them this is how 'Memere' taught me. I think they do it too, less to ward of bitterness in the cucumber, but more as a wink and a nod to their grandmother... and me too, I guess."

No Jumping Allowed
"As a child in a boisterous family, I remember not being allowed to jump while a cake was in the oven or it would crash down. I tell my kids the same thing."

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Just Because
"My mom always rices her mashed potatoes and so do I. I bet there are a zillion things I do without thinking just because that's the way she does it."

First Choice
"I do most of my cooking on the front right burner of the stove [because] that was the only perfectly working one on my mother's stove. Some of the others worked but had to be lit with a match, so they were second choice."

Mystery Solved
"One thing [my mom] used to do [that I never knew why] was prick a potato several times with a fork before baking it. I found out why, once, when I forgot to do it and had to clean exploded potato off my oven walls."

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