OUR MAMS AND THE WAY THEY USED TO COOK
On Saturday, my pal, Clare, tweeted about her mam and how she used to save the butter wrapper. She explained that it’s a trick she got from her mam and that it’s a great way to grease a tin, or you can use it on top of a loaf going into the oven and that it will save it from burning. She also mentioned it as protection over roast chicken. Imagine that!
This got me thinking (and tweeting) about what else our mammies passed on to us, with their wise ways. Whether you are one of the tremendously lucky ones who still have a mother or one that simply has good memories left to cherish or even if you have a mothering figure in your life who cooked for you, most of us have a way of cooking that comes directly from the previous generation.
So, here we are, what does your mam do in the kitchen that you feel is a bit of a lost art? For me, it’s something that only works in an urban setup or on a self-sustained farm. You shouldn’t buy your meat and vegs from the supermarket. Supermarkets are for ambient products only, the rest is bought twice a week at the market and according to what’s fresh. You go early, you build a relationship with the market folks and you ask questions. You don’t like it? Be polite but don’t buy it. This works everywhere in France because markets are very common and in the really remote area they get served by driving butchers, fishmongers and bakers. It’s well organised and makes shopping well, in small quantities and often much easier to achieve.
It seems like a lot of mammies were adept at the old Sunday bread and butter pudding. That’s not something I grew up with and still not something I’ve ever made. We buy our bread fresh every morning and a family of four will likely go at least 2 baguettes a day (most of that going to your da).
I love the thought of no bread getting thrown out, ever. Is it still the case? Do you make bread pudding on a Sunday for your kids? Or even for yourself?
Sinead‘s mammy would make hers with chocolate milk, imagine that!
Karan‘s mam would keep old bread and dry it in a low oven and make breadcrumbs from it. A handy thing to keep in the freezer.
Top Of The Milk & Cream:
Is the top of the milk still a thing? I see it in raw milk and I’ve seen in milk bottles from Airfield but I certainly never see it in industrial milk bottles.
Clare‘s beloved mother (her of the original butter wrappers) used to serve it with peaches. Alison’s mam would use it instead of cream as a matter of course but Alison also remembers it being used over stewed apples. Frugal cooking at its finest.
Sinead’s mam (I’m seeing a trend with that woman) used to spoil the kids with leftover cream in porridge on a Monday morning. Did somebody say spoiled?
Dee‘s mam uses the cauliflower water after it’s boiled to make the cheese sauce. She uses half milk half cauli juice and Dee tells us it makes for a really light and delicious cheese sauce.
Alison‘s mam (her of the very thrifty ways) would save the juices from the Sunday roast in a cup.
Denise’s mammy would use the bacon water for cooking cabbage. That is (I hope) still a popular way to cook cabbage.
There is a lot to be written when it comes to fat, be it animal or vegetal, if the right type of fat is used in a dish, it can make or break it. Imagine how rotten a salad would be coated in warmed butter or bacon fat. It only really works with an oil. Similarly, a little bit of bacon fat in a hot griddle pan can bring all the vavavoom to a smashed potato waiting to be crisped up in the pan.
Russ explained that in the South of the US, you wouldn’t find a home that doesn’t have a little tin of bacon grease and this makes me happy.
So in that vain, Irene‘s mam would grease the pan with bacon fat for pancakes and John‘s mam would fry beans in pork fat and serve it with buttered soda bread and some chops when they came to visit. Alison’s mam would keep the left over solidified fat from the sunday roast to roast potatoes another time. How delicious.
Dolores’s mam used to make her own beef dripping and if you’ve ever cooked with it before, you will know why this is a genius idea.
Muriosa’s mammy would use grated butter for making pastry and now i’m wondering why I never thought of that before.
Margaret’s mam would gather all the left over and make a huge weekly deal of the “Mush Mack” to get kids excited. And as you know, that’s no small achievement.
Milie’s mam would blend green vegs (think spinach, green pepper and coriander leaves) and add that to a curry sauce, the kids would be none the wiser!
Paul Howard’s ma can slice an easi single in half on the thin edge.
Donal’s mother had a family of 9 to feed and so she often cooked offals (devilled kidneys, stuffed liver and bacon, stuffed sheep’s heart, tripe and fried cod’s roes). She was also an adept of the Beef Cobbler which is a shepherd’s pie with a layer of cooked scone pastry instead of potatoes. YES PLEASE.
Gillian’s mam had one of those old mincers you attached to the side of the table and would grind up left over roast beef for shepherd’s pie. When you think of the flavour of that meat going into the pie, no wonder nothing tastes the same, people simply don’t take or have the time anymore.
Clare’s mammy would cook her pudding rice three times for extra creaminess. That’s mad Ted but probably unreal!
Karan’s mam would enrich her roti dough by using left over dal and she would make dal parathas (the most heavenly bread). She would also use the whey she would get from straining her own yoghurt to enrich the dough.
Tom‘s mam used to burn a spoonful of sugar over the gas that added amazing flavour to her beef stew. She even had a special spoon that she kept just for that job, a very mammy thing to do, I’m sure you will agree.
But really, they could only be one winner, and that’s Denise‘s mam, for her use of a china saucer for folding butter into the mash. Nothing else would do, not a wooden spoon, not a spatula, no, it was always the china saucer. This is a tradition passed on from generation to generation in Denise’s family and I love the absolute precision of it.
Mammies are the best and I miss mine like you wouldn’t believe.