Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The Crazy in Grandma's Recipe

'Tis the season for all closet cooks to play in the kitchen.

I am convinced play inspired some of the methods, my mother-in-law, aka Mama to my children, used in her cooking.

As a seasoned European cook, my mother-in-law never used a recipe. When my husband first said he wanted a dish his mother made I quickly learned the futility of asking for the recipe. I brought a notepad and pen to each visit and followed her every move in the kitchen to record the dump and hope measurements used to craft the family's delicious meals.

For your entertainment, here are a few time proven crazy tips:

The key step in making poppyseed cake
"Mary" think strong German accent as you read "you must put the can of condensed milk out in the snow before starting the cake."
"Why?" I scribbled this important step on my notepaper.
"It will become the proper temperature for the frosting."
"What if there isn't snow?"
She raised a crooked finger near her eye and said, "Then you can't make it."

For purple cabbage salad:
"Mary, you need a rolling pin to make the cabbage taste."
"What do I do with it?"
 She spilled chopped red cabbage onto the counter. Next she took the end of the rolling  pin and pounded all the pieces. 
"This brings out the flavor."

For cheesecake:
"Mary, you need to put some salt in the batter."
"How much?"
"Just pour a little puddle into the palm of your hand." She curved her hand and poured a little salt into her hand. 
This precise measurement was used for several dishes.

For stuffing:
"Mary don't forget to add the parsley."
"How much should I chop?"
"One rounded handful." She scooped up the parsley in her cupped hand and added more until the pile looked rounded. She dumped the parsley into the bowl. 

My last treat for you is courtesy of my grandmother.

For German chocolate cake:
Always go to the store, pick up a bar of German chocolate. Open package until recipe is exposed. Look at ingredients then purchase any you don't have at home. Take the opened chocolate bar with other purchases to check out. When cashier calls the open bar to your attention and asks if you want a new bar politely say, "No, thank you." Many, many German chocolate cakes have been made in my house using this method, and they have all turned out perfect and delicious. 

It is wise to not mess with Grandma and mother-in-law recipes. If you do--you will ruins it, precious!

What fantastic, crazy cooking tips have you learned?

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