Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Wives Tales Or Forgotten Skills ?

Recently I read a comment from Ginny over at the  Ginger Bread House . It was about how she washed her grits to make them creamier. It got me to thinking about all the little things we do and don't think about in the kitchen. Where did we learn these things. For me many were passed down from my Mother and Grandmother. Some I think are correct and some may be wives tales. Many never the less I continue to do because I am a cover your bases kind of gal : )

I come from simple country people as you can see from the picture of my grandmother above. She lived all her life in the Mississippi Hills. Part Choctaw Indian she was black headed and short. She never cut her hair until the day she died. And always wore it up on her head. I remember sitting and watching her quilt and she was the woman who first gave me the quilt bug that has indeed lasted a lifetime.  She and grandpa lived in a dog trot  house in the hills and farmed. Grandpa trapped during the winter and fished and hunted. They always had a huge garden and she had an entire room off of her kitchen dedicated to jars of canned food. No cellars that far south. There I learned to sit on her porch and listen as she rocked and read the bible to us kids. I learned about God sitting on that porch. And maybe the creek bank! In the photo below my grandpa is the second one from the left, in the overalls. This is a good ol fashioned southern baptizing !

At my grandmas house I learned how to use an outhouse and watched her cook on a wood stove.  Sleeping under quilts on a feather mattress in rooms heated by a fireplace alone. We listened to her stories of picking cotton and share cropping and the hard times of the depression.  She never drank coffee and loved a cup of tea with milk and sugar and homemade southern tea cakes. 

My mother on the other hand born during the twenties was indeed a child of the depression. Hard times were always coming! She and my father married and traveled all over the country after he got out of the merchant marines in WW II. They traveled in a small travel trailer and my father worked the post war pipelines and bridge crews saving money to buy their first farm. They moved back to Louisiana (my father's home state) and bought our first house and started a family. It was a cypress 100 year old farmhouse with 30 acres. Above you see Baby Canned Quilter on the  mule with the farm house in the back. In the sixties daddy built mama a brand new red brick ranch house. Complete with paneling and linoleum floors.

Above is mama and my brother in mama's kitchen. Notice the magnolia blooms in the corner, she always had flowers in the house. Look on the shelf above her head and you will see the turkey platter that is also on the shelf above my cabinets in my house. Our German neighbor, Mr. Beckendorf did mamas kitchen and both bathrooms in the most beautiful and ornate ceramic tile work that I have ever seen. The kitchen was pink and brown. It held up for half a century. Mama was not a fancy cook but boy was she a baker.  She made the best cakes and pies. Not bread so much but biscuits and cornbread. Like me canning was a big part of her life on the farm. She was also a talented seamstress.

This is that same kitchen in the seventies. See that big crock bowl sitting on the counter. I have that same bowl in my pantry.  Anyway for the rest of the week I am going to post things my mother and grandmother taught me in the kitchen. Just little habits and shortcuts that I can remember. I invite you to join me if you would like. What was passed to you as far as kitchen skills? 

I'm going to start with every time I wash dishes if I put them in the drain board I cover them with a cloth. My grandmother did the same thing. Why? To keep flies from landing on her clean dishes. Fifty years later I still cover my dishes. I have window screens and hardly ever have flies but  I cover them dishes. My mother would never leave dishes to drain. She didn't believe in it. But grandma had one of the big farm sinks with the drain board attached and she did. She just covered them. Both my mother and my grandmother ALWAYS washed dishes as they cooked. By the time the food went on the table most of the preparation dishes were washed and put away or at least draining. Like both of them I wash dishes as I go.  I hate to get up from eating to a mountain of preparation dishes as well as the plates and silverware dishes. My aunt on the other hand uses every dish in the kitchen and washes nothing. When she gets finished cooking it looks like a bomb has gone off in her kitchen.

How about you, do you wash the dishes as you go?

Anyone else cover their dishes to keep the flies off ? 

Blessings from The Holler

The Canned Quilter    


  1. I cover dishes to keep flies off. I hate drying them by hand! We try to wash as we go but sometimes, like during summer, we are often in a big hurry. If that is the case, I actually use the dishwasher!
    My grandmother taught me to wash out every pot I'm going to use even if its clean. She said that pots collect dust (they do) if unused long enough. I don't think about it, just do it.
    I also learned the value of bread baking and yogurt making from her.
    I can't wait to read more of your experiences.

  2. Loved this post Momma Hooch! In our house the dishes are left to the teenage daughter:)))

  3. Linda M that was why all pots were stored upside down or with the lid on them. Glasses were upside down in the cabinets also. Mine are to this day. Such a good point !

  4. I don't do them as I go, but covering them with a towel is an interesting idea. :)

    I didn't learn anything from my mom. I didn't have sense to learn from my grandmother. That's what happens when you grow up in Michigan, I guess.

    That's why I love your blog, CQ. I'm learning from you, hopefully. :-)

  5. Sometimes we forget where we pick up and continue certain customs..I try to wash dishes and pots as I go. Cecil has spoiled me and I just have to cook and he washes the dishes...Since I have screws in my back I can't stand long. That's okay with me..I was the dishwasher at home with Mommy ;o) I love your stories.

  6. I wash as I go-and my glasses are upside down too : ) Loved this post-and can't wait to see the rest!!

  7. I clean as I for for the most part. The final cooking dishes are usually left on the stove of soaking in the sink because I'm always afraid the food will get cold (even thought I know in my heart it won't). I load up the dishwasher and the larger things I hand wash. I put them in the dish drainer and a towel goes on top! :) Like you, flies are a rare thing in my house, but it's done anyway. Just something g'ma's and mamma's do. Now that I'm a mamma, I guess I'm doing it too! Thanks for the trip down memory lane!

  8. What wonderful memories. Mom always washed as she cooked and so do I.

  9. I always try to wash as I go, but I don't like to dry them because I was taught that putting them in the cabinet even remotely damp wasn't sanitary. I do have to spread out the "rag" to dry...just like grandmama did...lol. I still hate to go to my mama's house and find a soggy rag in the sink.

  10. I try to keep things clean as I go, but I also use a dishwasher to help. My mother in law turns all her dishes upside down on the table to keep coal dust off of them. Keep in mind she has not used coal to heat her home for forty years, but the dust is still in those walls!

  11. I see this is an older post, but I love it. It is amazing to me what out g-parents and g-g-parents just did without questions. I loooove that crock bowl. Imagine the bread dough rising in that - could feed quite the crew.
    Need to get moving. Happy Monday,


Feel free to challenge me, disagree with me, or tell me I’m completely nuts in the comments section of each blog entry, but I reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason whatsoever (abusive, profane, rude, or anonymous comments) – so keep it polite, please. Also I am not a free advertisement board if you want to push a product on my comments I will delete you fast !!!

Related Posts with Thumbnails