Secrets

It is Secret Wednesday again. I have 2 new secrets for you.

Secret #1

Mom always had a fresh cup of coffee brewing when company came.  All of her friends and family remarked that her coffee was the best they had ever tasted. She had a wonderful Farberware coffee percolator that produced this amazing coffee.

One day, I saw her put salt in the coffee grounds before putting the lid on the percolator – just a little shake. It actually did bring out the flavor of the coffee. A little bit of salt in the coffee grounds made all the difference. Raise your hand if you like percolated coffee. My hand is raised.

Secret #2

Did you know that you can cook a potato in a microwave and still get the crunch of a baked potato? I learned this in microwave school.  Wash the potato and punch holes in it with a fork. Dry it almost thoroughly and rub salt into it. Do not go crazy with the salt. Wrap the potato in a paper towel and bake it according to the microwave potato setting.

Older Secrets

Secret

This one is from Betty Crocker, I think. Dot and I would make pies, on occasion. After rolling out the dough and placing it in the bottom of the pan, it was my job to make the ridges along the edge of the pie plate.

I would use a fork and go around the rim to make the pretty edge and get rid of excess dough. The pie would be ready for the oven, but I was busy playing with the excess dough.

Secret

 This one is from me or someone wise who told me. I oftentimes like to cut up an apple and spread it on a tray for company. I like to display it with figs, cheese, and dates. To keep the apple slices pretty, I place them in enough water to cover them and add 1 tbsp. of lemon. The apple slices do not darken. It is a pretty little presentation.

Secret 

This one is from me. I dislike washing pans intensely. As a result, I devised a method to make the chore easier.

When I broil something, I put a piece of aluminum foil under the meat so the pan does not get dirty. Remove foil from the pan. When you wash the pan, it is easy to clean in 1, 2, 3.

Secret 

Again, this is pure nostalgia. My mom’s Aunt Josie lived in Yonkers New York. We would visit her every year. I loved her, but mostly I remember that she served apricot juice in the morning. I really liked it. Now that I think of it, I don’t know if you can still buy apricot juice. Leave it to Aunt Josie to be different.

Secret  

This one is from me. Do you know how to cook corn in the microwave? It is so easy. I have not used a big pot in ages.

  1. Shuck. 2. Wash. 3. Wrap in plastic wrap. 4. Cook in the microwave on high for 1 minute for each piece of corn. 5. Flip it over and cook on high for 1 minute for each piece of corn. For example, if you have 3 pieces of corn, cook 3 minutes on one side and 3 minutes on the other.

Secret 

This one is from Dot. If you cannot open a jar, use a bottle opener. Stick the opener under the lid just like you would if you were opening a bottle top. Air is released, and the jar opens easily. Sometimes I use the pointy edge if it fits better under the lid.

Secret 

This one is not about cooking, but I thought it was unusual so I decided to share it. Dot had a dustpan somewhere, but she never used it. She would sweep little piles of dust/dirt from the floor using an index card to pick it up. Doing this got the dirt up better than a dustpan.

 Secret 

Uncle Tony was a chef and he had a favorite knife. I inherited it from him. It has “Property of Tony” engraved upon it. It cuts so well and I think of him and smile when I use it.

Secret

This one is from Me.

I hate peeling onions. Usually, I go through the tears and burning of the eyes for the sake of a good meal. However, if I am cooking for myself or just plain in a hurry, I use packaged frozen onions (from the freezer section at Hannaford’s.)

Secret

My mom had sterling silver that we hardly ever used. Sterling silver tarnishes to almost black. When we did use the silver on a special occasion, instead of silver polish, mom used toothpaste to remove the tarnish. It works. Try it.

Secret

Every single soup and vegetable sauté begins with the same ingredients and process. This is it.

1. Coat the bottom of the pan in olive oil. Not too much.

The stove should be on medium heat.

2. Throw in the following ingredients:

  • Minced fresh basil (You can also use dried.)
  • Sliced onion and minced garlic…one each.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

3. Cook until the onion is translucent…yellowish and light.

Now you can add your ingredients.

This works on soups, and vegetable dishes.

Secret

If you do not have time to make your own sauce (God Forbid), you can use Prego. Only Prego, no other brand. Of course, doctor it up with browned ground beef and Parmesan cheese. Add a bit of dried basil and parsley. Serve with nice red table wine, and don’t tell mama.

Secret  

After school, I would come into the house to an amazing smell. No scented candles for Dot. She boiled orange peels. I think she threw some cloves in there also. I always get nostalgic when I smell orange.

Secret

Because she was the second girl in an Italian family, my sister was named after my Mom’s mother, Agatina.  Sis’s name is Agatha, but she goes by Aggie, Ag, the Ag, Aglet. You pick. Anyway, Ag and I were in this together

We would occasionally become ill with various childhood illnesses. We would not eat and just be plain miserable, but Dot had a method. When we finally became hungry, the cure was always the same, pastina with butter. Pastina is itty bitty pasta.

We welcomed the warm, delicious, and not hard on the stomach cure. I must admit, I used this method with Miss Kim and make it for myself in the aftermath of a tummy bug. It is so comforting.

Secret

I never use a vegetable peeler to peel veggies like potatoes. The reason is that Mom used a paring knife. T don’t think she owned a vegetable peeler. As a result, I use a paring knife. Is that weird?

Secret

Mom loved red onions on her salad, but her body did not like them. Dot being Dot, she found a workaround. She would slice through the onion making several onion circles. Then she would pull them apart and tossed them into the salad. The pieces were too big for her to eat so she just got the flavor

Secret

If you are a fan of smoothies, or you want to preserve bananas for banana bread, cut each browning fruit into 4 pieces, place it in a freezer bag, and freeze until needed.

Secret

I have always had trouble keeping parsley, basil, and other fresh herbs. They wilt so easily. The answer is to freeze them. It works.

Secret

Uncle Tony started his food career as the owner of a fish market on Common Street in Lawrence, MA. His nickname was Tony Fish. I always thought that was so hilarious.

Secret

This one is from Dot. I am not sure if this is common, but if she was cooking hot dogs, she would broil them on aluminum foil. They came out crunchy. It used to surprise me when my friends’ moms boiled them.

Secret

Mom always salted and oiled her water before throwing in the spaghetti. A little bit of salt and some olive oil in spaghetti water keeps the pasta from sticking.

Secret

This one is pure nostalgia. Every Sunday morning family would go to church. After church, I went to CCD with my friends. After that, one specific friend would walk home with me, and Mom would have Italian sauce cooking. Yummy smell. There would also be Italian bread from Pappy’s bakery on Common Street in Lawrence, MA. Two little dished with sauce and a meatball were waiting for us. We would devour those. Sometimes we got an extra meatball. Cuteness counts.

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