Here are some more of Mom’s things I am writing about to keep the memories:
When Mom was a young bride in the 1950’s she didn’t know a lot about cooking or baking. That changed and she became a great cook and baker. These are a few of her tools of the trade.
Every good baker of that era knew that to make baked goods, you started by sifting the flour. I especially remember at holidays when Mom would make dozens and dozens of cookies watching the flour drift out of the bottom of the sifter into the bowl like soft snow. It was one of the tasks I first was allowed to help with in the kitchen, too.
When I was young, Mom would make a heart-shaped cake on Valentine’s Day. She used a recipe on the Hershey’s cocoa can. She made homemade frosting, too. I doubt my brothers and sister remember this. I am not sure when or why she stopped the tradition. Maybe convenience of boxed cakes…
Mom used the funnel for a life-long habit- she would pour off and save the grease whenever she fried bacon. She kept a jar in the refrigerator with her bacon grease. It was used to flavor green beans- both the ordinary canned beans from the store or the fresh green beans and red potatoes she loved to cook in a big pot. Her favorite green beans were half runners, which she said her dad always planted in his garden. He was a farmer, and she trusted his word on the best garden produce. Another use for the bacon grease was making wilted greens. She would also sometimes melt a little bacon grease in her iron skillet when she baked cornbread in it. And, of course, the best fried eggs were cooked in a little bacon grease.
Mom was a master at making gravy. She would put flour, salt, and a little milk in the shaker. She would stir that into the drippings from the meat she had prepared and cook it until it “looked right” and then stir in the rest of the liquid for the gravy. Her most famous gravy went with her pot roast, which she always cooked with potatoes and carrots. We loved to smash the potatoes (and some of us, the carrots, too) with a fork and pour gravy over them. Another favorite was plain white bread with gravy on top- “gravy bread.”
The shaker and funnel live on my kitchen window sill now. It gives me a lot of comfort to see them there.