March 15, 2007

Hang-ons


Some time ago, Mimi posted some recollections on her Memere's potato masher. This evening, a package arrived that my LCB had ordered. It was a beautiful red enameled cast-iron French Oven. (I grew up calling these things Dutch Ovens, but I guess they're French Ovens now. Or maybe there's a difference I'm failing to notice.) Anyway, Mimi's recollections spawned by an artifact, coupled with a brand new cooking pot, brought to mind a story I read somewhere once.
We all have what I call "hang-ons". Not hang-ups, but hang-ons. Things we do and we don't really know why we do them. The story goes like this:

A newlywed couple were in the kitchen, and were preparing a roast together. The bride took the knife and cut off about 2" of the pointed end of the roast, and tossed it in the garbage can. The husband was a bit surprised at this, and asked her why she did it. She replied "That's how my mom always fixed a roast". "But why?" asked the still perplexed husband. So the wife called her mother and asked "Ma, why do you always cut off the pointed end of the roast?" Her mother said, "That's how your grandma always fixed a roast, and her roasts were always so delicious, so I do it the same way." The new wife asked "But why did she do it?" Of course, the mother wasn't sure. So, the next time the woman and her mother went to meet Grandma, they asked her "Grandma, why when you're preparing a roast, do you cut the pointed end off?" The Grandma held her hands about 8 inches apart, and said "That's all the bigger my roasting pan was."

I'm sure you saw that one coming a mile away, but it's still one of my favorite stories. And I wonder what hang-ons we have.
For me, I like to mix the dough for my flour tortillas by hand, even though I have a perfectly good KitchenAid that would do a perfectly good job of it sitting on the counter. I just like the feel of working the flour and the lard together when it's all still warm from pouring in the water.
For the longest time, I resisted getting the KitchenAid. Finally, my LCB bought it anyway. For some reason, I supposed there was something that magically made a better pie crust if you used a pastry cutter and mixed it all by hand. Probably because that's how Gi-Gi did it. Of course, if Gi-Gi had been alive, she'd probably have cuffed me one, and said "you dolt! -- there's a perfectly good mixer standing right there."
Now I have to go figure out what I'm going to fix for the crew tomorrow with my new French Oven. They're not keen on stew, or soups, so I'm thinking something braised and simmered.

2 comments:

Mimi said...

That's a great story, Charles!

And a great French oven. I'm envious.

Thank you for the link, too.

Erika said...

What a nice story Charles! I love the idea of a hang-on.

Mine is similar to yours. I knead dough by hand even though I have a KA mixer not one foot away from my kneading space. The mixer is for cake and frostin and egg whites, and cream. But never, ever, dough. It just doesn't taste the same if my hands haven't done the kneading.