Childhood in a bite: Ingredients you can’t live without
Why is it that the most vivid childhood memories are from the kitchen? Some ingredients from my mom's recipes are, to this day, crucial to my happiness.
To this day, I can't eat tuna fish without Spike in it. Never had Spike? It's a delicious, salty seasoning that was created sometime in the 1920s, I believe. A total classic, and a necessity in the Wolfe family kitchen for at least 3 generations.
I'm always fascinated by certain items that friends keep in their kitchen cupboards that seem to be very "grandma-like"; the kinds of things you didn't think still existed, or even products you've never heard of. (Kitchen Bouquet, anyone???)
Then there are the kinds of things that you certainly know about but never cook with yourself. Buttermilk, evaporated milk, gelatin, real lard...various friends of mine use these ingredients in fantastically delicious recipes, whereas I don't think I've ever purchased that stuff. (One of my guy friends makes his own consommé. It takes him a long time and uses "all the leftover parts". AND IT'S DELICIOUS. Blows any can away, any day.)
Another thing my mom used to use, which I now use all the time, are Ritz cracker crumbs. She'd always crush them up with a rolling pin but now you can just buy the crumbs by the bag. They make for an incredibly tasty crust or coating. It's not terribly unusual, but because my mom used them all the time, now so do I. That small generational connection makes me smile.
So what secret or not-so-secret ingredient is a staple in YOUR kitchen, simply because your mom or dad cooked with it? By the way, although both my parents were very good cooks, my DAD was the one who really enjoyed cooking. He didn't have much time for it when I was growing up, but much later in life we'd often spend entire afternoons cooking something fancy and delicious. Food and cooking...are there any better things to bring people together?