Author Topic: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?  (Read 8874 times)

rhta5a

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Anyone have some hacks/tips from the olden days or more modern time?





« Last Edit: October 16, 2016, 09:01:41 AM by rhta5a »

lizzzi

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Build kitchen/pantry area of house into side of a hill that has a spring.Very cool in there year round. Great if you don't have a refrigerator or running water. (Well was in front of house, with bucket on rope of course, but also the family kept jugs there for carrying water back to the kitchen. This was the family home in West Virginia, from maybe 1839 until now. Old house fallen down and demolished, but family still lives on the land. Modern plumbing and electricity now, unfortunately lol

Another idea: Always keep a cow, whether on the farm or in town. When my great-grandmother moved off the farm in Augusta County, Virginia into Staunton, she couldn't imagine keeping house without her cow--so brought it with her to the old house on Montgomery Street. House still there, cow long gone. The family never, ever let her forget it. lol

MicroRN

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A friend's grandmother would always use a finger to scrape the remaining white from the inside of an egg.  She said you saved an egg every dozen that way.

horsepoor

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #3 on: September 06, 2016, 10:37:00 PM »
My grandmother would bake Ramen with frozen vegetables and call it chow mein, and never met a Jello mould she didn't like.  So I've started my own traditions.

lizzzi

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2016, 10:09:27 AM »
Oh, God, fried baloney in the cast iron skillet. How I hated fried baloney...and mush. My dad or grandma would make cornmeal mush, put it in a loaf pan and cool it so it could be sliced...and then give us kids fried baloney and mush for supper, with margarine and fake maple syrup. Yuck.

And did I mention the chickens with their heads chopped off running around the basement like...well...chickens with their heads cut off?  And then hanging by their feet to drip all their blood down the cellar drain. While I may chuckle at vegans, the truth is that I'm pretty much vegan myself. (Did I mention that we also ate Grandpa's ducks and rabbits? Daddy always said not to name them, because they were there for food. Sigh.)

We had a huge garden--a great-uncle brought his tractor and plowed it up for us every year-- and we ate mounds of fresh vegetables, and also lots of fresh fruits from the fruit trees and berry bushes. I really believe in growing food on your property, if you can. There's nothing like sitting up in your own cherry tree looking down at the world below and scarfing up all the cherries. Yum. In terms of the vegetable garden, it's a good way to get the kids out of the house and off their screens--make them weed and water the garden. Heh, heh, heh. When they beg and plead for mercy...tell them no iPads if they don't slave away like field hands. Mwah-ha-ha.

TravelJunkyQC

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2016, 11:24:43 AM »
+ 1 on the veggie/meat extras that are frozen to make soup stock (or some pieces are also given to the dog, she loves veggies).
Also, old bananas for making banana bread, and other old fruits for making jams.
I'm big on what we call in Québec "touski"s, which is a play on the words for "everything left in the fridge". Stir fry's and spaghetti sauces don't have fixed recipes, just throw everything in the fridge in a pan.
Also, I have sturdy (read: quite old), pots and pans that are NOT non-stick, just metal, cast-iron (or ceramic). More expensive, but will last me my entire lifetime.

Landlady

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2016, 01:06:47 PM »
My grandma never made enough food for dinner. I was always slightly hungry afterwards. And she hoarded her clothes and loved to buy new ones and keep them in pristine condition. When we went to Easter service she wouldn't let any of her grandchildren touch her because she loved her church outfits so much. I see her doing the same thing today with her great grandchildren.
My husband's grandmother would save the crusts of the kid's leftover lunch sandwiches to make bread pudding. She would also crochet over wire hangers to make them less slippery. We still have those hangers and they are awesome. She also used to collect bits of string and tie them all together and wound in a ball just in case we needed bits of string.

These were grandmothers that lived through the Depression. From my perspective it seemed like the depression made them super frugal in some areas and lavish in select areas they really missed during the depression (clothes for my grandmother).

meghan88

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2016, 02:34:17 PM »
Papertowels: We gave up most of papertowels after thinking- Grandmom didn't have papertowels, but I really like the convenience.
Hack: get 50 or so towels from your local restaurant supply house. Use them as you would paper towels, and when done put them in a bin under the sink. Weekly, wash dirty towels and restack them in the cabinet next to the sink.  Almost 100% scratch cooking at home- 6 rolls of papertowels every 6 months--- really nasty or oily messes get the papertowels still.

We use microfibre dish cloths to wipe up counters etc. and for disinfecting we add a drop of biodegradable dish soap.  They stay clean for ages.

Generally, we don't buy things that exist to be used once and thrown away, and that includes garbage bags.  Since we use cloth bags and knapsacks for grocery shopping, scrounging used plastic bags for garbage is a bit of a pain, but since we only have one small bagful every month or so, we manage.

Spork

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2016, 03:54:00 PM »

Our stove is from grandma's era.  (Okay, not exactly.... it would have been out of her price range back then.)

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/how-your-kitchen-can-be-hip-cool-retro-and-still-have-lip-hair

wintersun

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #9 on: September 08, 2016, 09:30:57 AM »
My grandmother did not turn on the oven unless she could put three or four things in at the same time. Cooking some meat?  Put roast vegetables, baked apples and a crumble in there too!

My mother is also a thrifty queen.  No paper towels, no paper napkins, no store bought cleaning cloths, no extraneous specialised cleaners.  And, most important of all, she makes no extra purchases at all. Nothing unnecessary enters her house (such as storage containers, cushions for outdoor chairs, new cookware, rarely used condiments).

She reuses screws and repurposes old blankets, sheets and towels, clothes, jars, cans, grocery bags, etc.


She uses electronics until the repair man declares them dead and she spent most of her life without a dryer. She does not use the oven in the summer, she does not open the fridge door randomly, she reuses teabags, she never throws food out, and her electrical bill is ridiculously low.

She takes very good care of everything (like paint brushes) so they last. 

The thing for me is to really take this to heart and fit some of these things back into my life.  Thanks for this thread sd. 




Rural

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #10 on: September 08, 2016, 05:22:23 PM »
Test the temp of the woodstove by sticking your hand in there. A slow oven feels quite warm but no prickling sensation, a medium oven has evenly distributed prickles, but they're not quite painful, a fast oven hurts if you hold your hand still in there.


Stirring/ blending - yes, I do everything by hand, with a spoon or whisk, unless it's something like pesto that needs a blender. However, my grandmother would have marveled at my bread machine - though she more often made cornbread than wheat bread.


Cast iron. I still cook in hers when I can, but I have back issues that mean I can't really lift it. So now I use stainless. My stainless saucepans, etc, weren't hers, but she gave them to my parents for a wedding gift over fifty years ago.


Make biscuits with lard. (I don't do this enough.)


Never forget what a marvel it is to have water at the turn of a handle instead of having to carry it from the spring.


Grow food and put it by for winter. She canned, dried leather britches, etc. She never trusted a freezer.


And: if you have food, be grateful for it. Eat what's offered. Cook what needs eating. Don't ever decide you "don't like" some particular food item as a category, not if it isn't spoiled. Enough food is a blessing, not a given.

Bicycle_B

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #11 on: September 09, 2016, 04:08:05 PM »

Our stove is from grandma's era.  (Okay, not exactly.... it would have been out of her price range back then.)

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/share-your-badassity/how-your-kitchen-can-be-hip-cool-retro-and-still-have-lip-hair

Wow, that's cool!!

RetiredAt63

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #12 on: September 10, 2016, 08:49:25 AM »
A friend's grandmother would always use a finger to scrape the remaining white from the inside of an egg.  She said you saved an egg every dozen that way.

Um, doesn't everyone do that?  I do.  My Mom did.  It's more a swipe with the finger tip than a scrape with a fingernail.

StarBright

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #13 on: September 12, 2016, 07:24:55 AM »
Test the temp of the woodstove by sticking your hand in there. A slow oven feels quite warm but no prickling sensation, a medium oven has evenly distributed prickles, but they're not quite painful, a fast oven hurts if you hold your hand still in there.


Thanks for this - I have a ton of old family recipes that specify slow, fast, or medium oven and I like your definition.

Zikoris

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #14 on: September 12, 2016, 09:40:30 AM »
I think just the fact that she actually did cook, and knew how to make most things. So quaint, right?

Also, creativity with recipes was a biggie. She grew up in communist Hungary where everyone was extremely poor, so they had to learn to improvise recipes like crazy and cook with whatever they had available.

I moved out on my own at a very young age, with very minimal cooking skills since neither of my parents knew how to make much that didn't involve boxes, cans, or packages. My grandma took pity on me and started giving me weekly cooking classes, where I'd bring a bunch of ingredients over to her house and we'd make some really good food together, which would then be my lunches for the week. It was good, hearty stuff like cabbage rolls, lasagna, Hungarian stew, and pies, and I absorbed the knowledge like a sponge. She passed away a few years ago. Thanks for making the topic though. It brings back nice memories.

Helvegen

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #15 on: September 12, 2016, 10:44:12 AM »
My grandmother would bake Ramen with frozen vegetables and call it chow mein, and never met a Jello mould she didn't like.  So I've started my own traditions.

Heh, my maternal grandmother is a great lady, but she never had any interest in cooking. At best, she would make French toast, baloney caps, hominy, sausage/hamburger gravy, deviled eggs, and decent baked beans. Pantry was always stocked with processed and convenience foods. My grandfather was also a very picky eater and lololol at him cooking anything.

My paternal grandmother, I dunno what she did before she retired, but once she was, she spent a lot of time cooking and baking awesome things from scratch. My paternal grandfather grew up on a farm, so often spoke of using the whole hog.

Back when my husband and I first got married, we moved into a larger apartment that came with basement storage. We went downstairs to our storage area and it was completely full of horded newspapers and self-canned items from the old lady renter who recently died. OMG, some of these things were dated back to the early 80s. This was 2005. They were all improperly canned using old mustard and sauerkraut and whatnot jars, not proper canning jars. All the food was rotten or mummified. It was one of the simultaneously most disgusting and hilarious jobs we ever did together as a married couple, cleaning that space out. We still joke about it.


StarBright

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #16 on: September 12, 2016, 11:16:03 AM »
Some things my (awesome) grandma taught me:

  • Burying sugared/yeasted peaches in a crock in the backyard doesn't make very good brandy but makes for an EXCELLENT boozy ice cream topping.
  • Also- if you are going to garden in the backyard, try to plant melons as close to your dryer vent as possible. My grandma grew the best cantaloupes and swore it had something to do with planting near the vent.
  • You can stretch almost any meal with macaroni. It grosses my husband out but I must have macaroni noodles in my chili :)


Rural

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #17 on: September 12, 2016, 06:58:36 PM »
Test the temp of the woodstove by sticking your hand in there. A slow oven feels quite warm but no prickling sensation, a medium oven has evenly distributed prickles, but they're not quite painful, a fast oven hurts if you hold your hand still in there.


Thanks for this - I have a ton of old family recipes that specify slow, fast, or medium oven and I like your definition.


Well, cool. No two sources on the Internet can agree on precisely the same measure for those rough estimates, so I have always figured I might as well use my grandmother's.

cheddarpie

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #18 on: September 13, 2016, 08:22:20 PM »
Save your bacon grease and fireplace ashes to make lye soap!

Bicycle_B

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #19 on: September 13, 2016, 10:55:28 PM »
I think just the fact that she actually did cook, and knew how to make most things. So quaint, right?

Also, creativity with recipes was a biggie. She grew up in communist Hungary where everyone was extremely poor, so they had to learn to improvise recipes like crazy and cook with whatever they had available.

I moved out on my own at a very young age, with very minimal cooking skills since neither of my parents knew how to make much that didn't involve boxes, cans, or packages. My grandma took pity on me and started giving me weekly cooking classes, where I'd bring a bunch of ingredients over to her house and we'd make some really good food together, which would then be my lunches for the week. It was good, hearty stuff like cabbage rolls, lasagna, Hungarian stew, and pies, and I absorbed the knowledge like a sponge. She passed away a few years ago. Thanks for making the topic though. It brings back nice memories.

Now that is sweet.

dorothyc

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #20 on: October 21, 2016, 02:01:23 PM »
Reheating leftovers in the days before microwave ovens - put some bacon or beef fat in a skillet and chop leftover mash/steamed cabbage and the like and cook into "bubble and squeak". I still prefer skillet reheating with a lid on to the micro anyway - seems to create a longer lasting heat.

With This Herring

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #21 on: October 21, 2016, 08:53:09 PM »
Reheating leftovers in the days before microwave ovens - put some bacon or beef fat in a skillet and chop leftover mash/steamed cabbage and the like and cook into "bubble and squeak". I still prefer skillet reheating with a lid on to the micro anyway - seems to create a longer lasting heat.

My grandma would take one of those copper-bottom pots, put some water in it, set her mug of cold coffee in it, and put it on the stove to reheat the coffee.  Then she'd forget about it, the water would boil away, and my father said thin layers of copper would flake off the bottom of the pan.

I agree on skillet heat seeming to last longer than microwave heat.  Why is that?

A better example of hers to follow would be to buy gallon freezer bags (as opposed to the thinner "storage" bags), then wash them out for reuse.

Trudie

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #22 on: October 22, 2016, 06:47:34 PM »
My grandparents were amazing vegetable gardeners, and they preserved everything -- canned meat (super yummy), veg of all varieties.  Apples that fell to the ground were made into sauce and crisps.  They farmed and my grandma was a schoolteacher.  In old age they lived off her modest pension and Social Security.  I'm not sure how my Grandfather ever qualified for SS (as a farmer), to be honest.  They never had much money but they were incredibly industrious and took care of the things they owned very well.  They lived in a small little slab house with a huge yard.  They always had a deep freeze and shelves for putting up what they had canned.

I don't think I appreciated it when I was younger, but it obviously sunk in because I have vivid memories of it now.  What strikes me is that these days we almost break our arms patting ourselves on the back for farm-to-table -- growing our own veg, preserving, buying meat and dairy locally.  They bought most of their meat from farmers they knew and had it butchered.   My grandparents did it their whole lives, not because it was "good for the environment" or part of the "locavore" movement.  They did it because they were farmers, so they knew farmers (before it was fashionable to "know your farmer").  They did it because that's just what you did to feed your family.  So, I roll my eyes when I hear people going on about food politics.  (It can get kind of sanctimonious.)

My grandpa ate oatmeal almost everyday of his life, but he was a horse-lover so he just called them "oats."  They had health problems over the years but both lived into their 90s.

Often when I think about the "simple life" I think about their little house and a lot of their habits.


pancakes

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #23 on: October 22, 2016, 09:44:36 PM »
My grandmother never moved on from a depression diet. Lunch was two crackers with a slither of cheese on each, a slice of tomato and slice of what I now believe might have been processed dog food meat. Maybe 2 or 3 grapes on the side if she was splashing out. For dinner four of us would share a tiny piece of meat and I'd get half a potato, a few slices of carrot and piece of broccoli.

I quickly learned which plants in her garden were edible and when there were no fruits or vegetables in season I was known to chew on mint leaves and lemongrass stalks to stave off hunger. Thankfully I never stayed with her for more than one or two nights but she did look after me at least once a week.

Needless to say, I don't look to my grandmother for kitchen inspiration.

flower

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #24 on: October 24, 2016, 09:20:01 AM »
Not food, but grandmother (or maybe great grandmother, depending on age) did not use paper products such as paper towels or paper napkins.

Instead of paper towels, she used rags made of old worn out clothes or worn out towels and such.

Cloth napkins instead of paper.

Save a tree and money too.

HipGnosis

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #25 on: October 24, 2016, 11:42:00 AM »
Not food, but grandmother (or maybe great grandmother, depending on age) did not use paper products such as paper towels or paper napkins.

Instead of paper towels, she used rags made of old worn out clothes or worn out towels and such.

Cloth napkins instead of paper.

Save a tree and money too.
My grandma would cut the 'front page' off of greeting cards if the person that sent it to her didn't write on the inside/back of it - and re-use it by sending it to someone else  (I always wondered if anyone ever got their own card back).

mrsbabs

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #26 on: October 30, 2016, 11:44:02 AM »
My grandparents are also from Hungary, and I can agree with @zikoris that Hungarian peasant food is amazingly delicious, hearty, and CHEAP. I can cook an entire pot of stuffed cabbage (a good 5-6 meals for our family of 3, including lunch) for about $8. Another favorite in our household is Lecso, a cabbage, onion, green pepper, tomato soup (with or without meat) that can be eaten alone or on everything from eggs to pasta - it's kind of like Hungarian salsa. So good.

My granny was married right around the start of the depression time and had to feed 3 kids. I used to love going to her house because her snacks were so weird. We'd get butter smeared on a graham cracker topped with granulated sugar- talk about a cheap treat.

During my own Home Ec adventures, I've learned a lot of tricks that save us a ton of cash. We only use paper towel for 'emergencies' or wiping out our cast iron pans. I sewed about 100 cloth napkins that we use exclusively. Made them from cheap printed cotton fabric from Joann Fabrics, and the whole lot probably cost me less than $20 in fabric. We also use kitchen towels for everything and rags to wipe up counters. I even cut up my old camisoles up to make "kleenex" that I just toss in with towels and bleach to clean. I cut up old bath towels to use as swiffer pads.

Probably one of the best things I've learned to save money is to bake our own bread. I do it about once a week and make two loaves at a time. It's a simple, no knead recipe and tastes so superior to the store bought 'rustic' breads. I figure we save at least $4 per loaf over the store bought bread of similar quality. I add things like wheat germ and bran, but you can make this as a regular white bread to start, and experiment with how you'd like it to taste. Trust me, the white version is amazing on its own.

Here's the recipe if you want to try it out:

6 cups of white flour
1.5 TBSP instant yeast
1.5 TBSP kosher salt
3 cups lukewarm water

Mix together in a big bowl with a wooden spoon. Cover with a moist dishtowel. Let rise until tripled in size- should come up to the top of the bowl.
Butter (or spray) 2 loaf pans. When risen, separate into two loaves. You can plop the dough right in the pan. Turn your stove on about 250 and let it rise again, until puffed up over the top of the pans. Preheat oven to 425. Bake for 23-25 minutes until golden on top. Turn out onto a cooling rack. Enjoy!

 


Diniecita

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #27 on: November 08, 2016, 10:49:08 PM »
Not food, but grandmother (or maybe great grandmother, depending on age) did not use paper products such as paper towels or paper napkins.

Instead of paper towels, she used rags made of old worn out clothes or worn out towels and such.

Cloth napkins instead of paper.

Save a tree and money too.


HAHA. I love that about someone getting their card back. It is a great idea if someone is going to send you a card you can send it as a postcard card. Saves money. I never buy cards anyways, I think they are a waste of money personally.

Both of my grandmothers passed before I was 16 (one before I was ever born) so I don't remember a lot from her. I am asking my Mom a lot about what she used to do, she is a great resource for those stories. I have found a few books that talk about the old ways as well. I have a mini farm and don't use paper anything (except TP and some paper that we've had since HS/College) Most of it is a waste of money. My favorite it paper towels, please, just get a rag and wipe it up. People are just complained pants anymore.
I've gone zero waste as well.
I like to make my own stuff from scratch. It's cheaper, just as fast as the "convenience foods", tastes better and I know what's in it. I can't stand refrigerator biscuits anymore. I make my own with lard that I process from the whole pig we order from our neighbor. I have my own chickens so I can have fresh eggs. I use up leftovers and make them into something different so we aren't eating the same things over and over, but it still gets eaten.
Mom taught me how to make virtually anything for supper with what is in the pantry. I can make something awesome no matter the ingredients. It takes practice, and it doesn't hurt that I'm an intuitive cook, but you can get there.

I'm sure I could think of more tips given time, but this is long enough, no?


My grandma would cut the 'front page' off of greeting cards if the person that sent it to her didn't write on the inside/back of it - and re-use it by sending it to someone else  (I always wondered if anyone ever got their own card back).

nr

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Re: Doing it like grandma! Kitchen ideas from years past.... share yours?
« Reply #28 on: November 10, 2016, 06:29:50 AM »
I have two very different grandmothers.  One who lived her entire life in Italy cooking massive meals for a family of 16 and one who lived through the great depression in upstate New York in a family of 7 - 3 of which went to serve in the war.  One was always about fresh local food and cooking from scratch.  The other always served us from a can or reheated leftovers.  Can you guess which is which? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVyhE3-_lCM

I wouldn't say this is from the olden times - but it has been used across the pond for many years and never really caught on here in America...I love cooking with an air fryer at home.  It's able to cook food faster and cleaner than pan searing/frying.  Surprisingly I also feel much lighter after eating a meal cooked in one.

Also another technique I love but isn't exactly from olden times is the slow cooker.  I believe it has really fallen out of the regular kitchen arsenal for American's these days.  At work I get odd looks whenever I mention that I've setup my slow cooker for a delicious beef stew or even an experimental ropa vieja (traditional cuban dish) for the evening.  The slow cooker even lets me save money by using a less expensive protein than I normally would.