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I Am NOT Like That!

Remember Phil Hartman's character Cooking with the Anal Retentive Chef on SNL?

That was my mother.

She said she wasn't like that, but oh, yes she was.
Toast had to be buttered all the way to the very edge all the way around - I swear it took her five minutes to prep her toast. Her hamburger bun had to have the mayo on the top bun and the mustard on the bottom one.
If it was done wrong, she got a little squirrelly about it.
Yeah, not OCD at all.

Who else would slice each individual pecan for cookies or Cherry Nut Cake? Slices, people. Not chopped all willy-nilly into different sized pieces. No, each sliver of pecan was the same size.

Speaking of cookies:
If the recipe said "makes five dozen" - then by god she was going to get five dozen - or more.
All the cookie dough blobs were exactly the same size and placed precisely the same distance from the next cookie dough blob. Actually, it is not fair to call them blobs - that would be what mine looked like. I used a tablespoon and she always told me they were too big, not to mention my pecans were um, diversely shaped. It drove her crazy. (Bwaahahaha...)
Hers were rounded from one teaspoon to another until they were smooth perfect orbs of doughness. If one cookie had the balls to spread into another cookie - oh my god. Defective! She hated that.
They'd cool, on a wire rack of course, for the exact amount of time called for. Later they would be packaged into plastic baggies. This was before zip-lock style bags came in a small version, we're talking the sandwich bags that had the fold over flap.
Two cookies (no more, no less) would be placed in the bag. The flap was folded down (need I say it?), neatly, two or three times, and stapled. Two staples. These little packages were then placed in the freezer - after being labeled with the type of cookie and the date it was made. All ready for school lunches.

I suspect this attention to, ahem, quality control was why my dad never made the potato salad. The potatoes (and eggs and onions and sweet gherkins) must be cut precisely for potato salad, each piece was exactly a bite-sized cube.
Dad often made the dressing for the potato/macaroni/coleslaw salads. Mayo, mustard, and vinegar, which in the correct combination will get you right in the "gill slit", that spot where the earlobe and jawbone meet. (you know the place). I liked my dad's version better because his was more tart.
If there was extra, it became "squeezy" dressing - so called because it went in a leftover picnic ketchup "squeeze" bottle. Nothing better over a slab of iceberg lettuce. If you're a Brit - Salad Cream is a good equivalent.
Grinder at far right.

Dad made the coleslaw. He'd get the grinder (a.k.a. old school food processor) with its multiple attachments down from the cabinet over the stove and clamp it to the counter. We were not allowed to touch it because it was sharp.
Then we'd wait impatiently for the core of the cabbage that he would slice, salt, and distribute. You'd have thought it was candy the way we gobbled it up.

An item that held great promise was the giant green Tupperware bowl. If Dad got out that bowl and the electric skillet - popcorn was in our future!
He'd melt the butter, (oh okay, it was margarine. We didn't know any better then), in a small one-cup Revere Ware pot. (My brother got that. If I'd had room in my kitchen for the electric skillet it would be here now) That giant green bowl also held Chex Mix.
Oh laws how I love Chex Mix. I could eat the entire bowl myself (I never did, but I could have!).

You can rest assured each piece of cereal was equally coated...


  1. Kim your descriptions of how your mother worked were so complete I feel like I actually knew her. I really enjoyed reading this one, felt your pain, but enjoyed it just the same. Have a great day and a wonderful weekend.

  2. I just made my first cookies ever this past weekend. Flour everywhere. Hastily chopped up pecans on the floor. Cookies not given away wrapped any old which-way in plastic freezer bags and tossed into the freezer.

    Good thing your mom wasn't there.