Kitchen Confidential
September 11, 2023 1:37 PM   Subscribe

Next songwriting topic ... tell me about your memories and experiences of the kitchen

Anything ... memories from years ago of your grandmother cooking (or grandfather, or mother, or father). Or you as a parent and something about your kids or dogs. A domestic kitchen, or commercial kitchen.
posted by falsedmitri to Writing & Language (20 answers total)
My mother ruled the kitchen and accepted no help, since no one was good enough to do it her way. Once in a while my father would get passive aggressive and go to the sink to rinse a water glass while she was cleaning. One day he posted the following Momma comic on the refrigerator. I remember it as if 40 years ago was yesterday.

Thomas: My mother is coming over, Tina!
Tina: Oh. I better put up my sign in the kitchen.
Sign: "Occupancy by more than _1_ person is dangerous and unlawful"
posted by Melismata at 1:45 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]

I like to joke that my mother had a one ego kitchen: hers or someone else's could be present but never more than one.
posted by wicked_sassy at 1:54 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

I was standing on a chair next to my mother at the kitchen counter. Mom was making pickles, I was "helping." The jars were around my eye level and the sunlight from the kitchen window shone through them and made the cucumber slices translucent. I thought they looked like the stained glass windows in church.
posted by EvaDestruction at 2:51 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]

Growing up, we had an oven built into a heavily varnished pine wall. I left the oven on one day, all day, and my parents and I came home to sticky, melted varnish all down the wall and across the front of the oven. We’re lucky the house didn’t catch on fire.
posted by manageyourexpectations at 3:25 PM on September 11 [1 favorite]

I love my kitchen. The cupboard doors have Gothic arches on them and the floor is red linoleum. Countertops are black granite with flakes of mica, which might be a little overdramatic, but they've lasted over 10 years, so no complaints. It's the gothest kitchen ever, and I chose it when I didn't have to please a landlord or a housemate or a spouse, just myself.

The kitchen is the heart of the house, I think. Something like the hearth from pre-electricity days: the source of warmth as well as sustenance.

(I've seen open fireplaces, brick or stone, in the kitchens of old houses, and those things are seriously thought out: multiple iron bars so pots can hang at different distances above the fire; spits of different sizes at various heights; a shelf for baking, which became an enclosed compartment, which became a cast iron box by the 19th century... as a veteran of campfire cooking, I appreciate it!)
posted by Pallas Athena at 3:27 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]

My fondest memories of most of the commercial kitchens I've ever been in were the regular safety meetings.

Safety Meeting = smoking weed out back by the dumpsters.
posted by Jawn at 3:36 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

One year my folks received a turkey that was far too big to fit in their oven or their barbecue. It was truly gigantic! Extreme measures had to be taken to save Thanksgiving, which resulted in this scene:

My dad standing at his workbench in the basement, with an enormous, fully-frozen turkey firmly secured in a vice, sawing it neatly in half. The cats milling around his feet lapping up all the turkey "sawdust" that floated down.
posted by burntflowers at 3:37 PM on September 11 [8 favorites]

Response by poster: >>turkey sawdust
2 words I have not seen together before :)
posted by falsedmitri at 4:04 PM on September 11 [4 favorites]

Did you know that if you let certain kinds of batter sit overnight they ferment a little? Enough that putting that churro batter into the hot oil results in a noise and effect somewhat akin to a shotgun?
posted by cobaltnine at 6:35 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]

My five-year-old sister was standing with her back to the range and her hair caught fire. Went right up, what a smell. First thing that came to mind when you asked for kitchen memories.
posted by potrzebie at 7:48 PM on September 11 [2 favorites]

One year, I was a young adult and home from the Marines for Christmas. The oven broke on Christmas Eve. My mother was freaking out. What she didn't know was that I had bought her a microwave oven for Christmas, and I gave it to her the next day. (This was when microwaves were pretty new.) She cooked the turkey in the microwave. She ended up cooking the turkey in the microwave for years.
posted by NotLost at 8:39 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

My mildly disfunctional and non-demonstrative family -- my dad making us pancakes when he got home from his night shift job --in the shape of our initial.
My parents never said I love you but my dad did what he could to show me. He was the best.
posted by beccaj at 8:43 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

My grandma was an orphan with a terrible life. She learned to cook in when she was farmed out from the orphanage. I dont have photos or keep sakes, but I have the bean pot she cooked in. She soak the beans, make the baked beans and have them simmer overnight on the fire. My dad said they were amazing in the morning for breakfast.

It my only family heirloom. My dad kept his change in it, on his bureau his whole life. Now it's on my table with flowers.
My dad said she was a saint.
posted by beccaj at 8:48 PM on September 11 [6 favorites]

I remember sitting in the kitchen being taught to tell the time. I was quite insistent that the number at the top was thirteen; I remember skipping twelve as I counted around the face. (I was probably three at the time.)

My brother decided to open a bottle of home made ginger beer, probably a 2l bottle. It had really pressurised while fermenting and the spray shot straight up. He stood like a muppet with the cap in the spray, redirecting the whole thing horizontally in a circle so that it coated EVERYTHING.

I also remember dad sawing the turkey in half. Sadly I don't remember the turkey sawdust...
posted by How much is that froggie in the window at 10:01 PM on September 11 [3 favorites]

My Gramma was the oldest of 18 children. Her earliest memory is of standing on a stool stirring pots on the stove. Her mother was always pregnant and had morning sickness so Gramma did most of the cooking.
posted by a humble nudibranch at 7:07 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

One of my first meals I cooked by myself was one of those cheap frozen grocery store pizzas you cook using the stove. I had to cook for my slightly younger brother and way younger sister, since I was babysitting. I left 2 slices plain for my sister, but piled those pickled jalapenos on my slices and asked my brother if that was ok. Yeah, yeah it's fine he said. He then proceeded to eat his slice after cooking and thew up all over the floor.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:25 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

My first omelette/soufflé in my tiny kitchen in first apartment in a cast iron frying pan. Took it off the stove to set on the table inches away. Realized halfway I was about to get a serious burn. Opened my hand. Pan landed flat. Soufflé hit the ceiling and everywhere else. Think I found a bit when I left that apt. (Gawd, $85/month, what a time)
posted by sammyo at 10:09 AM on September 12 [1 favorite]

I am daily reminded of this truth:
Behind every good man is a woman, asking "why are you even in here? I need something in that drawer!"
posted by Enid Lareg at 12:11 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]

Not all kitchen memories are good ones. My most vivid kitchen memory is sad and scary. When I was a kid, my dad was an alcoholic and emotionally abusive. I suspect he may have physically abused my mom, but never saw that. He came into the kitchen drunk once and needed to put the dog outside for the night (the dog slept in a very nice, clean outdoor kennel that was heated). The dog ran away from him and went under the kitchen table. He kicked a chair down the hallway, where it knocked into me and I fell down. He then flipped over the table and grabbed the dog. He carried the dog out to the kennel and then disappeared, I either never knew or have forgotten where he went. I remember the feeling of the bumpy design on the linoleum rubbing on my face while I laid on the floor, to terrified to cry or move. My mom came home a bit later and found me nearly-catatonic on the floor.
posted by OrangeDisk at 2:34 PM on September 12 [1 favorite]

My Grandmommie had several signature things she would make. Over the years we would ask her questions about them, and her answers were hilariously non-specific:
"Oh, I grate some sweet potatoes. It needs some eggs. You know."
"Right, but how much?"
"Oh, 'til it looks right."

Went on like that for a long time. When she died, I inherited an actual recipe book full of handwritten cards, recipes, and notes. It may be the only time in my life an object has appeared to slightly glow and the faint hum of angels could be heard. Surely the answers to all our questions would be in here.

But for every item you might want to learn The Secrets of, say, pound cake, this book had Ethel's Pound Cake and Stella's Pound Cake and etc, and each recipe had a note on it about what was wrong with it, "too sweet" or "too dry" etc. So this is how she figured out her way, but she never wrote her way down. It's... exactly what I should have known it would be.

I'm not sure if I'm actually answering the question, but thanks for giving me a chance to think of that for a minute.
posted by secretseasons at 8:01 AM on September 13 [1 favorite]

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