We'll start with a photo:
This is the street approaching the front of the cathedral in Strasbourg. One of the larger (there are about a dozen) Christmas markets is in the square surrounding the church. You can see the first row of Christmas booths. There are 2 more rows directly behind them, before the church.
It's a rather impressive cathedral.
When we lived in Minnesota we had well water. To the uninitiated, that meant that when we lost electrical power, as so often happens in the Midwest in winter, we also lost water. Without electricity the pump didn't work: no pump, no water.
To put it simply, once the electricity was gone we had about 5 quarts of water available to us. When I was thinking (yeah, right) I would fill containers immediately so we would have water for drinking and cooking.
When I wasn't thinking I would flush the toilet.
All of the available water would be washed away in one swoosh!
It's very hard to not flush a toilet. It's a reflexive action. It's pounded into us at an early age and reinforced daily. I know it seems like a simple thing….it's not.
Neither is keeping your hands on the table at dinner.
I can't count the number of times I heard my mother say to one of us children: "Get your hands/elbows off the table!"
The left hand was meant to be resting on the napkin in your lap except
when needed to cut ONE piece of meat; at which time it could briefly
appear to accomplish said task before being relegated to obscurity once
In France, and most (if not all) of Europe, it is considered extremely bad manners to put your hands in your lap while at table. (Hmmmm….I wonder…no, I won't go there….)
Both hands are to be in plain view, on the table at all times. Not the elbows, but the hands; from about mid-forearm.
When one is sitting in a lovely restaurant, at a perfectly set table, candles glowing softly, waiters in tuxedos solicitously anticipating our every whim; it's only natural to want to impress with our good behavior.
Instead it's the 'hand dance':
The waiter comes near, the ingrained habits kick in and hands go to the lap.
I realize what I did and the hands go to the table.
I repeat this little performance 18 million times between aperitif and coffee.
Makes you wonder, doesn't it?
And laugh….in retrospect!
From Christine, of Christine Cooks, we have the tale of Thanks and Giving, the two turkeys raised for the holidays. One of them grew to a whopping 37 pounds, and he wasn't the big one. You might ask how long, and in what, one cooks a turkey that huge. Christine was asking, and waiting and waiting…
Mimi, of French Kitchen in America, has confessed to something Cheesy, creamy, comforting….and covert. All I have to say is…I didn't know they made it with cheese!!!!! I love that stuff! YUM!!!!! Oooops!
Tanna, of My Kitchen in Half Cups, that fabulous Daring Baker, reminds us that anything left on the counter when making catch-all foods (like turkey dressing) is fair game. I'll admit to tossing a few strange things into the soup but….doughnuts? Well, why not? How else are new things developed?
Valerie, of More Than Burnt Toast, has a favorite potato dish that she dare not make herself for communal gatherings (Her contributions must be time-consuming, complicated fare), but, she does happen to have the recipe….and she does happen to make certain that someone always makes it. Sneaky!
Amy, of Knit Think, has revealed one of my own little secrets: I agree that it must be a Midwestern thing but if it wasn't on the holiday table, someone was in trouble. Can you say "spray cheese"? What does one do with 'spray cheese'? Read and learn!
Have you ever forgotten what food is in which container in the freezer? Need to have the importance of proper labeling reinforced..the hard way? How do you feel about fish in your turkey? Maggie, of Magpie Musing has the answer to all of these questions; some revealed for the very first time!
Nora, of Life's Smörgåsbord, discovered that one does, in fact, use that awful math stuff we learn in school in real life; or at least, one should. She also learned why one is supposed to measure carefully when baking. So many lessons in one little Volcano Cake!
Ruth, of Once Upon A Feast, has also found comfort in a box. For as good of a cook as she is, it's a true skeleton coming out to learn that her family's favorite stuffing, (for HOW many years???) comes not from hours of work but from a, you-know…. (I can't type it twice)
Laurie, meet Nora. The two of you can discuss the merits of measuring. The kitchen of Tastes Like Home – Mediterranean Cooking in Alaska must have been getting a little warm that day. Spoon Sweets are meant to be, well, you know, spooned. She does get high marks for recovery!
Champaign Taste? Hmmmm….. I love Lisa's confessions! I mean I love them – the food! I do have to disagree slightly, though. I prefer fried Spam with Miracle Whip! Try it, Lisa, then let me know! We can do side by side, across the pond, taste tests!
That reminds me of one of my own: The first year that I made pumpkin bread from fresh pumpkin in Andorra I had a few things to learn: fresh pumpkin is a lot moister than Libby's; always check a strange oven's temperature with an oven thermometer; and 3,000 feet is considered 'baking at high altitude'.
I made Pumpkin bread to take to a friend's New Year's Eve house party. The party was the usual eclectic mix: 4 different languages, ages ranging from 2 – 70 and people coming and going, spending the night or not, for 3 days.
At some point, some one cut into the pumpkin bread. I wasn't present. It disappeared rapidly, or so I'm told, and everyone loved it! They all wanted the recipe, especially the part about how I got the gooey, sweet pudding inside the cake. Apparently, only the outer half of the bread was actually, uh, baked!
You still have 2 weeks to share your own Skeleton from the Pantry.
I'll do a complete recap on Dec. 29th. I just wanted to share the ones that have been posted so far!
It doesn't have to be holiday related, photos not necessary (or, in most cases, possible). Just take a stroll down that old memory lane and remember what life was like when, as Lisa put it, we weren't eating organic-free-range-pesticide-free perfect-for-the-camera everything…
Although her Bologna Mac looks damn good!