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Lacy's Lit

Life’s Little Lessons from the Kitchen

I’ve been thinking a lot about how many lessons I learned in the kitchen from my family. Many of them apply beyond the confines of the hearth of most homes. As I get older and busier, I am reminded of those guiding principles that served them so well.

Here they are:

My maternal grandfather, my beloved Papa, taught me the first bite is with the eye. He garnished his dishes with spices and herbs. He served them nice and neat on the plate or in the bowl. Papa’s food was so appetizing I often ate things I thought I didn’t like. When I was a child, potato salad seemed like to many flavors blended together for my simple palette. But I had to taste it because it was so pretty with paprika and sliced eggs decorating the dish. Plate well, you deserve it.

Grandma would always tell me, don’t peel away the potato. I love peeling potatoes as a child. But often I cut more than the skin off. I would waste some of the potato. My grandmother was a thrifty woman and I am too. Use your food and resources wisely.

Cook enough for several meals. My grandparents and mother always cooked a pot of greens, a roast or ham, something that could be eaten on several days. In the winter, I love cooking a big pot of collards to build meals around during the week. At least once a week if not more, make a homemade soup, a big pot of beans, something that you can eat now and store some in the freezer for later. Make one dish but many meals.

Wash dishes as you prepare the meal. My mother is so good at this. She keeps a sink of sudsy water so she can soak and wash utensils, pots and pans while she’s completing the cooking the meal. I like to keep a clean, dish towel handy to wash and dry cutting board, knives and things I used to get the meal ready as well. Clean as you go.

My Aunt Barbara likes to clear the table after you eat. Go ahead, scrape the plates and place them in the dishwasher. Put away the leftovers. Wipe the counter tops. It’s easier to keep up then catch up.

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