Making Do

I’m reminded of an old story where a young bride goes to make her first roast for guests and her husband sees her cutting off an entire end of the roast before placing it in the oven. “Why did you just do that,” he asked. She told him she didn’t know, that her mother always did it that way.

She asked her mother. Same answer. She asked her mother and sure enough, her mother didn’t have a pan large enough for the roast. So much for family tradition!

When my own mother came into her own in the kitchen she decided to create a very British Christmas because her father was from Jolly Olde England and she also had Irish relatives. Unbeknownst to me, she wasn’t a fan of turkey and while it was OK to have it once a year for American Thanksgiving (she was always a Canadian citizen) she wasn’t about to have it for Christmas as well.

So it was to be prime rib au jus, roasted potatoes (in the drippings, yum), lots of different veggies and Yorkshire pudding. For dessert, she and my sisters baked for two months, beginning in early November but the most Brit of the desserts was mincemeat tarts. She and my aunt tried to make mincemeat one year but that’s another story. So Crosse and Blackwells it was. Now she had to make and cut the tart pastry.

By the time I became aware of my passion for cooking, she already had the routine down pat. For the bottom she used an old champagne glass, the type that was made to fit Marie Antoiette’s breast and not the kind that does the most for Champagne’s bubbles. For the “hats,” as my Aunt L called them, that called for a small champagne flute. They were both the perfect size. We only had one of each glass and they were not fine crystal by any means, but they served their purpose for many years.

I hope Mom passed those along to my sisters, who often bake. Whenever I saw a cookie cutter over the years I’ve been on my own, one that I like, I’d buy it. Then I started making dog cookies so found the requisite paw and bone-shaped cutters for those.

It was only when I went to cooking school that I found that one could buy measured cookie cutters nested in their own little box. I recently found one on Amazon with 12 round cutters that range from one inch to 4.4,” all for about ten bucks. My old fluted set rusted out but this one should last, especially if I don’t let them soak in soapy dishwater. That may be the perfect gift for my sisters, for other purposes. They’re already making do with Mom’s muffin tins and the two perfect champagne glasses, for mincemeat tarts.

I think there’s some mincemeat in my new pantry. I may have to find out which cutters fit my muffin tins! Cheers! Dee

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