Kitchen practices

Everyone has their own way of doing things in the kitchen, whether it’s the way they never thaw anything on the counter, only in the fridge; or the way they only use hot water to wash dishes, or always rinse before parking the dirties into the dishwasher. And most are finicky enough, where even when fully-well intentioned guests offer to help with the dishes, the kitchen-mistress declines. Usually because strangers in the kitchen will park the dishes and pots in the wrong place, which is a hassle to hunt down afterwards.
In my case, I don’t want to be bothered with having to double check anything after the fact, in case I need to re-wash something, because it wasn’t done to my exacting standards. I got screwed when my cousin did a slap-dash job of washing the broiler pan, and it wasn’t til two weeks later when I discovered that I had to apply a lot more elbow grease to truly scrub the sucker free of the oily chicken juices that had two weeks to marinade itself to my pan. Grrr. When I say stay out, I mean stay out. (I won’t even go into guests who bring bottles of wine when I’ve expressly told them not to bring anything. Well, of that particular crime, I’m also occasionally guilty.)

Anyways I was an interloper in my aunt’s kitchen today. The usual Chinese mother syndrome kicked in: for 10 adults and 2 toddlers, she cooked enough to feed 20. “Take the leftovers home, so you’ll have something to eat without cooking this week.”

I washed dishes, and seeing that she was running low on containers for leftovers, took some of the ones that were still damply draining on the dishrack, and started filling them up. I wasn’t sure which, if any of the dishtowels were clean. I think she was a bit surprised that I hadn’t wiped them dry first. So my question #1 is: if the air-tight container is clean, but wet, isn’t it still OK to put leftovers in there and stick it in the fridge? Or is there some sound scientific/hygienic basis that dictates you wipe the container dry before filling it up?

Likewise I was chatting with a couple of friends about making chicken stock. Sometimes I bring it to boil on stovetop, and then transfer to the electric crockpot to let it simmer when I’m alseep. “But what about skimming the scum?”
I’ve always been rather lazy about hovering over the simmering stock to skim, plus you invariably lose stock along with the scum.

So question # 2: Why do people skim scum off stock? I assume the conventional argument for skimming the scum is aesthetic. Perhaps the flavor of the stock will be different, between it being clear vs. murky. My justification is that more nutrients stay in the broth if you don’t de-scum. And since most of stock is used to mix into other cooking, or drinking myself, the visual is not that important.

I scored big time at my aunt’s today: I got to bring home the head and the 4 legs of the roast suckling pig. Which means the next five pots of rice congee I make are guaranteed to be superlatively flavourful. Pot # 1 is tonight’s supper.

On a completely different note: how many people out there know/remember “Bionic Woman”? I refered to that in a piece of writing for my workshop and almost no one knew what I was talking about?


5 thoughts on “Kitchen practices

  1. Well, I guess no more reserved wine then. 🙂
    #1 – drying the container would mean that none of the water that you washed would be mixed in with the already flavored/seasoned food that you’re putting into. At least that’s my logic.

    #2 – the clear soup stock would be good for presentation. Eating soup with murky soup base isn’t appealing. If you’re to eat pho and the soup base is murky – it’s just not good – and sometimes the texture of the soup has a different taste to it. Especially when you eat at a restaurant and the soup base is murky – it just means that you’ve hit the bottom of that pot of soup – hence it’s saltier – yuk.

    That’s my 2 cents

  2. Hey C2,

    I never got the e-mail. So, I didn’t know NOT to bring anything. I asked Joe when he called if he needed anything and he said “no”. But I don’t remember him expressly saying don’t bring wine, either. If you don’t want it I’d be glad to take back the white wine.

    They must be young’uns. I remember Lindsey wagner who now does Sleepnumber bed commercials. Do you remember Max the bionic dog and Rudy and Oscar. Bionic Woman always seemed a much bettershow than Bionic Man for some reason. At that age I could not tell good acting from bad, so it’s not the fact that Lee Majors really sucked at acting. In fact his best days were long past: back when he was the youngest son in “Big Valley” the old western TV series.


  3. i’m sure you can get an oscar goldman doll on e-bay. otherwise check out the estate sales. there’s gotta be some nerd that jst kicked the bucket who had one.

    why do you want one? your boss doesn’t have pointy hair and is jewish?

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