THE DAYS BEFORE YUPPIECHEF

Slow roasted, pineapple and ginger glazed, pork.

Yuppiechef recently introduced a most beautiful pot; a heart-shaped casserole dish that I simply can’t afford at the moment. I’ve put a photo of it on my fridge in the hopes that my family will put a word in Santa’s ear.  As I pulled out my faithful old tin roaster yesterday, I wondered what my mom would have made of all these wonderful new kitchen gadgets we can choose from these days.

I’m not sure that she was deliberately trying to instill in me a love of cooking or whether she had simply allocated kitchen chores to me, as the eldest child. I can’t actually remember that my brother and sister had any chores at all, but I had no other chores than those that took place in the kitchen; and all of them alone with my mother.

The earliest memories, I must have been around ten years old, are clear as a bell; crumbing bread, sage and chopped onions for chicken stuffing, stirring grated cheese into cream for the cauliflower while she stood next to me and grated nutmeg into the mix.

It became my duty to make the salad for weekday suppers, while she saw to the meat. To this day the smell of cucumber in vinegar instantly brings to mind the little fluted glass bowl she liked to serve it in.

I expect that the washing up after cake baking fell to me because I could lick the mixing bowl and spoon in the scullery, where she couldn’t see me do it and so wouldn’t have to reprimand me for it.

Making the gravy from the residual juices from the roast in that ubiquitous aluminum kastrol* that every household had in those days, cutting gem squash in half and removing the pips, scraping the flesh of peeled potatoes to make hasselback bakes … and talking, talking, talking, while she washed the dishes and I dried.

No, I don’t remember feeling any resentment about my allocated chores. Not at all. And, while I dream of a set of gleaming Le Creuset pots, I cherish my own kastrol*, it’s like having my mom peeping over my shoulder in my own kitchen.

* Although kastrol is the Afrikaans word for stewpan or saucepan, these aluminum roasting pans were always called by this name amongst everyone I knew. Some time ago, Jenny Morris (the Giggling Gourmet) and I were talking on the phone about them, and she said that, as far back as she could remember, it had always been called a kastrol.

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63 thoughts on “THE DAYS BEFORE YUPPIECHEF

  1. You have so many awesome memories!!! Sadly, my mother was not a very a good cook!! She drenched EVERYTHING in oil. However, she made a ham and mushroom pasta (on Saturday nights) that was to die for!!! My dad taught me all I know before he died when I was 16 😦

  2. Wonderful memories. And such a wonderful way to learn, at your mothers side. Perhaps your mother simply spotted the amazing cook you would turn out to be, early on, as mothers are wont to do 🙂

      • Yip, me too :-). I was born in Port Elizabeth. My husband (also South African) and I are in Mauritius on contract and eagerly awaiting our return home to Sundays River by the end of June next year. 😉 My post today is for Koeksusters. 😀

      • I’ve never been to Sundays … oh well, Mauritius is not a bad place to live if you have to be away from home.
        Can you explain to me what plantain tastes like?

      • I have only had plantain a few times and each time it has been in besan (chickpea flour) which has quite a bit of flavour itself and then deep fried. I cannot say that plantain has much of a flavour at all actually, I suspect as they have always been green and not very ripe. It looks like and smells slightly like a banana but has the texture similar to potato, sort of. Shew, hope this helps. 🙂 It is quite popular here to use fruit such as mangoes that are still green for dishes such as kutcha.

      • Thanks for the description.
        We’re also experiencing the ‘fashion’ of green fruits, with a Thai influence, at the moment. I’m loving the green papaya with lime dressing.

  3. My mother used to serve cucumber in vinegar too. And iceberg lettuce with a salad dressing made from condensed milk, vinegar and mustard powder. Sounds weird I know but I loved it

  4. Perhaps because she liked your company.
    Or because the others were like
    aww, do i have to?
    lol
    There is always a way round a fancy gadget.
    Everything in my works kitchen is broken so we have to find a way. lol

  5. A wonderfully winsome, poignant post filled with such happy memories. You are fortunate indeed to a) have loved through those memories and b) to have the memory to recall them hehe! I have the same kastrol but man!! Mine has seen some hard living and doesn’t resemble yours at all. I wish you could come and shine it up for me! I know so many people who have Le Creuset and Yuppiechef on their wishlists hehe…
    Hugs xx

  6. Such lovely memories, Cindy. You are an amazing cook – those must be the roots. So many of them make me think of my mom too – when I was a little girl I used to stand next to her and talk to her while she cooked. And we always had such good, wholesome food. We had a kastrol – my dad used to take the meat off the braai fire and keep it warm in the kastrol until we ate.
    It’s snowing in London today! xx

  7. I couldn’t wait to “grow up” and get my own modern updated cookware, and now I’d love to have those pots and pans of yesterday that my mother and grandmother had…however, the hubby brought with him a whole collection of various cast iron.

  8. Wonderful memories, Cindy.
    I made my first purchase from Yuppiechef a couple of weeks back, and I’m super impressed with their service. *sigh* and they have so many things that I desperately ‘need’!

  9. Such lovely memories you have, thanks for sharing them… I did always love to ‘clean up’ the baking bowls and spoons – something actually all of us kids did gladly. As for cooking, my mom preferred to do it herself, though she trusted us with peeling potatoes and such…

    • Thanks Jamie, but it is soooooo hot here people will think I’m nuts if there is snow on my blog 😀
      BTW, just heard on the radio about the ‘red bees’ in New York City, very sweet and made me think of you.

  10. I also have a Kastrol – but I fear it looks as if it went camping with the Yetis and were used by them as a rugby ball… 😦
    You have such a beautiful way of describing your memories – taking us all on the journey with you is quite a talent. Simply lovely.

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