Many people start the New Year out by [after trying to cure the hangover] getting together with family and friends and honoring time proven traditions of eating various types of food. In my past, the men would retire to the ‘Living Room’ to watch some game or to the garage to ooh-ahhh over some new tool or engine or project. If the weather was nice, the kids ran outside to play or perhaps would go down to the basement to start a marathon game of Monopoly.
With the turkey, goose, duck, ham or brisket in the oven, the women in the kitchen would settle in to chatter. I would often sneak in to listen if the weather was cold outside because I didn’t like having to entertain my younger cousins and I was too young to join in with the older kids. I was stuck in the middle with nobody my age. So I absorbed the kitchen lore. Two things I want to talk about from kitchen lore are Whomp ‘em breads and Powdered milk.
On the Whomp ‘ems – I mean the canned biscuits and such. We seldom had these available to us when we lived in the Middle East but in the late 60′s & early 70′s, these are all my mom would use. And these may be all most people really know, I’m sad to say. We called them Whomp ‘ems because to open them, you would peel the outer layer of paper off, find the diagonal slit, then whomp the container on the cabinet to open. Often, you couldn’t just tap lightly, you had to give it a good hard blow – or two! Then, packagers moved on to telling people to insert a spoon in the crack to pop them open. Most modern tubes don’t require a whomp and don’t pop and spill the dough out – boring! However, one particular brand of cinnamon rolls recently gave me a great smile.
My son wanted to make some cinnamon rolls and I bought him a can of the kind you pop open and heat up instead of teaching him how to make them from scratch. He seldom, or never, saw me open one of these Whomp ‘em-like containers so I instructed him how to peel the paper back and then tap the seam on the edge of the counter. When this can opened with an exceptionally loud POP [for this time period, anyway], he screeched and dropped the container on the counter like a hot potato. I just laughed and laughed and he was all indignant, ‘Why didn’t you tell me it would do that??’ I’m grinning now with the memory. And the cinnamon rolls were great. I imagine my son will use more Whomp ‘ems and store bought food when he goes out on his own, but he will know how to cook and fortunately he loves almost all veggies.
And now, on to Powdered Milk. I say that with initial caps because it is once again become a more popular alternative to expensive, fresh milk. With the urge to ‘Go Green’ and stockpile necessities, people are having to learn all over again how to make do with things that have a shelf life instead of buying fresh at their grocer or market. One of the things I often laugh at is some people’s reaction to powdered milk. When I was young and living in the Middle East we most often only had the powdered milk instead of fresh. Growing up on farms as my parents did and living near to them when we children were small, we were accustomed to fresh=from-the-cow milk and homemade butter. Switching to powder was a nasty taste to us but mom tried her best to make it palatable. Although today’s powdered dairy products are much tastier than before, there are still some tips that can make it an easier adjustment for you.
If you are just trying to stretch out your milk, many people will use a combination of 1/2 powdered milk mixture and half whole milk. Or they will only use the powdered mix with their cooking, cereal, etc. If you are going whole hog and trying to drink the stuff, you can use several variations to make a tastier mix blend. Here is my Mom’s ‘secret’ recipe for the best tasting reconstituted milk.
First, sterilize your final glass storage containers. You can do this by dipping them in boiling water or simply using the heat dry on your dishwasher. There are long detailed and scientific reasons why glass works better, but that is not the discussion today. To me, it just tastes better coming from glass. I use carraffes [quart size] and mason jars.
To make one gallon of milk, mix into a small saucepan the following:
1 can of evaporated milk, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon real vanilla. I DO use a sugar substitute myself but this works better if you use the real thing. Warm slightly but do NOT boil – just get it warm enough for the sugar to dissolve. Set aside. In a large container or bowl, follow the directions on your box of FRESH powdered milk [not one that has sat around for twenty years] using cool, fresh water. If your tap water has flavor or smell, you may want to consider boiling it first and cooling it down. Powdered milk seems to dissolve well in cool water. Combine the two mixes you have made and chill at least 4 hours before drinking. Store in glass containers.
If you are used to drinking skim milk already, you will soon adjust to powdered plain with no additives. With this mix, you get a fatter, sweeter tasting milk that will make it easier for children and long term whole milk drinkers to adapt with. You may want to start with this mix and cut back slowly to where you are only using powdered milk.
So experiment and find the mix you like. Start by using the reconstituted mix in recipes and gradually work into having your family drink the powdered mix. You will soon find it is quick and easy to use powdered milk instead of making a run to the store every time you run short.