You all know that urban legend about the kitchen survey team investigating the kitchen performance of young women. Too late, I'm going to tell it again. The surveyors noticed that one young woman trimmed the bone of a ham before she put it in the oven. When they asked her why she did that, she said that her mother always did it. The mother lived not far away so they went to ask her why she did this; she said her mother always did it. The old woman was still living and also not far away, so they went and asked her: Why did she trim the bone off the ham? She explained:
"My pan was too short."
Thus are habits and methods born and perpetuated.
I brought that up because I was thinking of some of my habits and those of my friends, people I know well enough to watch them in action in the kitchen. For example, I have a friend in another city whom I visit every year or so and stay a few days. Most mornings she cooks oatmeal with raisins, and I watch her de-stemming them, picking off the infinitesimal, dried stems from any unplucked raisins. She says her mother taught her to do that. I don't think raisins present much of a threat these days. Most of them are naked, but my friend honours her mother every morning that she makes porridge.
Years ago, on my honeymoon, as a matter of fact, we (my husband and I) visited my cousin in Wisconsin (none of your storied trips to Europe), and watching her, I learned the Eureka system of measurement. See, I didn't take Home Economics at university. I think they call it something else now; Domestic Science? Home Management? Tell me, please. I had to learn the slow way by watching people.
I used to de-scale asparagus, as do some really high-class gourmet restaurants. I don't do it any more, nor do I french green beans or peel Camembert cheese. I do, however, peel Portabello mushrooms and de-gill them , and I save the detritus for soup stock (in a freezer bag along with red onion parings and celery tops). I also cut out the little green innards of garlic cloves, but I don't keep them.
It took me a while to develop the latter two methods. I couldn't find instructions to tell me how to deal with the mushrooms or the garlic. I had to figure it out for myself, no thanks to the Net, and it knows everything. There's always something I don;t know. I need all the help I can get. Suggestions will be welcome.