Mom’s Quick Tips #1: used foil, soft butter, and fan blade protectors

Grilled kabobs: chicken, sausage, onions, peppers. Yum.

Dad’s grilled kabobs: chicken, sausage, onions, peppers. Yum.

We were invited to my folks’ house for supper . . . a risky proposition at any time, but especially when my dad is at the grill and I’m watching what I eat a bit more than usual because I want to fit into last year’s summer clothes (imagine that) before this summer . . . and Mom has just made The Best Multi-Grain Bread Ever and neither Mom nor Dad care a wit about how much I weigh, or how tight my summer skirts might be . . .  see why it’s so risky, Gentle Readers? Risk upon risk!

Honestly. I am so blessed, but the flip side of the blessing of having kind and indulgent parents who make such incredible food, is that the very moment I step in the front door–boom!–I instantly gain at least 5 pounds. And who is surprised at this? Nobody. Nobody is. After all, you see in the photo above, what Dad was serving on this particular night.*

As we helped Mom get the rest of the meal ready in the kitchen, one after another Mom shared kitchen tips with us. You don’t cook every day for nearly 60 years without learning lots of shortcuts. And Mom is always learning, always sharing, always tweaking and always discovering. (However. One thing Mom is not always doing is sharing her donut recipe with me, unfortunately . . . )

I’ve been teasing Mom to let me make donuts with her (she is quite famous locally, for her raised donuts, and I’m sure that I’ve posted pictures of them before, but you’ll notice that I’ve never posted her recipe. As generous an indulgent as my mom is, she has never agreed to share her donut recipe, nor even have a donut-making session with me, even after repeated, teary requests) and this she has not (yet) agreed to, but a blogger takes what she can get, and so at this time, I’ll share the tips that she shared. And I’ll be grateful. 🙂

Here goes!

Quandary: You hate to toss that piece of aluminum foil that you used for light-duty only, since you know it is still perfectly good and heck, the landfills aren’t getting any smaller, after all, but you don’t want random bits and pieces of used (but still good) foil to clutter up your kitchen.

Mom’s Quick Tip: After you’ve rinsed the foil (if it needs it) and allowed it to dry, simply roll it up on an empty paper towel roll. Voila! Easy as 1, 2, 3 . . . and you have small pieces of foil handy to use, stored neatly until you need them!

Easy as 1 . . .

Easy as 1 . . .

. . . 2 . . .

. . . 2 . . .

 . . . 3! Voila!

. . . 3! Voila!

Quandary: You need a stick of softened butter, but you don’t want to microwave it (’cause you know you’ll get a pool of melted butter) and you forgot to take your butter out of the freezer. Help!

Mom’s Quick Tip: Unwrap the butter and stand it on end. It will thaw much quicker, allowing you to cut it up into chunks, within minutes. Voila! Softened butter.

It takes only minutes to go from frozen solid to softened butter, using this trick.

It takes only minutes to go from frozen solid to softened butter, using this trick.

Quandary: You are frying fish or hamburgers or (cough) a big batch of donuts to share with your (deserving) kids and you have a ceiling fan right above where you do your frying. You know what that means: gross, greasy ceiling fan. You don’t want to spend the evening cleaning your fan, but if you don’t, it’ll be a dusty, grimy mess within a few days. What are you to do?

Mom’s Quick Tip: Take the thin plastic bags that your daily newspaper comes in (old bread bags would work here, too, if you don’t get the daily newspaper) and slip them over the fan blades. This simple trick, which will take just seconds, will save you a greasy hour of scrubbing later!

Thank you, Davey, for the hand-modelling.

Thank you, Davey, for the hand-modeling. 🙂

So easy!

So easy! Slip-covers for your fan blades!

That’s it for today! Thanks Mom, for sharing these tips with me. Would you be interested in the kabob recipe? I think I could tease that out of Dad, if I get enough comments about it.

And about that donut recipe, Mom . . . maybe next time? 😉


*Oh! A personal note to my Dad: Dad, the next day we were out running errands and we had to stop to grab something to eat. I asked the kids what they felt like: a hamburger? A taco? A runza? Immediately Amalia said “Kabobs. I want more of those kabobs that Grandpa made.” Of course, then that’s all we were hungry for. They were that good.






20 thoughts on “Mom’s Quick Tips #1: used foil, soft butter, and fan blade protectors

  1. Amanda

    Wonderful tips! So simple — but so useful!
    I love the photos of your mom’s hands too. At the risk of sounding crazy, they actually brought a little tear to my eye because the simple gold band and something about her hands made me think of my gram when I was little. She was always working in the kitchen like that … anyway, made me smile. Having photos like that of your loved ones are so wonderful too. It’s funny the things you miss someday…

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Thank you Amanda. I love my mom’s hands, too. They tell such stories about her: she is a hard-working woman, but she is also an artist and a talented musician. I do appreciate your sensitivity to these photos.

  2. Pete Kowpak

    Hi Amy,
    Great ideas and tips that you and your mom shared with us, it reminds me of how frugal my dad was, he had a ton of ideas he shared with me. It also reminds me of how the next generation will be if we don’t pass them on, but then, if they will not listen, what can you do? Oh and by the way, if you need help bribing him for the recipe, let me know, I’ll see what I can offer LOL.

  3. Chef William Chaney

    Great tips. I like them all. We always save the foil but never thought of rolling it up. And the fan idea will come in very handy because here in Mexico an overhead fan in the kitchen is a must. We don’t cook very often in the kitchen, mostly outdoors, but when we are inside, all fans are working…..I’m looking forward to your next installment of your Mom’s Quick Tips, and don’t worry so much about the weight, learning all these cool things plus getting served such great food makes it all worthwhile. And here’s a tip, if all that food keeps you from being the same size as last summer, just make sure to always use pictures from last years collection when you show us pictures of yourself and we will pretend not to notice………..

  4. Alice Gerard

    I really enjoyed the tips and the story about your mom and her protection of her secret donut recipe. The combination of storytelling and practical tips was very delightful. The pictures of your mom’s hands were beautiful. I like the trick with the fan blades and the reuse of the foil and all of the other stuff. I especially liked standing the butter on end to soften it sooner. I’ll have to try it when I next do some baking!

  5. Brenda

    Wow! Thank you so much for the tips!! I am forever saving little pieces of foil and trying to get them unfolded is not always easy! I may never throw another newspaper bag away again! Great tip! And, definitely gonna try out the butter thing!
    BUT, right now, all I can think about is those kabobs!! They look amazing 🙂

  6. Robin Follette

    I’ve been thinking about a ceiling fan when we remodel the kitchen and didn’t like the idea of cleaning it all the time. One speck of grease is all it would take to start the dust collection. Great tip! Thanks for sharing!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Robin, a ceiling fan is a must in our kitchen, too, but—ugh!—all the curves and little curlicues and so forth are just dust and grease magnets! I’d choose the simplest, most streamlined one for a kitchen. Then add your little slip-covers when you are frying or using hot oil.

  7. Mary Ann Cauthen

    I loved this writing. I am old enough now that my hands look like your mom’s- even have the gold band. I would love the kabob recipe. Always enjoy your writing & you r”honesty” Thanks. Mary Ann

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