Tuesday, October 12, 2010

One Hundred Things My Mother Taught Me A Million Times – Chapter 53

#53 – “Add a little milk to bowls of soup right before you serve.  The milk will cool the soup to just the right temperature, and give it a rich flavor and texture.”

This morning, as I often do when I’m trying to decide what to write about, I called my husband on his cell and asked him to give me a number between 52 and 100.  He was in the bedroom; I was in the living room.  “Eighty-seven,” he said, and hung up.  When I saw #87, I smiled.

Back before dairy became the bane of our existence (and ironically just about everyone was thin), whole milk was the standard and served in our home with regularity and in abundance.  In fact, other than water, iced tea and milk were pretty much the only liquids served in our home.    We didn’t have soft drinks, orange juice, alcohol or anything else in a bottle.  I remember with vibrant clarity the first time I saw a pitcher of red Kool Aid at a friend’s home.  I felt as though magic had been performed.  I also felt as though I had been born into the wrong family. Click on Read More Below...

 However, no one was better at making more with less than my mom. I don’t remember there ever being more than 20 food items in our home at any one time:  milk, eggs, bacon, bread, potatoes, onion, sugar, flour, Crisco, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, a meat (usually pork chops or a soup bone), and occasionally one can of vegetables (either corn or spinach). Today I doubt most of us keep less than 200 items in our pantry, refrigerator, and spice cabinet.

Mom would make bread pudding or custard pie for dessert, which only required flour, bread, sugar, eggs, milk, vanilla, Crisco and salt. She would make pork chops and potatoes and gravy for dinner, which required meat, potatoes, flour, salt, pepper, Crisco and milk. Her potato soup was potatoes, onion, milk, salt, and pepper.  Life, like our meals, was simple.

After dad died, we were pretty poor (mom was a teacher).  Toward the end of the month mom would buy a big soup bone (probably the cheapest thing our little home-town butcher offered).  She would boil it to smithereens, coaxing out every ounce of flavor and adding a few potatoes, onions and a little salt (sometimes corn).  We would eat that for days.  Mom would ladle out the soup, which looked rather thin and bland but included a few tender and delicious lumps of meat that fell away from the bone.  It was always steaming and too hot to eat. Then she would pour a little milk on top of the soup and turn it into something rich and exotic and warm and creamy.

At mom’s funeral, with tears and laughter in her eyes, my daughter Jolene told the story of how much she hated it when Memaw (mom) put milk in her soup.  “I would always say ‘no milk Memaw!’ and she would pour it in anyway; that was just so ‘Memaw.

To this day, I always add milk to my soup because mom was right.  Milk cools the soup to just the right temperature, and gives it a rich flavor and texture. It is often the simplest things that we remember and which touch our hearts forever.


  1. Such a lovely memory. Remember her 'doodles'? She could make a snack or meal out of anything. Jane

  2. I still make doodles for my kids and grandkids! It's always been a family ritual. Want the recipe?

  3. Okay, now we all want to know about doodles!!!

  4. Doodles is a simple but special treat that mom used to make, and which I make. They're sort of like donut holes, but much, much easier. I don't know where the name came from, but I suspect that mom made it up, along with the recipe, which follows below:

    Memaw/Mommy Wade's Doodles
    makes about 40 doodles

    1 1/2 cups of milk 2 1/2 cups of white flour
    1 egg beaten 2 teaspoons of baking powder
    1/2 teaspoon of vanilla 1/8 teaspoon of salt
    2 inches of oil 1/2 cup of sugar
    1 box of powdered sugar 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon

    1 medium-sized brown paper bag
    (don't use a plastic bag)

    Heat oil while preparing dough. Be very carefully with the hot oil -- keep away from edge of cabinet, and do not let little children help with the cooking part.

    Beat egg with a fork till slightly frothy. Add milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix together well flour baking powder salt, cinnamon and sugar. Add liquid mixture and gently stir just until well mixed. Pour powdered sugar into the bag.

    Before the oil begins to smoke, but when a small ball of dough gently dropped into the oil immediately rises to the surface and cooks at a good rate, begin gently pushing spoonfuls of dough off a medium-sized spoon into oil. Don't crowd the balls, and don't keep the fire too high. You want the balls to brown, but if you cook them on too hot a fire they will be doughy in the middle. The first doodles cooked have a tendency to be doughy in the middle because the fire is usually too hot.

    As doodles cook they should flop over by themselves to cook on the other side, but go ahead and carefully turn them if they don't. When to desired color (medium to darkish brown) pull all the doodles from the oil with a slotted spoon or tongs and drop into the bag with the powdered sugar. Put next batch of doodles into cook before the oil heats back up. Watch your oil and don't ever let it get too hot. Shake bag of doodles and powdered sugar vigorously. Carefully pull doodles out (the sugar will go everywhere) and put them on a plate to cool.

    A big glass of cold milk taste great with these fun and yummy treats.

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  6. I'd forgotten about doodles! Thanks for the memory.