Saturday, November 15, 2008

Deviled Eggs: A Lesson In Traditions

Deviled eggs are one of my favorite things to make (and eat), but I don't have a recipe.

Like how to fold towels, the instructions for making deviled eggs was never egg-zactly written down. These things weren't taught, but rather learned through the osmosis of watching & then doing.

How?

Because once upon a time, Virginia, we girls used to love to spend time with our moms, aunts, and grandmoms.

We'd stand at their elbows, soaking in the action -- as much for the magic of 'how' they did what they did as for the conversation. Now kids are far more "see you later, Mom" as they head off to the TV etc., and as a result, they don't know how to make deviled eggs (or properly fold towels -- and boy, does my linen closet show it!)

But I digress.

Once we learned how grandma & mom made their deviled eggs, we then tweaked the recipe to suit our own personal tastes. (Such recipe tweaking, in all likelihood, has probably returned a fair share of recipes back to their original form).

Anywho, the result is that I don't have a recipe for deviled eggs; I just make them. A lot of them.

As everyone loves my deviled eggs -- but there is no recipe to share -- I am usually tapped to make deviled eggs whenever there are showers, picnics and other events where we're each to bring a dish to pass. (By the way, this means there's one Tupperware item that I seriously cannot live without: the Egg-CeptionalTM Server Set and Round Cake Taker. Who knew slippery eggs could easily be so portable?!)

Now that the eldest daughter has moved out, she wants my deviled egg recipe. First I mocked her for not shadowing me more; and then I set out to see just what sort of a recipe I could create.

Unlike many things here at Things Your Grandmother Knew, my recipe isn't completely from scratch. I not only do not make my own mayonnaise, but use Miracle Whip (for some reason, I think all mayo tastes 'bad' -- as in spoiled -- especially Hellmann's). Then I add Coleman's dry mustard, mixed in to taste; never measured, just tapped in, tasted, and repeated if necessary. After awhile the wrist flicks & the finger taps the perfect amount. You do it as casually, automatically & without thinking of it, as boiling water.

Come to think of it, do I need to write down the boiling eggs part for this recipe?

Recipe writing is much harder than I thought.

Since this is a terrible recipe to send to someone, I searched and found this deviled egg recipe to send to my daughter (which is also where the delicious photo is from too).

The author there, Drew Kime, boils eggs just as I do, and he also eschews the pastry bag for the homey appeal of the filling plopped in via spoon. (But, yes, Drew; you have to sprinkle the deviled eggs with paprika. It's a rule.)

Now my questions for you, dear readers...

What recipes, household skills etc. do you 'just do'? What have you learned from grandmas, aunties and moms that was never written down? And are your children learning these things from you too -- or are you too discovering that you're having to instruct & write down what was otherwise an observed tradition?

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