Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Tea and Grease?

Growing up my grandmother and my mother both had kitchen canisters, you know that set of 4 that had written on the Flour, Sugar, Tea and Coffee?  Like this one:1829809My friend Michael and I helped our friend Jane do some heavy lifting and decorating at her Breezy Point beach house this past Sunday.

In the midst of moving furniture passing through the kitchen I noticed Jane has a set of these canisters, which I’ve always loved, when I looked closer at her set I noticed something kind of shocking:  instead of coffee or tea her smaller canister said grease? Really? Grease? I’d never seen this before.  What a great idea and more practical than the coffee and tea canisters (which in my house always got stuffed with anything but coffee or tea).IMG_2764Of course, being the ex theater person I am every time I think of Grease I immediately think:

But I digress…

Not only did Jane have this strange oddity the grease canister, she had a veritable collection of them!  On the next trip to the basement I saw another one:IMG_2765When I opened this one up it had a strainer in it so you bacon bits and what not could be easily removed. Elaborate 😉IMG_2767It makes me wonder if this is a regional thing?  I went to flea markets, stores other people’s homes and I don’t recall ever seeing this growing up in Canada. I want to say it’s a midwestern or southern American thing because they eat so much bacon, but that makes no sense because Canadians also eat a lot of Bacon.

Did you grow up with canisters like this and did your family have a coffee/tea or grease set?   Enquiring minds need to know!

About urbanfoodguy

I'm a self taught cook with a dedication to buying and eating food that is as humanely and sustainably raised as possible. Which is why in addition to recipes you will see a lot of environmental/political reporting here. I started cooking when I was about 6, it's something I always loved to do. Watching Graham Kerr - aka "The Galloping Gourmet" - was what got me started and I have never really looked back. Over the years I've been a private chef, a caterer, and a food stylist for magazines such as Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, Real Simple, Oprah, Martha Stewart's Everyday Food and many more. I've also worked in the prep kitchen for the Food Network on the Bobby Flay and Paula Deen shows. Now I work at home in my kitchen sharing with you here recipes that I create or that other people have created that inspire me and I think you will like. I love my neighborhood (the Lower East Side of Manhattan) and I love to travel. Because NYC is such a big place I tend to focus mostly on my 'hood and the ones that are close by: The East Village, Bowery, Chinatown and Williamsburg. My love of travel has no limits really, I'm always ready to get on a plane. I was lucky enough to have a business for many years that allowed me to spend a lot of time in South East Asia. These days I've been spending time in Mexico, Germany, Canada and the West Coast of the U.S., but check back you never know where I might end up. I do consulting, cooking classes, and freelance lifestyle writing so if you are interested please send me a note: urbanfoodguy@gmail.com
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8 Responses to Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Tea and Grease?

  1. cbcreates says:

    In my neck of the woods (NC), beside every stove sat the holy trinity—salt, pepper, grease. But saving cooking fats isn’t particularly a Southern or Midwestern thing. It was something a frugal people did (and do). Saving bacon and pork renderings came to the US from English and German settlers. And as with many English food influences, it became a Southern tradition. The habit kind of faded away with (false) health warnings during my parent’s generation, but that’s being debunked. I’ve always kept a little crock by my stove for bacon and sausage renderings. That’s what one uses to make a proper fried egg!

    I also save or outright render schmaltz when I cook chicken. I imagine those grease pots were put to use for that precious commodity as well.

    • urbanfoodguy says:

      Thanks – you are so helpful and smart! When I lived in Canada I always kept all my rendered bacon fat in a jar and then used it to make corn bread with. I just never knew that there were canister sets with special grease canisters….so cool. Chicken fat is the best, schmalz as we call it in NYC 🙂

  2. cbcreates says:

    Me again. I just found this grease cartoon. Love Goofy’s dextrous ears.

  3. Pingback: Out of the Frying Pan and Into the Fire: Patriotic Rendered Fat | Urbanfoodguy

  4. Vicki Madden says:

    I grew up with a set exactly like the one with GREASE on the black lid. I was raised outside Seattle, but I think the canisters were wedding gifts to my parents, who got married in 1956 near Billings, Montana. Everything we cooked started with a flick of bacon grease into the cast iron skillet.

  5. Vicki Madden says:

    I grew up with a set of the canisters exactly like the one you posted with the black lid and GREASE on the lid. I was raised in Seattle, but my parents came from Eastern Montana and the canisters were a wedding gift. As you said, Flour, Sugar, Coffee, Tea, and Grease. Everything we cooked started with a flick of bacon grease into the cast iron skillet.

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