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Cooking with Mother


Foam Pants
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I am, uh, enjoying an extended vacation with my parents right now and having had to eat and cook "mama style" for a while has brought out the devil in me.

Unlike many people, I do not fondly remember Mother's cooking... the most commonly found items in my mother's kitchen are Windex, flies, and moldy peaches (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the band). The kitchen is always a mess and food is prepared as quickly as possible with little regard for taste. Tacos are served with a regularity that would impress the Army and contain about as much imagination as a typical recruit. The meat is pretty much flash steamed under a lid on the stove without any spice, the corn tortillas are warmed in the micro, a few olives creep out of the can, all topped with El Paso taco sauce. Mom's tacos are the height of her game.

When I come home, I am often asked to do some cooking. Take for instance the potato salad I have made for Labor Day. Dad informs me that they already cooked up the eggs and potatos and they bought plenty of "mayo" for that classic American salad. This means I have made mashed potato salad mush with green yolked eggs and Miracle Whip. The onions must be cooked so Mom can eat them. I diced them with a dull-ass boning knife that is older than I am since the only other knife in the house is this flimsy little paring knife from Pampered Chef that mom says "Sharpens itself!"

What about the rest of you? Do you have a love hate relationship with Mother in the kitchen or is she the inspiration that has guided you? Does she take over the cooking or do you? Do you work well or is it, like Mom and I, a constant test of wills bordering on fisticuffs?

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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What about the rest of you? Do you have a love hate relationship with Mother in the kitchen or is she the inspiration that has guided you? Does she take over the cooking or do you? Do you work well or is it, like Mom and I, a constant test of wills bordering on fisticuffs?

I just give her a stiff martini & tell her to sit back & enjoy the ride. :smile:

At that point, she's A-OK other than a few comments about how many pans I dirty, etc.

Edit: And if it's at her place, I bring my own knives.

Edited by MatthewB (log)
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I am lucky that my mother is a great cook. I always say that she didn't teach me how to cook (she didn't want anyone else in the kitchen)...she taught me how to recognize what tastes good. As an adult on our, unfortunately, infrequent get-togethers, I love cooking with her. I play sous chef...and keep my mouth shut when she does things differently than I would.

I am going to be home in October and have already told her we are cooking "fillings" together. "Fillings" are an old family recipe, basically cabbage leaves stuffed with raw ground pork and cooked rice, then cooked for hours in a dark brown roux with shredded cabbage and saurkraut. Luckily I don't have a cholesterol problem!

Lobster.

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Bring your own chef's knife (thanks, Matthew), potato salad, taco filling, and salsa -- claim food allergies if you have to. (There's a thread on this somewhere.) Pan-toast your own tortillas. Go out to eat as much as you can. Unfortunately, it is your mother's kitchen.

As uninspired a chef as my mother was, I wish I had a chance to cook with her as an adult, as she died when I was 20. Fortunately, my stepmom was kind and generous. When I was somewhere in my mid-20s I made Thanksgiving dinner for the family down in Florida. The recipe (which, unfortunately, I have since lost) called for browning, then braising, a cut-up turkey. I was at my wits' end because on that day before T'giving I could only find a whole kosher turkey and didn't have a clue how to dissect it. She very calmly took the whole bird apart in what seemed like less than a minute. Who knew?

"There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  -George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman, Act 1

 

Gene Weingarten, writing in the Washington Post about online news stories and the accompanying readers' comments: "I basically like 'comments,' though they can seem a little jarring: spit-flecked rants that are appended to a product that at least tries for a measure of objectivity and dignity. It's as though when you order a sirloin steak, it comes with a side of maggots."

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What about the rest of you? Do you have a love hate relationship with Mother in the kitchen or is she the inspiration that has guided you? Does she take over the cooking or do you? Do you work well or is it, like Mom and I, a constant test of wills bordering on fisticuffs?

My mother was a pretty poor cook, though she did have some basics down. She taught me to make a white sauce (we ate creamed eggs on toast often), and she did try to make up complicated dishes from time to time. I think her main problem was she didn't understand when substitution in a recipe will work and when it won't, and didn't ever use good ingredients. Oddly enough, when you start with ground beef that has freezer burn, spices that are 5 years old, and cheese that just had some mold cut off of it, the result isn't too appetizing regardless of the chef. By the age of twelve I started making most family dinners - it was the only way to make sure the meal was edible, most often. Oh, and her tacos were about the same. I managed over the years to come up with a nicely spiced taco filling, out of despiration :blink:

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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Edit:  And if it's at her place, I bring my own knives.

Golly, I'm glad I'm not the only child that does this!

I am, uh, enjoying an extended vacation with my parents right now and having had to eat and cook "mama style" for a while has brought out the devil in me.

I think I going to be re-reading this when I get to Sitka in a couple of weeks. My Mother and I will be at my Grandfather's house, and sharing the kitchen. :biggrin:

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In my kitchen, mom is dangerous. She grabs the knife out of my hands because I'm not cutting eggplant the way she would cut it.

In her kitchen, my childhood role is still the role I play as an adult: I help with minor food prep, stand around, and chat and gossip. I don't even try to tell her how to cook.

Mom is a good influence on my cooking, in a perverse way. Cooking to her was always a detested chore that she did only if father was going to be home for the meal; the rest of the time we kids were left to scrounge for food from the pantry or refrigerator. And I never want it to be like that for my kids, so I put my all into cooking for them. In that way, mom's an inspiration -- not to be like her.

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I hate cooking at my mother's house. She's not a bad cook, but can't I figure out how she does it with her kitchen. Her equipment is lousy. She's had the same pots for 55 years so they're all banged up. Her knives aren't sharp. She has no wooden spoons. And you can't tell whether any specific piece of equipment is meat, dairy, or pareve. The, there are her requirements. Primarily, salt is a no-no. And she doesn't have olive oil in her pantry. My final complaint, is that her rangetop is electric. I don't understand how anyone can cook with such a non-reactive heat source.

Fortunately, I'm rarely called upon to cook when I'm there.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Cut it out, Mom.

No, Mom.

Step_away_from_the_stove.

I know exactly what I'm doing, I have a degree in cooking.

She treats me like such a child when I try to cook for us.

My mother used to be a good cook when we were all living at home, but after we left, the focus somehow strayed from deliciousness through a series of whacko nutritional pathways. Now everything she cooks is utterly unseasoned pap that my cat wouldn't eat.

Yes, I always bring my knives when I visit her. And the Pampered Chef bread knife I bought her for $9 was such an improvement over the dreadfully dull one she'd used all her adult life that she was practically swooning.

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I always enjoy cooking with my mom until I see her put a gigantic spoonful of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in the dish we've spent all day preparing. "Kelli, it spreads and melts so much easier!" she says. :angry:

Kelli

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My mother is an excellent cook. It's also one of her main hobbies. HER mother was hopeless (and will happily admit it) so it was a self defense thing. Usually I can only go home at Christmas but a couple years ago there was a big sale so I went for three days in October. My carry-on -- at her request -- was a cooler of all the ingredients for cassoulet and that's what we did for two days. She's in the same very small, very isolated town as Foam Pants, who can thus understand why it was necessary to import pretty much everything. The one caveat when we're cooking together however is that we each do our own thing and no questions/comments. Especially when knives are involved.

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When I was a kid the most common meal was hamburger patties and Kraft Macaroni and Cheese. Spaghetti is still regularly boiled for a good 20 minutes. Mom used canned tomato sauce but once, feeling inspired, she put threw in left over bacon. If the bread was moldy, I was told to cut out the green bits and eat it anyway. Vegetables are always limp and brown at the edges. Her refrigerator is full of mysterious tinfoil packages and foggy recycled plastic baggies. Five years ago, I had to explain how a vegetable steamer worked. Three years ago, my father accidentally tried calamari for the first time in his life when he grabbed it from my plate, thinking it was an onion ring.

Whenever I make a “exotic” meal for them like roasted chicken or pork ribs, my mom irritates me with passive aggressive compliments to the point she makes me feel like shit for actually cooking something different for them.

So yes, ma mere is the inspiration for learning how to cook.

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My mother seldom cooks anymore, and when I visit my parents, my father seldom wants any help with any part of the food preparation except finding some spices in the spice cabinet, bringing some Indian ingredients he's running out of up from my terrific local Bangladeshi store (or, at times, bringing Chinese or other types of East/Southeast Asian ingredients from Flushing, Chinatown, etc.), and helping with setting the table, taking stuff off the table, washing dishes and such. But I cherish memories of helping my mother make apple pie when I was a little kid (as young as 4). I helped peel, core, and slice apples and put them on top of the crust. And the only thing that was wrong with the apple pie was that it disappeared too quickly. :laugh:

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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My carry-on -- at her request -- was a cooler of all the ingredients for cassoulet and that's what we did for two days.  She's in the same very small, very isolated town as Foam Pants, who can thus understand why it was necessary to import pretty much everything.

Thanks for reminding me. I'll have to pack some vanilla beans and chocolate if I'm going to do any baking. Although I am usually surprised at the selection at the two differing grocery stores, but more so by the prices! :blink:

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Love this thread. My mother and I never cooked together. I did dishes. My mother was a very good basic cook with a relatively limited repertoire (steaks, chops, roasts, excellent swt/sour meatballs, occasional lemon meringue pie, etc. But the sharpest knife in the kitchen had a serrated edge. :sad: She was unusual in her generation for she was in business in an era when few women were.

But the real story is my children. I'm the one who has good equipment. I have made sure that each of their kitchens has the tools I need when I cook there. But you know, you can buy them knives, but can't make them sharpen them. :laugh:

One son and his family are staying with me while relocating from another state and househunting. My DIL, a vegetarian, mostly serves things that come from boxes and packages, though she is scrupulous about the organic issue. We keep separate schedules and I've pretty much abdicated my kitchen during normal mealtimes because I don't want to create friction. (My other DIL says I've become wallpaper. :blink::unsure::blink: ) I think were I to cook for them more often, my DIL would read it as being competitive, or trying to "take over"her family. :laugh::rolleyes::rolleyes: Fat chance.

My other son's family is different in that my DIL is not only an indifferent cook, she's indifferent about cooking. Much easier. My son enjoys cooking when there's time and her only complaint is that he doesn't have more time. :laugh: If I want to make dinner there or bring it, well, bring it on. And here my granddaughter is learning to cook from her father and from me. They often watch the PBS cooking shows together on Saturdays.

"Half of cooking is thinking about cooking." ---Michael Roberts

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Hooo doggies, Northrup and Beans are right, Southeast Alaska is expensive and not very diverse at the grocery store. Right now I am in rural Iowa where I was born and raised. Now, in Iowa, the grocery stores all seem to assume that you are going to be cooking out of a can. For being in a rural area with tons of potential for good food the food can suck donkey balls. It's easy to get in the habit of pouring melted Cheez Whiz over boiled cauliflower... which, by the way, is one of my Mom's favorites. EGADS!

I would have brought my own knives but I think Alaska Airlines would have confiscated them. The parental kitchen has bigger problems. The pans are from Granpa's shed, the plates have all dissapeared to places unknown, and the cutting board is more wharped than the dude knocking out eggs and bacon at Denny's.

By the way, my carry-on was a cooler packed with smoked sockeye. I got some funny looks on the commuter plane from Minneapolis. I think they thought I was carrying a human heart.

9 out of 10 dentists recommend wild Alaska salmon.

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not the mother(gone 13 years later this month)

but the mother - in- law who is DO really like but whose culinary skills are nonextinant.

she used to send home food with her son(canned tuna, wonder bread, mayo, etc.) that i used to get really pissed at. i had cooked professionally to earn money to get my graduate degree and she was amazed at the fact the roast i prepared came out moist( i seared it off and roasted it with some veg and wine instead of plopping it in a pan in a 350 degree oven and salting the shit out of it). the conversation "mother, isn't this a wonderful roast? you would never believe how susan did it!!!!" from grandma who graduated from a german cooking academy " oh, yes , i would". she never taught her daughter how to cook. and my sister-in-law still comes into the kitchen at the last minute saying "is there anything i can do?" but since she has now idea how to cook anything including boiling water we give her the same answer we do her brothers - ugh, no but your timing is impeccibl3. though in all fairness my mil never seemed to want to learn and , after she had to get married she, my fil , husband and his older brother lived with her mother and father. since grandma cooked and the mil worked she never had to learn to cook.

once she and her husband were out on their own the idea of meat and potatoes( no rabbit food) and all veg were in cans arranged alphabetically in the cabinets continued to be the norm till i got my paws on the Johnnybird.

i was raised with a quarter acre garden and we ate fresh veg everyday we could,sharing it with aunt belle who actually owned the land we farmed. fresh veg were the norm and i still can NOT abide canned spinach.

when i go up to pok i bring my own knives, seasonings( i know there is no olive oil or kosher salt), salad makings and even cutting boards.

while food is important to me and has become something to enjoy for my husband, my mother-in-law finds it an annoyance and my sister-in-law can't understand why she has problems with her stomach/intestine when her idea of a dinner is half a pepperoni pizza with extra cheese(lament from the mil - i stopped drinking - alcohol- but drinking 8- 12 glasses of paul newman lemonade, eating 1/4 of a danish ring, cheese and crackers and a sandwich(roll, ham and cheese hold the lettuce and cheese), then finishing off wiith more crackers and cheese) :sad:

Edited by suzilightning (log)

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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My mother's kitchen has no cutting board (everything is held in her hand while cutting off bits with a paring knife), no chef's knife, no dry measuring cups, and not many real tupperware type storage containers-she collects tiny margarine tubs "just in case".

We usually avoid eating Mom's cooking by ordering pizza whenever a large number of us are visiting.

Recently, she began making "pizza" by using bisquick, jarred sauce, and whatever shredded cheese happens to be on sale. :sad:

Crystal

We like the mooooon........Coz it is close to us...........

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My mother's kitchen has no cutting board (everything is held in her hand while cutting off bits with a paring knife), no chef's knife, no dry measuring cups, and not many real tupperware type storage containers-she collects tiny margarine tubs "just in case".

Crystal,

you aren't my sister are you? :blink: You just desribed my mother's kitchen except for the jelly jars that were used as glasses my entire childhood.

My mother does like to cook and does do it quite well. Growing up with 7 siblings we weren't allowed in the kitchen too much and except for making salads or cookies at holidays I never "cooked" with my mother. Now that I live on the other side of the world, when I get to visit it is usually for 4 to 6 weeks at a time so we have a lot of time in the kitchen together. Now that all but 2 of the kids are gone she really experiments a lot more and we have fun planning meals together, she has no problems if I tell her there is a better way to do things and is very open to new foods. Every now and then I get an e-mail from her asking how I made that salmon dish, potato dish, etc.

I am really looking forward to out time in the kitchen together next summer. :biggrin:

Kristin Wagner, aka "torakris"

 

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In my mother's kitchen:

Mother's only cutting board is a thick round slab of wood that has cracked in two and been stapled back together, has developed rot and mildew in the crack where food and moisture collect, and smells as delicious as a compost heap. I threw away the cutting board once, but mother dug it out of the trash can outdoors and brought it back to the kitchen.

Mother keeps various and sundry plastic lidded containers, from store-bought foods, for use as food-storage. The problem is, the containers are stacked high up in a cabinet but the lids are in drawer on the opposite end of the kitchen and, after you cross the kitchen with the container, it still takes several minutes of trial and error to match a lid to the container.

Mother hardly ever washes out her pots and pans. Pots and pans full of grease and food particles are stored in the oven and taken out for cooking the next meal using the same grease. She says you have to wash out a pan only if there is food stuck on, which might burn. It's amazing that no one ever gets food poisoning.

Mother keeps uncooked meats on the counter-top for hours before cooking, and she keeps cooked meats out on the table until midnight because she thinks one of my brothers might come over late in the evening and want to eat something.

Mother puts MSG in everything, even potato salad, even though my father has hypertension and has to take medication for the condition. Believe me, I've tried talking to her about this.

Just so you know what I'm dealing with: She also refuses to wear a seat belt because she read that a seat belt can kill you in case of a crash.

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My mom cooked a lot, and quite well, when we were small, but only when the house was fully staffed - the cook did all her prep work and mise en place and the cleaner followed her around the kitchen.

That was long ago in Mexico, these days she doesn't cook much, no staff, you see... she only cooks on the day the cleaning lady is coming!

It's hard for me to cook in her spotless kitchen as it is small, but all the equipment is there, great knives included, provided by me one x-mas.

www.nutropical.com

~Borojo~

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and moldy peaches (and I ain't talkin' 'bout the band).

color me impressed.

my mom makes some things pretty well. mac and cheese, meatballs, things like that. as for the rest, i usually have to take over. meat well-done, vegetables cooked too much, par boiling ribs. oh it's a nightmare. :biggrin:

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