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Pay homage to your mother: her "culinary gift"?


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Mother was a culinary equivalent of FDR. Make the best of what you have where you are. She served all of us nine kids invariably good meals. She cooked each one of us our favorite dish for our birthday. I can only recall one meal that none of us could eat. That was when she served the meat of a pig we were very fond of.

Gato ming gato miao busca la vida para comer

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I am fortunate to live right next door to my Mother, and since she is the best cook I know, what a treat that is. Similar to someone's post above, she was very efficient in the kitchen when I was a child, so she never needed me as an assistant. That is my only regret, because as my children remind me "that doesn't taste like Grandma's, you should have let her make it". She has many specialties, but one of her best qualities is the ability to make a meal out of what I would consider nothing. Still don't know how she turns leftovers into a totally different meal. My favorite meal of this type is Turkey Hash a few days after Thanksgiving. I have attempted a few of her master pieces, but I have only suceeded at two dishes - potatoe salad and sweet potatoe pie. Actually, I will never tell her this but I like my potatoe salad a little better, but the pies I still make in her kitchen so she can oversee me every step of the way. For two years now I have made the pies for every holiday and family gathering and everyone approves. Her applesauce is to die for, I think I will try that next. But then again, everything she makes is out of this world. :wub:

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My mom isn't the best cook, a fact she would readily agree to. Cooking was the means necessary to feed her family and she really didn't enjoy it. My Dad does most of the cooking now. However, she was a farm girl, and she taught me a most valuable lesson - how to cut up a chicken. I can't tell you how many people I know don't know how to do such a simple thing. I thank her silently every time I do it. Any I'll gladly cook every time I come to visit. Thanks, MOM. I love you.

Stop Family Violence

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she really like butter and fat

"Fat is Flavor," as a friend of mine says.

I remember my mom teaching me about pie dough, and she must have given me some instruction otherwise about cookies and cakes (I conclude that because I was making both without supervision at a fairly young age). The mom of my childhood was unadventurous; after I left home, though, she started to care more about what we ate and try newer things. (I don't think there's a cause and effect here!)

I think her only culinary gift was my love for feeding people good food. If company came over, she was invested in making the best dinner possible--I try to do that every time I cook.

Edited by onehsancare (log)

Life is short. Eat the roasted cauliflower first.

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  • 2 years later...

My mom's culinary gift to me was being able to go in the kitchen at any time growing up, and just 'creating'. Never was I banished from the kitchen or not allowed to use any ingredients in any amounts that I wanted. Oh, just remembered, one thing was off limits- her midnight snack Hershey Milk Chocolate bars, other than that it was whatever I wanted.

Although she had a lack of interest in the kitchen, she never dampered mine.

Now she says I'm obsessed, and its true! But that's not a bad thing!

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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Let me preface this by saying this: I love my mother. I do, really. She lives close by, we're always together, we talk on the phone about 9 times a day. My son is at her house right this minute, and I think they're going to see Iron Man together tomorrow.

The only thing she taught me about food, was what not to do. She despises vegetables, and anything spicy or exotic. I learned to cook on my own by reading my grandmother's cookbooks, and I managed to survive that way. The biggest thing she gave me in the kitchen was free reign. One day, I spent the entire day making linzertortes, one dozen enormous raspberry buttery sandwich cookies, which I served to her company with pride. I've been making Thanksgiving dinner since I was 12. Not well, at first, but I did it, and served it to a mixed group of family and friends with my mother right behind me, glowing with pride.

She's got wonderful common sense, and great street smarts...She taught me her attention to detail, and her craftiness. She taught me her smooth social ways, and sometimes I channel her in awkward situations (otherwise, I'm a total wallflower, I couldn't talk my way into our out of anything. Sometimes, just sometimes she enters my head and takes me through awkward situations). She taught me how to wear makeup and how to wear jeans that make me look like I have a butt. She taught me bluntness, and how to tell it like it is. How to work hard, and make your own living. She was a single mom from when I was 6, and she raised me in sort of a casual way. I learn by hanging out with her, and her grownup friends, and being accepted as a miniature grownup since I was very young. I learned gardening, and a love for growing things at her side. I learned rudimentary Polish (enough to understand any conversation, but I speak very little), and even less Russian. I learned to bargain shop, barter, and I definitely learned the value of a dollar. She was very hard on me about school, and made me practice my handwriting and reading skills at every turn (for which I am still exceedingly greatful.). Through her, I learned to drink and party responsibly, and be graceful in everything I do.

Every bit of this has served me well in my adult life, and I owe her vast tribute, but not here on eGullet...because the woman didn't teach me how to cook, not a bit. :smile:

Edited by Lilija (log)
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My Mom, long since passed, and I both shared what I call a "taste memory". You taste a dish in progress, particularly a long simmering thing like a stew or a braise and ask your self "what would make this taste better". Then you think of the flavor of the item that's cooking and overlay various tastes on the flavor in your head and just know that a little orange rind would perk this up, or that the sweet taste of caraway would help that, or because the Italian sausage in the sauce did not have fennel seed, you'll need to add it.

"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I think I benefitted more from the way I perceived my mother's cooking than from the way she actually cooked. By that I mean that I thought she was a tremendously enthusiastic and adventurous cook, and I adopted that attitude for myself. She was fairly adventurous for that era, but now I realize that she has a lot of food prejudices that I never noticed. For instance, she recently asked me to make a lot of fish during her visit to me so she could get over her "fear of fish." That was the first time I realized that she never cooked fish the whole time I was growing up (except for salmon cakes). How could I not have noticed?

But by far the greatest gift she gave me was a childhood free of junk food. I never developed a taste for it, and I imagine it's one of the main reasons I've never struggled with my weight or had other dietary-related illnesses. Thanks, mom!

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My mothers gift to me was to not be afraid to try!!!! From a very early age she let me cook the way I wanted to. If she made something I didn't particulary like of hers, she would let me take some of it and work my magic on it, "cooking it my way", adding ingredients, spices whatever i could conjure up. Boy that sure led to some, how should I say, interesting dishes, but there was a pride in that I had "created" them. None the less it taught me that cooking was not to be feared but embraced, a recipe as a guideline is ok, cooking should be an exploration.

Another thing she taught through example was the fine balancing act of bringing it all together at the right time.

Thanks Mom. Love you

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My mother taught me that there were no short cuts. She taught me that if she and Daddy had to cruise in their LeSabre all afternoon for a bunch of watercress, it was work worth doing. She taught me that Georgian sterling and vintage linens bought at auction weren't to be stored away -- they were to be used every night. She insisted that Jamie Oliver wasn't a twit. On our Sunday night phone call she'd tell me about every dinner she'd made that week, every lunch, every tea party. When I was in Ottawa we'd hit the Byward market hard, and all the farm ladies knew her: "Bonjour Madame! "And when she was lying in hospice at Elizabeth Bryuere she opened her eyes and looked at me and my daughter. "Buy some Sauvagine cheese. Go to Les Fougeres for lunch."

And she died with a strawberry Ensure in her hand.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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My mother died when I was 3 and I was raised by many loving "mothers" ...

bottom line in my learning

I was taught that an emaculatized house gave the impression you had some control in life ...so I clean mine for therapy and then live with the false illusion that I have any control at all over anything...

cooking was also all about control.. depending on how you felt you could make or break a meal ...you could reward, seduce, whatever and make everyone happy with a fantastic meal......or if you are pissed you off you can create a lousy meal and then dare them to say a word with a single look ..with four wonderful teanagers sitting at a table at the same time ..instead of yelling, or screaming or leaving the table myself...I used this skill (in both directions) ..many times... :raz:

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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My mother taught me (without intending to) to love grocery shopping and the hunting and gathering of the best foods from various sources.

She also made the acquisition, preparation and sharing of food a real adventure.

There were memorable forays into cherry pies, canning tomatoes, making rose petal jelly, organic blueberry picking, root beer bottling, popcorn ball making, candy apple making, fudge making, etc.

She encouraged me to bake from Jiffy box mixes and then Betty Crocker from an early age.

I in

I like to bake nice things. And then I eat them. Then I can bake some more.

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Driving across town (or even to another city) just to get that one perfect doughnut (or other food) is a perfectly normal thing to do.

Too funny--this is my mom exactly, although not specifically for doughnuts but almost everything else.

I can honestly say that I never cooked with my mom nor was I specifically taught anything by her at any point before I moved out, and rarely thereafter. (I have asked for and received recipes and tips since then, but we almost never physically cook together.)

However, seeing the effort and care that my mom put into preparing good food was more than enough of an influence.

Thanks mom! :wub:

Edited by sanrensho (log)
Baker of "impaired" cakes...
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I never really cooked with my mom, just assisted in prep. She was an adventurous cook, taking classes and experimenting.

She let me join a cookbook club when I was maybe 12. I cherish those early cookbooks.

I think the biggest "culinary" gift she gave me was passing on her ability to entertain with grace and ease. I have no problem creating menus and prepping, and I am often puzzled when people say things like "I don't know how you do it"/ "So much work, look at her just whip everything out". To me it is as natural as breathing. Us girls always helped prep appetizers and "serve" them to the guests with cocktails. We knew how to clear a table quickly and then efficiently get the dishes taken care of. We automatically picked up discarded cocktail napkins, asked if people needed a re-fill, directed them to the powder room, etc. When I go to parties or functions today I always pop my head in the kitchen to see if they are short handed and always help clear if appropriate. It just feels right.

Thanks mom (who is probably organizing happy eating events in the hereafter)!

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My mother was not an inventive cook. She burned everything and other than pies, didn't make dessert. Since our family of 6 liked to have a dessert and we didn't have much money, she assigned me with the task of making Jiffy cakes everyday after school. Making those cakes and watching my father act as if this was the BEST dessert he'd ever eaten made me understand how wonderful it felt to feed people. Even though my mother wasn't the best cook, she loved family and having them over for dinner. That taught me that it wasn't always about the food.

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My mother taught me the joy of cooking, that even if you are unhappy, eating well - not fancily but generously - is one of the daily pleasures that can make life worth living, that can make us feel good. Mom was a great intuitive cook, and no one was better able to throw together the most delicious everyday meals from whatever ingredients were at hand, even the most frugal. This stemmed above all from her generosity of spirit, and the desire to enjoy the company of family and friends around her table, eating, talking, laughing, arguing - living. We may be considered better cooks, 'fancier' cooks, but how I miss her generous spontaneity, how I miss those wonderful family meals.

Marc

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I distinctly remember my mother bringing home our first microwave oven. She was thrilled, because it meant the Mickey D's she brought home almost every single night could be nuked and served to us hot, which of course meant it was better. :biggrin:

The one thing my mother taught me, for which I am grateful, was the joy of fresh, lovingly prepared food. She did it by absentia, but hey, she did it! :laugh:

“Don't kid yourself, Jimmy. If a cow ever got the chance, he'd eat you and everyone you care about!”
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I have to say my step mother ...man she started off rough in the kitchen ..she married my dad when she was only 26 and we were hitting puberty ..she wanted to pack a lunch for us every day and just put sandwiches in paper bags with an apple and whatever else was on hand ..celery sticks ..carrots sticks she would neatly cut them up and just toss them in the bag..she absolutely did not know to wrap anything in anything ..not the sandwich not the carrots ..nothing was wrapped in the bag... what surprises we had when we opened our lunches after the bouncy bus ride to school! ..she made beef stew one time and we had to use a knife and fork to eat it ..it was a loaf! ..she also taught me that when you bake an apple pie you really should add sugar ..she made four one day and opted to leave the sugar out because it was "bad for us" ...she tried so hard to make good meals but really had no talent at all in the beginning...

she did however after a few years totally master good Providence style Italian dishes and now whenever we get together we cook .... both of us have bonded over her early faux paux's in the kitchen ..we still laugh about those school lunches ...

I adore my step mother and her early efforts in the kitchen have given our family years of laughter

later I found out her mom had no sense of taste and really did not cook so she had no idea about food and learned about it after she married my father and had to feed us kids ...

Edited by hummingbirdkiss (log)
why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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My mom taught me to enjoy food, and that it's worth traipsing and arguing with dad over directions (for the record, my parents are the two Wrongs who produced kids with Right senses of direction) to find something really, really good.

My mom taught me to taste, and that trial and error will get you to that awesome dish you had in a restaurant.

My mom taught me to be daring, to try everything--even if she still refuses to eat raw fish.

I've loads more actually, but I'm missing my mom now--it's my first year away from home, and I've not seen my mom since December.

May

Totally More-ish: The New and Improved Foodblog

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My Mom has fairly recently admitted that she has lost interest in food as a hobby - and she was never a gourmet cook. But she is a good, solid cook of home-style favorites and the fact that she cooked everything from scratch, had a garden and canned her own vegetables, and raised chickens, pigs and lambs while I was growing up let me learn that there was more to food than the styrofoam packages of meat and canned vegetables that a lot of my contemporaries grew up with.

And I envy the fact that she can make a perfect pie crust and biscuits from scratch without any glance at a recipe or cookbook.

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