My mom is the greatest cook.
I’m sure you’ve heard that before.
It’s not uncommon to hear people rave about their mother’s dishes or compare them to the ones sitting in front of them at the dinner table. “My mom made her Portuguese bean soup with watercress, not cabbage.” “My mom didn’t use so much mayo in her potato mac salad.” “My mom’s gravy was waaaaaay better.”
Even if what our mothers — and sometimes fathers — whipped up in the kitchen would never be served at a five-star restaurant, there’s something nostalgic and wonderful about the foods from our childhood.
I have a long, long list of favorite things my mom makes — and I revisit that list mentally whenever I’m coming over for dinner.
“What do you want to eat?” my mom would ask. (It’s almost always the first thing out of her mouth.)
“Hmm. Let me think about that.”
I pull out my mental checklist: Rainbow Jell-O (top), cheese omelet, pork and beans and gravy, homemade sloppy joe, vinho d’alhos (above), Spam and pineapple (long story), grilled cheese sandwiches, waffles she makes from scratch, cinnamon rolls she makes from scratch and — a family favorite — chocolate cream pie (below).
Even though I have all of her recipes, I can’t ever recreate these dishes exactly the way she does. (I think she’s holding back on a few ingredients.) It’s just something she does, some kind of magic or love she sprinkles into the food. Everything just tastes better when my mom makes it.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my family lately — see yesterday’s post — and see these recipes as a way to perpetuate these little (but meaningful) traditions. It’s important to remember — and sharing is really the next step.
So what are your favorite Mom- (or Dad-) made meals?
And, more importantly, do you know how to make it?
My mom makes the best chinese dishes, I really like her Jai.
My father used to make the best clam chowder and chili I’d ever eaten. There would be days I’d grad a pack of saltine crackers and sit in front of the fire and gorge myself. I literally could not get up after an hour of so of constant eating. He used to make a pineapple upside down cake that was pretty good. My mother is a good all around cook but nothing leaps out of the page at you. MY sister makes the best deserts because she makes them from scratch… all of them. She makes wedding cakes etc etc. She never uses pre-mix boxes. My grandmother is an awesome cook, could eat her cooking all day long. she also makes everything from scratch and it is all good. Never thought I would be 55 and have a living grandparent much less one that still is ambulatory. She has more energy than my mother.
CAT: You are right. My Mom could cook up a storm and taught me how to cook stuff while I was about 7 or 8…(cook rice without a rice cooker). The missing ingredient in all Mom or Dad made dishes is “LOVE”. Just a dash to make the sweat equity that much sweeter. Parents are always cooking for loved ones…if not, they run restaurants!
Everything tastes better when my Mom makes it. Don’t know why.
Mom used to make the best deserts, apple pie, mince meat, chocalate cake etc.
toss up between pineapple shrimp and pumpkin pie
My mom’s kombu maki is the best. Also, her sauteed mushrooms are really good. She’s shown me how to make it dozens of times, and mine don’t come as good as hers.
My dad grills the best steaks. If I get all three in the same meal, I am one very happy camper.
My gramma makes the best namasu. She adds her ingredients and tastes as she goes – that’s why it’s so good.
Adobo, chicken or pork. I make it now but it still doesn’t have the same flavor or taste as mom’s.
My Mom used to make these sesame chicken wings that I liked to much that I would eat the leftovers cold until I ate them all. It was chicken wings, a block of margarine, salt, pepper and sesame seeds and she would bake it. So simple right? I have yet to duplicate it. Mine never tastes the same and I haven’t found anyone else that made it that way.
I love the spare ribs at Kaka’ako Kitchen, because they’re so much like my mom’s.
(I think she’s holding back on a few ingredients.) Yes cuz she is, it’s called LOVE 🙂 and yes your mom can cook!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Before my Mom passed I tried to learn all of her dishes that I loved to eat. Beef stew, new year’s ozoni, thanksgiving turkey and stuffing. Now I’m the only one in the family that can make it like that but still not exactly the same. I think it’s because I always think to put something else inside thinking that it would be better.
I always thought my Dad’s fried rice was so ono-licious and I worked for years to duplicate the recipe. I finally had it perfected – tasted just like I thought it should and I got up the guts to serve it to my folks. My Mon says “This is really, really good and just different enough from your Dad’s that I like the change.” Bummer but then I realized I might not ever be able to get it just like his. Could be something like he was using Aloha Shoyu and I used something else like Kikkomann. Could also be that I used a recipe he wrote down one night and then he never actually used a recipe. Over the years I’ve changed it quite a bit – still good but just a little healthier (very little).