LOOKING for: Mom's best recipes

ruthanna_gwMay 13, 2007

What are/were your mother's best or signature dishes?

For my mom:

Pot roast

PA Dutch potato filling

Chicken pot pie (the kind with square homemade noodles cooked in broth, not the kind with a crust)

Butter cookies

Potato salad

Baked fish

Orange or lemon chiffon cakes

Luckily, I spent some time with my mother in her kitchen for the express purpose of measuring out the quantities and cooking times for some of her "about a handful" or "bake until done" recipes so they could be duplicated (although never quite the same without her touch).

When she died a few years ago, I printed out a sheet including recipes for some of her specialties and "food stories" about her and had a pile of them at her memorial service available for attendees to take home with them. I think she'd be glad that her cooking legacy lives on.

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My mom's signature dishes are:

- tourtieres (meat pies)
- butter tarts
- fruit pies
- pork and potato stuffing
- lemon squares

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 12:17PM
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Mother was not much of a cook and didn't cook much of a variety. She did make the most fabulous blackberry cobblers in the world. And all my friends loved to come over and eat her mashed potatoes. Years later I learned that the reason her mashed potatoes were so good was not in the method, but the type of potato she used. My brother and I also loved her pancakes. She would make them the size of the large cast iron skillet she was cooking them in. She would flip them and they would land perfectly in the bottom of that skillet.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 12:57PM
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Ruthanna, what a lovely thing to do.
My Mom cooked the best spaghetti and meatballs and I loved her pineapple upside down cake. She made a great Boston Cream Pie too.
And my Grandmother made the best spinach soup, meat pies in noodle dough, and liver dumplings. Yep, she was German and could make garbage taste good, I'm sure.

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 1:56PM
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Very nice topic, Ruthanna! During the last two years I didn't think my mother would be still with me - there were a lot of troubles - but today she let me drive her down here to our house and she's staying overnight and we had a wonderful time and she had a Cosmopolitan with shrimp cocktail and wine with her steak dinner, LOL, up to her old tricks again at the age of 87.

She was never into cooking, to say the least, but she made a mean Chicken Fricassee (called Frickin Chicken in our house). It was basically pressure cooked whole chicken with lots of fresh lemon added at the end and baking powder dumplings added - or rice - or something to use up that great broth/sauce. Sometimes she thickened it abd sometimes she didn't bother. (She worked at the time when most of the moms were stay-at-home and I was always so proud of her hair, makeup and high heels!)

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 10:41PM
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Carol Schmertzler Siegel

My mother's signature dish was London Broil, frozen creamed spinach and a baked potato. It was basically her only dish! It's the only thing I remember her cooking, otherwise she took everything from the freezer that my grandma had cooked or we ate out. My mom was never into cooking but she always took me to great restaurants in the city, we'd go to Broadway, the ballet, museums, shopping and always lunch or dinner out! Not the best home cook, but my both my grandma's took care of the home cooking!

Great thread, Ruthanna!

Sounds like a great time with your mom, Woodie! Glad she's doing ok!

    Bookmark   May 13, 2007 at 11:28PM
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CA Kate

SInce my Mom had to work outside the home I learned to do the cooking really early. But when she was home she made some really good meals. I especially remember her Creamed Chicken over puff pastry crusts, German Potato Dumplings and melt-in-your-mouth sugar cookies. I can do the first and last fairly well, but never did learn how to make the many-steps German Dumplings.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 12:34AM
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As I was growing up, Mom was (and is) a wonderful home cook. She made wonderful pies, prune cake, fried chicken, hamburger noodle casserole, the best dressing for turkey, and pot roast among other dishes. At 81 she cooks everyday for herself and my dad and invites me to dinner often. When my son, Matthew, was little, she would fix breakfast for him just as long as he would sit and eat it: cereal, followed by eggs/bacon, toast, followed by another egg and more toast. That little fella could put away some kind of breakfast!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 7:20AM
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Pepper Steak...boy do I miss that!!!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 9:06AM
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Beanie Weenies and some kind of tamale pie from a recipe off the side of the Bisquick box. Mom is *not* a cook. LOL

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 11:50AM
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My mother's signature dish was yaprakia, often called dolmas or dolmathes, Greek stuffed grape leaves. My dad loved them, so she'd make them often. I remember gorwing grapes in our North Hollywood back yard -- not for the grapes but for the leaves! After I married, my husband developed a fondness for them too. She'd make them as a special present for his birthday, Christmas, & Father's Day.

A few years ago I watched her carefully as she was making them so I could get the ingredients striaght and the correct quantities. It was a good thing too, because now, at 92 years old, my mother doesn't remember things clearly at all. I have now taken over making the grape leaves.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 11:51AM
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My mother made dinner every night, even after she started working. Many days, after school, I would put a roast into the oven. I started learning how to cook that way.

She wasn't the most imaginative cook in the world, but she made wonderful baked beans and fish chowder. And her Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were always wonderful. That's when she really shined.

She was always willing to try something new with me. We ground wheat and made bread once, from the wheat in the field at the end of our street.

I have her recipe box, and there's a lot of recipes typical of the 50's and 60's - sort of semi-homemade stuff. But I've managed to pull some good recipes out and give them to the kids.

My Swedish grandmother was a good cook, though in typical Scandinavian style - she could make an entire white meal - baked fish with cream sauce, potatoes and cauliflower. But could she bake - wonderful breads and pies, homemade jam. I love to bake, especially bread, and I got that from her.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 1:43PM
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Great thread!! My mother couldn't make a decent pot roast if her life depended on it (they were always dry), but her pan fried chicken, mashed potatoes and cream gravy were to die for!! She also did a wonderful BBQ brisket (with homemade BBQ sauce) and her coconut and banana cream pies were always a big hit. Thanks for the memories...

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 4:18PM
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Carol Schmertzler Siegel

Janet, you reminded me of the one thing my mother could cook really well! Pot Roast. The meat was always soft and perfect. Everyone always loved it! I can't cook a brisket on top of the stove for the life of me, but hers was perfect every time! She hasn't made it years, she wrote the recipe down but it comes out tough when I make it!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 5:01PM
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Momj47, I had to really laugh at your description of your Swedish grandmother's cooking "...in typical Scandinavian style - she could make an entire WHITE meal..." My husband's grandparents were from Norway, so he grew up with similar food. He always jokes about Norwegian foods being white.

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 7:25PM
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What a fun read.

I always requested my favorite for my birthday. Her roast pork with brown sauerkraut and dumplings. She made great potato pancakes and not a baker but known for her lemon meringue pie. Eileen - you reminded me - pepper steak! She made it often - always in the electric frying pan. Pudding in a cloud - lol. Red onions for hot dogs (Nana had a Sabrett's hot dog cart).

Mostly, I would say it was the flair she had for making simple meals seem special. We played restaurant for breakfast and she was the waitress and cook. She always whipped our orange juice in the blender. Dad left at 5:00 am for work but she would set his place setting with a cereal bowl and so on. She put on makeup before he got home from work. Don't tell my husband - lol! We were spoiled!

    Bookmark   May 14, 2007 at 7:50PM
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What a nice memorial for you Mom Ruthanna !

Mom was a great cook--wasn't much she didn't serve -- but was probably most well known for her Golabki & Christmas Cookie trays.Jams,conserves & pickles were another specialty.And OMG she could make tasty gravy out of anything! But I remember most fondly her meatloaf & potato pancakes.

She worked outside the house when few women did but still managed to keep a neat house,fix great meals, teach us to cook, bake, preserve & ugh iron perfectly-- back when there were no automatic washers , dryers, permanent press, box mixes & few frozen foods.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2007 at 10:20PM
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My Mom did a pretty good job in the kitchen. My Dad was a "meat and potatoes" guy. We lived on a farm, in the early years it was all strawberries and sweet corn, later wheat and soy beans. So I have lots of good memories of eating lots of those things. Highlights for me...meat loaf, pork roast, pork chops, swiss steak, Thanksgiving dinner...my brother's list of favorites would be different, except for TG dinner... And...Mom made wonderful pies. Her apple pie is still my favorite. Soon as I was old enough, she pretty much gave me freedom to bake and cook. She didn't have that opportunity herself and often has said, life after getting married would have been a whole lot easier if she had learned to cook before getting married.

At 86, she just shakes her head at some of my cooking and especially my baking....too much work as far as she's concerned, but I know she is proud of me.


    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 1:44PM
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This is a great idea for a thread... My mom cooked, but never loved cooking. However, her signature dish, that was made by request every year for my birthday, was Arroz Con Pollo... Chicken and chorizo (a spicy spanish sausage) cooked together with saffron rice and peas, so that the rice absorbed all kinds of delicious chicken and sausage fat... Mmmmmmm. I still make it every few years for my birthday...


    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 2:35PM
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Mom's fried fruit pies!

And when they were done, we'd bite off one end, and stick a big slice of butter inside to melt.

Messy, wonderfully delightful eating!

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 5:06PM
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Ruthanna lovely thought.

My mom was a simple cook but her food was always so delicious. even if the menu was often repeated! She always cooked way too much food and I have inherited that gene.

In my mind her specialties were:

Butter tarts .... oh how I wish I had watched her do them, never have been able to duplicate them

Tapioca pudding and rice pudding

Spaghetti with meat sauce...every Saturday night and we were allowed to eat it on the living room floor while we watched Tarzan

Roast Beef and Yorkshire Pudding.....oh my

Stuffed Spareribs ...I 'd say this was her signature dish

Mashed potatoes and gravy becasue they were served at almost every meal .

And I must mention these two.

Cheese Dreams which consisted of a half hamburger roll or a bread slice, slightly toasted and topped with processed cheese slices and crisp bacon, under the broiler until the cheese melted.

We didn't have a name for these but Mom would split a wiener almost in half, spread it open, broil it for a bit, fill with mashed potatoes and top with a slice of cheese and then broil until the cheese melted. Served with Kraft Dinner!!! We loved it then and I still do.

Thanks Mom

    Bookmark   May 16, 2007 at 6:15PM
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What a wonderfult thread. My mom could have been a great cook, but her nose was always in a book and she let a lot of things burn! But she was known for her spaghetti and meatballs and matzo meal and potato latkes,. She was a fabulous baker - sour cream cookies and apple cake. Yum. Sadly, I can't duplicate any of them, and she doesn't remember what she used for recipies.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2007 at 8:27PM
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Great thread! I have enjoyed reading the responses.

While growing up, I really don't remember my Mom cooking, until I was in about 4th grade. That is when she married my stepdad and we moved from South Dakota to Iowa. Before that, she worked 2, sometimes 3 jobs, to support me and my two sisters.

Our stepdad was a meat and potatoes man. Every dinner had meat, potatoes (cooked in many ways), gravy, at least 2 vegetables, pickles, bread and butter. I could never figure out why the pickles were on the table, as I don't remember anyone ever eating them with the meal. And we never had "one pot meals", such as chicken and dumplings, or a casserole...ever.

My favorite was her roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy. Dessert for me was bread and gravy. I always ended my meal with that. And I loved her potato pancakes, made from leftover mashed potatoes.

She was a great baker. She spent Saturdays baking 5 or 6 kinds of cookies, 2 or 3 bar cookies and several breads (banana, banana chocolate chip or zuchinni). At Christmas time, she would make a ton of different candies: toffee, cereal candies, divinity, peanut brittle, fruitcake, the list goes on.

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 11:13AM
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My Mom was a great Italian cook -- learned from her Mom!

Tortellini in brodo (all handcut noodles)
Veal cutlets
Green lasagna (spinach noodles)with meat sauce
Chicken catch-a-tory ;-)
Handcuts with Bolognese sauce
Swedish meatballs (??)

carlo ciaffone

    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 1:31PM
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This is so enjoyable!
My Mom did the meat & potatoes thing too.
But, she really excelled at baking, pies, cakes, cookies, yum yum.
She did the most beautiful decorated cookies at Christmas & I have carried on the tradition. I felt like a traitor when I decided to switch sugar cookie recipes to one with cream cheese added!
When we were little she would make decorated hearts for our school classes on valentines day & include the names of each classmate decorated on them.....now you can't even bring home made treats to school, how sad!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 12:43PM
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I love this thread! Growing up in the 50's & 60's the one thing I remember so vividly is that company would drop in on us as they traveled up & down the Hudson Valley on weekend road trips, but my mother could always put together a very nice meal, whip up a yummy dessert (didn't have to be something gourmet, just delicious) as she had a huge walk in pantry and kept it well stocked and didn't get flustered, just made everyone comfortable and was a great hostess. Excellent pot roasts (that's the only way I like cooked carrots), broiled steaks, Cornish hens, shrimp cocktail in martini glasses, Swedish meatballs and pancakes, and my childhood favorite--Goodman's tiny noodles with butter and pieces of crispy bacon (I make an Italian version of that now & add Parmesan cheese). And when we were sick in bed, always on the tray was a shotglass with some fresh flowers in it (sigh...sniff!) Ann

    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 9:22PM
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My Mom wasn't a great cook either - she didn't enjoy cooking. But she made perfect mashed potatoes and I loved it when she made french toast. When I got older she made pretty good white bean soup and veggie soup. My favorite meal was smoked pork chops, fried potatoes, and great northern beans all with ketchup.

Mom's Mom is a great cook. She worked in restaurants and delis. She has lots of best recipes. Spaghetti and meatballs are my favorite. She served Thanksgiving Dinner with dressing in a casserole dish (we fought over the crusty edges), giblet gravy and rolled dumplings. She is known for her potato salad and cheese ball. Every Christmas she makes carrot cake, peanut butter balls and butter cookies rolled in pecans with a candied cherry in the center. For my birthday she always made my favorite German Chocolate cake.

Dad's Mom's best recipe was Meatloaf and egg noodles in tomato gravy. She made very good cole slaw. She always had sweet tea and cream pies.

I am lucky to have another grandmother to learn from. My husbands Mamaw taught me how to make cornbread in an iron skillet and peach cobbler. She also gave me the confidence to try cooking chuck roast, potatos and carrots. Her best recipe is her biscuits.

Mom used to make popcorn for us before we owned a microwave and covered it in butter and salt. That was a best!

    Bookmark   July 15, 2007 at 9:34PM
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I was raised by my Grandmother, who taught me to cook. We always had homemade bread, never that soft Wonder Bread that we wanted so badly.

We had a farm and lived on the edge of the national forest so we also foraged wild berries. My favorite dessert was and still is Grandma's Blueberry Crisp, although her fruit dumplings come in a close second.

Her fried chicken was always crunchy, never greasy. I loved her swiss steak, not the kind with tomatoes, the kind with creamy gravy and served with mashed potatoes.

She made the lightest, fluffiest biscuits for breakfast with butter and honey to top them, but my favorite meals was a big pot of navy beans, cooked with the ham bone from another meal, along with a pan of "johnny cake". It was a slightly sweet corn bread made with sugar and yellow cornmeal, I still love it. Even better were the baked beans that were made with maple syrup and molasses from the leftover beans. Those I'd even eat cold, on a slice of that homemade bread.

Grandma, I know you're listening. Thank you for making me the foodie that I am!


    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 2:07PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Hamburger Helper
Tuna Casserole
Au Gratin potatoes, Betty Crocker
Hamburger Soup
Chef Boyardee Pizza
Steak Umms

We ate that stuff a lot! But she really did know how to cook and made great fried chicken, salads, cakes and pot roast.
I think part of it was the seventies era...

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:20PM
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i really don't remember much about my mothers cooking.
i do remember her making the best swiss steak with green peppers..
my daddy made us french toast and on sundays he made $ size pancakes for us.
i know when they divorced i had to do all the cooking.....maybe that is why i don't really remember....i was cooking at 10

    Bookmark   July 18, 2007 at 5:44PM
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