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Nov 9, 2001 06:29 AM

Mom's Chowhound annoyances

  • p

What are some of the food related things that your mom did that drove you nuts?

My mom for example would always:

store the peanut butter in the fridge.

Being an Italian immigrant, she put parsley and garlic in every amercian dish we begged her to make - hamburgers, Meatloaf (I love the american kind), fried chicken (which was never really fried but breaded and baked.

She always screwing up the turkey and mash potatoes. Since she makes these dishes are not Italian, they don't warrant the care and attention that go into everything else she makes.

Refuse to buy bottle stoppers. Instead she used to put pieces of aluminum foil over the mouth of soda bottles. The soda went flat in ten minutes.

As a kid, I would have to beg her for a swanson TV dinner (fried chicken, mixed veggies, mash potatoes and apple cobbler with the requisite three pieces of carrot in it). When I finally got one she would take it out of the aluminum dish and put it on a plate, completely ruining the TV dinner experience.

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  1. Where do I start?!?! What did Mom do?? :-)

    ---passing by those small, deliciously flavored containers, then buying the gallon size of the most tasteless ice cream "because they had a wonderful sale on it."

    ---Ketchup on spaghetti for that "special Italian touch."

    --As Woody Allen said "deflavoring chicken" in boiling water.

    --Like you--not enough TV dinners. Rats!

    --vegetables cooked to such puplike texture, you could use them for spackle.

    --having to take lunch to school, rather than buy something deliciously gloppy from the cafeteria

    --spices used so anemically as to be barely there at all.

    --fresh squeezed orange juice with the revolting "pulp" left in it. (I don't care if it WAS the best part!)

    Alas, I could go on. However--I will say my Mom had a few good dishes, which we forced her to make over and over again.

    15 Replies
    1. re: LynnKane
      Simon Majumdar

      My mother was, and indeed still is the most estimable of mothers and a fine cook to boot. She (despite being welsh and therefore having all genetic disposition to not eating lard removed ) is an expert at Bengali cooking ( having been married to one for 45 years )

      However, like all mums she has a great knack of doing things just that little bit wrong and causing many a cringe

      1) Shouting out in a restaurant that she liked it "well hung" and then, when she realised that the place had gone quiet and everybody had heard, she dug the hole just that bit deeper by addressing everyone in earshot and adding "my meat, I mean"

      2) The one ( and only ) time I was brave enough to bring a girlfriend home to meet my parents, my mother made a delicious but boney bengali mustard fish. For a poor young yorkshire lass brought up on pie and chips, the sight of the fish, eyes and all peering out of the soupy jhol was just too much and she promptly had to be excused to go and throw up.

      3) She used the same pan to make my weekend morning treat of bacon and eggs that she had used to make the turmeric rich vegetable curry. There is no explaining to an eight year old that bacon and eggs ( and indeed tomatoes ) are "meant to be yellow"

      And don't get me started on my Father and his "secret ingredients"


      1. re: Simon Majumdar

        Enjoyed your post immensely. And since I relate more to being the "mum" than being the put-upon-kid, it made me cringe a bit too. I'm just grateful that my own grown children haven't gotten wind of this thread.

        1. re: Pat Hammond

          My mom used to pressure-cook everything. I mean everything. She had a whole set of those aluminum pressure cookers. One day, after a fishing trip, I brought home some fresh squid- just caught that day- and guess how she cooked it!

          I just saw an infomercial bringing back pressure-cookers. I hope they fail.

          1. re: fatboy

            My mother tried to poison us with a stew she called "hot dish". Elbow macaroni, boiled to the consistency of mashed potato, covered with unseasoned browned hamburger and a can of stewed tomatoes. Bland and revoltingly ugly dish.

            1. re: rossi

              Looks like the mums are getting all the bad press here. How 'bout a dad who's a charcoal miser. You could leave a shrimp on the grill for 30 minutes and it would still be transparent. The burgers were alive.

              1. re: lucia

                I had the opposite problem. As a kid I never knew that
                hamburgers could be moist and juicy. Dad always
                grilled them 'til they were black. I grew up thinking
                burned was the same as well-done. Took me years to
                learn to love medium rare and I cry to think of all
                the steaks I ruined before I saw the light :-)

              2. re: rossi

                That's called goulash in my family. *shudder* Only a whole lot of garlic could ever save it.

            2. re: Pat Hammond

              What Pat H said! Simon M, your post brought me to tears of mixed laughter and empathy, even though no one in my family is Bengali and I've never had mustard fish. My mum's trick was to try to substitute and pass off the "unusual" ingredient, then later revealing said ingredient to a chorus of groans and having to be excused to follow your poor girlfriend's example :-).

          2. re: LynnKane

            I was really lucky growing up. My mom was a fantastic cook and baker. She owned her own restaurant and bakery over the years. 20 years since they've seen her, and her old friends still talk about her food when she comes up in conversation. She passed away this past November, suddenly. One of my major regrets is not getting all of her recipes. I'm 26, she was only 56, so I thought there was a lot more time. I'm not sure what good it would have done, though. She just had a talent for food and didn't need recipes. We could come up with any kind of request and she just knew how to make it, even if she never had before. Amazing.
            I do remember that she was an avid margarine user, and I ADORE real butter. I guess that's my only complaint. :)

            1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

              I'm sorry to hear that. your pain prob. still feels quite new.

              I've often envied people with memories like yours (not that I would exchange my own for anything).

              sometimes margarine is indeed better (well works better) than butter or shortening but only experimentation and experience will inform you.

              1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                I am sorry for your loss, Azizeh.
                What wonderful, comforting memories you must have of your mother and her cooking. And such a great legacy she left to you and your family.

                1. re: vvvindaloo

                  Thank you, VVV and Hill. It is still quite new and pretty awful, but I think that she left me with enough memories to last a lifetime. And, of course, i will do my best to recreate the dishes I remember. :)

                2. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                  Azizeh, I'm *very* sorry for your loss. Best wishes.

                  1. re: Azizeh Barjesteh

                    So sorry for your loss. My mom also died suddenly around the same age so I know how difficult it can be. Like you, I thought I would have more time to learn all her recipes and cooking techniques. Luckily I got hold of her battered, stained hand-written recipe book. Even though I can't really read it (her Korean writing was absolutely illegible), I keep it because it's my connection to her.

                    My own complaint of my mom was that her cooking was way too healthy. She didn't believe in heating oil at all. (Thank goodness this happened as I got older -- I did have some years of normal eating). So everything was stir-fried in water with oil added in towards the end. Still, what I wouldn't do to have a taste of her cooking again.

                    1. re: Miss Needle

                      Thank you, all of you, for your kind words :)

                3. c
                  Colin Harris

                  She would never allow us to eat every last scrap of bread the minute it finished baking.

                  At birthdays, she would always relight the candles at least six times, thus holding us up from guzzling the cake.

                  She was very particular about the amount of salt in the water used to boil potatoes. When I started cooking she would surreptiously taste the water when she thought I wasn't looking.

                  1. Not allowing my dad to do more of the cooking! pat

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: pat hammond

                      Mom was a pretty good cook - it was Dad we had to worry about. He loved making chili (well tomato sauce and kidney beans with ground beef and as much cayenne as possible) - it was a point of pride on how long it took the first person in the family to run to the kleenex box!

                      Then there was the time he decided he'd make beef tongue. He boiled and boiled it and then served it with canned peaches - it was the only thing he didn't make us sit there and finish. Even he couldn't eat it!

                    2. v
                      Vital Information

                      Great topic!

                      My mom's a very good cook too, and in a way, this thread should be reserved to those with good cooking moms. Afterall, otherwise, it's just piling on, but then again, do not let me limit anyone...

                      So, as I was saying, my mom could cook, but there were certain tics to her routine:

                      - she would never fry french fries, she'd always cook them in the oven (of course now that the kids have moved away, she makes real fries)

                      - she could never bother to make "normal" cookies, she'd just spread the dough along the pan and call them bar cookies

                      - bundt cake, bunt cake, bunt cake - for 18 years

                      And, one endearing eating memory that has nothing to do with her cooking: when her and dad were going out and we got a special burger king treat, she'd want to sample my whopper.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Vital Information

                        To add to the Italian American Hypocrisy, my parents would not even try anything remotely american. Unless it was approved by the Bensonhurst Tribunal of Annoying
                        Houswives. My dad hates chinese food but he'll eat pepper steak and pork fried rice. My mother loves Whoppers. her annoying habit would be to eat all the loose fries from the bottom of the bag.

                      2. I am a great lover of hot dogs. Knowing this, my mother would try and make them at home. Her idea was to boil the heck out of them until the ends split, put the dog on a piece of folded over white bread (how 'bout a bun Ma!) and then put sopping wet sauerkraut and mustard over the whole thing. What a mess!

                        My mother couldn't stand refrigerated butter so she would always leave a stick out at room temperature even in the summer. Puddles would form in the dish.

                        She didn't like to throw anything away. When she would make veal cutlets or anything that required an egg dip she wouldn't throw away the used eggs. Instead, she would take the egg dip with floating bodies in it from the meat and make scrambled eggs. The cooked eggs always had a strange tint.

                        16 Replies
                        1. re: Scagnetti

                          YES! The overboiled hotdog on white bread! My mom did (does) the same thing! What about refusing to take you to Mcdonald's...insisting that she could make a better burger...and she put this softball sized of ground beef (cooked in olive oil) on white bread - white would immediatly turn red from all the juices/ I used to desperately pile more slices on. I feltt like I was dealing with a cut artey rather than a burger!

                          1. re: PAt I

                            "Better than McDonalds?!?!?!" haha, sorry reminded me of the Eddie Murphy skit......

                            1. re: chefschickie

                              The “Welfare Burger” with peppers and onions right? That was a funny bit.

                              1. re: TomDel

                                "There are no peppers in Mc Donalds!" haha and the Wonder Bread... Gotta love it!

                          2. re: Scagnetti
                            Carolyn Tillie

                            My mom's solution the Hot Dog problem was different than yours: thinking to make it a game for us, she would bake them in pans of cornbread. We had to try and cut them apart in a way to find a whole hot dog. Weird, huh?

                            Now on that butter thing...I have ALWAYS left my butter out of the refrigerator (it spreads easier on toast when it is not cold) but I have never seen a puddle!?!?! What kind of butter forms a puddle (other than melted butter?). I'm confused...

                            1. re: Carolyn Tillie

                              Your kitchen must not get as hot as mine, especially in the summer. Some days the butter melts down into a pile of mayonnaise-like goo, like when it approaches 90 degrees outside.

                              1. re: Carolyn Tillie

                                "What kind of butter forms a puddle (other than melted butter?). I'm confused..."

                                Try Land O'Lakes Sweet Cream Salted Butter in a small hot kitchen in a Brooklyn apartment in the middle of August.

                                1. re: Carolyn Tillie

                                  I grew up in the San Francisco Bay area. A hot spell there is when the temperature exceeds 75 degrees, I could never figure out why there was a butter keeper in refrigerators. Now I live in Honolulu, the butter has to be in the fridge year round. I have to say, its easy to make clarified butter. Just put it in a covered container and put it on top of the fridge for a couple of hours.

                                2. re: Scagnetti

                                  I'll go you one better...My mother would take the leftover egg dip(from cutlets, etc...) mix it with the leftover breadcrumbs, and fry them into "pancakes" for a "treat"...And I used to eat them...

                                  1. re: galleygirl

                                    Oh my God!

                                    I am laughing here...I do the same thing. :-)

                                    1. re: Maria

                                      Okay, and I admit it; I LIKED them...

                                      1. re: galleygirl

                                        My stepmother does the same thing with the egg-wash from things like schnitzel. These greasy flat pancakes- just not to waste the battering stuff.....Have learned to just toss them after saying thank y ou.

                                        1. re: torty

                                          (an all-purpose response borrowed from a Southern friend's Nana)

                                          "My but that was wonderful. Thank you but I just could not have another"

                                        2. re: galleygirl

                                          My mom did that too, and I still do when I am making veal cutlets an schnitzel. Everyone still loves them

                                      2. re: galleygirl

                                        OMG!! My Mom did this too...and I would eat them. Wow this brought back alot of memories. Did she do hers on an electric counter-top skillet?

                                        1. re: PartyGirl43

                                          electric skillets are one item that are sorely missed in this age.