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What Did/Does Your Dad Cook Best?

The post about what your mother cooks when you're sick got me thinking about this. Since we usually expect the mother to be the cook of the family, I'd be interested in knowing what your dad made/makes best in the kitchen.

I have fond memories of waking up weekend mornings, running to the kitchen, and finding my dad piling on steaming hot scrambled eggs into plates. :)

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  1. My dad made a crazy quiche out of pillsbury canned biscuit dough (crust), egg beaters, morningstar farms "sausage," swiss chard, and low-fat swiss cheese (quiche filling). He would serve it for days at a time. It wasn't good. And it was his best work. Don't ask about the lemon pie with whole unpeeled lemons put into the blender, or the beef stew with a whole bunch of unblanched okra. Sorry. I wish it had been eggs and bacon. At least he was ambitious.

    1. When I was a child, my father made fabulous stir-fried five-spice sliced beef heart, all sorts of flavors of popcorn (both savory and sweet), and in one six-month burst of creativity, an amazing series of variations on the quest for the perfectly chewy, flat chocolate chip cookie. He also made a really fantastic treat called "om balls" (don't know if this was a family name for them or if they came with the name from a 1970s cookbook) made with carob or cocoa powder, powdered milk, peanut butter, and all sorts of other good stuff rolled up in bite-sized balls. He's still cooking, though he hasn't made any of these things in ages to my knowledge.

      1. I am very lucky that both of my parents are great cooks but the most memorable things my dad made were (are):

        1)The best egg/ham/cheese/tomato/onion sandwiches (on rye bread)
        2)Great chicken noodle soup
        3)Scrambled eggs (he browns the butter first...mmm)
        4)...but the one thing me and my 6 siblings requested for an appetizer at all of our birthday dinners was his AMAZING chopped chicken livers. A few years ago I made him show me exactly how he makes them.

        1. my father was actually the chef of the family (used to be a professional before I was born). He made all kinds of WONDERFUL things, but my fondest memory is of his pesto. The whole house would smell like basil. Still the best pesto I've ever had by far...

          1. My dad was definitely not the cook in our family, but he made the best damn bacon anywhere, period. "Super eggs" and bacon meant it was a good day, because normally we ate cereal (the non-sugary kind) and milk.

            1. Dad didn't actually "cook" behind an oven--but he was a great griller/barbecuer. His steaks and chicken were the best. He slaved over the grill with such care and love. I haven't had anything via barbecue that rivals his efforts.

              Also, Dad made the best malteds--ice milk, UBet Chocolate Syrup and Carnation Malt Powder. We had them every Sunday after he played handball with his friends.


              1. My dad is able to cook most of the basic dishes we ate frequently growing up just as well as my Mom can, but the one dish that seems to be specifically his is a creamed eggs on toast recipe that apparently came from his family. I don't think I've had it since I moved out, but it is quite good (and I don't have a clue how it's made.)

                1. my dad has always been a fantastic bread baker; i never had store-bought bread at home as a child.

                  he's also a wicked good chili cook.

                  over the past decade or so he has perfected his smoking technique and can turn out pork, beef & fish to rival, if not exceed, that of anybody else.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: mark

                    Dad who makes bread and smokes is a Dad Martha Stewart would like to meet!

                    Hope you inherited love of food from him, continuing "comfort" tradition for your family!

                    3 Cheers to your Dad and Family!

                  2. Waffles. My Dad makes great thin (i.e. not Belgian) waffles. Also good fried cornmeal mush--fried in butter and topped with maple syrup--great gingerbread at Christmas, and a good smoked turkey for New Years.

                    1. My Dad died when I was a child but I still remember his pancakes with great fondness. It was our Saturday morning tradition...pancakes and Bugs Bunny.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Janet from Richmond

                        I pity the kids today...cuz the cartoons suck...but the pancakes live on forever

                      2. both parents good cooks- I think maybe that is why they disovrced- coulldn't share the kitchen.

                        to this day when I visit;

                        barbeque ribs, lime chicken, a grilled steak with his famous steak sauce,baked alaska, strawberry shortcake

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cocoagirl

                          Sharing is key to success in cooking and communication. Couple can survive on oatmeal, but not w/o heart. Fortunate learning this in the kitchen. Celebrate teamwork.

                        2. My Dad could smoke a mean brisket. He built his own brick BBQ pit, and never would touch a gas grill.

                          1. My dad made great fudge – he gave it as gifts to lucky loved ones. He also made *amazing* sandwiches.

                            1. My late dad made apple and sausage stuffing and always roasted our Thanksgiving turkey.He also make porkchops with orange rice
                              beef stew, hamburger patties with celery and onions and seasoning,a pasta casserole from momma's Hunt's Let's Cook Italian booklet,swiss steak, beef stroganoff,honey curry rabbit,and some other stuff. Rarely did anything not turn out.It was always good. Only baking he did was Mrs.Smith's frozen pies.This was after my mom died.

                              1. My dad used to make cakes. His best one was a marble cake with chocolate frosting.

                                1. I'm not entirely sure my father could cook. I never once saw him cook a darn thing. He married a professional chef - I think he made out pretty well.

                                  My uncle Duncan, on the other hand, is from Shanghai by way of Hong Kong and he is the cook in that household. We're so lucky to get his cooking for Thanksgiving! His wife on the other hand - I shudder to think about her and a spatula.

                                  1. Breakfast. Especially pancakes and waffles. Of course, he's also a wonder on the grill (built his own brick BBQ in the back yard, with a Santa Maria-style raise-and-lower crank rack that cooked tri-tip perfectly (over oak logs, naturally).

                                    1. My late father was an amazing cook. He was a true hound as well-- would spend days shopping fo the perfect oil, the best chocolate, etc....when he started using the new he found niche farmers / purveyors worldwide for that special whateverr--

                                      amazing mousse, soups, pastry,you name it. At his memorial service everyone shared a memory of a favorite meal or occasion he cooked for.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: madisoneats

                                        Food is such an important part of our memories of loved ones. I've often told friends that at my funeral mass, instead of prayer cards, I want recipe cards passed out.

                                        1. re: Bostonbob3

                                          Oh my goodness - what a great idea!!

                                      2. My father never had the time to cook though he was leaps and bounds better than my mother. He owned a fabric store in SE Mass. and 14 hour day was not uncommon. He learned from his family's cook since he liked to hang around the kitchen. A well worn copy of Fannie Farmer was his bible. Aside from the occasional Sunday roast or summer clam boil, his cooking extravaganza was Thanksgiving. He would make mince, apple and pumpkin pies in the days leading up to Thursday. On the day of, he made the turkey, sausage stuffing, gravy [as a kid, I ground the giblets], mashed potatoes turnips, butternut squash, Peas with pearl onions, sticky buns, bread and old fashioneds as cocktails. It was a ballet in the kitchen with wonderful sights sounds and smells throughout the day. His recipe was simple; get up at 6:30 am and open a bottle of Sherry. Pour a glass, start the mis en place. In the late afternoon when the bottle was done so was dinner and it was time to eat. He did it that way for 50+ years.

                                        His last Thanksgiving, I made the meal. He did not have much time left and would not have had the strength to do what he loved so much. I had big shoes to fill. He would occasionally come in to the kitchen throughout the day to look over my shoulder to see if I was doing it right. While I was not able to do as many dishes as he, and was not able to finish the bottle of sherry, at the end of the meal he was as happy and as proud as I have ever seen him. He had passed the torch.

                                        Take Care

                                        - P.

                                        3 Replies
                                        1. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                          P, what a lovely memory. You brought tears to my eyes. Thanks so much for sharing!

                                          1. re: geg5150

                                            Beautiful. Pass the Kleenex. Thank you!

                                          2. re: Mattapoisett in LA

                                            >snif< Nice story. And yes, sherry is a wonderful cooking aid!

                                          3. My dad made fabulous home fries with chopped onion and bell peppers in bacon fat. Seasoning was simple: salt, paprika and *tons* of ground black pepper.

                                            OMG - I think I know what we're having for breakfast this weekend...

                                            1. What a great topic! Today happens to be my Dad's birthday, so here's a pretty short list of some of his greatest culinary hits: Linzer Torte, Homemade Pizza, Spaghetti Sauce with leftover pork, Pancakes, Paella, Beef Stew, Plum and Peach Tart, breaded fennel(a holiday staple) and too many more to mention. Happy birthday Pop!!!

                                              1. My father usually didn't cook but a couple of times a year (not including the grilling, when he was home). But the two things I do remember is him making was sukiyaki in the electric skillet at the table, and he introduced us to satay way before it was popular in the States. He had had it at an Indonesian hotel during a film trip, and recreated it at home back in the mid-70s. It's the recipe I use - not altogether "authentic" compared to other satay recipes I've seen since then, but it's the one I know and like best.

                                                1. My late Father would cook at least once a week. It was his day off and, since he did all the marketing, he would pick out something we didn't usually eat. He'd make veal rollatini (I remember that one cuz my Mother went ballistic when he didn't remove the toothpicks lol) and various other dishes he pulled out of a cookbook. My Mother went nuts because she really didn't like anyone in "her" kitchen. We'd always roll our eyes when it was his day because she would be pacing and we'd be eating something unfamiliar. Being kids we didn't like the unfamiliar and we were made to eat it! Thanks for making me think of my Dad today. Linda

                                                  1. Not very often but on special occassions likes mom's b-day or an annniversary:

                                                    Lobster Thermadore (sp?)

                                                    Port wine reduction for beef dishes


                                                    He cans peaches, tomatoes, strawberries, and pickles.

                                                    1. My dad knew how to work a can opener (electric) and a blender. That was about it. The only culinary contribution he ever made was spaghetti and chili, made from a big can of Chef Boy-ar-dee spaghetti and a regular size can of Dennison's chili without beans. Open, mix, heat, and eat. The quintessence of bachelor food, Mom would say. In fact, I think it was my dad's lack of ability in the kitchen that prompted my mom to make sure my brother and I were decent cooks.

                                                      Oh, and with the blender, he mixes a pretty good margarita.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ricepad

                                                        It's funny you say this about your mom making sure the kids could cook. My hubby can't cook at all, and it sometimes horrifies me. I have my 5 year old son cook at least twice a week with me so he won't turn out this way!

                                                      2. I can't remember my father ever cooking a damn thing through most of my childhood. Then one day we were watching the CIA cooking show on PBS and they were making some sort of rosemary rotisserie chicken, and my father ran out and bought a rotisserie for the grill and proceeded to make the chicken. I don't remember if it was good or not, but I do remember my mother being horrified at the frivolous purchase.

                                                        1. my father is a health nut like me - he used to make the Saturday morning staple of jimmy dean sausage patties, then scrambled eggs w/ velveeta cooked in the pork fat.

                                                          1. Lutefisk.

                                                            It's the only thing he cooks and he makes it once a year at Christmas for the whole family.

                                                            1. My father is definitely not interested in cooking, and if there were nights when my mother got home too late to make dinner, he'd always pick up some Chinese.

                                                              However, before he got all health-conscious, the best thing he'd ever make would be french fries. They'd be bought frozen from the supermarket, to be sure. But he'd deep fry them a second time, and then finish them off by tossing them over heat with fish sauce. Doing this imbued the french fries with a slightly salty flavor that wasn't readily identifiable but definitely good.

                                                              1. My mother was the main chef of the house but dad did have some specialties, such as curry shrimp overflowing with potatoes and peas. Pour it over a steaming bowl of white rice--mmmmm! He also makes a wicked beef fried rice with green pepper and salmon with ginger, scallion, and Chinese wine.

                                                                1. He makes the best sour cream pancakes I could ever imagine. So light & fluffy. He's spent over 40 years perfecting them.

                                                                  1. My dad, a German immigrant, cooked excellent chicken in brown gravy and other hearty german dishes which I still cook.
                                                                    But his best dish was Italian gravy that he started on saturday mornings and finished around dinnertime that day. all day long we would go into the kitchen and pull out a piece of meat simmering in the gravy. Home made meatballs and the best Italian sausages made in the local Italian delis.
                                                                    He learned the recipe from talking to the Italian housewives in the neighborhood. Boy, I wished he had written that one down!!

                                                                    1. My mother died when I was 7 and my father cooked one meal after another for my brother and me for years. He had a small rep of dishes, but I always remember them being spot on. We're Mexican-American, so he made things such as carne guisada, beef enchiladas and arroz con pollo regularly, along with basic American dishes--meatloaf, fried chicken, pot roast... His pork chops are the gold standard for me. He wasn't complicated or fussy, but he did care about ingredients. He went through a convenience phase when he made instant mashed potatoes (he was so tired of peeling potatoes; we had potatoes with almost every meal!), but he gave them up because he just didn't like the way they tasted. I can still see him sitting in front of the evening news going at a bowl of spuds. His favorite meal was breakfast though, and he couldn't see starting the day without a hot plate of eggs or pancakes or breakfast tacos. He usually left for his government job before my brother and I were up for school, but we always found some of those breakfast tacos wrapped in foil on the stove warming on the griddle. Sunday was his night off kitchen duty when he'd pick up burgers from Whataburger and he'd watch "60 Minutes."

                                                                      He remarried eventually and is of a generation that would rather see a woman in the kitchen, so she took over. It was just so...unfortunate.

                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                      1. re: raj1

                                                                        My mom died when I was 1 1/2 years old and didn't remarry until I was 10 years old. My memories of my dad is him cooking for my sister and I every night when he came home from work. Sometimes when he was really tired he would make crepes which my sister and I loved. His best dish was Italian gravy, learned from the Italian neighbors even though he was born in Germany. Let it simmer all day & then the home made meatballs, I can taste them now. I guess that's where I got my love for cooking, which I do 3 or 4 times a week to give the wife a break.

                                                                      2. My Dad is a great breakfast cook. I still look forward to his creamy scrambled eggs and big, fluffy pancakes when I visit.

                                                                        He also makes authentic Southern Fried Chicken, learned from his Grandmother who came to Canada from Oklahoma.

                                                                        Dad mans the grill like a master, turning out great t-bone steaks and twice-baked potatoes on the side.

                                                                        We look forward to his plum pudding with rum sauce every Xmas, too.

                                                                        My Mom died last year, so somewhat out of necessity, my Dad began cooking more. He is now quite a foodie and even shares recipes and has cooking sessions with my Aunties!

                                                                        1. My dad was always the cook in our family (when he was out of town, my mom who can't cook to save her life would have "breakfast for dinner" night after night where we would get in our jammies and eat cereal and/or frozen waffles. It was fun for about 2 days).

                                                                          I have fond memories of beef tongue braising, as well as hole-in-the-wall eggs.

                                                                          Also, I love anything having to do with spinach, so for my 20th birthday my iron-chef loving father did a kind of "spinach confront" where each dish involved spinach. It was mostly delicious, with the notable exception of the desert (some kind of vanilla custard, spinach monstrosity).

                                                                          1. When I was 11-12 my mother threw her hands up in disgust at all my complaints about her lousy cooking and went on strike and never cooked again until I moved out after high school. I took over the cooking five days a week and my father for two. He made the same two dishes each week. His version of Beef Bourguignon and a chicken, spinach, cheese, cream soup thing. My sister called the first Barf Booger None and the second Lawn Clipping Surprise. I called both nights Pizza Night and my sister and I walked down the road to get a few slices. My father will eat anything after spending a year starving almost to death in a Siberian concentration camp when he was 18, but after a few weeks he stopped cooking because even he couldn't stand what he made, thank the gods.

                                                                            1. My Dad used to make his famous (-to us his 5 children)Avgolemono Soup it is a beautiful Greek soup made with lemon and eggs. Delicious and made "when the kids came home" MMM, mmm.

                                                                              1. Frozen pizza and frozen pot pies.

                                                                                He used to make a sandwich spread by grinding together roast beef and sweet mixed pickles which as a child I thought was delicious but now I can't even imagine eating. His other standby is onion rings soaked in malt vinegar eaten on a cheese sandwich to cure colds.

                                                                                1. My dad usually did most of the cooking in our house growing up, but I'll always remember his SOS. Not the most glamourous of meals, but pretty tasty nonetheless.

                                                                                  1. My dad was a cook when he was in the Coast Gaurd. He was stationed in Greenland for 2 years. Produce was not a high point.

                                                                                    However, I attribute his time there to his fabulous soups and stews. Warm and cozy home cooking is his thing. His beef stew is delicious, nothing fancy at all, but man is it good. And his turkey soup make from the turkey carcass from the Thanksgiving turkey is delish! And the ham bone from New Year's is always an amazing bean soup the first week of the year.

                                                                                    Great post! Thanks for the memories!

                                                                                    1. my dad taught me to cook. he was the chef of the house. pretty amazing how he could work long days as an MD & come home & throw together a great simple meal. my cooking is a bit fancier than his but not necessarily better & I learned the basics from him.

                                                                                      his favorites:
                                                                                      * his mom's fudge
                                                                                      * his g-ma's pancakes (strings of flats)
                                                                                      * spagetti
                                                                                      * home made tortillas stuffed with anything

                                                                                      :) nice post idea

                                                                                      1. My dad was and is not the greatest cook, but as a child I remember him being in between jobs one time and he had to take care of us kids while mom went to work. He made the meanest pan fried steak almost every day. That was always a treat for us. Dessert was always a chocolate yodel...remember those? I have very sweet memories of when my dad would cook for us.

                                                                                        1. I know I have posted about this before, but by golly I'm going to do it again, because this is such a great topic, and I love to remember my dad's cooking. He made the best soft-scrambled eggs and chocolate milk shakes in the world. Those I have managed to reproduce, but I have never been able to match his hamburger steak. It's just a big plain meatloaf patted out thin and fried, but...I don't know. There was never another to match it, and never will be again.

                                                                                          He used to make something else that we just loved, although I'm not sure I would enjoy it so much now. He would drain a can of Le Sueur (sp?) baby peas and simmer them in butter and milk. We thought it was delicious.

                                                                                          Daddy died seven years ago last month; I still get a lump in my throat, remembering his cooking and so many other wonderful things about him.

                                                                                          1. My dad's shining moment in the kitchen: burning water. And you thought it was only a figure of speech...

                                                                                            He tried to make tea for a visitor... and forgot to put water in the kettle. [sigh]

                                                                                            My dad's good at other things... cooking is mom's territory (thank goodness!!!)

                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                            1. re: amandine

                                                                                              I have similar stories... Once when Mom was sick, Dad claimed he could handle the kitchen and shooed her back to bed. He then proceeded to fill a pot w/ water and put it on to boil. Boy did it boil -- it boiled DRY until the bottom of the pot had melted and stuck to the range! He also consistently forgets to remove utensils when putting things into the microwave to be nuked (we've had a number of minor explosions due to this) so finally to keep the house from turning into ashes Mom set the rule -- Dad shall never touch the stove or microwave ever again. IMO, Dad just did all that because he wanted that "punishment" of always eating Mom's great food.

                                                                                            2. My dad always made a mean roast chicken. The seasoning evolved over the years, getting spicer and spicer (as his taste buds weakened, I suppose) but the chicken still remains as juicy as ever. It's so good that whenever we had Thanksgiving at my parents house he would always make about 4 and no one ever bothered with the turkey. Needless to say, we don't have turkey at thanksgiving anymore.

                                                                                              1. My dad prided himself on his Grilled Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches. Grill peanut butter sandwiches just as you would grilled cheese, when finished, spread jelly on top. A little messy to eat but something about the warm peanut butter and the chill of the sweet jelly...mmmmm.

                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: Frosty Melon

                                                                                                  I make mine with toast, so I get the same pleasant texture sensations: warm silky peanut butter, cruncy bread, chilled jelly.

                                                                                                  I never thought about grilling a PBJ. It's genius. Did your dad butter the toast/pan as when making a grilled cheese?

                                                                                                  1. re: ozzygee

                                                                                                    Absolutely, buttered the outside of the bread. Gave it a crispy texture different from toasting. You must try it.

                                                                                                2. My Dad was a Navy man and was totally lost in the kitchen, with a couple notable exceptions. He made the best popcorn ever from a 1940s-era popcorn maker that by the '60s and '70s was as black as a cast iron skillet! Throughout the years friends and family, knowing his passion for a bowl of popcorn during the evening's television viewing hours, would buy him new poppers, but they'd always disappear while the ugly old crusted popper would always stand vigil on the kitchen counter, much to my mother's chagrin. The only meal he could make was hashbrowns and fried eggs, grating the potatoes by hand on an old box grater. Summer necessities to him were a gallon of A&W root beer and a quart of A&W soft-serve ice cream for floats, and the ever-present watermelon from spring to fall. In the hospital dying of cancer in 1979, and having not eaten solid food in weeks, he asked me to pick up a root beer float for him when I returned from running out to grab a bite for lunch. He actually managed to keep the float down, unlike everything else he'd tried to eat. He died the next day. And not a day goes by that I don't miss him, and not a summer goes by that I don't go out of my way to have a float or two, and watermelon is ever present in our fridge, too.

                                                                                                  1. My dad makes fabulous Chinese roast pork and handmade dumplings. Mmmm... He used to be a cook for a Chinese restaurant before I was born, so it's a given that he makes these things.

                                                                                                    1. My father made great grilled sandwiches -- all kinds of combinations of bread, cheese and condiments. He was an adventurous eater, and had a good sense of how to put things together. My mom was an excellent cook, so we grew up with very good food.

                                                                                                      Dad was also a deer hunter, and would cook the venison -- probably because my mother refused to cook or eat it. She just couldn't deal with something that had been killed by someone she knew! She was the same when my grandfather brought us fish he caught ---

                                                                                                      1. My dad is more of a special occasion cook than the everyday kind. Once in a while, he cooks up family heirloom dishes - risotto croquettes, rigatoni with eggplant, stuffed zucchini blossoms, stewed broadbeans, pasta e ceci, polenta with ragu.

                                                                                                        All are happy food memories.

                                                                                                        1. J & B on the rocks. Ramos fizzes for our traditional XMAS lox and bagel brunch - he worked hard to perfect that recipe. Oh, cook food? Pancakes, and that's about it. Usually chocolate chip pancakes. Pancakes for us when we were kids, and pancakes now for his grandkids with chocolate chip smiley faces. Really delicious pancakes. When severely pressured he will grill. He'll uncomplainingly do as many dishes as my stepmom (a great cook) can make, and he'll toast white bread for the Thanksgiving stuffing and bagels for our XMAS brunch. He'll take the entire family on vacation and pay our not-insubstantial bar bill for that long weekend in Mexico at that place with the swim-up bar. But cook...not so much.

                                                                                                          1. My dad did/does NOT cook.. except for the occasional wonderful Sunday breakfast when he would take over the entire stove and freak my mother out by frying potatoes on a temperature I now realize was far too high and unsafe.

                                                                                                            They were always my favorite part of breakfast and were worth eating through the fire alarm for.

                                                                                                            1. My Mom is a really terrible cook. My Dad, on the other hand, is my cooking idol. We had a friend who owned a restaurant here in Atlanta and he came over every Sunday to cook for us with my father. They made some of the most delicious dishes...paellas, risottos, legs of lamb...he taught my father alot and it is where my love for cooking started. My Dad is a true hound as well. He used to travel alot for work all over the world. He woudl bring back bags full of food. I always knew a bag full of zabars was coming when he went to NYC. He even brought a whoel leg of ham back from Italy. He still makes the best food. The other day he made a leg of lamb with dried prunes.

                                                                                                              1. Daddy's Home Fries....

                                                                                                                He gets up at 6am and starts. Potatoes, sausage, ham, onions, and whatever else is in the fridge and sounds like a good addition. Puts it in a pan on med-low and lets it sit for hours. Then tops it with American cheese. To this day, it's my absolute favorite breakfast! My stepmother doesn't like it and I'm grown and married, so he hasn't made it in years. It's now become a Christmas tradition in my house and where it's good, mine still doesn't hold a candle to Daddy's.

                                                                                                                1. My dad made "Mad Daddy Sandwhiches." Fried egg, sauteed onion and green pepper and tomato on toast. Simple, delicious and comforting. You know, it just doesn't taste the same when I make it!!

                                                                                                                  1. Grilled hamburgers with everything piled on - called "garbage burgers" in my family - but absolutely raw in the center. Raw! He died 4 years ago and this thread is making me cry.

                                                                                                                    1. I can't resist being a spoilsport and party-pooper here, but I grew up without a Dad. Oh, he was around, just not part of MY life.

                                                                                                                      So Dad never cooked anything "best" for me. Once, he took me to McDonalds.

                                                                                                                      Perhaps that's why I became a Chowhound. (Thanks, Mom).

                                                                                                                      1. My Dad can't even cook eggs so I don't have any Dad food memories except for one. Dad did know how to grill and when I was about 11 or 12 I was helping him clean and prep some t-bones. I remember him sort of instructing me harshly to "clean out the nerve channel". Then he showed me how. (?????...yeah that's what I thought...the nerve channel is the notch at the base of the t-bone)

                                                                                                                        Years later I found out my Dad knew a lot about beef and pork because after college (on the GI plan) jobs were tight so he went to a butcher training program in Chicago in search of work. He did land work in his field but he always picked the meat in the family.

                                                                                                                        One thing I learned from my Dad, esp. since he can't cook, is NEVER complain about the food. My Mom is/was an exceptional cook but even when things went wrong, or if they were mad at each other, he never said anything about her cooking because he knew he couldn't do any better.

                                                                                                                        1. Mostly in the kitchen my dad made mistakes!

                                                                                                                          One did turn out to please us when we were kids: He called it a "Crazy vanilla omelette" - it's what happens when your kids want scrambled eggs, but you forget to scramble them until they are in the pan. Scrambled eggs with streaks of yellow and white.

                                                                                                                          I don't like it anymore, but my 10 year old does.

                                                                                                                          1. MY dad is a much better cook than poor mom. my parents divorced when i was young, so i have no memories of him cooking for her, but my mom did go on to become a professional chef -- and now seems to have no patience for cooking. i don't think she loves it like she used(?) to, and that is one of the main reasons i never went to cooking school.

                                                                                                                            Back to Dad. He has a real hand and eye for just about everything he decides to make. Some of his triumphs (yes, we discuss meals frequently over the phone): his standard meat sauce with pork ribs and ground beef (long simmered), persian lamb and fava bean meatballs w/ dill, linguine w/ clam sauce (the best version ever!), alsatian pizza w/bacon,onions, and cream, lemon, oregano, and garlic chicken baked w/potatoes.

                                                                                                                            1. My dad is an excellent cook. But the few things that stand out the most in my mind are his chili, spaghetti sauce, and banana waffles. He is one of those cooks who never uses a recipe and never makes something exactly the same way twice. I remember fondly when he would make his spaghetti sauce and it would cook all day on the stove with big chunks of veggies and never any meat, and I would sneak un and make spaghetti sandwiches with the sauce. I always make my sauce with meat, but dad refused.

                                                                                                                              1. I never knew what my dad was capable of until he made us a rib roast one night. Holy cow. I'm pretty certain he's ever made anything that didn't involve beef. My favorite things were these cakes my dad would make for my birthday. He turned them into trucks, cars, mountains and computers.

                                                                                                                                1. My mom spoiled my dad rotten. There was never any reason for him to cook, except on the rare occasion that my mom went to visit my grandmother for a day or two. I know now that she did that when they had a fight.

                                                                                                                                  On those days, pigs-in-a-blanket and scrambled eggs were about the extent of my dad's repetoir. For fun, he would break open the military MREs he had in the basement. Peanut butter from a can, stale crackers, cold "beef" stew and a chocolate bar. We would "camp out" in the basement and pretend we were soldiers. :)

                                                                                                                                  1. My dad often cranked out meals that made my friends' parents envious. He was a gifted renaissance man in anything artistic, his talent at daily handyman work, all physical sciences, but mostly cooking. He could crank out a gallon of salsa verde and salsa roja while frying the chips perfectly. His Texas chili was always requested at neighborhood block parties. And my friends often asked to "stay over" whenever he fried up chicken and then made the gravy from the drippin's. I got frying the chicken down but the gravy is still escaping my grasp.

                                                                                                                                    1. My father died 40 years ago - I was just starting college. In those days men didn't cook all that much except for the showing off their "manly" skills at the backyard grill. My father, however, did like to cook, but didn't really have the time to get into it except on weekends. He made fabulous matzo meal pancakes which we looked forward to every year around Passover. He'd get out the Settlement Cookbook, the Sunbeam mixer and commandeer the kitchen.
                                                                                                                                      I don't remember that matzo meal was readily available year-round, so we had to wait for the arrival of spring to overdose on our favorite breakfast.
                                                                                                                                      I liked them with white sugar sprinkled on top; my brother went for the syrup. For a break from routine, I'd occasionally cover mine with strawberry jam or jelly - Welch's Grape, of course.

                                                                                                                                      1. My dad was definitely the best cook in the family, having spent decades cooking in Chinese restaurants. He cooked many types of food, not just Chinese. His absolute best dish was either beef stew or Cantonese roast duck. He passed away a few years ago. But every now and then, I'd smell some type of food similar to what my dad used to cook, and tons of pleasant memories come back to me.

                                                                                                                                        1. I do not remember ever eating something my Dad prepared. And by "prepared" I'm not limiting this to cooking: I mean not even so much as a sandwich or a can of soup, which are about the extent of his culinary abilities.

                                                                                                                                          The nice thing about my Dad is that, unlike a lot of men of his generation who don't cook, he doesn't demand that other people cook every meal for him. Yeah, my Mom (and when I was old enough, I) did all the cooking for the family, but my Dad is perfectly happy to fix a sandwich for himself or open a can or eat leftovers or stuff from the deli if he has to. In fact, he kind of enjoys it, because it gives him the opportunity to eat things my mother doesn't "approve" of (dill pickles with cheddar cheese, canned peas, etc.).

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                                                                                                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                            I should also note that he cannot set up a simple place setting correctly (he always puts the silverware in the wrong place). How he cannot have learned by osmosis from having sat at properly set tables every day for at least 50 years, I cannot fathom.

                                                                                                                                          2. In no particular order...

                                                                                                                                            - wet scrambled eggs/omlettes
                                                                                                                                            - french toast
                                                                                                                                            - pancakes (occasionally with corn)
                                                                                                                                            - Thanksgiving Turkey
                                                                                                                                            - matzoh brei

                                                                                                                                            1. Scrapple. He is appreciates that you cannot rush it. Put it on low, come back 20 minutes later and flip it.

                                                                                                                                              He is also famous for burning toast. Every morning. Coffee as black and thick as Quacker State, burning bread and scrapple were the smells of the morning during my childhood.

                                                                                                                                              Also Dad's grilled chicken: Apple cider vinaiger and poultry seasoning marinade. Again, grilled patiently.

                                                                                                                                              1. Martinis--he would save the little gin bottles that airlines used to give out, and fill them with his brand of gin (Beefeaters) and a spash of vermouth, then put the top back on and leave them on the kitchen counter for my mom (and later, me)to drink. My mom told me that he wooed her by making her Irish stew, but somehow by the time I came along, he had stopped making it (right after the wedding, according to mom). He could grill steaks and potatoes really well. After I left home my mom basically stopped cooking and he took over, but I think his repertoire was limited to steaks, chops, and frozen sides. He loved things that no one else in the house would eat: head cheese, cheap cookies (the generics of the time), packaged sweet rolls such as bearclaws that I always thought were stale, cottage cheese and other pale, frail-flavored cheeses, and fruit that he brought home and warned, "Don't eat these until at least two days from now--they aren't ripe!" But two days later, they had disappeared. God, I miss him.

                                                                                                                                                1. My dad was a retired firefighter and loved to cook. And to his dismay, he was known at work as an excellent cook but he would have preferred to be known as a bad-ass fireman! At his memorial, a lot of his buddies had fond stories of his cooking.

                                                                                                                                                  My parents divorced when I was young but when I went off to college, it was in the same city where my dad lived. I would visit at least 3 times a month and he'd always prepare something special while I watched and learned. I once delined an offer to go see Janet Jackson (8th row tickets!) b/c my dad was making cioppino, which I had actually ended up making but with Dad directing my every move.

                                                                                                                                                  Other favorites are his ribs (which he made every Thanksgiving and Christmas), roasted turkey, 3 kinds of soy sauce roasted chicken, bbq shrimp, squab and pan fried liver. But usually just about everything he made was fantastic!

                                                                                                                                                  1. My beloved father was a fireman for 25 years, and the cook for his shift - but Mom does all the cooking at home....except when we have our family "fatcish" frys. My Dad makes the best fried catfish in the world!

                                                                                                                                                    1. On the rare occasion when my mother wasn't around, my dad would make chili over egg noodles. It was pretty good--fiery hot and savory. We thought it somewhat exotic as kids, because my mother never made anything that hot and mildly disapproved of it. That made it taste all the better, of course.

                                                                                                                                                      1. My dad lived at home with his mother who did all the cooking until he was 30, at which point he moved in with my mom who did all the cooking. When I was 10 my parents divorced and I stayed with my dad who did not have the slightest notion of how to cook, clean, or care for a 10 year old. Two of his culinary masterpieces where "Whizz-Bangs" which where a vanilla frappe with green food coloring added and served for breakfast, and "Gunk" which was ground beef fried and then mixed into an equal amount of instant mashed potatoes mix with just enough ketchup to make it pink. From the time I was 12 until I graduated high school we lived in a house with no stove - Only a microwave and electric frying pan. He felt that a stove was a waste of money as a microwave is just as good. Occasionally he would bust out some Lobster Newburg using Snows Newburg Sauce in a can and a can of frozen lobster meat served on white toast.

                                                                                                                                                        In my house I do probably 90% of the cooking. My wife is a fantastic baker, and can cook things just fine from a recipe, but cant really just put things together with a gut feel of how it will taste. I'm not a great cook, but I keep getting better and learning more and more. I feel good knowing that my kids are growing up with a well balanced real dinner every night and not frozen dinners and canned soup.

                                                                                                                                                        My dad died about 5 years ago and I dearly miss going out for Lobster and Clam Cakes in the summer with him. A steamed Lobster was a spiritual experiance for him. Toss in a bottle of Miller High Life and he was SET. I still eat Gunk at least 3-4 times a year.

                                                                                                                                                        1. My father did nothing in the kitchen, that I recall, until he retired. Then in either a payback to my mother for years of cooking or maybe he just didn't like her cooking as much as I did, he took over the kitchen. He had always been the outdoor cook, grilling, crayfish boils, crab boils, shrimp boils etc, but I don't recall him in he kitchen when I was growing up. Now he can cook just about anything, and he does it extremely well. He's not one to be creative, but he will take recipes and make alterations to suit his tastes. He makes an incredible cream of brie and crabmeat soup, and he even takes the time and energy to make crawfish bisque like his mother used to make.
                                                                                                                                                          He can't master divinity though. He keeps trying and trying but can't get it to come out as well as his mother's.

                                                                                                                                                          1. Molten chocolate cakes. Both my parents are great cooks, but Dad is the bigger foodie. He's also a scientist, so when he decided he was going to make the world's most perfect molten chocolate cake he did it very methodically, with exact measurements and writing everything down. He's still tweaking, but it's pretty awesome. If he ever decides on a definitive recipe I'll pass it around.

                                                                                                                                                            1. He can microwave a pre-prepared meal... that's about it.

                                                                                                                                                              1. My immediate reaction is "shish-kebab." He really liked this dish, also grilled chicken. Never liked fish thanks to bad fish when he was a child, but thanks to traveling he had a quite broad view of cuisine for the time.

                                                                                                                                                                1. This topic brought a smile to my face nd not for the right reasons as my Dad has never been near a cooker in his life! After years and years of nagging by my mom, he has learnt to 'make' breakfast, i.e. put two slices of toast in the toaster, squeeze a couple of grapefruit and serve the tea...Bless! Consider yourselves very lucky indeed!

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Paula76

                                                                                                                                                                    Great reading.

                                                                                                                                                                    My Scots mother couldn't bear any type of pasta (like eating worms!) so once a week my father would that dish beloved of Bermudians - macaroni and cheese. He also made a mean Bermuda fish chowder, shark hash, codfish cakes and peas and rice. Heaven.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. When I was young, Mom did most of the cooking. Dad might make pancakes or waffles on Sunday morning, but it was Mom’s responsibility to get most evening meals on the table. She was a good cook, although she tended to make simple things like roasts and chops. Dad was a dentist and he believed in working to live, not living to work. He took Wednesday’s off and in season would alternate between tending his rather large garden and cooking what he had grown. He also had patients who were farmers and was sometimes paid in fresh produce. I remember him coming home from work with bags of corn, beans, cabbages, fruit. Whatever was in season. And he’d set about finding recipes, preferably ones that took all day to cook, that would highlight his treasured ingredients. He’d make osso bucco, lamb shanks, stuffed cabbage, coq au vin, beef and veal stews, paella. And he built himself an outdoor grill so he could make steaks and kabobs and barbequed chicken.

                                                                                                                                                                    My fondest memories, though, are of our fishing and camping trips together. Dad loved to fish, and taught me as soon as I was old enough to handle a knife, how to clean, guts, scale, and cook a fish that had been in the water only moments before. Those breakfasts of freshly grilled or pan-fried trout with hash browns cooked over an open fire were some of the best meals of my life.

                                                                                                                                                                    1. Oatmeal - my kids won't eat mine to this day because "it's not like Papa's!"

                                                                                                                                                                      He's really not that good at anything else that doesn't come in a can or can be rolled and heated in a tortilla.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. My father made the best potato latkes in the world. Though they are traditional for Hanukah, he made them year round. He said they were his mother's recipe, and that it was her mother's recipe--and so on. Fortunately, my brother and I were paying attention when Daddy was in the kitchen with potatoes.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. Dad wasn't a cook, but he made some mean camp coffee. Lots of cream and sugar, too much coffee in a fruit jar by the fire. You could stay awake for days.

                                                                                                                                                                          About the closest I saw him to cooking was when he made horrible additions to food me or my Mom were cooking, like when he ruined my pot of chili by adding pig's feet. Still haven't forgiven that.....

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                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: vtnewbie

                                                                                                                                                                            My dad did very little cooking when I was a kid. My only memory is of his soft boiled eggs, into which he'd put a pat of butter. Later, though, my mom took a retail job that kept her late a couple of nights per week. He sifted through cookbooks until he found recipes for his faves: linguine carbonara, fettucine alfredo and stracciatella soup. I have no idea why he has a cholesterol problem now ... LOL! He did a pretty good job with those, though I'm sure he was using Kraft parm from the green can (ugh!). We ate them regularly ... until our clothes no longer fit comfortably.

                                                                                                                                                                            That was years ago. Now, my mother has Parkinson's Disease and neither wishes to cook much nor wishes to eat a whole lot these days. Dad's often on his own in the kitchen. His saviour is his George Foreman grill. Not long ago, he asked me how to do a simple pasta sauce with olive oil, garlic, parsley and cherry tomatoes. I was dumbfounded. How can you screw that up? Apparently, he could. He didn't know that he needed to smash the garlic clove and saute it in the oil for a minute or two before adding the tomatoes. He was just putting the tomatoes in the pan, then adding a halved clove of garlic, un-smashed, chopped or minced. Poor thing. I gave him a quick demo right then and there. I bet his simple pasta sauce is awesome. He was excited at my suggestion that he toss in some fresh basil. He has zero creativity, but when he gets the hang of something, it sticks. Way to step up to the plate, dad!

                                                                                                                                                                          2. My dad makes great german potato salad and macaroni salad with vinaigrette. He also makes garlic bread toasted just this side of carbon, which oddly I've grown to like over the years. Oh, and hamburgers with pan-fried onions and mushrooms. And deviled eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                            Mostly though, my dad tries to get ME to cook! Every time I visit, he'll somehow trick me into cooking dinner for everyone. Instead of asking directly, he'll say, "Do YOU know what to do with [insert random ingredient here]?" Of course I know what to do with it, Dad -- you bought it knowing I'd be cooking it.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. My dad used to cook a lot of dinners because he got home before my mom, but nothing was particularly good and mostly bland (my dad doesn't understand the concept of seasoning food for taste). However, the one thing he did very well--and still does--was a veggie omlette.

                                                                                                                                                                              I find it funny that guys often claim they make the "best eggs" or other breakfast-type food, never chicken soup, pot roast, cake, etc. I seems like men have learned how to cook breakfast food maybe to impress the girls the morning?

                                                                                                                                                                              1. Tho my Dad wasn't known for his culinary prowess, he could make a mean grilled cheese sandwich. Typical 60's style...white bread and American cheese grilled on the cast iron griddle over both burners on the gas stove.

                                                                                                                                                                                He also made the best popcorn. He used a Revereware kettle and when it popped it would lift the cover off the pot. He would usually make three pots at a time and dump them into a brown paper grocery bag. After he got done he would melt about a half a stick of butter and a half stick of margarine and pour it on the pop corn, then shake on a little salt. He would roll up the bag and shake it to distribute the salt and butter. Finally he would roll down the bag and the 4 of us kids would dig our bowls in. We would also raid the leftovers in the morning before breakfast. To this day I can't make popcorn that tastes as good as my Dad's did.

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: al b. darned

                                                                                                                                                                                  My Dad made popcorn in a kettle too. I am still in awe as that is hard to do. He wouldn't burn it either. But also he wouldn't share. Dad was not into the whole sharing thing, even at restaurants when someone wanted just one bite to see if they might like to order it sometime. Not happening.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. The four things I remember my father making really, really well were the following:

                                                                                                                                                                                  Chocolate Mousse
                                                                                                                                                                                  Homemade peach ice cream
                                                                                                                                                                                  Hot Cocoa

                                                                                                                                                                                  edit: I just read through more of the posts above and I realized I forgot the awesome popcorn he used to make with one of those old-fashioned corn poppers you can use in a fireplace. al.b.darned - thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories! :)

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. i'm fairly sure my dad never cooked a thing in his life

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. um...sushi/sashimi...he kinda had to, I mean his job depended on it.

                                                                                                                                                                                      1. my dad's three culinary contributions were (1) chicken curry (hong kong style), (2) eggs, sunny side up, and (3) sneaking me junk food every once in a while. my mom didn't allow any junk food in the house, so we'd go do "research" at the university library and stop by the cafeteria for fried fish fillet sandwiches and ice cream cones. i thought those were the most amazing foods ever at one point!

                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My mom was the cook in my family(just me and my parents) however my dad was great at making himself fried Matzah with eggs and "his specialty" spaghetti/macaroni with tomato sauce(canned)....what i wouldn't give to have a bowl of his spaghetti today since he passed away two years ago.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My mother was a horrible cook. For some reason, the only dish my father was 'allowed' to make was stewed chicken with dumplings. I don't remember if it was any good, but next to Mom's cooking I thought it was perfect!

                                                                                                                                                                                            After all the kids moved out, Dad decided he'd like to have some fish once in a while (Mom "hated fish", so we never once had it on the table), and of course he had to cook it himself. I would have liked to see what he did with it.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My dad was an older Black man so some of his creations aren't that common. My dad would make a stew out of Ox tails and egg noodles with peppers and onions. He would also make salmon croquettes with scrambled eggs w/ketchup and fried cubed potaoes w/maple syrup. He was also gifted with the barbecue gene. I guess it passed me over.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: stricken

                                                                                                                                                                                                he wasn't by any chance jamaican was he? a good friend of mine (half brown jamacian, half chinese jamaican) makes a mean, mean ox tail stew, which she serves with egg noodles. i'd never heard of anyone else doing this before now.

                                                                                                                                                                                              2. Pop cooked weekends and always when camping. He made an excellent pot of baked beans and Sunday nights Taylor Pork Roll or western scrambled egg sandwiches on a Kaiser roll, or loverwurst W/ scallions and mustard on rye. A wonderful bacon and eggs man. He ate is nearly ever morning (or herring on rye). I asked him once him if it wasn't unhealthy. He asked me, "What the hell is it gonna do? Kill me? I'm in my eighties. How long am I gonna want to live?" Would bring home lobster by the dozen, bushels of clams ans crabs and during the winter tons of oranges and grape fruit. He made fresh squeezed orange juice every morning. From him I learned to squeeze a twenty into my kids hand in a hand shake as they are leaving from a home visit from college. Dead three years and still my role model.

                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Beef and homemade noodles over mashed potatoes. It is the absolute best. I request it whenever I can when I'm visiting home. Also, his gravy is the only gravy I'll eat and enjoy. And I definitely have good memories of him making me french toast, especially on mornings when he knew I had a big test ahead of me that day at school.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My dad doesn't make much, but he makes really good eggs and toast and tomato sandwiches! No doubt the eggs are so good because he uses butter like Paula Dean!

                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I is "the Dad" in this family and I is "the cook".

                                                                                                                                                                                                      My own father never did much except grill steaks. He even made an indoor grill out of an old blacksmith forge when we re-did our kitchen. It had a crank-handle blower to help get the charcoal glowing. This worked great - even the time my younger brother hid about 7 small chinese firecrackers down in ash drain!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My father, though he started to rely heavily on shortcuts as business life got busier, was the main chef in my home whereas my mother, diligent as she was, still could not boil rice. There are few foods of his I miss, but I do remember looking forward to his: eggs (sunny-side up and Parsi-style especially), catfish curry, sweet-and-sour meatballs and curried goat. Everything else he fed us usually came in plastic wrapping and filled with fat and tons of sugar.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: JungMann

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I'm really surprised at all the resposes to this topic. It's reall nice to see & read about the contributions & memories that Father's left with they're skilled and sometimes, unskilled cullinary experieces in thew kitchen. I hope todays fathers take note & spend this kind of quality time with the'yre children as well.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Because most fond memories revolve around food etc.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          My own father wasn't "the cook" in the family and we were blessed to have amother who was an excellent cook. He did contribute though on all those special cookouts with a great steak and some great funny memories of when he tried to take over the meals when mom was ill..
                                                                                                                                                                                                          On the other hand, I have always loved to cook with my kids and have built a great relationship with them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                          Check out the results at www.cookingwithdadtv.com

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: cookingwithdadtv

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nice site and a great idea! Good way to keep a bond with your kids, not to mention a way to keep them eating well!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I did do a search for "Linguica" and didn't see anything come up. Since it is one of the all-time BEST sausages in the world, I'm sure you'll be using it soon in one of your recipes. I grew up on Cape Cod and I probably ate more Linguica than regular Breakfast (or even Italian) sausage.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: cookingwithdadtv

                                                                                                                                                                                                              My dad used to brag that he had taught my Mom everything she knew about cooking (so not true!) but he did make lots of pancakes (we used to joke that he could freeze them and give them out for Halloween) he was a pretty excellent cook; best surprise was my 1st visit home from college she made my then favorite meal: veal parmesan with a fabulous antepasta. we were not nor are we still Italian but she made a great sauce...

                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. My father didn't cook, although for some reason my brothers turned out to be outstanding, gourmet cooks. Much better than I.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            However, my father made the world's best vinaigrette, which he would serve on individually plated garden salads he handcrafted as though they were Faberge eggs, to celebrate the arrival of summer once most of the produce was in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Dad didn't cook very often - Mom was big on division of labour - but he was always in charge of the grill during the summer. However, once or twice a year, he'd clear the decks for "Gene's Beans". This was an all-day (actually two-day) affair:

                                                                                                                                                                                                              First, soak the beans (navy beans, of course; he was a lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Navy) overnight, and then (kids' contribution) pick them over the next morning. Meanwhile, make the sauce. He used canned tomato sauce as his base, but added lots of chopped garlic, oregano, and black pepper. To that, he'd added minced and sauteed onion, and a couple of bay leaves, and let the sauce simmer for a couple of hours, along with the beans in water. Drain the beans (reserving the liquid).

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Gather all the above with big (and I mean BIG) chunks of smoked pork belly, and big chunks of onion, and then start building the meal - layers of beans, layer of sauce, onions and pork, sauce, beans, sauce, onions and pork , etc. until the crock was full. Put in a long, slow oven - usually took four to five hours to cook, meanwhile filling the house with aromatic anticipation. Check every now and then; if they're getting dry, add a little reserved liquid.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              Serve with warm brown bread and butter. I'd like to say they're even better the next day, but I don't ever remember having any left!

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Well, this will be a short post. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                My dad was barely able to operate the stove. I don't even remember him grilling, although I'm pretty sure he did. He made popcorn and the occasional pancakes. The best thing he made was kielbasa and scrambled eggs - his dish, my mother (who did all the cooking, otherwise) never made that. I'm actually pretty impressed because although a lot of people think making eggs is no big thing, they are easy to screw up. His were delish. Of course, kielbasa improves everything. :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Other than summertime hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, my dad made exactly two things: french fries from scratch in the deep fryer, and milk shakes made with ice cream and raw egg in the blender. The milk shakes were just OK, but to this day those french fries were some of the best I've ever tasted!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My grandfather (who raised me) made the absolute best soups and stews, chili, and freshly caught fried catfish. He did make the best fried chicken until he had me make it one night and declared mine better, so I had to cook it from then on (yeah, I bought it).
                                                                                                                                                                                                                      He also made the best, juiciest hamburgers on the grill. My grandmother was a great cook, too. I was lucky.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Waffles (thin, not belgian), french toast, and anything on the grill. His specialty is grilled turkey for Thanksgiving, along with all of the side dishes, including made-from-scratch dressing. The super-crispy skin holds all of the flavor and juices in the meat - so good! I had him write down the recipe for me one year... Step 1 is "Open a beer or pour a glass of wine and toast your feathered friend". Multiple steps through the rest of the process are "Repeat step 1"!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Now that I've been on my own for a while and my parents have divorced (and he remarried), it doesn't always happen for the Thanksgiving meal but I always request that he make it for SOME holiday. Got to have that at least once a year!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My Dad cooked occasionally, which became more frequent after he and my Mom divorced-naturally, as there were two kids at his house every other weekend who needed to be fed. He made great chicken and stuffing (Mrs. Cubersons) in a rectangular glass baking dish, the stuffing about 4 inches thick, the chicken breast basted in Italian dressing. So good. Also yummy tuna macaroni salad (and I didn't even like fish!), super thick Hersheys Cocoa frosting for our store bought brownies, and the best apple pancakes. And I don't even really like pancakes either! But my Moms story is the best--her Dad was a career Navy macho man, her mother raised the kids, once her Mom had to go away for a weekend, and what did my Mom and her sisters get for dinner? Crushed Saltines in milk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. He was an ordinary cook in a series of ordinary Chinese restaurants but made an extraordinary fish dish for us for special, which was pretty often. I now realize how much work went into it. He must have boned a raw whole fish, then stuffed it with a cooked minced pork mixture which included lots of other ingredients and deep fried the whole shebang. I can still smell and almost taste it today... thanks, Dad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Bread and Pastries. He has been baking bread for at least that last thirty years. Now that it’s just him in the house, he’ll probably only bake once a month – White, Wheat and Rye are the ones I remember the most, but I’ll never forget his Sourdough rolls, so chewy and fresh!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He would also make the most delicious cheese danish at Christmas. It is a long danish reminiscent of a loaf of bread, but light and flaky. He would have to make 4 or 5 because they’d be gone by midday!He stopped making the Stollen in favor of this danish, and we couldn't have been happier!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My daddy cooked fantastic southern fried chicken outside in a cast iron cooker. It was fantastic. I miss the chicken, but him even more.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: steakman55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I hadn't seen this thread before and I' glad it was resurrected.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Reading through (yeah, I read the whole thing) I was touched by the emotional depth of the poster's memories, I think, more than the actual cooking that was going on or what was cooked. Humans are so connected to others by what we eat and what we're fed. I wonder if the experience of sharing food and understanding that experience makes us better people. The connection never ceases to amaze me and certainly exists in my life. "Teach your children well"...as the song goes.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My Dad made pizza (every Sunday night), tapioca pudding and pancakes. He enjoyed doing and we enjoyed eating . It enriched my life beyound measure.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: steakman55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I still fry chicken in the cast iron fryer left to me by my Dad (it was his mother's before that). It will go to my daughter (a professional chef) when my frying days are done.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. When I was little, my Dad thrilled us with "flying saucers"--fried bread with a hole in the middle (good use of shot glass) for the landing of a fried egg; one egg jelly omlette; egg sandwich. He has developed a lot since the early egg phase and, in his retirement, does most of the cooking and baking in his house. Yorkshire pudding! Slow cooked shortribs! Swedish pancakes! But mainly he makes us laugh...the best recipe for nourishent.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Spaghetti Pie. Mix leftover spaghetti with beaten eggs, and parm. and cook in a hot cast iron pan until a crust forms, flip, using a big plate, slice into wedges and serve. Very good, and loving memories of Dad. I especially loved it with slices of Italian sausage mixed in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. my dad made a great Ropa Veja and a kickin arroz camapollo( chicken and shrimp) with rice
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My meories of this dish are wonderful but my friend sean says that you cannot trust your tastebuds before your old enough to appreciate food, well i think it still kick but

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Coming late to this thread...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          My dad was a very good cook and griller.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          His veal cutlet dinners were memorable. He always started with veal shoulder steaks, self-trimmed and beaten thin with a mallet (wish I had that mallet today!). He three-step coated the cutlets, and fried them in a cast iron pan. Us kids were allowed to poach the small pieces before dinner. Sublime.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Although Irish, he grew up hanging with a boat load of Italian friends. He therefore learned to make an otherworldly red gravy for spaghetti dinners. Real good bread, heaping with butter, and spaghetti; caloric overload, but a terrific Sunday dinner. He had a deft touch around food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. He could actually take several days leftovers and make them work into something really tasty

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. French toast, especially when we had challah bread in the house. He'd use thick slices and always cooked them so that there was a toasty outside and a soft and custardy inside.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My dad could fry up a mean slice o' baloney.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Easy answer. Meatloaf. He just knew the ingredients by feel (didn't weigh or measure anything) and it turned out perfect every time. Except the one time he accidentally switched the bottles of BBQ sauce and ketchup...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. The best pancakes in the "world" is using Club Soda, instead of Water, it's as good as the pancakes at the Sunset Grill, even if you use 1/2 water, 1/2 Club Soda, and you can replace with water with that for cakes too.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The BEST sandwich I've created in a LONG time was last night, fry 2 sliced cuts of Ham, along with some scrambled eggs, I read here you should brown the butter first for quality taste, now on one side of the buttered toast spread some taco sauce, and you only need a bit of scrambled egg in the sandwich, but add loads of mustard, and it is so good. Now the side special gives the sandwich an additional kick, fry some pineapply slices with the ham, and when fairly hot, add a bit of taco sauce to the pineapple, it will be your best meal, besides the Breakfast Sausage and Pancakes made with Club Soda!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Breakfast.... great pancakes. His specialty was fried green tomatoes. We lived in NJ farm country so had access to great tomatoes. He'd cook up a pound of bacon for the family, (five of us) including a couple pieces almost burnt, and then fry up the tomatoes (dipped in milk, flour, eggs and finally bread crumbs) in the bacon fat. Pour off most of the fat and make a milk gravy with the hard cooked bacon and quite a bit of tabasco. Way back in the 60s we had a black friend who'd grown up in SC over for breakfast one day and after his third helping he turned around and asked Dad, "Are you sure you're not black?" Dad always said it was the just about the nicest compliment he ever got.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Jambalaya..... we were the only southern transplants in an Italian-Canadian neighbourhood. When Dad got that Jamabalaya going he had made converts of all our neighbours, who finally had to admit that Italians weren't the only ones that could cook!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My Papa did all the grilling/bbqing - hamburgers, pork ribs, steaks, etc. He also fried fish outside in a cast iron skillet. Several times my Mom was in the hospital (I had 3 younger siblings and she had surgery once) and he did the cooking inside. Not sure what all he made, but the most memorable was fried egg sandwiches. We had a 1940s era Chambers stove. He'd brown the bread under the broiler and fry bacon and eggs on the griddle on top. Egg between two slices of toast. Bacon on the side. It was delicious. I think I remember that so much because it was not something my Mama ever made.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          He crossed over 28 years ago and I still miss him. This thread brought up a lot of happy memories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Omelets are the only thing my dad can make. He can't bbq for crap. I thought the bbq sauce was supposed to be black and flaking off the extremely chewy chicken until I was in college. His burgers were like hockey pucks. His bbq is all bad, and it took me 40 years to tell him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But his omelets are good. Remarkably.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My dad made great weekend breakfasts. Corn fritters, bacon, sausage, eggs, cream of wheat or oatmeal, sliced oranges. He also made a very good meatloaf with fresh parsley, bread cubes, and dried onion. He made these great marinated vegetables: broccoli, carrots, cauliflower, dried parsley and basil, salt, and apple cider vinegar. He used to make us orange pop which was orange juice with club soda or tonic water.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My father, a full-blooded Greek man, doesn't cook very often (except for at breakfast, which I'll discuss last), but when he does it's always pretty impressive!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In general, the man can make a killer piece of lamb. He loves to marinate the lamb in some wine, lemon, garlic, oregano, salt, pepper, olive oil, and let it hang out in the fridge for a whole day, before searing it on a hot grill and making a crust on the outside, while the insides stay tender and moist. There is no such thing as gamey lamb when my dad's around.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                About once or twice a year, my father makes Stefado, a huge production of a Greek beef stew. The beef is cooked in red wine with pearl onions, garlic, tomato paste, and CINNAMON STICKS, which initially freaked me out many years ago. (YES, I hang my head in shame now at my lack of culinary faith - never doubt an antique recipe in the hands of a skilled chef!)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My father loves to make breakfast, and he has this unspoken but highly evident pleasure in nurturing his family by whipping up a meal for them as many mornings as he can. He makes fantastic omelets, sometimes with cream cheese. The BEST dinner my Dad's ever made was actually breakfast: two scrambled eggs with slices of pan-fried/carmelized white onion and yam, and a big piece of warm wheat toast. It sounds bizarre, but it was amazing. I crave it once in a while, and I'm thinking the next time we have yams around, I'll ask him for it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Gazpacho and pretzels. Usually not simultaneously.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  PS--He also made some mean fried baloney.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Time frame was early 1950's. For lunch on days my Mother wasn't home Daddy cooked sliced potatoes fried with bacon grease in the iron skillet, served with crisp bacon, Campbell's pork and beans, and sliced tomatoes from the garden if they were available.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I remember a fall day when Daddy had harvested the sweet potatoes, he culled out some little ones and roasted them on a big bread pan. When done, he cut them open, added butter, a little sugar and back in the oven. When my older siblings got off the school bus and walked to the house, they were so happy to have the sweet warm treat waiting for them. BTW, we were all as thin as fence rails because we didn't have prepared food other than canned food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My parents split up when I was 20 and my mom passed away almost 3 years ago. She was a good cook and an amazing baker. I never ate store-bought bread until I moved out. My dad did much of the cooking at home when we were young, simply because he was the first one home from work. I learned to cook mostly from watching him & helping him after school. At 67 he is super fit and still loves to cook and eat, and has always had a sweet tooth for homemade treats. He still makes most of these things that I remember from my childhood:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - brown sugar or chocolate fudge (flavored with canned Fry's cocoa)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - strawberry ice cream (we kids took turns turning the metal pail full of cream, sugar, etc. that was set down in a larger container of coarse salt)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - moose, deer, wild duck, goose, rabbit (my mom would eat the game he hunted, but she refused to clean or cook it); he still makes delicious pan-fried duck breast and duck stew
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - beef stew
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - baked beans
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - yellow pea soup with a big smoked ham bone
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - pies - apple, cherry, peach, pumpkin
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - chocolate cake
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - a weekly fry-up he called "hash"; it always started with a big knob of butter and a chopped yellow onion or two in a huge cast iron frying pan. To that he added chopped leftover meats (beef, pork, chicken, salt beef, turkey...any and all that was in the fridge) & veggies (usually boiled potatoes, carrots, cabbage, peas, turnip, sometimes parsnips or green beans). The whole mixture was slowly browned and turned sort of like a giant fast-food hash brown
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - seafood chowder with bacon, onion, lobster, cod fish, big clams (bottled by my grandmother in Prince Edward Island)...yum. This is still his go-to first course for Christmas dinner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Now I am hungry!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Wow, what memories!! My dad didn't cook much, and he had two repertoires: one for family, and one for adults. The family foods included bbq'd ribs w/ his homemade bbq sauce (the ONLY time pork ever appeared on our table, and then only outside on a picnic table; guess they thought it was quasi-kosher then : ), and he made a great hoppel poppel on Sunday mornings; scrambled eggs with fried potatoes, onions, salami, bell peppers, mushrooms and melted cheese. Tacos were another dad-meal: very American-style, with ground beef, iceberg, chedder, etc. Adult foods included Chiles Rellenos, Cheese Fondue, and Caesar Salad; he would cook for mom and himself, and they'd eat a special dinner after we'd gone to bed.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Dad worked long hours and Mom stayed at home, so she did most of the cooking. He usually made breakfast on weekends - terrific pancakes, waffles, eggs & bacon or sausage. After watching a Julia child show about eggs he made much better scrambled eggs than Mom, cooking over slow heat and adding cheese and minced onion. (Mom always cooked them over high heat.) His specialty in the summer was fried green tomatoes, an elaborate production that involved dipping in milk, flour, beaten egg, and bread crumbs and frying in bacon grease. Then would then dump out most of the grease and make a milk gravy with tabasco and a couple slices of really hard-cooked bacon. Delicious. On vacations we usually went to a lake - he loved to fish - and having his fried bass for breakfast was a huge treat. Also the occasional fondly-remembered funny disasters, like the time he put an orange-flavored liquer in the pancake batter. He put both powdered sugar and maple syrup on the table and forgot to warn the rest of us before we'd all doused ours with syrup. Still remember that as one of the worst things I ever tasted. I miss him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My dad and I did most of the cooking in my house. It wasn't one of mom's interests and she was was terrible at it. I started cooking dinner for the family around at 11 or 12. Dad's best dishes were chili con carne, meatballs, sausage and braciole cooked in tomotato sauce, steak pan fried in butter with onions, hockey burgers- notice the red meat theme here? He loves meat. Even now if we order pizza, he has to have sausage or sliced meatballs on it or doesn't consider it to be "dinner" - it's not dinner without meat. Boy oh boy did he have a good laugh at me when I came home from freshman year at a liberal arts school, declaring myself to be a vegetarian! Once I tried to make dad's chili with ground tofu or some kind of meat substitue and he totally called me on it. (I have since reformed, though don't eat nearly as much red meat).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Spaghetti Carbonara. Bacon, hot pasta to cook the egg, parm, black pepper. I think it was his "bachelor dish" from way back that he would make to impress the ladies. This lady was impressed!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My dad is an engineer so he can follow directions in a very mechanical way, but he has no real interest in food. As a result he could cook most of the Chinese food my mom could cook, just mushier, greasier, and blander. BUT, he did cook one thing that got us kids excited, instant noodles with a ton of added stuff. Mom wouldn't allow that unhealthy stuff in the house so when she was out he would sneak a few packs of Tung-i mushroom flavor from his stash in the garage. Boiled up with broccoli, meatballs, and fried egg, dad's "special noodles" were all the more delicious for their illicit nature.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  My dad was an engineer, too. He did a lot of 'tinkering' with recipes. He loved perfecting his meatloaf recipe.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He made the best breakfasts w/ corn fritters.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  But the most impressive cooking I remember was him waking up super early in the morning on Thanksgiving to make the turkey so we could have a dinner with our family, then go to my aunt's and grandma's and share Thanksgiving with them. But we always had our own Thanksgiving first.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He also made a very good pot roast, and good, simple things like boiled potatoes with the skins on. He made excellent vanilla milkshakes, just by hand with a spoon with milk, vanilla ice cream, and vanilla extract. I still love the scent of vanilla extract because of that.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He also made me orange pop, probably so I wouldn't have artificial colors or too much sugar. He just squeezed the juice of an orange, and added club soda or carbonated water. He was raised on a farm, so that's probably one of the reasons he was so good at breakfast, family-style meals, and homemade everything. We also ate some awful stuff together, like soy nuts from GNC, but we liked them anyway. Once, he asked us if we wanted to try something, and he'd tell us afterwards what it was. I looked at it and figured, well, this is a guy who has eaten pickled pigs feet, it's probably something I wouldn't really want to eat, but I was game anyway, so I just tried a tiny bit. It was beef tongue. He also showed me gross stuff in the store like that, for a laugh. At the time, as children do, I thought my dad was goofy. But now, looking back, he was just trying to have fun with me, and growing up as he did, not wasting anything, I understand the wisdom in eating all parts of everything, and not wasting any part of an animal, or a vegetable for that matter. That's how my dad taught me without my even really knowing it at the time. He told me how he used to wake up very early, feed the animals, do chores, and then get ready, eat breakfast, and then go to school! (two miles, uphill, I'm sure) I admired him for that, though. Shopping, preparing, and cooking were all parts of eating in our house. We grew up with a good idea about where food comes from, by whose efforts, and that cooking is a way to nurture others and share joy. I'm very grateful to my dad for cooking for me for all those years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. His own venison chops, sausages & meatballs, fresh caught trout & smelts and waffles...will always be fondly remembered.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. When I think of my father, two foods come to mind. When he was in his forties, he went to Grocery Diana and the Parthenon in Chicago's Greektown and reverse-engineered the Greek salad which he had there. To say that this salad was aggressive in its components would be an understatement: loads of garlic, red wine, hot Greek pepperocini peppers, salty (and sometimes a bit stinky) feta cheese, salty calamata olives, salty (and strong) anchovies, cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and a little lettuce (sometimes he left this out, which he thought was an Americanization of the Greek dish). I make it to this day and always think of him.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The other dish he did extremely well was sourdough pancakes. For many years, usually on a Saturday, about once a month, he would pull the sourdough starter out of the refrigerator, whomp up a batch of pancake batter, using the sourdough, and then let it ferment, covered, on the kitchen counter overnight. On Sunday, we'd have sourdough pancakes, which were, of course, sour and set off nicely by the maple syrup or Log Cabin syrup. Combined with salty sage sausage links, and fried potatoes, it made a great breakfast.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. His fettucini is to die for, but I'll always be partial to dad's turkey and Hoisin burgers! Or his mashed potatoes that are swimming in cheese, cream cheese, spices and Bulls Eye BBQ sauce. Just to watch him shred cheese over the whole mass of it, with his eyes lit up...makes me laugh.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My dad ran a restaurant for 30+ years so he can cook when he wants to—then asks how to grill a sandwich when he doesn't <sigh>.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Anyhow, two things:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1) grilled rack of lamb—marinated with oil, garlic and lots of lemon
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2) stuffing—I don't care that much about the turkey but, man oh man, that stuffing...I'd be happy with just a plateful of that for dinner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My dad is of the John Wayne era, where men just didn't cook. But he does have ONE specialty that he used to make at the holidays around New Year's, and that's Oyster Stew. I have NO idea where he learned to make it, nor where he'd get the fresh oysters (bear in mind that I grew up on farm in Illinois back before the internet), but he'd put tons of butter in it and whole milk and the broth was delcious, though my mom never came near it. Instead, on that "soup day" she'd make her grandmother's Bohemian version of "Potato Soup" which was like nothing I've ever had even up til this day.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: natewrites

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Nate, I want to hear more about gramma's Bohemian 'tater soup. What was different about it? Or is it a closely-guarded family secret?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              I'll e-mail it to you! It's not really a secret, but it is unusual!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. Wondering how I missed this topic for so long...wonderful to read everyone's memories!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My mother, bless her, is the queen of boring Midwestern cooking. She's got the meatloaf/casserole/stew genre down to a science. Adventurous she ain't.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My father on the other hand is the one who made the standout dishes in our house. The weekends were his time to shine. Sunday breakfast always consisted of his creations. Eggs with fried potatoes and whatever else was left in the fridge (Roast beef? Ok! Leftover grilled bratwurst? Sure!) all thrown in the big electric skillet with chopped onions and topped with slices of american cheese. A sinfully delicious German apple pancake filled with cinnamony goodness was another standout that regularly made an appearance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            My dad's standout dish, though, is one he has perfected over the years and will still make when my sister and I are home. Chicago-style deep dish pizza. He cut the recipe out of the newspaper when he was in college in Chicago during the 60's and still has the original to this day. In all the years he's made it, I've never known him to alter the ingredients in any way. Dough made by hand and left to rise in a big mixing bowl set on top of one of the radiators in my parents' 1880's farmhouse. Into the deep dish pan (probably as old as the recipe) and topped with canned Italian tomatoes, spicy bulk sausage, TONS of oregano and probably at least 2 pounds of shredded mozarella. Bake that bad boy until the cheese is bubbly and the crust is golden. Serve with a bottle of Miller High Life (for mom and dad) and a can of Sun Drop (for my and my sister).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. A butchered version of vegetable lasagna with NO onions (most important part!), steamed-to-mush broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, lots of cheese and noodles from a box. Yeah yeah yeah, it's utterly inauthentic, totally Americanized and actually rather bland... but it's amazing. When my friends converge on our hometown over Christmas break, ten years after finishing high school, they still BEG me to invite them over for my dad's lasagna.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My father taught my mother how to cook. She brought the cliche to life and actually tried to boil a steak. Among his signature dishes, the historical-cultural standout is "matzo brei" -- matzo crackers soaked in water and then fried with egg batter. He serves it with lots of schtick and transports us back to his childhood on the Lower East Side in the 1920's. The roots of the dish itself extend far deeper: the Talmud, compiled in the 5th century, cites soaked matzo (though omitting mention of the egg batter.) Matzo plain and simple appears in Exodus and Deuteronomy, and the Synoptic Gospels refer to unleavened bread in connection with the Last Supper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Daddy used to whomp up a batch of Matzo Brei, and he got shticky with it too: "Here, mein kinder. Ess, Ess and ess some more! What? You don't want more? You don't like my cooking? What?"

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: erikschwarz

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My dad never made matzo brei, but my grandfather did (he lived with us for about 6 years before he passed away) and it was wonderful. I still make mine the exact same way he did.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My dad worked and my mom did the cooking but when my dad did cook it was Czech specialties my mother refused to make or eat: jaternice, headcheese, and pig ears; game, as well. He and my mother would make kolaches and in his retirement he made and perfected killer apple strudel. Sauerkraut cookies were another odd one he made and they are not bad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My Dad was and is a master cook. He used to make aboslutely divine meat loaf and brunswick stew. My only problem with his cooking is he overcooks and under seasons. But loves my cooking which is very spicy and almost raw.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My dad was not the cook in our family - my sister and I did most of the cooking as soon as we were old enough to turn on the stove. My mom worked long hours and none of her cooking was that memorable either (except her apple pies). However, my dad cooks himself a huge breakfast every morning, fried eggs, bacon, toast, etc, so that was always his go-to meal when he was faced with feeding my sister and I. Now he does most of the cooking and has a few meals he rotates through. I prefer not to eat any of them. Funny that both my sister and I turned passionate about cooking and compete for control of the family stove at holidays.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Pop taught me to make kapusta (saurkraut), kolbasi, drink beer and when celebrating, spare no expense.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          When visiting Vegas, people would ask him if he was Paul Newman.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My dad does not cook at all. Literally every Saturday and Sunday (of my life for over 10 years) when my mother worked, he would purchase doughnuts for us from Dunkin & Donuts, then he took us to McDonald's for lunch (literally each day of the weekend for years), bought us a cupcake from the bakery, and for dinner, he would help us reach the microwave to warm up Kid Cuisine frozen meals. During the week, if she worked during dinner, then we had Kid Cuisine frozen meals or he heated up what she prepared in advance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            (Despite all of the McDs, doughnuts and cupcakes, and Kid Cuisine, I ended up skinny--don't you worry; we did not end up as obese children.)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            One time I do remember him making something: he took those flaky biscuits that come in a tube and put cheese on them and baked them in the oven. We thought it was amazing; he was real excited and even told our mother about his 'creation.' She was not that moved by it...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: todao

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Oh come on! You have to divulge the details of that one!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              2. My dad never cooked, even when my mom had to commute over an hour to her job, she would make sure dinner was ready for him just to heat up for us. Or we would have Pioneer or Kentucky Fried Chicken, or MacDonald's. Later in life, he learned to make rice, badly, makes his own bacon and eggs (bacon too soft, eggs very greasy) and he usually eats top ramen or frozen pot pies for lunch if my sister and i don't cook for him now that he is 82. However, I was away for NYE weekend and on a phone call home he told me he had made my sister dinner - he'd mashed potatoes and fried some sausages (already cooked) and sounded very proud of himself, stating that all she'd had to do was make the salad. Said when i got back he would cook dinner for me too....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Buttermilk waffles
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  BBQ ribs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Pecan pie
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Soft-boiled eggs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sticky buns

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My dad is a completely lazy cook. Growing up, whenever my mom worked late, he would be in charge of cooking dinner. He would just combine everything in a pot and cook it. His theory was that if he added enough cheese to it - we'd eat it. We use to dread my mom working late.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I adore my Dad's cooking!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      BBQ Ribs
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Prime Rib
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Smashed Potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Smoked Salmon

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Pretty much Anything my Dad makes is amazing :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My dad was the family cook. My mother just could not or would not cook. So dad was not a very good cook, but he'd work a 10 hour day, and come home and get food out there for us, and I give him props. But on weekends, he could turn out some ok stuff. Meatball subs were his best thing: homemade meatballs, jarred sauce and storebought rolls and cheese--but in the middle of winter when I would draw the short straw for shoveling out the driveway and walk, it sure went down nicely!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My dad grew up on a Mennonite farm in central PA, and the only one's who did the cooking were the women. My only childhood memories of him in the kitchen are of making us hot dogs and baked beans when my mom was really sick. I also remember occasionally having a brown sugar and honey sandwich.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          However, every nice enough (weather-wise) Sunday, from Spring until Fall, he "cooked out" on the brick grill in our backyard (charcoal of course). Early in the year they butchered beef on his parents' farm, and we stored ours in the big freezer in the basement so we always had steaks & hamburgers along with store bought hot dogs (boy do I miss Hershey hot dogs) for Sunday Cookouts. Over the years, my tastes have changed, so while I don't enjoy his steaks as much, the hamburger he always makes "just for me" is to die for, and who can resist a hot dog cooked on a charcoal grill? Or being surrounded by one's family for that matter?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My Pop was a single dad who worked shift work, we most often ate with my grandma, but when he did cook, it was mostly breakfast stuff. I remember him coming home from afternoons around 10 at night, and making a big skillet of Spam hash - little chunks of diced potatoes, browned and crunchy in a skillet with crispy cubes of SPAM. would I eat it now, no. But I'll never forget it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Being a single dad, he conscripted his kids into cooking as soon as we could be trusted around open flame. He taught me to make chili, his favorite, when I was about 11. He also taught me to make a mean raw-fried potatoes and onions, as well as the proper way to cook bacon (start in a cold skillet). He also taught me to make popcorn on top of the stove, and I realized not long ago, he taught me to distrust high heat and making anything boil really hard. I also crank down burners because "it's cooking too fast."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            He died of lung cancer when I was just 15, back in 1990, but my love of food and cooking is because of him. Thanks Pop!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My mother was never allowed in the kitchen by her mother, and she never lived away from home before she got married. Not being able to cook was one of the many things Dad didn't think to ask about before they got married (her driving record is another story).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              So basically, anything Dad cooked was better than Mom's following recipes exactly as written. We were all happy when he changed from an office job to working part time in an office and the rest of the time with personal appointments with clients at whatever time of day works best for them.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He still does big breakfasts when the whole family is together. He grills great chicken, makes great soups and pies. The only thing he doesn't do well (in my opinion and my Mother's) is that he grills fish until it's dry as a bone. I didn't know fish could be moist until I dated a guy who fished all of the time. Because of how Dad butchered the fish, I now really don't like cooked fish of any kind.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My dad cooked a mean skillet of hamburger helper! The only thing I've ever really seen him cook from scratch were pancakes. Pancake making skills were taught to my sister and me instead of how to change our oil! I'm so happy he taught us, too!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Dad's usually been more of a baker than anything else. He was the one who got together every year with his Dutch MIL to make banket for Christmas, and still makes one mean cheesecake.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. My dad (born in 1906) was a GREAT cook. He made wonderful soups/stews. My mom would try to keep him out of the kitchen when she was making a stew, but he would always get in and "season it up" a bit (always to its benefit). When I would come home from college, they would ask what I wanted to eat - and I always wanted his beans and ham OR his barbequed chicken and they would be ready when I arrived. And he made the BEST barbequed chicken on earth, always halves. He had built our home in 1952 and made a wonderful stone grill on the back porch. Later he bought a Char-Broil and he could really make them great in it, too! Just writing this brings back the smells and tastes...and now I'm crying.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: geneva1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      awww geneva1, what sweet memories you have of your dad and his food. how nice to have them. he probably loved cooking for his family, knowing how much you appreciated it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mariacarmen

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Thanks, mariacarmen. I DO have good memories...now I'm smiling again. If we caught a tortoise while fishing, he'd bring it home and cook it in a HUGE pot. We'd always get to laugh and say it "tasted like chicken". He'd shoot a squirrel on our acreage and fix HIMSELF brains and eggs. We often had rabbit from our land. He made head cheese. He hunted and often brought home deer, elk, bear, and quail. He cleaned everything and both he and my mom would fix it. He had a large garden and we'd go out with a salt shaker and eat tomatoes (the best!). He made his own horseradish. He was a great cook AND a great dad.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Awful but I think he though he was a good cook. He ate peanut butter and horseradish sandwiches for crying out loud. Me and my brothers were raised by him from ages 5-14 after my parents divorced. Other items included a period of time when he added a TON of cloves to EVERYTHING. Aaaach! There was also the time he fed us oatmeal with weevils in it. I did however get an appreciation of things like sardines, chorizo and Braunschweiger at a young age and my first sips of beer. Mercifully he would sometimes come home from work too tired to cook and just send us out with some cash to fend for ourselves.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My Dad?? I remember two meals - one was oatmeal that couldn't / didn't get out of the pan when my mother was in the hospital. The other is hotdogs roasted on a wire grill over a flame - of the garbage that we were allowed to burn way back in the day. . . . .really.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My Pops is a good cook. He makes a mean Banh Bao, which is a big dumpling stuffed with eggs, chicken, pork, and all sorts of other goodies.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. You know......... my Dad passed away when I was 16 and he was wondrful guy, but I don't remember him ever cooking ANYTHING.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. The best kimchi fried rice ever with lots of kimchi and pork belly. We'd all eat it together right out of the pan.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Damn. This is making me hungry...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My dad is the king of the grill at home -- ribs, chicken, skirt steak, sausage, london broil etc - he can grill it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                He also makes a wonderful zuppa de clams - nice and garlicy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Dad made French toast or corn pancakes (sometimes regular pancakes) on weekends. He'd always let my Mom sleep in, even though he was the one who worked all week, and he'd take charge of us kids. On Sunday mornings we'd usually go for a drive into the country and then stop at a donut shop for donuts and milk or coffee. He'd bring donuts and the paper home for my mother and put on a pot of coffee as soon as we walked back in the door. Mom woke up happy and refreshed, we kids had gotten the initial running out of our systems, and Dad had spent a pleasant morning with his kids, which he truly enjoyed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the things that I used to ask him to make for me whenever I was sick with a cough/cold/flu type thing was called moujaka (sp?), a Finnish peasant stew (although we were Swede and Norwegian) that he made with pork (I think it's traditionally made with fish), shredded cabbage, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, diced potatoes, and whole cloves that you had to fish out. I think he also used chicken or beef broth. It was delicious with freshly baked bread or flour tortillas!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  He was a good cook and enjoyed cooking. When he and my mother got married she didn't know how to cook. The running joke was that she could make fudge, poached eggs, and toast - that was it. Mom's Mom was an incredibly good cook and baker - everything was delicious. One day, early in their marriage, Dad asked Grandma why she hadn't taught any of her daughters to cook. Grandma replied that they were all good looking and smart so she figured someone would marry them and then HE cold suffer through their experiments, why should they? She was right. Dad cooked everything for years, until he had to go somewhere for a conference and Mom was left home alone with me. She cooked, it was good, and we enjoyed it. After that Dad didn't have to cook all the time but did enjoy taking over on weekends Donuts in the morning, sandwiches for lunch, and something from the grill on the evenings.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Mom, having been raised on good food and knowing what it tasted like, became as good a cook as her mother. One thing that she did differently, though, was that she let me and my brothers "help" her in the kitchen. She died at 48 but we all knew how to cook, bake, and do laundry. As a result of Mom letting us in the kitchen with her, we all learned to love cooking and, when we were all home, my father, brothers and I used to squabble over who got to cook the next meal. We all wanted to do it.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This conjures up some great family memories! My late father's birthday is a week away and I still miss him so much. He was such a wonderful father, brilliant man, and great friend!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: KailuaGirl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    What great memories, KailuaGirl!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My Dad is a creature of habit...has to have his morning coffee and paper. When he's visiting my sister and her family, who don't take the paper, he gets up early, gets the paper, and some donuts for breakfast. My 6 year old nephew is beginning to connect the Donut Fairy with Grandma and Grandpa's visits. This last week spent with all of them, I was the one who went out to get the paper, just to get some peace and quiet!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My dad made outstanding excellent matzoh brie. His secret was to soak the matzoh in milk rather than water. Yummmmm!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Salmon croquettes for one. Jalapeño, bell pepper Tabasco infused chitterlings was his other dish.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I loved for him to cook them instead of my mom. He went nicely overboard with the spices. If
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      my mother would cook them, I loved to see him sneak in more spice when she went to the bathroom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. corn fritters on a hot plate (really, a big slab of metal) over the campfire - i think recipe from Joy of Cooking (and ancient copy) and it included a can of green giant creamed corn --- then served with maple syrup (or pancake syrup artificial maple flavor - which i still kind of prefer to the real maple syrup! Scandalous!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        he would also wrap potatoes in foil and peeled onions with a daub of butter - wrap in foil - and put in the big bonfire outside in the winter -- of course, one could be burning only the tree branches and bush stuff - not old tires!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        he was famous for his home brew too - that was quite the production, must say.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. My dad did a great job on sausage gravy, or red-eye gravy, and biscuits. Also on eggs. He kept one pan only for doing the eggs so he could do them over easy/medium without them breaking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. My dad is the family grillmaster - he has this huge grill out back that he bought a rotisserie attachment for several years ago. He makes these RIDICULOUS ribs (with the assistance of my mom's dry rub) that I request pretty much every time I visit. He also makes a mean steak.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My dad cooked only one thing, Manhattan clam chowder, and it was fabulous. When the spirit moved him, he would get huge clams with gnarly shells; I don't know where they came from, but they were probably freshly dug up at the shore. Then he commandeered the kitchen, to my mom's dismay. He worked furiously for the better part of a day, making a huge vat of chowder. Most of it went into the freezer.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              He also made an epic mess in the kitchen. Tomato sauce, vegetable peelings and clam shells would be everywhere, and his splatter factor was off-the-charts. It was my job to clean up the kitchen, and I got good at washing tomato sauce off the walls. But the chowder was worth it. As was watching my dad get so enthusiastic about his creation.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              My dad was a huge fan of shellfish, and after I moved to my first apartment in the metropolitan Washington, DC area, he showed up to visit me, bearing a paper bag full of Maryland blue crabs that he had picked up on the way. As he walked in the door, the bottom of the bag gave way and crabs spilled out all over the floor, pincers snapping madly. Somehow my dad captured them all, and he and I never laughed so hard.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Fabulous thread. Love these nostalgic stories.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                My dad didn't cook much, but he had several specialties. Meringues at Christmas, tinted with food coloring, red and green. I was awestruck watching him turn eggwhites into poetry. Followed shortly by damn good *real* eggnog. Spiked for the grown-ups, plain for us kids.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In summer, Connecticut clam chowder, clear clam broth (no cream or tomatoes), potatoes, onions, celery, bacon, lots of chopped clams. I still remember the banged-up stockpot he cooked it in. No matter how much he made, there was never any left over.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                And year-round, weekend breakfasts. Dad taught me how to poach eggs -- mom got queasy with runny yolks -- and they are still my favorite way to eat eggs to this day. Potatoes O'Brien fried nice and crisp. Corned beef hash (with aforementioned poached egg or not), served with lots of ketchup. Bacon sandwiches, nothing else needed to make them perfect -- except maybe dipping an extra slice of bread in the pan later to soak up the bacon drippings. And the odd slice of fried salami/bologna when the larder was bare.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Every couple of weeks, Dad would go down to the downstairs kitchen and open up a can of sardines in tomato sauce...he'd open the filets, take out the bones, and make it into sardine salad...similar to tuna salad, but with much more flavor. Great on a warm bagel.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: njmarshall55

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    My father, who died nearly 40 years ago, made excellent shrimp and lobster tails; he also grilled a mean burger and a sumptuous steak on our outdoor built-in gas grill. He also ferreted out the best pizza and cheese steak places. My step-father was infamous for his many years as a divorced father feeding the family anything Shake-N-Bake; it's a family joke to this day. He never cooked much until years after we all left home, when he and my mother started cooking all the family favorites together, from soups to lasagna. I taught him how to make pastry crusts for Father's Day one year, so he can now make quiche and pies. My grandfather created fantastic clam bakes, crab boils and clams casino; he also was an excellent sous chef for my grandmother. He fished off the Delaware and Virginia coasts for many years; I've never known anyone who could filet a fish so perfectly. My uncle can cook just about anything to perfection, and my brother makes the most perfect scrambled eggs.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. My Mom was a stay-at-home-Mom so Dad hardly ever cooked, but when he did it was usually mac and cheese (from a box) that he would dress up with hot dogs - including a happy face on the casserole made from them. Another go to was steak fried in a cast iron skillet with lots of onions, mushrooms and green pepper. He made amazing big breakfasts too - though the mess afterward was even bigger. There was also one dish he made - I think he clipped the recipe from the newspaper (such initiative!) - that was called pizza soup or pepperoni soup and it was pretty much what is sounded like! My sister and I loved it, but I was never able to find the recipe after he passed away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My Dad only cooked on very, very rare occasions. But when he did, they were memorable. From my childhood memory:
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Spaghetti bolognaise
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      - Chicken,potato & mushroom stew

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. My dad used to make this fish ball soup that was really good. I don't remember all of the ingredients, but I remember it had noodles and Chinese sausages in it as well.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: westcoaststyle

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Interesting - by Chinese sausages, you do mean those waxed sausages? We usually have these sausages steamed atop rice or glutinous rice: the fat permeating from the sausages, the characteristic scent and strong sweet-salty flavors would seep into the rice, adding indescribable deliciousness.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I don't think I'd ever had Chinese sausages added to a soup before - wouldn't their flavors be too assertive for a fishball noodle soup?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. he made great omelets. also homemade doughnuts and homemade potato chips.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Fruit pie (any kind, but apple (tart, skins on, served cold please) and rhubarb (no strawberries) are my faves), beef stew (always includes parsnips), and Portuguese garlic soup (for breakfast).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            . . . Then there's the time he added rosemary to Chinese stir fry. . . :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Egg and soldiers. My nana's partner (who's like a grandad really since I've known him all my life) is also the best at egg and soldiers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. My dad is an awesome cook and baker. My all time favorite thing that he made, when I was younger, was homemade pizza. I once had a friend come to our house for dinner in 1st grade when he made pizza, and when asked what she wanted for dessert, replied "more pizza". Nowadays, he has a smoker and is really into making ribs, pulled pork, and chicken wings. Delicious!