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Dad's approach to Dinner... your stories

Inspired by alkapal's thread http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/553823, about the odd food creations brought to us by our mom's. I wanted to devote a little space to the oddities of Dad's cooking/creative appoaches to cooking. While my Mom had a few doozies, abundance of jello salads and pickle juice pork chops, My Dad was the real winner for stange approaches to cooking and eating.

My mother often worked nights so my dad was left to come up with dinner on many occasions. What he lacked in culinary experinence he made up for in flare.The highlights:
-Mash Parties: Mash potatos with some random veggies and ground beef, eaten while watching "Mash" the T.V. show (this one became so popular that Mom even started to whip this one out
)-Hot Dog Pic-nic: Go find a stick outside, then spear & cook your own hot dog in the fire place, while sitting on a checked table cloth on the floor.
-Flower salads: We would go on a long walk and pick edible flowers, pansies, ferns and the like, then toss them in the salad.
-Olives Pickles and Cheese: This was probably the most common. Juice was poured in wine glasses and we ate olives pickles and cheese along with toasted white bread. This while my father would try to teach us his version of fractured french. Cheese always consisted of the heavily processed varities and sometimes sliced tomatoes with Mrs. Dash lemon pepper were thrown into the mix. (I've recently witnessed my sister pulling this one out on her kids)

What are your stories and recipes?

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  1. The only cooking he ever did was on the grill....for special occasions the adults got sirloin steak and the kids got what he called 'tube steak' (hotdogs). The only time I ever remember him cooking anything was about three years ago. Mom was getting out of the hospital after a knee replacement and he was grilling steaks and wanted to make potato salad. He called to ask me: Do you cook the onion before adding to the potatoes? How much this, how much that? I told him to go to Cosco but he made it and Mom said it was real oniony and he used a 5 lb bag of potatoes and 12 eggs. They had plenty of leftovers and I'm sure they ate it all being frugal. Dad's been gone almost a year now... : (

    RW

    1 Reply
    1. re: riverwood

      RW,
      what a sweet memory of your father, sorry to hear of your loss.

    2. I just wanted to say, poached, that your dad sounds like he was a lot of fun. What wonderful memories to have.

      My dad's cooking repertoire consisted of grilling, reheating tuna casserole, and making scrambled eggs and beans on toast.

      1. my dad didn't cook. at all. in fact, my parents divorce when i was a kid, and he often forgot to feed me and him. i ended up cooking for him as a teenager and young adult. i did always find it interesting that he'd put butter and peanut butter on a bagel...

        6 Replies
        1. re: Emme

          My Dad doesn't cook either -- not even the traditionally male art of grilling. He can make a sandwich, heat-up leftovers my Mom leaves him, or open a can and heat its contents. That's about it. I don't think I've ever, in almost 50 years, seen him actually cook something, even toast. Fortunately, unlike some non-cooking men of his generation, he doesn't demand that someone else cook three meals a day for him. He'll quite happily eat cold sandwiches and cereal and heat stuff up if no one can or will cook for him.

          1. re: Ruth Lafler

            i've seen my father open cans when i was younger, but now if his wife isn't home to cook for him, he goes out. always. or he doesn't eat. really.

            1. re: Emme

              emme, my dad is exactly the same way - if it's more involved than toasting a bagel or opening a container of yogurt, it's not happening. so if one of us isn't around to feed him, he'll either snack on something out of the cupboard, or skip the meal entirely.

              1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                if my father didn't have a wife now, i seriously doubt whether there would be anything in his fridge or cupboard. maybe a box of cookies he purchased off chance. he also goes the whole day without eating, if he doesn't grab a bagel in the morning, gets really crabby, and emerges better after a big dinner meal, which at a restaurant likely includes the basket of bread, and some fish or chicken dish...

            2. re: Ruth Lafler

              Nope, he doesn't cook. But he makes very elaborate bowls of cereal.

              1. re: jlafler

                heh :)

                the one "meal" my dad eats, without fail, every day: 1/2 container of nonfat Greek yogurt, topped with a handful of blueberries and a layer of honey-nut cheerios.

          2. My dad cooked only two dishes -- Beans on Toast... and Special Beans on Toast. The difference? For the special, he actually heated the tinned beans.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Channa

              hee hee -- sounds like my dad except he didn't cook anything at all

            2. My parents divorced when I was 2, so I only saw my father on wkends or vacations.

              His cooking ranged from the rather basic -- gouda on bread, or canned chicken noodle soup (one of my sister's faves) -- to cucumber salad with matjes added to it, or his 'hyper-tomato-sauce" with tomato paste, canned tomato, fresh tomato, and other tomato products I can't recall at this time.

              For train travels, he brought hard-boiled eggs (THE classic German train snack in the 70s) with those little resto packets of salt & pepper of which he had a large collection.

              He would almost inevitably have to finish my plate, and delighted in gnawing off the cartilage (still can't stand that sound) or eating the fat I had cut off.

              A health nut he was not, but he made it to 79.

              1. Dad's job involved a great deal of travel and altho he didn't have many meals with us he did expose me to tropical fruits and unusual food combinations (what he called ethnic) as a result of his travels. I know I was the only kid taking papaya, melon, pineapple and mango in my lunch box in 1966. He had a "taste it first, then decide" attitude about food. (thank goodness!)

                His idea of a fab dinner when he was home would have been an omelete with the works. Using leftovers my mom had on hand like peppers, potatoes, ham, cooked veggies wound up in the "dinner eggs" (another Dad term). He used this great big skillet to make the omeletes (which I inherited and use to this day). The eggs weren't always delicious but my Dad was one of the most delicious storytellers I've ever known. Good times.

                1. My parents divorced when I was quite young too. At my dad's house we ate microwave pizzas and Nile Spice reconstituted soups for lunch. At first my dad tried to "cook" old el paso tacos with refried beans. But that gave way quickly to eating out everynight on our visits. Chinese food, Indian food, Mexican food, and my most favorite as a kid, Ethiopian. Ethiopian became such a favorite that when we visited every other Christmas we ate our Christmas dinner at the local Ethiopian restaurant which was open on Christmas unlike everything else in town. We adored this tradition. That continued until my dad remarried a woman who is a great cook and also thinks our Ethiopian Christmas dinner tradition is crazy. We still go to that restaurant and we know the whole family. The tiny daughter of the owner is all grown up now. Our crazy food traditions expanded my horizons--I cook my own ethiopian food now and always want to try new food.

                  1. Pop was my chowhound mentor. For as long as I remember he made western scrambled egg sandwiches on a Kaiser roll on Sunday night and squeezed fresh orange juice every morning during winter. Introduced me to chili dogs, pastrami and corned beef sandwiches at an early age. Took me camping with his brothers and/or buddies and I learned to shuck clams around the camp fire and boil crabs. Taught me to fish at a family camp in Ontario.Took herring to his mother's to marinate on Thurs. for us to eat on Sun. Drank beer w/ me at local bars when I was underage. Taught me to BBQ. Brought lobster and kolbasa to me on the plane when I lived in New Mexico. Taught me to shoot pool and drink beer at a Russian men's club on Fri. nights when I was in high school. To pick wild mushrooms.Took me to the Hoboken Clam Broth House for delish steamers and clam zuppa. Made it a tradition to go to the Oyster Bar in Grand Central station for oysters w/ my best friend every Christmas. took me to Mama Leone's, Luchow's and Joe King's Rathskeller, Steuben's too. Taught me to slip someone a five for good service. And finally taught me that quality was better than quantity, but a quantity of quality was best.
                    But I taught him to take off the corn husk wrapper on a tamale before cutting it, to sit quayside and peel and eat Norwegian shrimp, eat crayfish in Finland and dig clams in Maine (even took him lobstering w/ my buddy.).
                    God do I miss him every day.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                      OH Passa - what a beautiful tribute!

                      It's different with a girl and her father. Although it was he who taught me how to bait a hook. He loved to cook and on the days mother was teaching at her studio he would come home early from his office and make his special pasta sauce and have everything ready before he went to meet her at the train.
                      I remember days during the summer when Mother & I were at the beach and Dad would arrive around 5:00 in the evening with a hamper of roasted chicken that he had either baked or grilled on an outdoor brick and iron grill he had designed and built. There'd be salad and something to drink and we would have a wonderful picnic on the beach after he had his swim. Halcyon days.

                      1. re: Passadumkeg

                        Pop also made tons of kapusta, Russian saurkraut. I inherited his 5 gallon crocks and continue the tradition. He also prided himself on his Boston baked beans, complete in bean pot.He was also the BBQ guru and did all the cooking while camping.
                        When he contracted the cancer that eventually killed him, he said to me,"Mark, what do you do if God gives you a bowl of lemons?" Good boy Mark replied, "Make lemonade?" "No.", said Pop, "Make Margaritas and enjoy it while you can." His final words to me were to do the things you want to do now, because like is short. I stopped teaching and became a Registered Maine Guide. My going to the office today is 8 hours of sea kayaking guiding near Acadia National Park. Thanks, Pop.

                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                          Mark, it sounds like you're still teaching...perhaps with more gusto...but
                          Dad's have a unique way of bringing us the mountains and calling them hills.

                      2. My mother was not a great cook, so my father cooked every Sunday dinner. What I remember most was some Sunday suppers when he would make Hungarian cabbage and noodles and palachinka for desert. I think that will be dinner tomorrow night.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: MARISKANY

                          My parents were divorced too, and my father lived in NY and Paris for several years. So, when he was in town, his idea of dinner was 2 dogs at a Cubs game or "check, please".

                        2. My dad does not cook much. However, he has one of the best herb garden there is in the neighborhood. Has vast knowledge on fruits and has excellent knife skills - I learn how to gut fish, deboning, et cetera from him. He loves food and will try anything - I got this from him too. We could just sit on table and eat all day if possible.

                          He does fix a superb oatmeal!! The old fashioned type and he'd just cook it with Milo - malted chocolate, all goey and hot. That used to be my 'meal of choice' when I felt sick. My brothers thought it was just nasty. They probably still think about it that way. :)

                          1. Oh my gosh, my Dad was before his time. We had a huge garden, grape arbors, worm beds, chickens, beef, a couple of cows, fruit trees, and he made beer and wine.
                            An avid fisherman and hunter (not deer), of birds, I remember quail, and pheasant dinners. Frog legs, oh sure, they tasted like chicken. And then there were the Friday night shrimp or fish frys providing if he caught a string of fish. Then for several days after he messed my mother's kitchen up we had to deal with the floor, which would finally come clean only for him to mess up again. Years later, he cooked at my house for me and my husband his famours fish fry. When he went to bed we were absolutely hysterical while we sang and danced like James Brown, "I Feel Good" on that greasy tile floor...

                            I remember sitting patiently while he heated milk, added shucked oysters and their liqour, then take a big soup spoon and toss in a great big gob of butter. Salt and pepper, then a few shakes of Tobasco and I had a bowl of oyster stew. He would then give me a bowl of those little oyster crackers, and I loved to put them in the steaming milky broth one at a time.

                            But I think my favorite meal was the chop suey. I don't know what he did, what he put in it other than a lot of vegetables, and chicken but gosh was it good.
                            My first experience with a sort of, Asian meal.

                            So many nice memories, thanks for asking.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: chef chicklet

                              chef, most interesting read. Brought back many memories - gardens, fruit trees, livestock, home processed meats and milk & butter, barnyard eggs - and worm beds (also a roach box in which we raised roaches for bream bait). I was a pretty good fisherman but never a hunter, though my dad & uncle loved bird (quail) hunting. If my mother or I got sick we went to the one MD in the little town nearby, but if either Doc or Lou, the two birddogs, got sick we passed up two vets taking them to a dog specialist vet over in Mississippi - great adventure for a kid; getting to cross Mississippi River on a big ferry boat on such trips. I remember so hating to have to help clean birds when they got in from a successful hunt. Think we were the only family who ever scalded, picked, & singed quail just like you do when dressing a chicken (everyone else I've ever known skinned quail). So much work but then a mess of quail is also some of world's best eating. They would also occasionally squirrel hunt, always after young squirrel for frying. But I was always so happy when they came home with old squirrel that was too tough for frying - had to be made into squirrel & dumplings. There has never been any chicken & dumplings with anywhere near the delicious flavor of squirrel & dumplings.

                              My dad was a good cook, often cooked with or helped my mother get out a meal, but his specialties were frying fish & making breakfast of any sort. He fully believed, and was about right, that he could make any breakfast as good as my mother or any woman. So I don't have any cooking abnormalities or disasters of his to report. However, one of the breakfast combinations he'd assemble for himself was about more than I could take. I like some good sunny side eggs with a breakfast meat on the side as well as anyone, and also like a stack of good pancakes as much as anyone - but definitely as two different breakfasts. Whenever we had pancakes, my dad always had to cook two sunny side eggs to plop atop his buttered pancake stack. Then over all that he would pour syrup & start cutting it up. I have a "strong stomach". Very little that I see, smell, taste gets to me, but the sight of that egg yolk running in that syrup was just more than I could take. If I didn't get up & leave the table, I at least had to turn my head. And that is about the only thing I can think of that I always refused to taste. In more recent years I have heard of a few other people who eat eggs & pancakes in this manner, so guess my dad was not alone in this eating quirk, but it surely was not for me!

                            2. i've [lovingly] posted in the past about my dad's complete ineptitude in the kitchen :) were he to ever have been responsible for feeding us, we would have either gone out or ordered in...or when i was a bit older it would have fallen to me to make something. he doesn't know how to use a single kitchen appliance besides the toaster...not even a toaster oven, just a pop-up toaster. ok, so i guess maybe we could have had bagels for dinner...

                              1. Dads approach when mom was out of town(mom was a flight attendant), or the nanny was off:

                                1) pan fried bologna sandwiches
                                2) olive burgers cooked on the stove
                                3) the local "greek" diner
                                4) McDonalds - no wonder I hate McDonalds to this very day.

                                1. My dad made 3 things only. The dinners were either plain cheese fondue or a sandwich he made up that consisted of rye bread, salami and a swiss cheese - then put it in the toaster to melt the cheese and before eating, put spicy mustard on top. It actually turned out well. The 3rd was pancakes, but that was on Sunday AM and they tasted even better since he made faces on them with blueberries.

                                  1. Yikes, this takes me back to my inspiration for learning to cook for myself. He'd cook:

                                    1) he'd make tacos by folding raw corn tortillas around raw ground beef and frying the whole contraption in an inch of oil until crispy on the outside and raw on the inside.
                                    2) a dish he called, appropriately, "slop". Eggs scrambled with whatever what in the fridge. Sometimes that would be things like left over raw tacos.

                                    The invention of the microwave saved us all.

                                    1. My parents had a typical 1950's marriage - Dad was the family breadwinner and Mom was the chief cook and bottle washer. Mom was a terrific cook, she did all the cooking, baking, even grilling. On the rare occasions I remember my father feeding my brother & I, it was simple stuff like warmed up soup (which Mom had homemade) or scrambled eggs (which he burned). In later years, Dad did seem to enjoy making breakfast - he loved oatmeal made from scratch with milk, brown sugar and cinnamon and made killer soft boiled eggs in these wild ceramic egg cups he like to collect. Didn't matter that he was pretty useless in the kitchen, loved him an awful lot and miss him terribly now that he is gone.

                                      1. My dad cooked most of our meals since he would get home from work first. It was a relief because mom is a pretty bad cook. Dad made lots of pasta and sauce, homemade pizzas, good old fashioned MN hotdishes and chili. Things that would reheat well.

                                        Now my husband, that's another story. I do most of the cooking, and while he can follow a recipe, he sticks to just a couple things: baked chicken, tacos, and frozen pizza. But boy, that man has the quickest takeout dialing finger in the North.

                                        1. These are such nice stories- thanks to all for sharing your memories.
                                          My dad is a great cook- his chinese food was always my favorite. Now that he and my mother eat healthy almost all of the time we rarely get his steak & peppers or fried rice. One of my favorite's was breakfast when I was little- he'd make banana shakes- banana, raw egg and milk or ice cream. It didn't even seem strange, at the time, to have ice cream with breakfast.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: lhb78

                                            Ihb78: What memories you brought back! Our neighbor up the hill would make a blender drink for her kids' breakfast and somehow (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) we'd ALWAYS be there just around the time it was finished. It was egg, orange juice and banana in the blender. It was so delicious. I don't really remember, but I figure that my sister and I had already had breakfast at our own house. She always took pity on us and made 2 extra glasses.

                                          2. My Papa is a wonderful cook, but he'd go through manias - nothing but Thai food one week, nothing but Ethiopian the next. He'd traveled all around through serving in the Navy as well as the Peace Corps and brought a little of everything back with him. He grew up in the rural south, so real southern food was also part of the rotation. He taught himself to cook since my grandmother's talents lie in other areas - she once coated the fish in soap flakes before frying it - and passed on that love of cooking to us kids. He lives behind his office building and every single day whips up lunch for his entire staff - and it could be anything from Indian food to goat soup to roasted pork pizza on homemade crust. And going out to dinner with him - whatever he eats he has to figure out how it's done and goes straight back to recreate it for us, Watching him cook is a joy, too - it's all about the performance and the storytelling and grand gestures and flying spoons!
                                            Sometimes if I've been good he lets me chop the onions for him.

                                            1. When I was up until I was 10 or so, Dad's repertoire consisted of something called hamburger gravy... browned ground beef, a can of mixed peas/carrots, maybe a little onion cut up, then a water/flour slurry to thicken the whole thing up. Served over a slice of white bread with ketchup. His noodles and cheese was egg noodles boiled in a beatup aluminum pot then tossed with a couple of cups of grated velveeta. Or fried egg sandwiches, S/P and ketchup.

                                              Fast forward 30 years, he's progressed to some amazing gourmet level dishes. Halibut steaks broiled over red onion and fennel, for example; taken a handful of cooking classes; even been asked to lead a couple. And he loves his La Creuset. Go figure.

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Scott D

                                                My Father was a decent cook, its his habits that I remember the most....the coffee can next to the sink for "wet" trash, the svensgard foil tin in the bottom of his white grocery bag trash to make it more stable, the saving of every twist tie, the rubber bands around the previously frozen orange juice can....

                                                The food? I fondly remember SOS, chipped beef on a whole wheat toast. YUM! Poached eggs on whole wheat= Roman Meal to be exact. Camping and him opening cans of beans and putting can directly on grill!!! Hard boiled eggs with pepper (uggggh at age 5!). Biscuits and gravy, and corn bread

                                                My Dads bummer dish? He cooked some downright disgusting fish dishes

                                                My Father worked away all week, so Friday night was "Libby Land" dinners in the den for me- cocktails and dinner for them in the dining room!

                                              2. Daddy was a west Texas farm boy who contracted polio as an infant and didn't walk until he was four. As a child, we didn't work the fields like the other children, but stayed inside helping my grandmother cook, can and bake. In his early 20's, WWII, he was an army cook.
                                                Goodness, could that man cook. Nothing too fancy, just good southern food with lots of fresh veggies from his garden.
                                                He's been gone 26 years now but he's still my cooking inspiration.

                                                1. growing up, my dad rarely cooked dinner. He'd bbq outside (making his own sauce) and often make baked beans, turkey soup, pickles and relishes. The meal he did most days was breakfast, as he was the one to take us to school while mom cared for the youngest. So it was often leftovers for breakfast - american chop suey, soup, chicken livers with onions and peppers, chow mein. Every summer we rented on cape cod and my dad came for the weekends. On Sundays he would make fried eggs, fried dough, bacon, sausage and toast all with fresh tomatoes.

                                                  1. My Mom was a fabulous cook and my Dad grew up in a house with 11 kids and a mom who could cook a lot, but not well. If Dad was making dinner we were having shepherd's pie or beans and hot dogs. Breakfast was Dad's favorite (even for dinner sometimes) and he delighted in serving paper thin crepes, stacked four high and smothered in hot maple syrup. He also made 'dough boys' which were frozen bread dough thawed, risen and stretched into a flat round disk, then deep fried and slathered in soft butter and covered in a thick layer of powdered sugar. Then there was his own special invention (which he still enjoys getting people to try). A fried egg sandwich, on toast, with peanut butter. Yolk runny, please. No health food when Dad is in the kitchen.

                                                    1. My father has a dish he used to call Vern's special. It was a sandwich of peanut butter, ring bolgnia, american cheese and miracle whip (never mayo). This would be on store brand white bread and be totally covered w/canned Campbell's tomato soup. Thinking about it makes me go blech, but thinking of him making it and the time we shared just makes me glow.

                                                      1. My mother is a great cook and so the only thing my father cooked when I was a kid was pancakes for weekend breakfasts while she slept in. But he baked fancy desserts for all special occasions, often out of the old Gourmet cookbook or Julia Child. I remember napoleons, croquembouche and a nine-layer cake. Then in the early 70's they went on a big anniversary trip to France and discovered baguettes (at that time there was no such thing around here -- Pepperidge Farms was as gourmet as it got in the bread department). He came home and set out to replicate them and there was a fairly long period of very flat, dense, unrisen "baguettes" before he got it and started turning out fabulous baguettes. They have pretty much never bought bread of any kind since, he makes it all, and he branched out to brioches, croissants, muffins and so on. But he still doesn't cook -- normally if my mother isn't there it's a ham sandwich but yesterday he called and asked how to cook the hot dogs she left him for lunch!

                                                        1. My father was the Sunday breakfast expert, but that was the only time he would cook for us. Unless it was out on the grill and then i would be in the kitchen preping it all.

                                                          So when my mom would leave us at the mercy of our father we would have lots of hotdogs and fries from the local fry hole or his "famous" Kraft macaroni and cheese with fried ground beef and green onions(cause us kids needed to have some veggies somewhere).
                                                          We counted down the minutes until her return.

                                                          Now that my brothers and I are gone, he has reinvented himself into a budding chef. Guess he just didn't want to waste his talents on the likes of us!

                                                          1. I really don't recall my dad cooking when I was a kid. Mom stayed home with us kiddos until I was in about the 4th grade. After that if mom was busy at college finishing her degree, or later with school activities, usually we'd make a bologna sandwich, or as I got older I might cook something.
                                                            Otherwise he was usually up to me order out for pizza (especially once I could drive and go pick it up).
                                                            If for some reason mom was going to be busy, dad always had plenty of snack food he'd pick up on his way home from work and the farm, so we'd usually just al fend for ourselves til mom came home.

                                                            1. Wow... I have had so much fun reading these tonight! While my dad was not the primary cook, he's specialty was stew for the family. To this day, being a good cook and all, I CANNOT replicate the exact taste of dad's stew. The other item I can remember dad really enjoying was Mother's Day. He would always go get special things at the store, cook awesome scrambled eggs, make coffee... the works and more. *Sigh* You know, it's really the simple things that I remember him cooking. Ok... off to call dad and thank him!

                                                              1. My Daddy, AKA The Hobbit, wasn't much of a cook, altho I do remember once, when Mater Beige was sick, he tried to cook us breakfast of scrambled eggs, tomato paste and a can of creamed sweet corn!!

                                                                Both Bro and I refused to eat it, as it looked like something the dog would have thrown up.

                                                                As my kids got older, HE was the one that would get up and make then egg and dippers in the morning, before school.... so they have more memories of him cooking that my bro or I do.

                                                                I also remember his end-of-summer "special", which was whatever leftovers were in the holiday house fridge, all mixed together and served on toast...

                                                                And this Summer, I found myself mixing together a random assortment of leftover ham, cheese, dips, tomatoes and the like, and serving it to MY kids, as we packed up the beach house.

                                                                I will always associate sun-dried beach towels, sand between my toes, and the sad nostalgic feeling of the end of Summer with my Hobbit and his Last Supper.

                                                                I am 43, he's been gone 18 months, and I miss him every single moment of every single day.

                                                                Here's a tribute to that day I wrote:

                                                                http://agoddessinthekitchen.blogspot....

                                                                1. My father was great at frying the fish we caught, boiling crawfish (seasoned oh so perfectly) and "doctoring" Mom's food. She was an excellent cook, but for some reason, he liked to add a little something something to some of her dishes and then try to take credit. After your first bite of anything he cooked, he'd say, "Tell the truth. Isn't that the best _____ you ever ate?"

                                                                  1. Up until college, when I started cooking for myself, I thought the words "grilling" and "burned" were synoymous. Hotdogs, chicken, steak...if it was fully charred, it wasn't cooked, according to my dad.

                                                                    1. My dad did not cook except steaks on the grill.

                                                                      Now my kids would have a totally different take on this question :)

                                                                      1. My mom did and still does almost all of the cooking for my dad. He does fine for breakfast. Loves his porridge and gets quite inventive with what grains to add. He could cook quite well over the campfire. All those years of being a scout leader, I guess...back when the scout troop would just pack up and wander into the woods to camp.

                                                                        I recall once when my mom was in the hospital, my dad tried to make us dinner. He knew how to make potato pancakes, so thought, how about carrot pancakes. Oh, they were quite the disaster. Falling apart and crusty and black around the edges. And he's very much a 'eat everything on your plate' parent. So we had to suffer through.

                                                                        1. Mash Parties and Hot Dog Picnic KILLED ME! Hilarious!

                                                                          My dad could fry a decent chicken (something he learned from being the oldest of five kids who were often...unsupervised), and could mash a hearty potato, but apart from that, his repertoire was limited to things like sloppy joes and fishsticks and such. Well, and the usual grilling, which he generally wouldn't do if left to feed us himself because there's all that prep work and such that he normally didn't have to think about.

                                                                          HIs usual solution was to drive us to the biggest area ice cream parlour, get sundaes for dinner, and get giant jawbreakers from the attached sweet shop for "dessert." In my opinion at the time, this made him the world's best cook. Sometimes we'd have pancakes for dinner instead. Equally winning!

                                                                          1. before jfood's dad bailed out on his birthday (yup can;t make this stuff up) his dad's approach to dinner was from the front door to the bathroom to his seat. Do not stop to pass go.

                                                                            1. What a great topic, poached. I had to smile when I read it because my father never ever cooks. he reheats, yes, but no cooking. My mom even does the grilling.

                                                                              My mom started to work nights as a nurse when I was around six. I can remember my dad dragging a chair over to the counter, plugging in the indoor grill (one of those 70's contraptions---I actually still have it. The plug isn't even grounded :) ), slapping some hot dogs on the counter and a can of baked beans beside it and saying to me "Well, your mom isn't here so it looks like you'll have to do the cooking". I learned to make all manner of culinary delights. Hamburgers, scrambled eggs, grilled cheese. He didn't even supervise me. Talk about blind faith!

                                                                              1. Both my parents are excellent cooks. When I was younger, my father did not cook as much but now that he is older he cooks more often. He is from India and makes a fair amount of Indian food but both he and my mother have adventurous taste and are always making all of kinds of stuff. He likes to watch cooking shows and then find the recipes online, or he finds them in magazines, or even pieces together different recipes to make something good. More often than not when I speak to him on the phone he asks me what I've had for dinner that day. When I was young he would ask me every day what I had for lunch. He is very meticulous about chopping (which can drive my mom nuts because sometimes she ends up being prep cook for him!) I think I will always picture him standing patiently at the stove, cooking garlic, ginger, and onion, which is the basis of so many Indian dishes my parents make.

                                                                                1. I miss him every day.
                                                                                  His father died when he was 9, and it was just him, his little sister and my Grams. Dad found a job to help his mother with bills, 9 years old!! It was a pizzeria on their block. The owner told him no-he didn't need help, but my Dad said he needed someone to sweep and he'd do it for a nickle a week. The guy agreed, and evidently taught him over the years, and as beautiful, lyrical stories go, my dad eventually did own his own pizzeria. Kind of. It was different things to different people, mostly a pancake house on the main road of a small NJ shore town. But he made pizza too.

                                                                                  When we moved to the West Coast they did not reopen. He changed careers and I think maybe his love of cooking died a little because it was a RARE and wonderful occasion when he would make pizza for the family. The dough tossing was my absolute favorite, of course. I have his recipe somewhere but you have to use the local water he used or it won't taste the same...

                                                                                  So back on point, he really didn't cook much aside from outside grilling, boiling macaroni and breakfast stuff. He had a great love of food, and was always up for checking out a new place, uncovering a hidden gem. But Mom or my sisters did the cooking. With all those kids, meals were events!

                                                                                  One night he cooked for some reason-maybe Mom had a class. I was a senior in High school, the last one living at home. I had a PT job that let out at 10pm some nights. Our schedules were opposite so I rarely saw him. He had gone to bed but left me a note that he had made my dinner and kept it warm on the stove-he drew hot dogs, dancing buns, a mustard bottle, etc- I still have it, and I'm really glad I kept it for over 20 years!

                                                                                  1. My Dad didn't cook when he was married to my mother... they divorced when I was young, but then her married a chef/bartender/caterer... so didn't cook much after that either. But there are two things I remember eating when it was up to him to feed me and my sisters.

                                                                                    1. top ramen... but what he called "banquet style"... yes, it was just the cheap kind in the bag for 15 cents.. but he'd put all kinds of leftovers in it.. chicken, veg, and extra seasonings. my mother wouldn't let us eat a lot of processed food (which I'm thankful for now.. but at the time, it made dad's soup all the tastier... forbidden fruit).
                                                                                    2. his own bastardized version of pasta carbonara... which he made with an egg, canned parmesan cheese, fried bacon & beer... and lots of ground black pepper. when I was a kid, I had no idea that this was a version of a famous italian dish.. to us it was just "spaghetti a la pesh" which was named after my dad's college roomate whom they called "peach"... anyway... my mom hated the stuff... so it was what we had for dinner on "bachelor" nights.

                                                                                    1. My mom did 99% of the cooking when my sister and I were growing up (and probably does 100% of the cooking now). Dad was in law enforcement, so worked all kinds of odd shifts (nights, midnights, etc,) and I do remember that when he worked nights, he would make breakfast for us - he made the BEST homemade egg mcmuffins.

                                                                                      On the few occasions that my mom left town, he would go to the grocery store and "stock up." My mom still tells the story of calling home to check in to find me crying hysterically - "Dad went to the grocery store and used all the money to buy junk food, what are we going to eat??" He and my sister had loaded up on Twinkies, HoHo's, chips, candy, ice cream and pop. I wanted real food. He did make a mean steak and fries, though!