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For those of you who can no longer eat your mother's cooking...

What would be your dream meal? Feel free to substitute father, grandmother or any body who cooked for you as a child.

For me it's her macaroni salad, fried rice, chicken and dumplings and shepards pie. I would wash it down with a big glass of Hawaiian Punch.

You?

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  1. oh thank god. at first I thought this was yet another gripe fest. they're fun too, but not exactly in a positive spirit.

    my grandma had a way of making toast (I know, just dumb old toast) that I have never been able to get right. it really is the little things sometimes.

    1 Reply
    1. re: hill food

      me, too -- I'm glad to see it's a sweet and touching tribute thread.

      My grandma's beef and noodles followed by apple dumplings around her 1950's Formica dining set in her postage stamp of a kitchen.

    2. My great grandmother's huckleberry johnnycake. She knew how to make it and never needed a recipe.

      2 Replies
        1. re: LA Buckeye Fan

          Yes, it was. The berries grew on their land, and we would pick them into tin buckets that you tied around your neck with these rag ties. And then she would make the johnnycake.

      1. Great-grandmother. Sunday dinner, dining room, long white tablecloth that had to be ironed. Chicken and dumplings (the rolled-out fat noodle Southern kind). Mashed potatoes. Various vegetables. A jello salad with grated carrots and pineapple in it. Hot muffins. Dessert: coconut cream pie, butterscotch pie, lemon meringue pie. My uncle always coming to Sunday dinner, and, are you ready for this, he owned an ice cream factory and always arrived with several "bricks" wrapped in newspaper (this was happening in the 1930's before people had a "box that would keep cream" in their home so the Vanilla or Black Walnut or Orange-Pineapple or Swiss Chocolate had to be brought in for the occasion).

        1. My mom made the best cheesecake I've ever had.. not totally based on cream cheese, but primarily farmer's cheese. Like a whole cheescake of the filling in a cheese danish -- very moist, and light. Her prune cake was delicious -- basically a very dark spice cake and the prunes made it incredibly moist -- our friends made it into their birthday cakes. And I loved chocolate pudding -- WITH the skin on, the best part.

          1. Nice... totally like the Hawaiian Punch finale!

            1. My mom's grilled cheese was a thing of beauty. Best made one at a time in the pan, with processed cheese food slices, margarine and white bread.

              Oh, and her Brooklyn fried chicken was a delight. Have never had similar.

              She wasn't much of a cook but it was memorable for me. Sweet thread, LABuckeye.

              2 Replies
                1. re: chocolatetartguy

                  LOL, just what we came to call her chicken, a silly family designator. :)

              1. My mom died last year (liver cancer, she was quite young, I'm 25) and she was a pastry chef - I miss her baking! I will never be able to replicate any of those flaky, buttery, soft, smoothy, gooey, crispy...amazing deserts she made.
                Probably for the best, but I do miss licking the beaters :)

                1. My Armenian maternal grandma always made sarma for our trips down for my birthday and Thanksgiving. I haven't had any sarma in nearly 30 years, but I can still taste those little buggers. So any meal where sarma was the star attraction as a side dish would be my dream. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, I wouldn't care.

                  The sarmas came without a sauce, and were nothing fancy, just ground beef, bulgar wheat, and mild spices, wrapped up in grape leaf bundles no bigger than a man's thumb, steamed over some type of broth, served piled high on her oval 'sarma plate'. Every summer she'd carefully wash and blanch leaves my grandpa had gathered in the hot sun for her, then she'd store them bagged in layers in the freezer, just so she could make sarma from her grandmother's recipe twice a year.

                  My mother was a disinterested cook, who turned over dinner-making duties to my older sister the moment my sister completed her first Home Ec class. We ate special occasion meals in restaurants or at a relative's home.

                  1. My dream meal - my grandmother's grilled cheese and a ginger ale.

                    She used plain old white bread and generic American cheese. There was something in the way she cooked it, in an electric skillet, that made it the best grilled cheese in the world. It was like she knew how to get the right balance of golden crisy exterior/melty interior without browning the crust too much.

                    She also bought soft drinks from a local bottler that came in little 8 oz bottles. I was allowed to drink an entire bottle at lunch (typically, everyone was expected to share) and I will never be able to find that type of perfect ginger ale again. I can felt the glass bottle top against my lips, the edges were sort of rough like they had been buffed with sand paper.

                    These are 35+ year memories and just this Christmas, a much younger cousin brought up the same grilled cheese memory. I was in college by the time Cousin was eating grilled cheese at Nana's table, it was never a shared memory, the grilled cheese was that good!

                    1 Reply
                    1. My Mom wasn't much of a cook, but I miss her vegetable soup and cheese toast.

                      My Dad's pancakes.

                      1. More than anything I miss her presence at the dinner table.

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                          Amen. I'd happily scarf down Kraft mac and cheese if she could be here to make it. And dad's fried bologna. Seriously.

                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                            +1!

                            Mom was an ok cook and I have most of her special recipes. I can replicate those exceptionally well so I'm not missing her food. I'm totally missing her!

                            My fondest memory was her last holiday meal, which was Christmas of '02. It was at that point that I took over the holiday meals. I made a standing rib roast, twice baked potatoes, from scratch green bean casserole and NY style cheesecake. She ate that meal and watched over the table knowing the baton was passed and future holidays would be handled well.

                            After 9+ years, I still tear up at the memory of that.

                              1. re: Dee S

                                Nice.

                                My final meal with my mom--although I had no inkling at the time--was take home Wienerschnitzel. It was nice too.

                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Those memories stay with you don't they?

                                2. re: Dee S

                                  what a great classic meal -- almost identical (we had garlic mashed and green beans with brown butter and hazelnuts) to what i made (well, bought the cheesecake) as the baton was passed in our family this year.

                                3. re: Perilagu Khan

                                  Amen indeed. It's been 18 years without my Mom.

                                4. My grandmother's biscuits and her blackberry cobbler.

                                  1. I'm lucky enough to still have my mom around to cook for me (and close enough that I get to partake often!) but I do miss my dad's veal piccata made with three sticks of butter. Moderation was not in his makeup.

                                    1. Fried chicken, mashed potatoes, cornbread, peas or green beans, home-canned pickled beets. Pinto beans, greens, and cornbread. Green beans, ham, and potatoes in the pot all cooked together.

                                      1. My grandmother's chicken and dumplings. They were so incredible. My dad does a pretty good replicating them, but I remember Granny B's always tasting better.

                                        1. as a kid i always got to pick what my mom made for my birthday dinner. for many years it was veal parmigiana and later on it was baby lamb chops.

                                          it would just be nice to have somebody cook for me on my birthday again, lol.

                                          1. My grandma--a native of Bokchito, Oklahoma for the love of God--made celestial fried chicken. My mom and my aunts tried mightily to replicate it. No dice. I'll not forget that yardbird as long as I live, but the memory is as close as I will ever come to it. In this life, anyway.

                                            1. For many adult birthdays, I requested that my mom make steamed chopped pork cake with water chestnuts and preserved vegetables and foo jook soup funky with dried seafood. At Christmas, I always looked forward to her Russian Tea Cakes.

                                              1. My mother's meatballs. Try as I might, I can never get them as moist and tasty as hers were. I can make the gravy, the braciole, the pork taste the same as hers, but not those meatballs.

                                                1. My grandfather's golumpkis, homemade creamed corn, and boiled potatoes (no idea how he made them taste good with just salt and butter, must have been the love <3 ). His homemade wild blueberry pie with whipped cream for dessert. My sisters and I rotated being the one to whip the cream, and sneak tastes while doing so. I haven't had any of these dishes made with near the level of taste and care since he passed.

                                                  1. Grandma Ida's Knishes: light crepes folded like a burrito around lightly sweetened pot cheese, browned in butter and served with a variety of jams, from strawberry to black raspberry. Her kugel: noodles and cheese baked in a custard that wasn't too custardy and topped with cornflakes that were sugared and tossed w/ melted butter. Her chopped liver, dark and unctuous, lightened with chopped egg and caramelized onions, both smooth and grainy. Her roasted chicken, which she basted every 15 minutes. It fell off the bone and was so moist in every piece, with the crispiest skin tasting of butter, paprika, lemon, and garlic salt and pepper. Her cookies that were more like candy - chow mein noodle clusters with peanuts and butterscotch chips, and rocky road cookies that for some reason she called "Heavenly Hash". They were airy deeep chocolate with tiny marshmallows and big pieces of walnut, and I miss them but I miss her more.

                                                    1. This is, by the way, a call to action for all those who still have mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and other loved ones to make their favorites.

                                                      Go sit down with them -- ask them how they made it....if you can, record it - often times, these discussions involve side stories that are gems of family histories that would otherwise disappear with our loved ones into the mists of time.

                                                      If they're still able, ask them to SHOW you how it's made -- record it, if they'll agree. This isn't for YouTube infamy - this is for preserving your family heritage.

                                                      Now transcribe the conversation and save it -- send a copy to your siblings and cousins. They'll thank you.

                                                      It might not taste the same -- but when they're gone, you'll at least have the recipe and maybe a recording to treasure for years to come.

                                                      (I get requests from my cousins all the time for dishes my grandmother made - I'm the oldest of all the grandkids, so I was the only one old enough to have learned to cook at her side...lots of recipes weren't ever written down, so I tell them as best as I remember.)

                                                      5 Replies
                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                          My aunt--who passed away back in '87--hand crafted a cookbook from recipes she clipped from magazines and newspapers, and gave it to my mom as a wedding present back in '65. I've still got that cookbook and it contains some of the recipes for my mom's best dishes.

                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                            My grandparents didn't have a lot -- but I inherited my grandmother's recipe box, stuffed with a lifetime of notes and stained recipe cards and newspaper clippings. I've copied them all for my cousins -- and they still send me a note sometimes asking how she made such-and-such, because the recipe has nothing but a list of ingredients -- no measurements, and no instructions!

                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                              A lot of the great cooks from olden tymes cooked by the seat of their pants, or skirts, as it were.

                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                oh, it drives my cousins bananas to see a recipe that says "a little..." or just a list of ingredients...A couple of them, I've been able to approximate just because I approach it as okay -- it's a cake recipe...here's a cake recipe with similar ingredients, so I'll try these proportions. (usually it works...when it doesn't work, it's usually a spectacular fail!)

                                                                Since I'm the only one who was in the kitchen with her, it falls on me to figure it all out for them!

                                                                I've as much as told them that things like beef and noodles and potato salad end up being by taste and feel as much as anything else, and so to just start adding a little of something...when it tastes right, that's enough!

                                                        2. I miss my grandmothers crepes! they never even made it to the plate back then, we used to stand around as kids and eat them as soon as they were out of the pan with a little sugar.

                                                          1. My grandmothers hush puppies. They always went with chicken fried steak and frozen peas and corn. My favorite dinner when staying at her place for the weekend.

                                                            I tried making hush puppies last night. They were..ok. Not so light, and certainly not crispy enough. I'll have to quiz my dad and see if he remembers her secret with them.

                                                            Tomorrow we are getting together to celebrate my dad's 76th bday. I am often asked to make dessert, since I'm the pastry chef in the family. When I heard my Mom was making palacsinta (the Hungarian cake made of many crepes, stacked and layered with apricot jam and walnuts) for his actual bday dinner, I was asking if she would instead make it for the family celebratory dinner, as we never get to enjoy her desserts anymore. -Oh, you're Mother doesn't like to make dessert if you're coming, my Dad said. P'shaw, said I. I miss her desserts!-

                                                            As luck would have it, the first dinner was put on hold, so I get to enjoy this Hungarian treat tomorrow, with my sisters and parents all at the table together, and the next generation will get their first tastes as well.

                                                            I know I'm lucky, and it's nice to be reminded of that here.

                                                            1. The cooking-genius gene kinda skipped over my mom - her dad was the best cook in a family awash in them - but she had a good taste for cheap and comfortable, the former quality from dire necessity. I miss HER terribly, but the best of her food I took over and still cook regularly. That I do a better job than she did isn't anything to brag about, it's just that I have a better budget and a hell of a lot better kitchen and more time. Except her wilted lettuce. Damned if I can nail her wilted lettuce …

                                                              1. Sunday dinner at my Nana's: roast beef with gravy, mashed potatoes and canned green peas. I can do the peas, but my roast beef and my potatoes will never be as good, and don't get me started on the gravy! Such simple food, done so very well.