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What Meal Did Your Mom Prepare Most Frequently When You Were a Child?

Not asking what your favorite mom-cooked meal was, but which dinner she cooked most frequently.

My mom had a fairly varied repertoire and, thankfully, didn't really cook the same meal over and over again. To the best of my recollection, however, I'd hazard that pinto beans, cornbread and fried potatoes (a classic West Texas combination) was the meal she prepared most frequently.

And your mom?

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  1. Most frequent would be variations on pasta, which we had Wednesday nights and usually as part of a Sunday dinner.Usually it would be pasta with greens (rappi, spinach) or pasta with meat (sausage, meatballs, lamb). Sundays were typically red sauce days.
    Edited to add...my mom was French-Canadian, but she loved to cook recipes given her by her Neapolitan sisters in law. The one type of pasta she herself ate growing up was something found all over New England and in parts of the Maritimes as American Chop Suey...elbow macaroni, onions, a sweet red chunky tomato sauce and ground pork.
    Edit #2...my mom cooked for me from roughly 1971-2000.

    1. Creamed Tuna and peas on toast. Yaaaagh.

      17 Replies
      1. re: mamachef

        How did I miss THIS one? Zoinks, mama.

        Although, now that I think about it, we did have SOS or hamburger gravy on toast from time to time when money was tight.

        1. re: LauraGrace

          How funny, LG. See, now that's something we'd have never ever gotten, because mom, as disinterested as she was in good food, had some very special and unique food prejudices pertaining to her upbringing, one of which was, of course, milk and meat. Fish and milk were a neutral territory to her, but I don't think she even knows what a milk gravy is, and only has a faint idea of SOS, as broadcast by my dad, who hated it.
          However, I'm glad you wrote. I had to come back here anyway, because after mentioning my memory of the CT on T, mom begged to differ and wants it known that she made tuna noodle CASSEROLE much more frequently. She may be right. :)

          1. re: mamachef

            Of course, milk and meat! *smacks forehead*

            I actually love hamburger gravy on toast. It's probably wrong, and I expect the chow police to show up at any moment to revoke my foodie card, but so be it! :) I also love tuna noodle casserole, but never eat it any more. Wonder if there's such a thing as sprouted-grain egg noodles? :D

            1. re: LauraGrace

              I eat it too, but I use good ground sirloin and beef stock and throw in a splash of heavy cream. It completely negates the whole point of the art of SOS, but w/ homemade buttered biscuits, it tastes SO good. (which, taste being entirely subjective and frequently memory-based, makes it chow-worthy to me!!)

              If there are those type noodles available, I promise you mom already knows about them. She was the first one in town to discover the wonders of spinach rotini, and brought casseroles (yep, TN :) made with them to school potlucks, and I would just want to crawl under the bleachers in the all-purpose room because of her weird food. Poor ma.

            2. re: mamachef

              I bet she put crumbled potato chips on top of her tuna noodle casserole. My mother used to make this occasionally until her children revolted. "We have to eat this at school and we don't like it there either" was the rallying cry.

              1. re: John E.

                I must be the only dude around here who's never known the joys o' toona noodle casserole.

                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                  Nope- I can say I have never tasted it!! The thought of warm tuna with noodles and chips does not appeal to me. My mom never made it while I was growing up, so I have made it thru life without tasting it!

                  1. re: macca

                    Yeah, my interest in sampling this delicacy is also nil. But the stuff appears to have been well nigh omnipresent in times of yore.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      In Minnesota that tuna concoction is more properly called Tuna Noodle Hotdish. Somewhere on this thread I have described 'hotdish'. This is one of the staples but I never liked it mostly because of the canned tuna. If browned ground beef is substituted for the tuna it's basically another one of many Minnesota's hotdish recipes (although the potato chips ONLY were sprinkled on the tuna variety). My mother must have been a little like Scott Conant because she never put cheese on the tuna noodle hotdish.

                  2. re: Perilagu Khan

                    No your not....my mom never , ever and I mean never made TNC

                  3. re: John E.

                    John, I'd have killed for a mom conventional enough to cave into something like a potato chip topper, but again those were one of the foods that pretty much didn't cross the doorstep, but that was probably mainly because they were manufactured by a parent company who manufactured something else boojie that she didn't like for whatever political reason, and so she wouldn't buy ANY of the company's stuff. Nope, she used grated cheese.

                    1. re: John E.

                      We never had hot lunch at school (my mom always prepared our lunches herself - bless her), so I always looked forward to getting tuna noodle casserole. My first exposure was at my aunt's house. As I recall, hers was horrifyingly simple - seems like it was just cream o' mush, tuna, and elbows. I remember it being grey - and good (?!).

                      My mom must've figured out that we liked it, so she gave it a try herself and jazzed it up a bit - still using cream o' mush and tuna, of course - plus sauteed onion and celery, cubed Velveeta and frozen peas. Later on she got fancy and topped the whole mess with grated sharp cheddar and broiled it, and us kids figured out the potato chips and Tabasco part naturally.

                      Even though I know it's a bit un-Houndlike, I still take great comfort in it and made it from time to time when I still had access to a kitchen.

                      1. re: NoodleQueen

                        I call this kind of food housewife food from a bygone era. Think about all of the small town newspapers with a column where the lady provides recipes submitted by readers that they just had to share. In my hometown, the lade with the column went to our church. My mothers expandable recipe file is full of recipes clipped from the newspaper like that. My mother didn't really cook like this all the time, but it was still a part of life back in the 60s and 70s.

                        I still make two recipes that were part of my mother's cooking repertoire, one is sort of a goulash (pasta, tomato sauce and ground beef, not the Hungarian kind) and a chicken or turkey crepe recipe that's really good. Neither is difficult to make but both are quite satisfying and of course there's the nostalgia for me.

                    1. re: Wyvern

                      Stands for "excrement' on a shingle. White gravy, usually with hamburger or chipped dried beef, served on toast.

                      My mom made this with some frequency - she always had a jar of the dried beef in the pantry, so it was quick and easy. I loved it - still fix it once in a while.

                      1. re: jw615

                        Great stuff. My dad used to make it once in a while.

                        1. re: The Professor

                          In the Navy Minced Beef On Toast was SOS. Creamed Chipped Beef On Toast was "F---skins", however, you won't find these nicknames in the Navy Recipe Card Index, I often prepare Minced Beef On Toast for my grandchildren. They enjoy it as much as I do.

                2. MOST frequently? That's a difficult question. But living in Minnesota, I'm sure it was hotdish.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: John E.

                    What, pray tell, is hotdish?

                    And I forgot to mention that it'd be cool if you could provide the period in which your mom cooked this meal for you. For me, it would have been ca. 1971-1994.

                    1. re: Perilagu Khan

                      'Hotdish' is a Minnesota, western Wisconsin and easrern Dakotas catch-all word for casseroles. They were usually based on brownd ground beef and then mixed with onions, seasonings, a can of cream of something soup and a starch, pasta, potatoes, or rice. Do and internet search for hotdish and/or tater tot hotdish. It sounds a bit weird but it was generally a good meal. I was mostly having fun bcause my mom did not make hotdish more than a couple times a month. (Think Hamburger Helper without the box).

                      1. re: John E.

                        Live and learn.

                        I suppose the last thing you'd need in that neckothewoods is colddish.

                        1. re: John E.

                          I grew up knowing about hotdish, courtesy of two MN grandmas. I didn't know how deeply entrenched it was within the culture, thought, until I was gifted w/ my very own "hotdish carrier," which was basically a 9x13 quilted sling with handle. It made a really cool catbed.

                          1. re: mamachef

                            Memories triggered, Mamachef! and a story -

                            Our recent suburban Minneapolis road trip experience -

                            Our friends' mom - North Dakota born and bred - made us hotdish a couple of weeks ago. She layered ground beef/sliced celery/sliced potato/sp/and combine those cans of tomato and cream of mushroom soup and pour it over! She baked it at something like 275 for hours. My fairly picky eater spouse, who had been primed for WEEKS to eat this...had thirds. Go figure. It was tasty, in a totally retro kind of way.

                            I was a little bummed because there was not a tater tot in sight.

                            And we teased her, because my New Yorker mom, who then lived in New England for 20 years, made something very similar. ! She also had a **catbed,** - I believe she kept her hair curlers in it. I have to ask her.

                            1. re: mamachef

                              I'm sure my mother had some sort of hotdish warmer in her kitchen. I wonder what people other parts of the country, outside of Minnesota, bring to church potlucks if they don't bring hotdish? Every kid in Minnesota knows the key to eating at such potlucks is to make sure you get to your own mom's hotdish before it's gone, otherwise you might have to eat some other mom's 'weird' hotdish.

                      2. I don't know that my mother had a specific dish she cooked most often, but I remember lots of casseroles and soups. We usually had a good supply of beef, my grandfather was a dairy farmer - so we probably ate beef in some form as much as anything else.

                        1. Roast chicken. We had it once/week. My sister didn't like red meat, chicken was inexpensive, and roasting it was an easy preparation that we all liked, and yielded leftovers.

                          1. My mom had a varied repertoire as well, lots of cookbooks, lots of experiments. However there were several tried and true that showed up more often on the dinner table. Most of those were traditional Albanian dishes Lakror (like Greek spinach pie but with different fillings) Tava me kofte (ground meat patties baked with potatoes and onions) and Albanian mac & cheese (baked with an egg custard base.)

                            American favorites included meat loaf, pork chops or some kind of roast. Very meat heavy diet way back then. I no longer eat meat so hopefully I can balance things out!

                            1. Most frequent? Baked chicken breasts or hamburgers, especially after she went back to work full time...which was when I started cooking for self preservation!

                              1. Spaghetti with ground beef meat sauce--onions, tomatoes, red wine, Italian seasonings-- topped with cheese from the green can.

                                1. Macaroni and gravy (or pasta and meat sauce with meatballs, sausage, pork and braciole for those who do not speak Italian-American). We had it almost every Sunday in one form or another, on every holiday and sometimes during the week. This would have been the whole of the 1960s and 1970s. By the 1980s we were all off on our own and mom did not have to cook for the family anymore.

                                  Let me add that she had a variety of dishes up her house-dress sleeve. She also used to cut recipes out of "womens magazines" and ask my brother and me if we would like it and if we said yes would make it at some point in the week. In addition, she more than not cooked an entirely different meal for my father who ate later in the evening since he was a truck driver and did not get home until 7pm or later. Also, he was a basic meat and potatoes kind of guy. Yes, my mother was quite the "housewife" back then.

                                  1. It's a tie, because my mom cooked the same menu almost every week.

                                    Monday nights>>London Broil (shoulder steak) with green vegetable, no starch

                                    Tuesday nights>>veal chops with spaghetti and tomato sauce

                                    Wednesday nights>>ate in a restaurant

                                    Thursday Night>>>>Chinese take out

                                    Friday nights>>>>>broiled chicken quarters with flavored rice

                                    Saturday nights>>>>kids ate deli, parents went out

                                    Sunday nights>>>ate in a restaurant or brought in Pizza

                                    This went on from 1954 through 1984..

                                    Mom retired in 1984 and also gave up cooking on a regular basis.

                                    So growing up, allowing for vacations away from home, we had London Broil and Broiled chicken 48 times per year. Aproximately every 3rd or 4th week mom would serve lamb chops instead of veal chops.

                                    If Mom knew that my brother and I would not be home for supper on a Wednesday, she might make fish for my sister, dad and herself instead of the whole family eating out..

                                    My wife and I don't have set menus, but Pasta is served at least one night per week, and chicken off the BBQ grill is served at least two nights per week (but it comes in many varieties).

                                    8 Replies
                                    1. re: bagelman01

                                      Now that's what I call structure! Certainly eliminated the need to make decisions.

                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                        You can tell mom was the German side of the family.
                                        You will eat it and you will like it!

                                        Supper was served promptly at 6:45 PM, if you arrived late, you started with whatever course was being served and missed whatever came earlier.

                                        I got my assortment of foods by dining out. Mom taught school, my elementary school let us out for 90 minutes for lunch, but without a mom at home to serve lunch I walked to restaurants in the school neighborhood from 2nd grade on.

                                        1. re: bagelman01

                                          Can you imagine an elementary school letting kids roam around unsupervised? Kids aren't even allowed to ride their bikes to school nowadays, which is a shame. Having 90 minutes for lunch also gave you time to play and run off some of the energy hoarded while sitting in a classroom. It sounds like an ideal time. We were so lucky growing up when and where we did!

                                          1. re: KailuaGirl

                                            Back in the 70s, we didn't get 90-minute lunches, but I did go home for lunch every single day. (Never partook of a cafeteria meal, thank God!) I suspect nowadays the kiddos are not even allowed to go home for lunch, but perhaps that varies according to the locale.

                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                              Not when they get on a bus at 7:00 and have a 70-minute ride to school, that's fer durn sure.

                                              1. re: LauraGrace

                                                What a joy that must be.

                                                Bloody hell.

                                          2. re: bagelman01

                                            I went to a school in PA on the shore of Lake Erie where there was no cafeteria; 90 minute lunch was standard because everyone had to go home. It was colder than cold in the winter and if it was snowing, I didn't want to have to walk (read trudge) back to school. I was always jealous of the kids who lived close to the school and did get to play (or go to the candy store) during lunch time.

                                            Do I sound like I have held on to that resentment? LOL.

                                            1. re: laliz

                                              I was on the Connecticut shoreline, also no school cafeterias, you had to leave the building for lunch, no exceptions, that was teachers time off. I lived just under 1 mile from school, so there was no bus service provided. We walked 2 round trips a day from K-6, then walked 1.5 miles each way to Jr High whioch had a cafeteria.

                                      2. Most frequently - bean burritos with a side of fried potatoes. She also made a lot of spaghetti.

                                        1. thin cut pork chops cooked in an olive green electric skillet, mashed potatoes, french style green beans in a can. Totally overcooked but loved by all of us. Roast beef with potatoes and carrots. Fluffernutters. Tony's frozen pizza. Chef boy ardee spaghetti O's.
                                          I was always so thrilled when I saw her taking out that green electric skillet...yay, pork chops!

                                          1. boiled chicken or pork shoulder, flavored only with smashed ginger slices in the water. with rice, ginger fish sauce for dipping, and a soup made from the water the meat had been boiled in with various vegetables. sometimes a stir fried veggie/meat dish on the side. this was in a traditional Vietnamese family with parents and grandparents who immigrated in the 70s (i was growing up in the late 80s/early 90s).

                                            if my dad were cooking, we had dinty moore beef stew from a can, heated up on the stove and eaten with rice or french bread. occasionally beef stroganoff -- i'm guessing most ingredients for this also came from a packet.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: calmossimo

                                              "boiled chicken or pork shoulder, flavored only with smashed ginger slices in the water. with rice, ginger fish sauce for dipping, and a soup made from the water the meat had been boiled in with various vegetables. sometimes a stir fried veggie/meat dish on the side."

                                              Sounds good to me! Half the people on CH would pay top dollar for this meal in a Vietnamese restaurant if you marketed it right!

                                              1. re: calmossimo

                                                oh yes, and dinner was almost always finished with hot tea (usually jasmine or oolong) and fresh fruit. my dad loves oranges more than anyone i've ever met in my entire life. he ate at least 1-2 oranges just at dinner every single night during my childhood. and he would eat 1-2 more during the day with other meals. he also liked fresh plums. my mom loves persimmon and mango.

                                                1. re: calmossimo

                                                  calmossimo, what is ginger fish sauce. I am going to try to replicate this meal. I think I could do the pork shoulder in the crock pot. What types of vegggies went in the soup?

                                                  1. re: lilmomma

                                                    i have no idea of quantities, as i only make the ginger fish sauce when i'm with my mother now, but these are the ingredients as far as i know... fish sauce, diluted with warm water, granulated sugar, lemon or white distilled vinegar, finely minced ginger, and finely chopped thai bird chiles.

                                                    the soup had smashed ginger and the broth from the meat, plus dark leafy greens... i actually don't know what type of veggies they are or if they have an "american name". they varied based on what my mother had bought from the vietnamese market that week. probably some of the asian mustard greens, roughly chopped... never bok choy or anything like that. some of the pork would also get sliced and put back into the soup, which was eaten in small bowls over a scoop of rice, with chopsticks and never with a spoon -- it was more like a soupy rice, i guess... not as much broth, more rice and veggies with a little meat.

                                                    edit: in looking online at some "asian greens" posters, it looks like she also frequently used gai lan and choy sum (i don't know what either is called in vietnamese, though...)

                                                2. I recall meatloaf frequently, probably with mashed potatoes and canned corn. For years, dessert weekly was Jello with canned fruit cocktail. This was late 1950s-late 60s. She got a tad more adventuresome by mid 60s, but not much.

                                                  1. Brace yourselves.my moms three biggest things to grace the table were
                                                    Beans and Weenies, warm if she was feeling frisky
                                                    Canned tuna and boxed scalloped potatoes baked together
                                                    Tuna noodle casserole, no chips, no breadcrumbs or cheese. Soup, peas tuna- baked

                                                    Friday notes were the worst. All the meat and canned veg leftover from the week regardless of what meat and what preperation were added to a pot with a few bouillon cubes and water to cover to make soup. It was usually dishwater-ish. I learned how to cook at ten in self defense.

                                                    8 Replies
                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                      You guys are killing me...;-) I grew up in the 40's & 50's and had all the above especially canned. If the green vegetables were fresh my Mom would boil them in water until they turned a kind of blue/grey. My Mom, Dad and brother loved sourkraut and would ruin a perfectly roasted rack of spareribs by covering it with sourkraut...I could never handle the smell of cooked cabbage or sourkraut and would have to sit at the table way after the 3 of them had finished and left the room until I ate some of the sraped-off ribs. I can only remember beets tasting exactly like vinegar. Then there was a revolution by the name of Julia Child who came into my mother's life via tv and Julia changed everything...my new wife and mother followed Julia like pilgrims and I've lived a joyous culinary life ever since.

                                                      1. re: johnygail

                                                        Perilagu Kahn I forgot to mention that i was eating at mama's from 71 - 89. Johnygail, my mom did that to veggies too. Brussel sprout smell was the worst...shudder. the funny story for me was not once but twice my father got a nice pork tenderloin for my mom to prepare and instead of searing and roasting the pricey little sucker she diced it and serve it boiled in bottled teriyaki sauce with instant rice as she couldn't master regular rice. My dad was so upset. He, I guess didn't learn his lesson and got another one. She made it buried in saurkraut and shredded potatoes. I thought it was great but I didn't know it wasn't intended for long braising but grilling or searing methods

                                                      2. re: suzigirl

                                                        That "soup" sounds utterly hellish. I should count my lucky stars that the worst thing my mom ever inflicted upon me was a sickly sweet, sweet and sour pork.

                                                        1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                          Oh, it was hellish. Not only, was it anything goes( pork chops, hot dogs, chicken leg quarters, boiled potatoes au gratin potatoes spaghetti sauce,canned corn, green beans, mixed veg etc, but she didn't and still doesn't use cling film. Eeewwww. God love her but she was no cook. Like I said, learned how to cook in self defense

                                                          1. re: suzigirl

                                                            Sounds sort of like Ruth Reichl's story as told in "Tender at the Bone."

                                                            1. re: ttoommyy

                                                              Since her mom was the Queen of Mold, I deem my mother the Duchess of Trichinosis

                                                              1. re: suzigirl

                                                                Better than the Bitch of Botulism. ;)

                                                      3. Beef stew or roasted chicken on Sunday.

                                                        Fresh fruit and vegetables were a constant in our home but Mom worked f/t so meals during the week as a family were quite quick-fix. I remember alot of breakfast for dinner preparations and grilled sandwiches..unless, my grandparents were in town-then the food prep took on a whole 'nother meaning and trips to the baker, butcher and deli were a special treat!

                                                        1. I grew up in the 50s and 60s ~~ Mom worked 8 to 5, and Dad worked rotating shifts, 1st, 2nd, and 3rd.

                                                          He was the better cook.I don't remember what they fixed the most, but we had pizza from the shop up the street at least once a week. I still crave it. And we usually went out to eat on Sundays.

                                                          One thing neither of them made enough to suit me was mashed potatoes and creamed corn (in the same meal). I LOVED putting creamed corn on mashed potatoes.

                                                          1. Meatloaf and potatoes,fried pork chops and potatoes, chili w/beans, fish(blue gill or crappie that my uncles or gandpa would catch) with rice, spaghetti with meat sauce. Sirloin steak, pinto beans or navy beans with ham hocks,
                                                            chicken and dumplings, ground beef tacos, tuna casserole,beef Stew or beef vegetable soup,and on Sunday alternating between fried chicken and pot roast,always with green beans and mashed potatoes.
                                                            We would have hamburgers from the drive in by her beauty shop on Wednesdays (She was a traffic manager at a steel plant-think Mad Men).Dining out fairly often at the cafeterias that seemed to abound in the 60's, or deep fried tacos from La Cocina down on Merriam Lane. (KC) Dad was from Texas.
                                                            Southern/Midwestern iconic dishes nowadays but back then it's what we had and knew.
                                                            52-72 or so.
                                                            lots of beef in KC :)

                                                            1. We had a routine, but when she made a spice cake once we said it was wonderful so she made spice cake after goddamn spice cake until we quit eating it and then she complained loudly about how nobody ate any spice cake after about twenty of them. The rest she didn't get so OC about, usually. I'm amazed that I seemed to inherit the absolute antithesis of the way she was. This really pissed her off about me, I must say. Jeez- somebody has to hang loose.

                                                              1. My mother was not the main cook in our house (thank goodness) and I took over a lot of that responsibility as soon as I was tall enough to reach the stove, so I'm struggling to remember what kind of stuff she used to make on a Wednesday night after work. I remember a lot of broccoli and brussels sprouts with white sauce (which was her euphemism for mayonnaise). Then there was the spaghetti with cut up hot dogs that I was fine with for dinner, but whose reincarnation as leftovers terrorized my lunchmates. I know she made stir fried rice noodles with cabbage and chicken pretty often, mainly because I wouldn't eat it. That's not to say it was all bad. Her meals had their moments; just not her everyday fare. Except for her chicken adobo. I suppose every Filipino kid's heart aches for his mother's adobo, but I have little doubt that if she's made it through the Pearly Gates, the Heavenly Host have traded ambrosia for a simple bowl of her adobo and warm jasmine rice.

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: JungMann

                                                                  Aww...how sweet. That just made your mom's soul smile. Probably a happy tear in the corner of her eye.

                                                                2. Often on Saturday nights we would have burgers and watch the Bugs Bunny Road / Runner Show (this was the only time we ate with the TV on). Sundays were usually a big dinner day, most often prime rib with Yorkshire puddings. My Mom is a killer cook, as was my Dad. Oh yeah, 1965-1988.

                                                                  1. Pot roast and mashed potatoes with two veggies (Mother grew up on farm and cooked for the farmhands). Liver, steak, porkchops, corn on the cob, mac n cheese, etc. She was a wonderful cook and baked every week so there was something to eat after school - gingerbread, cookies, etc. We always had dessert. This was '46 thru '67 ish. All this and taught school too!

                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Linda VH

                                                                      Oh, how did I forget about pot roast? Every single Sunday of my childhood, as far as I can recall! We had our big meal about 2 p.m. (after church, of course), then we had a cold roast sandwich just in time for Sunday's "Bonanza" showing. This was late 50s till early 70s.

                                                                      1. re: pine time

                                                                        My, that sure sounds tasty. I always loved going to my paternal gramma's house for her pot roast. Man that lady could cook. She made jams and pickled things. Canned veggies and made homemade saurkraut. Had her own small farm. Pigs chickens and a cow. Lots of trees to climb and pick fruit. Great memories there. Especially pot roast and Sunday breakfast with fresh eggs I helped collect and candle.

                                                                      2. re: Linda VH

                                                                        My mother's pot roast is most definitely her best dish. She was (and still is at 93) proud of it and my father really liked it, thus we had it often. Falling apart tender (some might say overcooked) and swimming in the best gravy ever. Imagine eating a Ferdi Special served on mashed potatoes instead of bread. Way more "debris", though.

                                                                      3. Pasta, pasta, and, oh, yes, pasta. But it was called macaroni in our house. Without fail, Thursday and Sunday was spaghetti and meatballs. The sauce meat invariably included a piece of port "sauce meat," sausage, and braciole. Occasionally, the sauce would be made with chicken, which was not a favorite of mine because the chicken skin would get all flabby. On almost every other night of the week, there would be a first course, and that first course would be, ok, you guessed it, pasta! This would be a small portion of pasta with ceci, pasta with peas, pasta fagioli, aglio olio, or pasta in soup. In this case, the pasta would be followed by a main course that would be either veal, chicken, steak (usually pizzaiola) or fish. But pasta was the prevailing theme and most frequently served item in our household.

                                                                        17 Replies
                                                                        1. re: roxlet

                                                                          What's not to love?

                                                                          My mom made her own version of spaghetti with tomato sauce... chopping up ham and putting it in there. The German, boiled kind. Canned mushrooms.

                                                                          BUT it was tasty. My mom was a good cook, still makes incredible sauces (spaghetti sauce decidedly *not* being one of them).

                                                                          Most dinners were cold -- the traditional German Abendbrot: cold cuts, cheeses, sliced bread, quartered tomatoes, cuke slices, herring salad. You get the picture. German tapas, if you will.

                                                                          Königberger Klopse, a very good chicken noodle soup, and any variety of pan-fried chicken breasts or pork cutlets with potatoes and salad come to mind.

                                                                          1. re: linguafood

                                                                            It seems my mom usually resorted to Ragu when making spaghetti, which was fairly often. Then, when I reached roughly the age of 12, I invented my own spaghetti sauce recipe and commandeered this task. I still make that sauce, some 33 years on.

                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                              And that's perfectly okay. Ragu was the go-to storebought sauce of my aunties when they didn't feel like cooking from scratch. They'd just "doctor it up". (When I doctor up I really like Francesco Rinaldi ;-) )

                                                                              1. re: pinehurst

                                                                                I agree it's perfectly okay. I've spent many a dubloon on jarred sauces that cost six-to-eight dollars, and I honestly don't think they're any better than good ol' Ragu. Indeed, from now it it's strictly Ragu for me when I buy jarred sauces, which isn't too often.

                                                                              2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                Well, at least she used canned tomatoes (and chopped onion, garlic, and dried herbs) instead of pre-made sauce. But the cut-up boiled ham is not something I would want to eat in a spaghetti sauce these days :-)

                                                                                Hearty, but not my cuppa tea anymore.

                                                                                1. re: linguafood

                                                                                  I actually prefer canned tomatoes to fresh in some pasta sauces. Particularly when it's not tomato season.

                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                    Oh, no doubt. I make pasta sauce with canned tomatoes more often than not. Tomato season seems to be almost irrelevant these days, judging from some of the tasteless maters I've bought over the years.

                                                                                    And those Dutch greenhouse tomatoes from my yout' tasted like nothing but window pane. We called them "Wasserbeutel" (= water sacks/bags). Yep. Blandest tomatoes in the world, I believe.

                                                                                2. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                  ugh - IIRC my mother used plain tomato sauce and a packet of spatini. not a happy memory!

                                                                                  1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                    Oh please trade me! My moms spaghetti sauce was canned tomato sauce, ground beef and french onion soup mix. Yikes. I wish I was making this stuff up.

                                                                                    1. re: suzigirl

                                                                                      wow, french onion soup in tomato sauce? ick. Generally my mom is a really good cook, but that spatini - YUCK.

                                                                                      1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                        There was another thread about discontinued items and people love that stuff. A poster even ordered a case. I have never had it but I am relatively certain I would have preferred it to soup mix.

                                                                                        1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                          You know, to me, French onion soup mix has a similar flavor profile to Worcestershire sauce. And one of my favorite pasta sauces includes a dram o' Worcerstershire, so this doesn't sound that terrible to me. Of course, JUST tomato sauce, FOSM and ground beef wouldn't do much for me, but I could see that as the base of a reasonably good sauce.

                                                                                          1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                            Have you ever had yourself or a friend want to paint a wall some wacky color and when they do it it ends up better in theory than in actuality? That is french onion spaghetti sauce. Better in theory.

                                                                                      2. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                        Fortunately, my mom was a very good pasta cook. Her pasta--always American Beauty--was perfectly prepared...never mushy.

                                                                                  2. re: roxlet

                                                                                    Pretty much the same here. Pasta, pasta, pasta...except we did it on Sundays and Wednesdays.

                                                                                    Sunday would be pasta with polpette, sausages, and neck of lamb, Wed would be any leftover gravy and meats from Sun. Sometimes it was a baked mostaccioli if there wasn't much meat leftover.

                                                                                    Monday was always soup night to wash out your belly from all the crap you ate over the weekend. At least, that was the theory.

                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                        Of course! But much, much less frequently. We'll have a pasta meal about once every couple of weeks, or whenever I begin to crave it. My husband is decidedly not in the pasta as a meal group-- he's much more of a meat guy -- so I don't make it as much as I'd like. I also like it more al dente than he does. I rarely make the pasta with peas or ceci that my mother used to make on a very regular basis.

                                                                                    1. No one dish was cooked the most but mom's repertoire was typically:
                                                                                      tuna casserole
                                                                                      chili over white rice
                                                                                      roast chicken - usually accompanied by either frozen cheese and spinach raviolis or her mashed potatoes and amazing string beans
                                                                                      pot roast
                                                                                      beef stroganoff
                                                                                      chicken marengo
                                                                                      spaghetti without the meatballs
                                                                                      'crazy soup' this was a thick vegi/chicken parts mishmash of a soup that included 'tube' pasta as well - delish!
                                                                                      tacos / quesadillas
                                                                                      awesome grilled cheese sandwiches that I've never been able to replicate (think she used the american cheese singles which I'm against)
                                                                                      Acorda (we're Portuguese)

                                                                                      1. Mom was born just before the depression and grew up in an area of Chicago that had Lutheran Germans, Catholic Italians, and Orthodox Jews. We were always trying something new. Since they always bought half a steer every year, we alternated between veal and chicken to replace the weight lost as waste.

                                                                                        Tuna casserole, a dish I still take a pass on if given a choice.

                                                                                        Meatloaf mixed with pork and catsup on top.

                                                                                        Spaghetti with hamburger in the tomato sauce.

                                                                                        It was quite traumatic when Dad was transfered to Pittsburgh. We swore the beef was so tough because of all the hills the cattle had to trudge up and down. But then that half steer was always corn finished prime.

                                                                                        1. Meatloaf! Yes that's another one, with ketchup. And mom also would mix hamburger with her spaghetti sauce. Still does.

                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                          1. re: circustance

                                                                                            "And mom also would mix hamburger with her spaghetti sauce."

                                                                                            That's the basis of one of the most famous pasta sauces of them all--sauce Bolognese.

                                                                                          2. My Mom (and my Grandmother, who lived with us) had a pretty good repertoire so there wasn't a lot of repetition when I was growing up. Probably the three most frequent dishes were my Hungarian grandmother's stuffed cabbage rolls, meatloaf, and chicken paprikas. Though we weren't Italian, my mom made a rather incredible lasagna (that funnily enough was the envy of my Italian friends. LOL).
                                                                                            And if money was a little tight, it would be the Hungarian version of 'polenta' (served dotted with little puddles of butter and dollops of sour cream), or galuska dumplings (sometimes made with potato) served simply with butter and farmer's cheese.

                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: The Professor

                                                                                              My mom--as far from Italian as you can get--also made a killer lasagna, and she made it quite frequently. I've back engineered her recipe as best I can.

                                                                                              1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                I remember visiting my dad's side of the family in Chicago when I was 4 or 5 -- very, very Polish, but the women spent one of the days making large quantities of homemade pasta. We had lasagna for dinner that night. :-)

                                                                                              1. My dad has a hatred of pasta, so we rarely ate it at home. Mom had a pretty large repertoire, but the main ones that appeared regularly:
                                                                                                "stroganoff" made with hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, and lots of dill served on potatoes.
                                                                                                liver, floured and sauteed and served with (obviously!) ketchup and a side of potatoes or brown rice plus vegetable, usually frozen peas and carrots
                                                                                                "stuffed meatballs" - hamburger wrapped around balls of packaged bread stuffing, cooked in a casserole with a gravy of frozen green beans and cream of mushroom soup. Served with more stuffing.
                                                                                                Pork chops baked with brown rice, chopped green pepper and tomatoes. For some reason she always served this with canned beets.
                                                                                                "Barbecued hamburgers" actually a sort of sweet/sour sloppy joe served on storebought white hamburger buns. Dad loved this
                                                                                                Summer: Mom wouldn't use the air conditioner, so the summer menu was geared toward things that didn't require a lot of indoor cooking. Also Dad was a teacher and didn't get paid all summer back then, so we had to eat cheap.
                                                                                                Salad out of the garden. We ate a ton of salad. Usually fortified with diced canned Treet and canned garbanzo beans. (Ick)
                                                                                                Hamburgers cooked on the grill until extremely well done, served on buns with traditional lettuce, tomato etc.
                                                                                                Corned beef hash, made with mostly potatoes and a can of chopped corned beef, with salad or tomatoes. I loved this and make it to this day.

                                                                                                1. My mother was from France as I am, so Sunday dinner treat was a roast chicken a la province. Chicken prepared with fresh herbs and lemons and a drizzle of cognac. Delicious!

                                                                                                  1. Mom was a school teacher in a neighboring state so dinners always needed to be something that could be prepared in the 1/2 hour time frame between when she got home and Dad walked in the door. Younger sister and I were trained at an early age how to pre-heat the oven so she could throw diner in as soon as she got home.

                                                                                                    Rice meatballs (aka Porcupine meatballs) were in pretty heavy rotation because they could be prepped the night before and then thrown in the electric skillet with a can of tomato juice to heat up quickly.

                                                                                                    On alternate nights we got some semblance of chicken in casserole form. Usually chicken amandine or chicken divan (made with cream of something soup and swiss cheese in place of mornay sauce). This was Wisconsin in the mid-80's to late 90's.

                                                                                                    Nowadays the most frequent contender is Reubens. Mom knows they're one of my favorites but that I never have the time to make decent one. Pretty much every time I head home to visit she buys a hunk of corned beef and a big green can of Frank's kraut. Not at all classy, but I absolutely love it.

                                                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: mse924

                                                                                                      I love those Oven Porcupines and make 'em to this day.

                                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                        Will you share your Porcupines recipe? I made these over 30 years ago as a new bride/ starving student, and don't recall exactly what's in them. TIA.

                                                                                                        1. re: pine time

                                                                                                          I'll see if I can get it up tonight.

                                                                                                            1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                              "Hmmmm... good luck with that?"


                                                                                                          1. re: pine time

                                                                                                            Here you go, pt. This is from the Cutco Cook Book, published in 1961.

                                                                                                            1/2 cup uncooked rice
                                                                                                            1 lb. ground beef
                                                                                                            1 1/2 t. salt
                                                                                                            1/4 t. pepper
                                                                                                            2 T. minced onion
                                                                                                            2 T. bacon fat
                                                                                                            1 cup condensed tomato soup
                                                                                                            1 cup hot water

                                                                                                            1. Combine rice, beef, salt, pepper, and onion. Shape into 12 balls.
                                                                                                            2. Brown balls in bacon fat in a heavy skillet; add tomato soup and water.*
                                                                                                            3. Cover; cook 1 1/2 hours over low heat.

                                                                                                            *It's best to mix the soup and water separately before adding to skillet balls.

                                                                                                            1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                              Thanks (belated). I'll make 'em and see if Mr. Pine remembers them from 30+ years ago!

                                                                                                                1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                  True to his nature, no memory of them at all, in fact, swore they were totally new. That's Mr. Pine, the epitome of the Absent Minded Professor!

                                                                                                                  1. re: pine time

                                                                                                                    Well, let's not be too hard on the poor fellow. It WAS 30+ years ago. Sometimes I can't remember 30 minutes ago. :)

                                                                                                                      1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                        Oh, he's a dear and brilliant in many areas, but food is strictly fuel to him, so his food memory banks are nil.

                                                                                                          2. re: mse924

                                                                                                            Porcupine balls were in heavy rotation in my Pittsburgh mother's home as well. I was hoping someone would say them! Oh, the electric skillet was in such use. This was 1981-1999

                                                                                                            1. re: JJS360

                                                                                                              I've never used an electric skillet, but my wife swears by hers. She also says it's very good. ;)

                                                                                                          3. My mom had two phases of her cooking life - very little followed by not at all.

                                                                                                            During the very little phase, the most frequent meal was a tie between minute rice topped with boil in bag turkey rounds in gravy and meat pies. My memory is that theses were served more than once a week but she must have put something else on the table, I will need to ask her.

                                                                                                            ETA - she reminded me that she often made "chili" I remember this being a combo of kidney beans, ground beef, hunks of tomato and lots and lots of sugar sprinkled on top. Seriously, she set out a bowl of sugar on chili nights.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                              Oh my gah. Thought MY mother was the only one who put sugar in chili. Makes me gag now but we always puta big heapin' spoonful of sugar on the bowl of chili. HA!

                                                                                                            2. Probably chicken cutlet with sauced or plain pasta with butter and Parm cheese.
                                                                                                              Salad every night with iceberg lettuce and oil And balsamic vinegar and usually the pepperidge farm seasoned croutons.

                                                                                                              There were a bunch of other meals we had often but this was probably the most often because we loved the chicken cutlet so much and no one every got picky about it like other things.

                                                                                                              If we had sauced pasta she would usually turn the chicken cutlet into chicken Parm which was a favorite of mine.

                                                                                                              In the summer we had a lot of grilled chicken.

                                                                                                              Other frequent meals:
                                                                                                              Cube steak with mashed potatoes and corn
                                                                                                              Shake and bake pork chops with Motts applesauce and buttered egg noodles
                                                                                                              Marinated London broil usually with baked potato
                                                                                                              Cheeseburgers in the summer
                                                                                                              Ham steak with egg noodles
                                                                                                              Spaghetti and meatballs
                                                                                                              Broiled lamb chops if dad wasn't home until we decided we hated them
                                                                                                              "oven fried" chicken with white rice and cream sauce ( béchamel with dried onion flakes made with milk)
                                                                                                              Chinese takeout in piano lesson night (usually sesame chicken, orange beef and Lo mein)
                                                                                                              Papa Johns or Pizza Hut pizza on other activity nights if dad wasn't going to be home
                                                                                                              Tacos if dad wasn't home
                                                                                                              Fried flounder and homemade macaroni and cheese especially during Lent on Fridays

                                                                                                              Summer side dishes;
                                                                                                              Macaroni salad
                                                                                                              Potato salad
                                                                                                              Cole slaw
                                                                                                              Toamato and onion salad
                                                                                                              Corn in the cob

                                                                                                              Summer main dishes:
                                                                                                              Boneless pork with ham glaze or saucy susan from a jar
                                                                                                              Short ribs with open pit BBQ sauce
                                                                                                              BBQ chicken pieces with dad's homemade BBQ sauce
                                                                                                              Grilled marinated chicken breast

                                                                                                              Bread: usually garlic bread with Italian or bread di jour these heat and serve rolls that had a strange yeasty flavor

                                                                                                              1. During the school year, we ate a LOT of what she called "goulash" -- her mother's recipe. Sauteed onions and browned hamburger, to which was added oregano, tomato paste, a pinch of sugar (to cut the tinny bitterness), water to thin, and cooked macaroni noodles. We probably had it once a week, and it was the first thing I ever cooked by myself, at age ten.

                                                                                                                In the summer, we grilled out most nights -- burgers, dogs, brats, chicken, fish, steaks, pork chops, you name it -- because we didn't have air conditioning until I was in high school and my mother didn't want to heat up the house. It would be something from the grill, tomatoes and a salad from the garden, potato salad if we were lucky (because mama's potato salad is the best!), and/or cottage cheese, four or five nights a week.

                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                                                  The shareholders of Kingsford would like to thank your fambly.

                                                                                                                  1. re: Perilagu Khan

                                                                                                                    You betcha! But about half those years it was a gas grill because my dad got fed UP with fussing with a charcoal fire night after night.

                                                                                                                  2. re: LauraGrace

                                                                                                                    My best friends mom had that goulash in her weekly rotation!

                                                                                                                    1. re: cleobeach

                                                                                                                      Where was this? My grandmother was from Iowa, and it struck me as a VERY midwest recipe. It actually does taste good, especially if you add garlic and Hungarian paprika, and swap out the oregano with marjoram. Oh, and 86 the tomato paste (as we did in later years).

                                                                                                                  3. Roast Beef dinner every Sunday, fish on Friday, Saturday was hot dogs for us kids, steak for dad with home fries, baked beans and brown bread. On other days we had meatloaf, american chop suey, pork chops, pasta, mac cheese and roasted chicken. In the winter, breakfast was orange slices, oatmeal, cinnamon toast, oj and hot chocolate. So good!
                                                                                                                    My grandmother lived with us, and if the big yellow bowl was on the counter in the morning, that meant we were having bread pudding with warm lemon sauce for dessert. I still have that bowl!

                                                                                                                    1. My mom went on binges, and took me and Kid Bro with her. (She was raising us on her own.) For a few months in 1971, "egg soup" was the staple, sometimes ten meals a week. Then there was the TVP stretch -- she bought a metric fuckton of textured vegetable protein at a Mormon bulk-foods store, and put in everything, in the sadistic certainty that I must really like it and was only complaining about it to inconvenience her. There was the brown-rice period, in the 1970s: short grain brown rice, overcooked in too much water, to a sort of semisolid gruel, then buttered and salted: that was dinner. Tuna salad: one, only one, can of the cheapest tuna, mixed with at least four cups of chopped celery, a cup or two of chopped onion, a good big scoop of sweet pickle relish, and half a bottle of Isweartogod KRAFT THOUSAND ISLAND DRESSING. I will hate Thousand Island dressing to my last day.

                                                                                                                      Yeah. My mother thought she could cook.

                                                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: Cactus Wren

                                                                                                                        Oh my LORD, I laughed so hard at this. Poor you!

                                                                                                                        1. re: Cactus Wren

                                                                                                                          Hi, my name is Suzi and my mom was adopted and i am pretty sure you are my cousin. Or at least they learned to cook from the same person. I thought my mom was the only one who went on cooking binges. The one that sticks to mind because the others are so bad if i recite them to you I may have nightmares, would be the time she bought ten pounds each of pototes, onions and bacon end pieces. Fried in a pan for breakfast and dinner for a week. Thank god for school lunch

                                                                                                                          1. re: Cactus Wren

                                                                                                                            Sounds traumatically familiar. I used to get so mad, because some of the concoctions she'd turn out in the name of good health and fine eatin' (?) took as much time (lentil-rice loaf isn't exactly a timesaver) to make as a "normal" meal. Oh well.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Cactus Wren

                                                                                                                              CactusWren....LOL!!! After reading this NOW I realize WHY my childhood best friend who lived up the hill from us ( Priscilla) was always at my house for dinner:) My moms could cook!!!!!!! I do remember her and I trying to hit her mom up for some "good eats" when we would be playing at her house...she would give us bell pepper strips and gag worthy things that we spit out but my mom always had delicious food.That girl would have been at the table eating with us every evening IF my mom would have permitted it. The things we take for granted as kids:)

                                                                                                                            2. ok, so reading everyones posts brings several of my mother's (and our) favorites to mind... many of her recipes are in frequent use in my kitchen, with my own tweaks on them.

                                                                                                                              those that stand out in my memory are:
                                                                                                                              beef liver sauteed w/ onions (also heart and tongue sometimes)
                                                                                                                              chicken livers sauteed in her electric skillet with white wine
                                                                                                                              "gramma's goulash" which is a sort of spanish rice with pork and beans thrown in. sounds gross but I love it and we all still make it
                                                                                                                              "hamburger" soup - a veggie beef soup made with ground beef
                                                                                                                              chicken/turkey soups made from scratch - always too watery for me. she's cook the carcass in the crock pot then dilute the stock w/ lots of water.
                                                                                                                              lots of casseroles made with cream-o-whatever soup - it was the 70s. :)

                                                                                                                              We NEVER ate spam - dad ate too much of it as a kid.

                                                                                                                              1. Don't know how I forgot about this but it seems that every week, she made an orange cake that was just a cheapo supermarket mix.

                                                                                                                                1. My mom often made roast chicken, but every time, she would make up the seasoning or marinade as she went along. So it came out differently all the time. On days when it was particularly tasty, we would always ask what she put in it, and she never remembered. I can't remember it ever turning out badly, though.

                                                                                                                                  1. Chicken breasts cut up and sauteed, and then served mixed up with chicken flavored Rice A Roni. A poor man's version of Arroz Con Pollo? We usually had it at least once a week.

                                                                                                                                    1. My mom is not the best cook, but my dad and I are crazy about pasta, and for some reason, really adore my mother's red sauce. She would take a jar of whatever tomato sauce was on sale at the time, then add some tomato paste and spices, etc. I don't know what she did to it, but she made it so I really can't eat jarred tomato sauce without adding lots of ...stuff to it.

                                                                                                                                      Because she didn't care for pasta nearly as much as my dad and I did, she'd make a gallon of it of it when she did, so it would last for several days. My dad and I would happily eat leftovers while she and my brother had steak or something else that they liked better.

                                                                                                                                      I'd say she made that at least once a month, maybe every two weeks or so, because we loved it so much. The rest of the time, it was mostly basics like baked chicken, pork chops, with some kind of frozen or canned veggie and some sort of prepackaged starch dish. (I thought I didn't like most veggies until I taught myself how to cook them properly.) We ate out a lot when I was a kid; or foraged though frozen pizza and chicken nuggets out of self defense after attempting to eat my mom's cooking.

                                                                                                                                      1. My mom was such a great cook.Everything was from scratch and because she was from the "depression era" and had gone hungry many times as a child she # 1 stretched her food $$$$ like a veritable genius # 2 always fixed plenty of food when she cooked. I ate her cooking from 1958 right up until she passed in 1976.She always cooked huge Sunday dinners..usually big roast beefs with home made mashed potatoe and gravy....corn on the cob....salad and home made bisquits. Usually home made strawberry short cake with whipped cream. On Saturday nights in the winters she would make waffles with fruit either berries or peaches with whipped cream for dinner ( and ham or bacon and eggs to go with it) She made fried chicken at least once a week with all the trimmings.T-bone steaks with tempura style fresh mushrooms and baked potatoes.Great chiili where she cubed up chuck roast and cooked things all day long. She was a great great cook and what I would not do to sit down and eat with her one more time.Interesting thing too is that because of her love of cooking all four of her kids two boys two girls became good cooks. She could not keep me out of her kitchen. I started insisting on being in there "cooking" when I was four years old and my brother and I were doing all of the grocery shopping(from her list and we lived right behind the market) and cooking full meals at least 4 days a week by the time I was eleven and he was twelve. We also made all of their coffee for them and did all of the kitchen clean up. I am not sure that our cooking as kids was too great because it seemed like my dad was choking things down and trying not to make faces when he ate it BUT they were both always very polite and thanked us for cooking for them.

                                                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                                                        1. re: Lillipop

                                                                                                                                          Sounds like you had a very nice family.

                                                                                                                                        2. Essentially my French mother did not cook although she had an amazing deft hand with sauces and pastry.My grandmother had a good cook so she really never learned except for interest .By the time I was 5,1950 she was never the parent cooking any meat she could,would
                                                                                                                                          COOK TO DEATH,beef,venison wild duck or goose etc.

                                                                                                                                          But she did know what good food was and my father was an astonishing cook.

                                                                                                                                          Mom's regulars,Sunday Dinner only braised rabbit,BRISKET,lamb or veal leg,breast or shoulder,roast domestic bird,goose duck or chicken.Sides were usually "fancy" for the era,circa 1949 to 1965 in the US,especially with omelets,onion tart with gruyere,spinach souffle,french green beans with walnuts, pommes anna.Sunday dinners were from the above 90% of the time for ? 20 years.

                                                                                                                                          1. My mom made a goulash that was Campbell's tomato soup, hamburger, onion, and macaroni. It was pretty tasty back then. Spaghetti with meat sauce was a favorite. She also made a lot of chicken and rice casserole with cream of mushroom soup. She has a stew she made with tomato sauce, veggies, and stew meat that I hated (I always wanted real beef stew), tuna and shells casserole, and occasionally, if we were lucky fried chicken, and mashed potatoes and gravy, with green beans. On Sunday it was usually a very dry chuck roast with veggies and au jus, never a hearty gravy. I hated roast days. On rare occasions, she would make lasagna. I remember her having a very limited repitoire of meals. Sometimes my dad would get tired of it and make tacos, bacon, egg and cheese sandwiches, or pork chops of some kind.

                                                                                                                                            This is why I stared cooking at 12. I wanted to learn to make food I liked.

                                                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                                                            1. re: sisterfunkhaus

                                                                                                                                              You just reminded me of my late mom's lasagne:) Wow that was a precious food memory that was stirred up.Sitting here smiling thinking about how my mom used to be so casual about some of the masterpieces she concocted in her kitchen that would put us into an excited frenzy.Her lasagne was one of those dishes.

                                                                                                                                            2. I don't remember a "Most frequent" I do remember Tuna casserole and liking it. Pork chops with apples, or warm applesauce. Meat loaf. Spaghetti. Tamale pie. Meatballs and egg noodles. 60's through 70's.

                                                                                                                                              1. New England Boiled Dinner (basically corn beef and cabbage)
                                                                                                                                                tandoori chicken
                                                                                                                                                lamb chops and mint jelly
                                                                                                                                                pork chops and apple sauce

                                                                                                                                                1. My mum doesn't have just one favourite meal, but over the years there have been a few in the weekly rotation that changes every few years or so.
                                                                                                                                                  Some of the more memorable ones for me are:
                                                                                                                                                  Spaghetti bolognese, my mum does a good bolognese.
                                                                                                                                                  Pasta with just jarred sauce and cheese, that was always one of the ones I looked forward to the most. My mum has an awful habit of serving too much starch, especially pasta so I do take more control nowadays of my own portions to avoid indigestion.
                                                                                                                                                  "Chicken dinner", roast (nowadays slow cooked) chicken with potatoes and 2 veg and gravy. I used to hate it as a kid until I discovered chicken leg, now I don't mind it.
                                                                                                                                                  Chicken or beef stew and dumplings. Love it.
                                                                                                                                                  Chilli con carne is an old favourite of hers, always with whole grain rice which she cooks horribly. It turns into sticky mush, I always used to dread chilli con carne and begged for cous cous instead of the "rice". She's very authoritarian though so it wasn't until well into my teens I was "allowed" the cous cous option when I wanted it.
                                                                                                                                                  Ham sandwiches with salad cream on the plate, that was more when she didn't know what to do and teatime was approaching. Still I liked it.
                                                                                                                                                  Those boil in the bag things of fish in sauce with steamed potatoes and greens. I liked the fish normally but I find plain potatoes a bit hard to eat so I had to mash the sauce into it (and like I said before... her carb portions!)

                                                                                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: bonobo

                                                                                                                                                    Hi Bonobo:) I am here in California.May I ask what "salad cream" is? Thank you.

                                                                                                                                                  2. My Mom was (and is) a dreadful cook. She freely admits absolutely hating it. I cannot fathom that, but...

                                                                                                                                                    The meal she most frequently cooked was boiled potatoes (in a bad way) and fried moose or elk steak with a side of boiled canned spinach. No sauces, condiments, etc. I enjoy moose and elk as much as anyone but it was deplorable when I had it as a child. (My dad was a big game hunter and provided us with what I would now consider wonderful meat.) Thankfully when I was old enough I took over the cooking.

                                                                                                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                                                                                                    1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                      Hah! I call my mom "mom the uncook." She really didn't care much about food, and it shone through loud and clear. Her meals ranged from just okay to pretttty bad, although she had one or two specialties that we begged her to make from time to time.
                                                                                                                                                      May I ask where you grew up?

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                        My Mom's meals, too, ranged from ok to downright dangerous. A few times we had guests and she served incredibly raw bloody chicken, which when I noticed, whisked it away from the table before people started dying. She just has no clue. I just finished giving her a "recipe" for oven fries on the phone and she had about 200 questions. Sigh... But she does make the best buns on the planet! Weird.

                                                                                                                                                        I grew up on a farm in Saskatchewan. Yourself?

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: chefathome

                                                                                                                                                          Born in Ohio, transplanted to California (Berkeley, to be exact, And then finally, Mendocino, CA - which I consider my home 'cause I love it this much:
                                                                                                                                                          Mom made a really decent chili. I believe her recipe was from Peg Backen's "I Hate to Cook Book" which book she regarded like a Bible. :) She aso made wonderful potato latkes with homemade applesauce, and - get this - an amazing veal blanquette, which is something I don't do well. But the rest of it was.......negligibe? Her soups were a means of cleaning out the fridge, and hell yes, she just threw EVERYTHING in there, If there was leftover tuna salad or green salad, in it went. Fortunately, she didn't make soup often. it was an outstanding stroke of good luck when she decidedto re-enter the workplace, and hired a cook to come in a few times a week, and suddenkym, dinner improved immesurably.
                                                                                                                                                          Funnily enough she was, great at baking. The things she made were wonderful: banana and zucchini bread, fruit piess, brownies.........

                                                                                                                                                        2. re: mamachef

                                                                                                                                                          What specialties did you beg for?

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: sydthekyd

                                                                                                                                                            Not sure why my answer ended up here, but if you scroll up, you'll see. :)

                                                                                                                                                      2. Hamburger Helper and Tuna Helper. Then, in the '80s, Lean Cuisine. She resented having to be the breadwinner and cook too. At the time, I was jealous of the actual meals that I had at friends' houses, but now I see that my mother was just overwhelmed, overstressed and underpaid.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Mom's favorite meal was breakfast. Staples were bacon and eggs in every permutation, or hot cereal, always with a big glass of OJ and another of milk. Pancakes or waffles on the weekends. Dinners: baked chicken, eye of the round, spaghetti with meat sauce were staples. If meat, always with rice or potatoes and at least one vegetable. If she was in a hurry, Stouffers SOS, Welsh rabbit or beef stew. In winter she used to make a great beef vegetable soup. Simmering beef shanks, onions and garlic for at least a day. Our dog got the bones. After taking the fat off she'd add a bunch of herbs and about 10 packages of frozen vegetables, a big can of tomatoes and ALWAYS too much tabasco. After a couple hours playing in the snow it really hit the spot and cleared out the sinuses.

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                                                                                                                                                          1. re: pasuga

                                                                                                                                                            when my dad was away for dinner we would make a huge pancake feast for dinner. plain AND blueberry pancakes, scrambled eggs, sausage, canned peaches or applesauce.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: jujuthomas

                                                                                                                                                              I remember my mom making us breakfast for supper. I think it happened when she couldn't think of what to make or maybe she just did not feel like cooking.

                                                                                                                                                          2. Tuna noodle casserole. With peas. Mom worked and I usually had to take it out of the refrig and put in the oven about 5:30. Oddly, I still love it. Always put Laurey's season salt on it.

                                                                                                                                                            1. mom's cooking was simple and unadventurous, and i wasn't much of an eater, so my food memories are pretty limited. she rotated a handful of dishes so we ate the same things regularly, but no one thing much more than the others. however, i think "lemon chicken" - the standard breaded & pan-fried cutlets with lemon - was probably the one we had most often.

                                                                                                                                                              she never once served a casserole or hotdish of any kind - the closest we came was noodle kugel for the Jewish holidays :) so i didn't try tuna casserole until i went away to college in Georgia and had it at my southern roommate's parents' house for dinner. to this day i've never had chipped beef/SOS, and i'm kinda grateful for that.

                                                                                                                                                              the other standard dinners at our house were spaghetti with jarred sauce; chicken cacciatore; roast chicken; pan-fried pork chops; burgers; "Honey Dipt" fried chicken; boiled knockwurst or hot dogs; and occasionally sautéed veal cutlets with mushrooms. toss in stuffed cabbage if Grandpa was visiting, and the occasional canned La Choy meal, and there you have pretty much my entire childhood of dinners. nary a morsel of seafood to be found because she's deathly allergic. Sunday nights we ate out or ordered in, and it was always pizza, Chinese or Italian.

                                                                                                                                                              her best dish was easily her brisket/pot roast, but she only made it twice a year - for the High Holidays & Passover.

                                                                                                                                                              1. My mother often prepared what she called her omelette when she was rushed for one reason or another. We also ate a lot of her omelettes during WWII. She would fry a black iron pan full of potatoes, pour off and save the oil, and dump beaten eggs over the potatoes. When the eggs were set she would flip it over into another black pan and let it cook for a minute or two and then cut it into wedges. She would serve it with any type of leftover gravy we had, I always preferred seafood cocktail sauce on mine or roast beef gravy.

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                                                                                                                                                                1. re: mudcat

                                                                                                                                                                  Hey, mudcat, you didn't by any chance have a sister named pollywog, did you?

                                                                                                                                                                2. Regulars in the rotation were:

                                                                                                                                                                  Shepherd's Pie
                                                                                                                                                                  Stir fry with rice
                                                                                                                                                                  pork chops w/potatoes and side of vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                  Sloppy Joes
                                                                                                                                                                  Spaghetti w/ homemade meat sauce
                                                                                                                                                                  Roast chicken w/ mashed potatoes and vegetables
                                                                                                                                                                  Roast pork or roast beef (on Sundays) with sides

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                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Blush

                                                                                                                                                                    My mother was a great cook who made most of the same dishes your morher made. (My mother did not make an actual stir fry but did make her version of pepper steak using round steak, soy sauce, onions, and green peppers with white rice).Sadly, her roast beef in the cast iron dutch oven with French onion soup mix on top was always dry. Her kids did not know the difference and ate the meat with ketchup.

                                                                                                                                                                  2. I'm gonna have to say Mom's pot roast. I had to think about if this was an accurate memory or not because I loathed her pot roast, and so maybe the memory of horror just stands out for me, but I think she did serve it at least once a week. My parents strongly believed in making a dinner to their tastes, not with us children as the center of the universe. I think that was a good philosophy in many respects and for most of what they served us, we ate it without complaint and also learned to enjoy a variety of foods because that is what was put in front of us. I never questioned broccoli or spinach (and LOVED both, actually), etc. BUT -- two meals she made that I hated were pot roast and stuffed cabbage. The pot roast was a regular dinner, and she cooked it to death and used some stringy cut of meat; the tough stringiness and overcooked carrots with it grossed me out completely.

                                                                                                                                                                    The stuffed cabbage she made much less often. It was one of my dad's favorite meals and was fairly involved, what with boiling cabbage leaves and making the corned beef and rice and stuffing the leaves carefully, etc. (yeah, she used rice, not potatoes). The smell of the cabbage boiling was hideous to me. This was the late 60s to mid-70s era, and mom was also using cloth diapers for my little brother and would boil them in a vat on the stove after washing to sterilize them, which would smell like boiled cloth, as you'd expect. Once she was boiling a vat on the stove and I asked if she was boiling diapers and she frowned and told me, no, it was dinner. Damn cabbage smell. I pretty much always associate the smell of cooked cabbage with boiled diapers, now, too.

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                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: team_cake

                                                                                                                                                                      lol@team_cake too funny! My mom made stuffed cabbage too with rice..hers was scrumptious.Cabbage is one of my favs BUT I agree that it does smell so rancid at times:) Your post was hilarious and made me laugh:)Thanks I love a good belly laugh!

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: team_cake

                                                                                                                                                                        Your story reminds me of when my 80something uncle would come to our deer camp and make his 'Hunter's Stew' which was actually a New England boiled dinner with sausage instead of beef. He added so much cabbage and cooked it for so long that the resulting sulfer made it smell like a fart fest. We picked out the potatoes, rutabagas, and sausage. (At least I did. I think my brothers were also afraid of rutabagas).

                                                                                                                                                                      2. We had a dairy farm, and back in the forties and fifties mom served breakfast, dinner, and supper ("lunch" did not exist then) for up to 10 people, including hired hands.

                                                                                                                                                                        Mom's fallback - no-brainer - meal was Dad's sausage, usually with mashed potatoes and whatever vegetables we had growing in the garden. If we were lucky,there would be pie as well.

                                                                                                                                                                        The sausage is what I think of as farmer's sausage. It was smoked and halfway between fresh and salami. You could eat it it sliced as is, or cooked, which was how it appeared at meal time. She would put about three rings of it in a big frying pan with some water and simmer for a while. We always seemed to have sausage available and it appeared at least once a week.

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Sharuf

                                                                                                                                                                          I grew up in rural Minnesota farm country and back then (60s - 70s) 'lunch' was a mid-morning snack and a mid-afternoon snack, but usually only eaten on the days where there was a lot of field work, such as spring and fall.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. Her most frequent meals (my mom was a great cook):
                                                                                                                                                                          Pasta with olive oil, capers, lemon juice and lots of parm with grilled asparagus on the side
                                                                                                                                                                          Rosemary balsamic glazed chicken breast with wild rice and roasted cauliflower or steamed broccolini
                                                                                                                                                                          Roast chicken with homemade cranberry pear sauce, roasted fingerling potatoes and steamed green beans

                                                                                                                                                                          1. We had hamburger patties, cooked very well done; gravy made from the hamburger drippings; boiled to death potatoes; and a frozen vegetable, usually peas or carrots or, if we were really lucky, corn.

                                                                                                                                                                            That was Monday through Saturday.

                                                                                                                                                                            Sunday was usually roast chicken (chicken my grandparents brought us from their chicken farm) with the very rare spareribs or beef potroast. That was most of the first 16 years of my life.

                                                                                                                                                                            When I reached 12, my sister and I started taking over cooking, so we got a bigger variety then, but if my mother was cooking, it was always as described above, no variation ever.

                                                                                                                                                                            I moved away at 16 and didn't look hamburger in the eye again for another decade or so. Since moving away, I started experimenting with food from everywhere. Still do.

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                                                                                                                                                                            1. Mom didn't have a lot to work with, hard times, but she did her best to keep her kids topped up and healthy. Her go-to fillers were casseroles of rice and vegetables and cheese, we seldom saw meat of any kind. She had a friend who had apple trees, so baked apples were a seasonal treat she'd have on the table all through the fall and winter, we'd gorge until we swore we never wanted to see another baked apple, but of course we'd be clamoring for them again as autumn approached.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. When I was a child the things I disliked the most seemed to be cooked the most frequently but I'm not sure if that was true or only my perception. I remember a lot of creamed tuna on toast, kielbasa and sour kraut, and turnip greens. Two things that I did like that we had a lot were fried bologna sandwiches and breakfast for dinner. My mom was definitely not a "gourmet" cook. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                1. These are the ones I remember most (Mum was most definitely NOT into cooking...)

                                                                                                                                                                                  Fish sticks with frozen french fries and home-made coleslaw.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Swanson's chicken pies.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Cut up chicken baked with dry sherry and a chicken cube, served with brown rice and frozen broccoli (yes she cooked the broccoli first...). I still make this (with chicken broth instead of the cube).

                                                                                                                                                                                  Sketti (well, that's what my sister and I called it...) -- a pound of ground beef browned in the electric frying pan, seasoned with onion salt, then a can or two of canned spaghetti added in. Cheese from the green cardboard can.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Lamburgers -- with baked potato and cooked carrots

                                                                                                                                                                                  Hot dogs with B&M baked beans and B&M brown bread, toasted and buttered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: kcshigekawa

                                                                                                                                                                                    KC....I loved then and still love fish....but since my dad would only eat fried fish, flounder or flounder, when ever it was fish, and my mom was short of time, she made the frozen fish sticks, and the frozen fries...."Pop'em in the oven and your done...." My survival was to place three of the fish sticks on Wonderbread, carefully place some of those fries on top, then a little ketchup and some mayo....Don't remember the last time I had them, my taste for fish was always satisfied at my grandmother's house.....

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: kcshigekawa

                                                                                                                                                                                      Laughing here, 'cause lamburgers would have been the height of exoticism at Mom's table!

                                                                                                                                                                                      Oh, and fish mostly was of the Mrs. Paul's variety (complete with the little pickle relish packets you mixed with mayo) OR Dad's fresh catch from the polluted river, not well cleaned and certainly not de-boned.

                                                                                                                                                                                      All that said, still have many fond memories--it was the family, not the food.

                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My mom didn't like to cook. My dad would usually do the cooking if he were home. Dishes she made frequently were:
                                                                                                                                                                                      hot dogs with Kraft macaroni and cheese
                                                                                                                                                                                      Mulligan stew
                                                                                                                                                                                      fried beef liver minus the onions with boiled, mashed potatoes
                                                                                                                                                                                      salisbury steak and corn on the cob
                                                                                                                                                                                      chicken and dumplings
                                                                                                                                                                                      fish sticks and peas
                                                                                                                                                                                      pork chops
                                                                                                                                                                                      frozen burritos
                                                                                                                                                                                      lots of Campbell's soups, like tomato, or chicken noodle, with grilled cheese sandwiches.
                                                                                                                                                                                      This was the usual rotation.
                                                                                                                                                                                      She wasn't into casseroles and cooked very plainly: usually a meat and 2 veg. Or we had Swanson TV dinners! But we always had lots of fruit, like watermelon or whatever was in season.