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Jun 4, 2012 07:30 AM

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 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 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 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.