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Mother's Magic: What Can You Never Make as Well as Your Mom Did?

My mom was a dashed good cook, and in remembrance of her, as well as to satisfy my cravings for her cooking, I still prepare many of her greatest hits. In most cases, the results are highly satisfactory, e. g. they are as good as her preparations or are at least very close. There are, however, a few dishes I can't even come close. Among them are...

Fried Pork Chops: simplest thing in the world to make, I know, but mine just don't measure up to hers. I could have eaten platters full of her fried chops if I didn't have to share them with dad and little brother.

Chicken Kiev: she didn't make chicken Kiev all that often, but when she did, it was spectacular. And frankly, mine sucks. I don't even bother trying anymore.

Pork Chops and Rice Casserole: this is the old mid-century warhorse of chops and rice baked in a Campbell's Cream o' Mushroom Soup concoction. Not an elegant dish, perhaps, but my mom's was completely delish. Mine is risible. Another one I've abandoned.

Y'all have similar experiences of failing to measure up to your mom's standards on certain dishes?

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  1. My Polish mom made the best stuffed cabbage! I have never tasted any as good as hers, and have not been able to duplicate her tasty "golombki".

    1 Reply
    1. re: three of us

      Ditto here on the stuffed cabbage and also her Latkes.....no matter how many times I've tried,they're good but just not the same good as hers!

    2. Gravy! I can make gravy, but it never tastes the same. Pot Roast with gravy was a staple in our house.

      1. I can never get the fried pork chops the same either.

        1. For me it's mom's and grandmother's

          Macaroni and cheese
          Fried pork chops
          Smothered greens - collards, cabbage and green beans
          Candied yams

          6 Replies
          1. re: fldhkybnva

            Ah, Smothered Collard Greens are a lost art. If you nail that one, write it down for later generations. Heck, most folk, even in the Deep South, have no clue what I am talking about, when I mention "Smothered Collard Greens."

            Cherish,

            Hunt

            1. re: Bill Hunt

              They are going strong in my grandmother's kitchen. I don't think I could ever recreate them it's some kind of magical mystery as to what she puts in that pot. They are served at all holiday dinners and whenever I visit collards and baked southern Mac are on the menu at least twice a day, they reheat beautifully.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                My Southern to the core grandma, when asked about her secret way of making anything, would smile and say "I spit in it for extra flavor." We never quite knew if she was serious, but danged if her food wasn't incredible, yet unreplicateable.

                1. re: fldhkybnva

                  Bless you!

                  I have been working with my wife (New Orleans native, but says she has never had "smothered collard greens?"), and things are getting better. Still, not sure that she completely understands.

                  I tried the same thing with Chef Joseph Linn, Blackberry Farm, and 2012 James Beard Best Chef in the South. He's also working on it too.

                  Enjoy, and realize that others are craving your smothered collard greens!

                  Hunt

                2. re: Bill Hunt

                  I make a collard green and tasso bread pudding for a teacher lunch at school every year..

                  1. re: girloftheworld

                    Wow, that sounds good too!

                    For all the fun that many Yankees make of collard greens, I say, "you just do not know what you are poking fun of... "

                    Hunt

              2. Beef stew, mine is decent but hers was absolutely delicious. Never been able to replicate that flavor no matter how I tweak it.