Tag Archives: mothers

Cooking My Mother’s Recipes #3

Scan_20180206My earliest recollection of my mother’s cooking was that there was a lot of food and it was good. We often had relatives at dinner. My mother would cook a large meal and we might eat leftovers for a few days after. Sundays after church we would run across the field from the white stucco church building on Spencer Highway in South Houston to our house, an asbestos tiled two bedroom, one bath house frame house painted bright yellow with white trim. We knew we would find some good cooking smells coming from the kitchen.

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My three brothers and me in front of our house in 1963.

Here’s a picture of the house. It had a white pebble roof. My brothers and I would swing onto the roof from a nearby tree and use the rocks as ammunition in our never-ending battles with invading armies of terrifying gorillas. Of course we weren’t supposed to get on the roof. The rocks would fall off. My father kept a bucket of tar in the back yard to slather on if a leak developed and then he would plant more white pebbles in the tar. The bucket would warm up in the summer sun and we would grab handfuls of tar to make things – usually a mess.

Every Sunday there was waiting in the hot oven a ham, or a pork shoulder, or a roast. It would be our only real meat for the rest of the week. Not that we were lacking. We always had food, but that was down to my mother’s creativity. A lot can be done with leftovers. Then there was baloney, or Spam, or hot dogs.

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Sunday dinner. From left PawPaw, his sister visiting from South Africa (Auntie), baby brother Jeff, Mom. August 22, 1963

In this photo the grownups and the smallest children were dining in the soon to be completed living room of my grandparents’s new house. That is a cement mixer in the back. The blue and white willow china was Nannie’s everyday dishes. I have the coffee pot and espresso cups from the set.

Scan_20180206 (4)The other technicolor picture is the “kids” table. I’m at the far right in the blue and my cousin Karen is next to me on one side and my oldest brother is on the other side. Going the other way is cousin Paul, Kathy, brother Jon, and cousin Mark. This is a quick run down memory lane, but my cousins and brothers may appreciate the nod to the past.

As I grew and became more aware of others I came to realize that my mother liked to find recipes where she could save time using canned ingredients. Some of her favorite recipes in those days would not be very appealing these days when we have such lovely fresh things to cook with and so much choice! Today’s recipe I’m going to take one of my mother’s “canned” goods concoctions and substitute one fresh ingredient. I hope you like it.

Mary’s Snappy AsparagusSAM_1869

Ingrediants: 1 can asparagus

1 can Cambell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup

1 can French Fried Onions

As you can see I’ve substituted the canned asparagus with fresh asparagus. Canned asparagus is mushy. The soup along with the mushy canned vegetable would be not very appetizing.

In order for this recipe to come out as my mother would have planned, I will have to cook the asparagus. I choose to saute these stalks in olive oil using a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.

I’ve found young stalks. It is February when asparagus is ready to be cut here in the south. If the stalks do not make an audible “snap” when bent they have been sitting too long in the store or are too tough to eat. By September the stalks you find in the grocery are thick as my thumb.

cut in pieces

You must cut the ends off way up the stem to get to the tender more edible part. With this young asparagus all I’m going to have to cut is a few inches from the bottom and rinse in cold water to knock the dust off. Then I will cut into inch long pieces to saute.

Yum! I actually like asparagus raw. Tastes like sunshine!

 

before cooking
Before cooking.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

after cooking
After cooking the asparagus turns a bright green as the heat brings the chlorophyll to the surface

The recipe calls for layering the asparagus and the cheese soup. But my efforts layering the cheese soup were comical.mixed in cheese soup

 

 

 

 

The soup from the can is thick. I found that mixing the two together was better.

Put the onion on top and bake at 350 for 30 minutes. You can also put this in the microwave on high for five minutes. I sprinkled some cheddar cheese on top, too.

Here is the end result. It turned out very tasty. I served it alongside lemon pepper chicken tenders and bow-tie macaroni with mushroom seasoning from House of Seasons.2018-02-06 18.53.54

Cooking My Mother’s Recipes #2

My husband and I would go to my parent’s house at least once a month when our kids were little. My parents didn’t live far from us. Because my mother loved to cook for others she would invite us over for supper more often, like when she had cooked a big meal.  Beginning in the late 90’s I would see a crock jar full of fermenting fruit on her baker’s rack.

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When I asked what it was she said she’d gotten a new recipe from one of her GMC camper’s club friends. They loved traveling around Texas in their GMC camper. There was a group who would meetup regularly at the various state parks. Mom said the recipe was German and the fruit in the jar was fermenting for it.

When she first made it, I wasn’t a big fan. It tasted a little “off”. It was too doughy and didn’t have much flavor. As years went by the cake kept getting better and better. It’s as if she wouldn’t accept that she couldn’t get it perfect, so she kept tweaking, and making us taste the result. The last time she made it, it was heavenly. It tasted like a chewy, gooey butter cake with fruit. It was melt-in-your-mouth good.

The above picture of fruit I had left fermenting in a closed glass jar for six weeks. It’s a pretty glass jar, more like a candy jar. My concoction was a combination of canned peaches and canned pineapple. I put a cup of rum and a half cup of brandy along with the sugar and the syrup from the cans.

20171110_164743The recipe as you see it here has no flavoring in it. I made this as it is stated and when it came out, it was pretty awful.  I think this must be her original recipe that she wrote down so long ago.

Ingrediants:

1 cup flour, 1 cup sugar, 3 teas. baking powder, 3/4 cup milk, 1/2 teas salt, 1/2 stick butter.

So to tweak: the fruit was good. I think you should add a 1 teaspoon of vanilla, and add melted butter, lowering the milk amount.

You’re probably wondering what the staining is on the paper. This recipe book is over fifty years old. My mother has recipes cut out from newspapers and old magazines included. Some of those papers are not acid-free and bleed their chemicals a little into the other papers.

You want to start your Rumtopf six weeks or more ahead of making this recipe. You can google it, but take it from me, some fruits are not good at staying firm and identifiable in six weeks of soaking up rum. Or maybe it’s from taking random tastings of the rum that makes the fruit look fuzzy. Never mind. Remember to stir the mixture weekly. Don’t use apples, they get mealy. Pineapple and peaches work, either fresh or from a can. You can use them individually or by themselves. Apricots work. Pears get a little lost, so add some nice firm peaches to hold their hands. Try adding some dried cherries to the mix for a pretty contrast, because it may as well be pretty while it’s sitting on your counter for six weeks.

So this is a picture of the cake before I put the Rumtopf on top and baked it. I forgot to take a picture of the finished cake. Picture the same picture a bit browner with fruit dotting the top. Honestly, this wasnt’ as good as what my mother was making in the end. Imagine this with a brown crust and dotted with fruit.