I guess when I look back, Mothers Day was the day that I began cooking in the kitchen by myself. It was the one day that me and my sister would cook breakfast for our mom. It may not have ended up to be more than a bowl of cereal, toast, fruit and orange juice. But you know what? She loved it anyways.
So I want to share with you all some of the memories and recipes that my mom and all the other wonderful women in my life have shared with me. I grew up enjoying these recipes, and now making them myself. Of course making them now is a special treat, because it brings back so many special memories.
Memories of sitting in a warm kitchen on a cold snowy winter morning, and mom had baked her homemade cinnamon rolls. The cinnamon and brown sugar all melted within the rolls, and covered in that sweet powdered sugar icing. I would literally be sick to my stomach from eating so many hot rolls. To this day, I still can’t make them as well as mom does.
Mom made so many great things, her chicken and dumplings are a family favorite. I can’t even remember how many times I watched her rolling out her dumplings and then dropping them into the bubbling chicken stock to cook. She always makes more than needed so she can freeze the extra dumplings for a quick meal. That is one thing about her, she always has 3 or 4 freezers of food on hand. Yes, she literally has 2 or 3 freezers in her pantry, and one in the garage. Her pantry shelves are so stocked with food that you could literally go a month or more without ever needing to go to the store for anything more than milk, butter and eggs. I guess now I know why I stock pile food. I only have one freezer (one she gave me), but it is stocked full of meat, peaches, strawberries, mangos, and yes, even dumpling noodles ready to cook.
I was so blessed growing up. Even though my parents divorced when I was young, my “family” setting didn’t suffer. In fact, I have one of the best step moms around. Elsie was never one of those wicked step moms you hear about. And she never tried to be a replacement for our mom. I remember going to her and dads on the weekend and having great times. One of my favorite things was to go to her family’s holiday and/or family reunions. Her mom and sister always had the best covered dishes. It’s amazing how many interpretations of some side dishes there are. I am not sure who made the deviled eggs at these get togethers, but they were awesome. The dish Elsie made that I had never had before, was her grandmas German Potato Salad. This is still a favorite of mine. I have tried to make it, I have even bought it in a German deli close to my house. But it just never tastes how I remember hers to taste. Christmas before last, she and I made some home made candy. I am still trying to find the recipe, I know I have it somewhere. It consisted of chocolate, peanuts and something else that you cook in a crock pot then spoon out on wax paper. I think I ate more of it as I spooned it out than made it to the wax paper. I’m going to have to call her tonight and get that recipe.
Ours is one of those family’s where every holiday, you spent it with all your aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. I can remember going to my Great Grandma and Grandpa’s house for Christmas when I was very young. Great Grandma Blanche always made the best holiday meals. All from scratch and more than everyone could eat. Through the years, I found that most of my Grandma Jeans and my moms recipes actually started out as Grandma Blanche’s. And now they are ones I use. I am sure they are also recipes she got from her mom as well. Once my paternal great grandparents passed, we would now spend holidays at “The Farm”. Which is what we called grandma Jean and Grandpa Norms house. Yes, it was a farm and it was one of my favorite places to go for holidays because grandma Jean made the best home cooked meals. My mom always said that my grandma Jean could make soup out of an old boot and it would taste wonderful. As I’ve told you all before, there was always something baked on the counter at grandma Jeans. Maybe thats why I love baking so much.
Of course the holidays were not complete until we went to grandma and grandpa Miracle’s too. This is where we got good ole southern cooking. Grandma Cordie always had plenty of fresh home cooked vegetables from the garden, and the home made cornbread was to die for. Me and my Aunt Carol (who was like my second mother) always had a jar of blackberry preserves hid in the back of grandmas refrigerator, and we’d break off a big piece of the outer edge of the hot cornbread and coat it with the blackberry preserves. I have a jar in the back of my refrigerator to this day and continue this tradition. Aunt Carol was the one who taught me to make my mamaw Bessie’s and great aunts apple stack cake. Growing up it was the biggest treat in the world when Carol made this. And as y’all know, it is still my favorite cake in the world. Carol also taught me to cook a lot of my other favorites as well. Including fried liver and onions, some of the best homemade sausage, and of course her wonderful fried chicken. The fried chicken always consisted of us chasing down our dinner, and well I think you can figure out the rest. Out on her little farm is where I learned where our food really comes from. Carol is also the one who taught me to shoot a gun, hunt and know that there is nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it. I miss her so much. A big piece of my heart died when she passed.
Now growing up, I also had a second favorite cake. It was my cousin Gladys’ RUM CAKE. I always thought this was the most moist and delicious cake in the world. I didn’t know why mom only let us have a very small piece. Now I do. And guess what? I cut much larger slices for myself now when I make this. Now I make rum cakes at the holidays for clients all over the country. It has become a favorite of many of my customers now as well. Gladys is one of my favorite people in the world. Her and Willard used to live in Tennessee. She always says that Tennessee is Gods Country. It truly is. I want to move to Tennessee so bad and have a small farm. I think if Gladys had it her way, mom and I would live right next to her in Tennessee. Not a bad idea if you ask me.
Then there is my mamaw Bessie. She has always been my most treasured family member and was the matriarch of our family. It was always a special occasion to go to Kentucky and spend time with her and Pa Potter. I grew up eating her incredible meals and thinking I was going to explode from eating so much. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that mamaw would get up before dawn to begin cooking breakfast. It was no ordinary breakfast either. She’d make biscuits and gravy, pork chops, fried apples, scrambled eggs, sausage and bacon, grits, and always some fresh fruits and toast. Before we were done eating, she would already be starting lunch which was almost always something fried, corn bread and all kinds of fresh veggies from the garden. Her black eyed peas, and fried corn were so darn good, I can taste them as I type this now. So already gaining about 20 lbs from the first two meals, we would sit down around 6pm for a typical meal of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, black eyed peas, pinto beans and cornbread, and buttermilk biscuits. How am I not 300 pounds? Of course there was usually cake and home made ice cream for dessert. Then we always sat outside and watch the sunset and listened to the frogs around the pond that Pa Potter and I used to fish in. Of course the night was over till we had a watermelon out of her garden. I miss my childhood so much.
So to all of you wonderful ladies who I still have in my life, and to those I have lost, Happy Mothers Day. I love and treasure you all.