The story about my mom's cooking is an interesting one. Aside from the occasional brisket, Greek Salad and Chanukah latkes, it didn't really start until I was in my early 20s.
We reheated things and ate lots of packaged foods. My aunt and uncle lived next door. When I was nine, I discovered I could eat my supper there pretty much whenever I wanted, and I did. It didn't help that when I was a teenager, they had a computer running MS-DOS and WordPerfect that I could use to do my homework (a luxury I didn't have until I was 17).
She even had a rice cooker that she didn't use - "when I retire," she said.
Anyway, she retired a couple years after I graduated university. My parents moved North-West and became friends with a really nice couple who made a similar move from North York. They're Italian, and they like to cook - lots. My mom suddenly started helping prepare cookies, tomato sauce, pickled tomatoes, roasted peppers, marinated olives, pizza and lasanga.
Since then, mom gained confidence in her own abilities and started trying new things, or preparing things she used to buy prepared from the store. While growing up, Friday nights was a store-bought roasted chicken or KFC. Suddenly, Friday night dinner could be breaded chicken cutlets with home-made tomato sauce, or with peppers and duck sauce, or roasted and stuffed chicken with roasted potatoes made from scratch, along with rib roasts or corned beef.
Mom slowly started trying things from her cookbooks and clippings from the food section in the Toronto Star. Now, her cookbooks are nearly as old as I am. Many of the "classics" come from "Second Helpings, Please!" - dating from the late 1960's, her library even includes at least three "microwave cookbooks." Despite having a few relatively new books as well, her favourite book to try new recipes was written by a country singer in the early 1980s. The cover is hilarious.
When I call her, she's frequently excited because she's trying something she's never made before. I'm really proud of my mom for taking the plunge. She doesn't get down if something doesn't work, and will try it again (making chagnes) when she's really determined.
Last weekend, we had a dinner party with my mother-in-law that included rib roasts, my grandmother's chicken burgers (I'll save that recipe and story for another time), and two "vegetable dishes" (see note) that were actually a sweet potato pudding and a crustless quiche. Mom did her own thing with the pudding, adding extra potato and walnuts. We had a great evening.
Note: I'm still working on her about "vegetable dishes."
Recipe: Crustless Broccoli Quiche
Recipe: Sweet Potato Pudding
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