|My street at Halloween|
|Grant, Lynn, Pam and Ron before|
our rousing game of Phase 10
|A calmer Uncle Bill in later years|
This Sunday I did a repeat of the Vegetable Soup from a couple of weeks ago and my buddy Grant brought a terrific pot of Black Bean and Ham soup to share. It just happened that I attended a hands-on bread baking class the day prior with Kathy Lehr, our local bread guru, so I had some wonderful 7-grain bread to share at the table. Really, is there anything better on a cool fall afternoon than a bowl of soup and some yummy bread?
We had a great conversation around the table about bread baking and it turns out that both couples bake bread often in their homes. Lynn and Grant use a bread machine and Pam is making bread from a new book that requires very little kneading. It's nice to know that there are still people baking their own breads at home so that they can gain benefits from whole grains and less preservatives and additives.
|7-Grain batards from class - |
|Mom in her kitchen circa 1959|
For whatever reason for the past few weeks I’ve been yearning for some of the foods that my Mom used to make. I’ve made this remark to a few friends who’ve also said they have that same feeling. Must be the onset of cooler weather making us seek out that comfort of Mom’s home cooking.
After giving it some really serious thought, I’ve more or less concluded that my Mom was not a terrific cook. She did very well with what she knew and we certainly ate well every day. Dad always complimented her cooking and I finally realized it was most likely because his own Mother hated to cook and didn’t do it very well at all. Compared to that, Mom probably was quite the prize kitchen-wise.
So, while there was meat, potatoes and a vegetable on the table for every dinner, Mom wasn’t experimental in the kitchen. Cookbooks were used mainly to find new desserts– she was definitely into baking and Dad eats whatever you put in front of him that contains sugar of any kind. The only times I can recall new things arriving in the dinner rotation was the Tuna Noodle Casserole from a recipe on the back of a Campbell’s soup can, a lasagna recipe given to us by a friend after we had it at their home one Fourth of July (of all things), and most interesting of all – fresh pasta from scratch that we learned to make from an Italian friend we visited in Florida one winter.
|Simple dinner for one- just like Mom made|
Sometimes the craving for a meal like this simply takes over my thought process until I go home and make it. Which - tonight I did. Thankfully, this is a terrific meal for one since I keep ground beef in the freezer in ¼ pound servings. It was easy to pull the meat out of the freezer, stick it in a pan of cold water to thaw and by the time I was done changing clothes from work and rounding up the first load of leaves out to the curb, I was ready to make dinner.
And you know what? This still tastes just as good today as it did 40 years ago. A tweak here and there by substituting brown rice for white and I was ready to go. This meal is simple, easy to scale for 1 or 2 or more, and very inexpensive. I can almost hear the dinner bell Mom used to call us to table.
|My little cast iron skillet - just|
big enough for One!
1) use a cast iron skillet to cook your burger,
2) use a good package gravy that you like, but you’ll only make half so there aren’t leftovers (unless you WANT left over gravy),
3) cook the gravy in the skillet when your burger is done so that you pick up the browned bits from the skillet and
4) use a boil-in-bag rice just to keep things simple and easy, then cook your frozen peas in the same water to save on clean up.
Simple? Yes. Good? Yes. And at just around 500 calories for the whole thing, not a bad deal nutritionally. These are the sorts of meals we ate all the time and I was skinny as a rail.
QUESTION FOR MY READERS
Do you have meals like this that you remember Mom making for your family? Do you still make them for yourself or your family? Share them with us here, maybe I’ll try a few out and post them here to pass along to others.