By the time that my mom, Irene Voss, was 8 years old, she was responsible for much of her family's cooking. The oldest girl in a family of eight children, Mom learned to cook alongside her mother and often took over meal preparation when there was a new baby in the house. She baked bread and made noodles, dumplings, cakes, pies and more.
Mom cooked from scratch like her mother did…never using a recipe, just adding a pinch of this and a teacup of that. I think she started using cookbooks only after she married my dad, Irving. They moved from northern Illinois to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, where Dad became part owner of a hardware and heating business.
When my sister, June, and I were young, our family of four sat down together every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. While we ate, we'd discuss events happening in town or what was going on with friends and family.
Super Sunday Dinner
I remember helping Mom prepare this meal for Sunday dinner. She'd have me take off a strip of peel around the center of each little potato to make the Lemon Parsley Potatoes attractive.
Everything had to look pretty on the plate—the reddish barbecue sauce on the tender Sunday Pork Loin, the bright green beans with bits of onion and bacon, and her Raspberry Cherry Pie, with its golden crust and sweet-tart red berries. We even requested that pie for our birthdays instead of birthday cake!
When Mom served this menu, we knew something special was happening. She made this meal the first time I brought my husband, Jim, to dinner.
Mom cooked and baked for school activities and fund-raisers, too…including her roasting a turkey for the Girls Athletic Association Christmas party.
I think my sister and I took homemade cookies to every bake sale that came along. This gave June and me a chance to bake with our mother. Once the baking was done, Mom would wash the dishes and we would dry. We'd sing silly songs, so it was always fun.
My friends seemed to know when Mom was baking because they'd come home with me to see what treat was in store for us.
I've inherited my mom's love of cooking. In fact, my passion for cooking, baking and trying new recipes has never been greater. I became a Taste of Home field editor in 2002.
Though my husband and I consider ourselves retired, Jim does some bookkeeping for our oldest son's hardware stores, and I volunteer at an area hospital.
I've carried on Mom's tradition of having the family together for dinner. We still gather our three married sons and their families (we have two granddaughters) for a meal at least a couple times a month.
When Jim and I built our "retirement home," Mom moved with us and lived in an attached apartment. She did her own cooking until she was 92. Now her recipes live on with my sister and me. We hope you'll try them, too.