When I'm asked to describe my mother, Blanche H., the words friendly, nurturing and deeply religious come to mind. But she’s also funny, vivacious…and a wonderful cook.
My mom has always cooked from scratch, and every night she would serve our family a complete meal—meat, potatoes, salad, two vegetables and a delectable dessert.
My brother, Ric; my sisters, Dina and Joline; and I have warm recollections of those evening meals, but we each have our own favorites, including pork with sauerkraut and chicken with spaghetti.
My favorite menu has to be Mom’s Down-Home Meat Loaf, Greens and Sprouts Salad, Red Potatoes with Beans and Fresh Strawberry Pie. Whenever I smell the appealing aroma of this meal, it transports me back to when I was 12.
My mom’s Down-Home Meat Loaf is the perfect comfort food, and it’s just as good the next day in a sandwich. The Greens and Sprouts Salad, with its sweet-tangy dressing, complements the meat loaf so well. Mom loves vegetables, so we were exposed to everything from asparagus to zucchini squash when we were growing up. In fact, my two sisters are now vegetarians.
The microwave makes Red Potatoes with Beans a quick and easy dish to prepare. Tossed with onion and Italian dressing, it tastes great cold or warm.
Nothing compares to Mom’s pretty Fresh Strawberry Pie. My mother is a registered nurse and worked for a wealthy family as a private duty nurse in the 1950s. The family’s cook would not share her recipes, including the one for this pie. So, when Mom knew it was on the menu, she took her coffee break in the kitchen and memorized the recipe while the cook prepared it. She has tweaked it over the years and sometimes substitutes raspberries.
Because my mother’s parents were from Poland, she has several Polish dishes in her treasure chest of recipes. Her parents, hoping she’d become a nun, sent her to a convent, but Mom chose college and nursing instead. She didn’t learn to cook until she worked as a private duty nurse.
And she didn’t cook for just us kids and my dad, who was a police officer in Detroit for 25 years. Mom entertained frequently.
I remember friends or family gathering at our house on Sunday afternoons for one of her wonderful meals. She’d serve appetizers about 2 p.m. and dinner at 6. Her timing was always perfect. She could visit with guests, serve beverages and make dinner without ever burning a thing.
Although Mom no longer hosts big dinner parties, she loves to get together with her children and grandchildren. So Dina has Thanksgiving at her house, Joline has Easter, and I have Christmas. Ric, who also loves to cook, puts on a great Fourth of July barbecue.
I loved watching my mom cook, and now, I enjoy cooking, too. But my husband, Jim, and our two children are picky eaters, so I have to cook to suit their tastes. When company comes, however, I pull out all the stops and make the kinds of foods I like…including some of my mother’s best recipes.
Mom has a natural ability to add a pinch of this and a dash of that and make a superb meal every time. I hope you’ll find this meal of hers just as delicious as I do!