Mom, Anita B., was an accomplished cook at a young age. She grew up in Oak Hill, West Virginia, where her parents worked full-time. So Mom would have dinner ready every evening when they came home.
She spent summers with her grandmother, learning to make Southern specialties and family favorites from scratch. Mom also learned to can and preserve fruits and vegetables.
My parents raised my brother, Dean, and me outside Baltimore. Mom’s cooking has become a blend of her Southern roots, Maryland seafood dishes and regional favorites of our new home state, Pennsylvania.
Her best meal is a combination of old and new recipes—Shrimp Fettucine, Roasted Asparagus, Mixed Green Salad and Apple Dumplings.
Mom’s Shrimp Fettucine is elegant but surprisingly simple to prepare. And the aroma is out of this world! Dean, who’s a chef outside Baltimore, has used this recipe as a daily special at the restaurant where he works.
Roasted Asparagus is a fairly recent addition of Mom’s…and now we don’t want asparagus any other way. I’ve been guilty of sampling it from the pan before it reaches the table.
With its light zippy dressing, her Mixed Green Salad makes a delightful accompaniment to the pasta.
And comforting Apple Dumplings, a recipe from my great-grandmother, has a deliciously homey aroma that always reminds me of family and fall. We live near four orchards, so Mom always has apples ready and waiting in the freezer.
Although we live north of the Mason-Dixon Line, Mom is known for her Southern hospitality. Her door is always open and her table always has room for one more.
She has hosted our family reunion twice… and we have a big family with big appetites. Both times, she prepared most of the weekend’s food for about 60 people, including a complete Pennsylvania Dutch meal.
Mom also makes full meals to take to friends and family who have been ill or hospitalized or are grieving. It’s not uncommon for her and my dad, Lyle, who is a retired teacher, to travel 5 hours to deliver the food. Mom has touched so many lives with her cooking!
When my brother and I were growing up, Mom made every birthday and holiday special. She’d wake up early in the morning on our birthdays to prepare a special breakfast, and stay up late on Christmas Eve to bake Dad’s favorite coffee cakes and our favorite dessert.
Her love of cooking was not only passed down to my brother and me but to her son-in-law as well. My husband, John, who’s a retail manager, often gets recipes and advice from Mom. Our oldest son, Travis, thinks his grandma should have her own cooking show! We also have a younger son, Scott…and I work full-time as a nurse.
Before I got married, Mom gave me a book of family recipes as a shower gift so I can carry on our food traditions. It’s a treasured and well-used collection.
I’m glad I was able to share some of her recipes with you…and hope you’ll pass them down in your family, too.