Meal Photo

Not Your Everyday Chicken and Dumplings

Who needs to go to a restaurant when you have a mom who can cook like mine does? My mom, Barbara Barocsi, specializes in what restaurants like to call “home-cooked” meals.

On Sundays, you’ll often find me and my family dining at my parents’ house in Oregon, Ohio, a suburb of Toledo. We’re often Mom’s “testers” for the new recipes she tries out from Taste of Home.

When my older sister, Cheryl, and I were growing up, Sunday dinner was typically meat, potatoes, salad, vegetables and rolls. Sunday was also the day Mom would write down her menus for the week ahead. She had a repertoire of meals that she repeated every 2 to 3 weeks.

Although Mom worked full time as a customer service rep when we were kids, she still enjoyed cooking dinner from scratch. And after dinner, she’d start the next night’s meal.

A Family Tradition

Her best meal—and my favorite—starts with Hungarian Chicken Paprikash, served with Spaetzle Dumplings. I always request it for my birthday, which is in August. Some years I have to wait because Mom doesn’t want to cook over a hot stove in the summer heat. Last year, she served it for Christmas.

My mom learned to make the chicken and dumplings from the Hungarian women at her church. They serve it to about 300 people at an annual church dinner. To fix it at home, Mom had to cut down the recipe substantially.

It’s been a tradition at our house to serve Sour Cream Cucumbers with the paprikash and spaetzle. This side dish is especially good during the summer when the cucumbers are fresh-picked from the garden.

My favorite meal is not complete without a slice of Tart Cherry Lattice Pie, topped with vanilla ice cream. Whenever Mom is invited to a party or potluck, everyone requests her homemade, double-crust fruit pies. My dad, Donald, grows apple, cherry and apricot trees in their backyard, so fruit is always plentiful. Mom freezes some of the fruit so she can make pies during the winter, too.

She taught my dad, who’s retired from an Ohio gas company, to make the pie crust and fillings. Sometimes, I don’t know if my mom or my dad made a pie, because now they are both excellent pie makers.

Generation to Generation

Born and raised in Toledo, my mom learned her cooking skills from her mother. According to Mom, the secret to making food taste good is using onion, green pepper and celery for seasoning. Onion is our family’s favorite vegetable, and we especially enjoy green onions from Dad’s spring garden. We add onion to almost all of our salads, soups and main dishes.

Mom has passed on her cooking wisdom to my sister and me. She prepares a lot of our favorite dishes from memory, so when I started my own family, I asked her to write down the ingredients and instructions to many of those dishes.

Like my mom, I make a meal plan on Sunday so I can be ready for the upcoming week, since I work full-time. I’m a computer analyst at a local hospital. My husband, Robert, is a shipping manager at a competing hospital. We have two children, Matt and Kate.

We have Sunday dinner with my folks about once or twice a month during the winter. In the summer, however, the tables are turned, and my parents visit us at our cottage in Indiana. One thing doesn’t change, though. Mom still likes to do the cooking…and starts making her meal plan a week before she and Dad arrive.

I’m happy to turn over kitchen duties to her because we all love her home-cooked meals. We hope you will, too!

I hope you enjoy these family favorites as much as all of us do.