BY THE TIME that my mom, Irene V., 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
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
My favorite meal was Sunday Pork Loin, Lemon Parsley Potatoes, Green Beans with Bacon and yummy Raspberry Cherry Pie.
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
Mom cooked and baked for school activities and fund-raisers, too…including
her roasting a turkey for the Girls Athletic Association Christmas
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” 7 years
ago, 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.