Some nights when I was growing up, my mom would be all, “I’m tired and do not FEEL like cooking. Do you guys want to get pizza?” And we’d be thrilled, because we were kids, and IMO pizza nights are always awesome. But when she did cook, my mom did it fabulously, and most of all, she always has had a way of making certain foods feel like home. Such as:
Noodle Mess – basically Beef Stroganoff with a kid-friendly name. Beef pieces, carrots, excellent gravy, and egg noodles. It was one of those rare meals that pleased both children and adults at our dinner table.
Clam Fritters – she made fish and vegetables go into pancakes. Brilliant. Seriously, these things were just delicious, and by far one of my favorite dinners ever, especially since we were traditional Catholics and had many Fridays with fish-based dinners. Clam fritters > halibut IMO.
Oven Fried Chicken – Breaded and tasty like regular fried chicken, but cooked in the oven with a Bisquick coating to be healthier. Bisquick also goes into clam fritters; it’s magical (AAHHHHHHH!!!!).
Mish-Mash/Witches Brew – Kraft (or more likely, store-brand/No Frills) macaroni and cheese, kidney beans, ground beef, canned corn. Since shortcutted with chili for the beans and beef. On Halloween, Mom got into the excitement of the day; she knew how much it meant to her kids, and she’d have Witches Brew waiting for Robb and me, as we took a break from trick-or-treating, all cold, yet determined. We went after school by ourselves, then after dinner with my dad, and it was epic. Many miles, and many pillow cases filled with loot. This mission required sustenance, and Witches Brew was perfect. Mish-Mash, but with cut up hot dogs for Halloween! (Halloweenies!) It felt safe and nice to come home to, and also was made up of delicious ingredients that I highly recommend even if it sounds gross!
Big Meats – heh. Seriously though, as I said, my mom didn’t cook growing up, and when she got married, it was the mid-‘70s, during a weird time best explained by “Freaks and Geeks,” and she was hit with the realization that she had no idea how to make A Roast. But she’s a fast learner, and ended up making, for my money, the best roasts ever. I was always super picky with meat, but my mom’s roast beefs, chickens, and hams were pure art and delicious. They were Sunday night dinners, somewhere in between casseroles and Steaks Diane for company. Roasts were for family gatherings, and smelling them on some Sundays helped salve the sting of knowing there was school the next day.