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I was so encouraged by this article! You see my mom had five kids, no husband and 2 or 3 jobs at a time. She is a really good cook, but didn’t have the time to do much teaching. I remember her making homemade bread and soups, and she made us a real breakfast nearly every morning after getting off the night shift.
I am stretched out on the couch at nearly 11pm looking for some good recipes to feed my own kids next week. I was up at 6am and made dinner for 150 people at church tonight. It is important to me that my girls eat well and learn to cook, but sometimes it is very hard in the thick of it as I am now. I’m tired, Elise. My feet and back hurt. Reading your lovely article about your mom and reading all the comments I was encouraged to not give up the fight. Thank you so much!!
Like a lot of people, I learned to cook from my Mom.
As soon as I was old enough to tell time, she was teaching me how to cook. When I grew up, there were no digital clocks. I had to learn the big hand, little hand method.
Once I could tell time, my Mom would prepare a meal the night before & write me a note with cooking instructions.
So, about age 7-8, I was actually cooking dinner.
Baked potatoes & meatloaf were the easiest for me to cook.
I spent a lot of time learning to shop for groceries and picking out the best produce from my Mom also.
Mom turned 83 this year & she’s still going strong.
Today, I am a somewhat accomplished cook thanks to my Mom & her patience in teaching me something she enjoyed.
Part of her will live on thru my & my kids because I kept the family traditions going all these years.
If you are lucky enough to still have your Mom, listen to her & get all the family recipes while you still can. Thankfully, I got her prized recipe box while she is still here to see me enjoy making the old family recipes today.
Hello Herb, thank you so much for sharing your story of your mom with us. Our mothers are our treasures, aren’t they?
Loved the picture of your mom! My mom taught me a few things about cooking, but mostly let me learn on my own, as she had. #1. If something is salty, add a wee bit of sugar; if something is sweet, add a wee bit of salt. #2. If you can’t think of what to cook for dinner, just start sauteing some onions. The aroma will soon inspire you.
My dad basically taught my mom to cook so this list for me would be mostly “cooking advice from dad” but similar :)
I’d add, start teaching your kids young. From PB&J or other sandwiches to pasta and things on the stove to the oven…. I couldn’t believe how many of my friends in college didn’t know how to cook anything besides frozen foods.
Absolutely Anna! I think my mom would agree. She started to teach us all when we were young. My dinner job in our family from the time I was 5 was to make the salsa.
What a nice tribute to your mom. My mom basically only cooked things that my dad liked so it wasn’t until I met my boyfriend (now husband) that I even ate/cooked broccoli! One piece of advice I give to everyone now, which isn’t really a cooking tip, but will save much clean-up is if you are pouring something into a cup or container, do it over the sink. This is especially helpful if pouring oil or honey or even confectioners sugar. It’s so easy to clean up a messy sink!
Great advice, thank you Laura!
Your mother and my mother must have learned to cook the same way. The only other advice my mother gave me is make sure that your plate is full of color, don’t just cook all white or brown foods, make sure there are green, red, orange and any other color, your meals will be better balanced. We also had a protein, a carb, a veggie, and salad every night, it was a great way to grow up with everyone around the dinner table. Thanks for the memories and you and your mother are beautiful.
What a lovely post for Mother’s Day! Thank you so much. I was especially delighted to see the photos of your mom in the “new” kitchen. You both look great, and I was very glad to hear your dad is doing well, too. I love that you live down the street from your parents and see them often.
What a lovely tribute to your mom! Made my day!
What a lovely post! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful advice.
I am grateful to my Mom for encouraging my interest in cooking from an early age. When I was about nine I wanted to try to make msple sugar from the recipe in “Dickon Among the Lenapes.” Turned out fine on the first attempt. Second time I took my eyes off the stove at the crucial minute and the pan boiled over. Hard, caramelized maple syrup EVERYWHERE, it took an hour to get the stove clean, and she didn’t get angry, just grinned and said, “That’s how you learn.” She also taught me hiw to cook fresh vegetables, which I never appreciated until a high school friend started hanging around. Her mother was a dreadful cook, and she’d never eaten a vegetable that wasn’t bolied to mush, so when she wasn’t home she wouldn’t eat them at all. Mom used her method for small children, “one bite, no problem if you don’t like it, just spit it into your napkin.” Pretty soon Jane was eating really exotic things like Caesar salad and Swiss chard and eggplant!
This was such a thoughtful post! I loved seeing you and your mom together and I especially appreciated that your mom keeps giving advice until you learn what she knows! (reminds me of my daughter and me) My stepmom believed in sauteing onions for nearly every main course dish. If nothing else, it smelled good in the house while it was being prepared. My stepmom also taught me to cook some basic meals so when I got home from school, I had supper started before she got home from work. I wish more moms taught their children to cook simple meals.
I loved the arty advice and pinned it! Thanks for sharing it with us.
Hi Elise…what a lovely post and tribute to your Mom. It’s obvious you’re very close to both of your parents. How blessed you are to have that kind of relationship. My Mom always worked and at a very young age I started cooking. My parents were divorced when I was only 9, so I almost always had dinner started when she got home from work. We lived in the midwest and always had a garden in the summer, so we not only had fresh vegetables, but I remember helping her and my Nana canning and storing for the (very) long winters. We made everything from scratch, even if it was mac and cheese. I have had a lifelong love of food and cooking and still love to cook, try new recipes, and entertain. I’m the same age as your Mom, 73. A favorite story of one dinner Mom made involves a pressure cooker. She was making split pea soup…I’m sure you know what’s coming! Obviously, that is not something to cook under pressure. It clogged the pressure toggle and the lid blew off. We had split peas on the ceiling, the walls, the floor…you name it. I swear we were still finding peas a month later:-) My sister and I still laugh about it.
Hope you and your Mom share many more memories and Mother’s Days together.
My mom was a source of all kinds of good sense. She was an architect and worked long days, sometimes getting home just barely before my father did. She had lots of tricks for getting dinner on the table fast, including nearly daily use of the pressure cooker.
My favorite tip from her, though, was even if you’re not sure what you’re going to cook yet, even if you have to defrost something and you haven’t figured out what it’s going to be, chop up some onions and throw them into a saute pan with a little oil. The house will smell good while you’re getting things ready, it will seem like you’re further along in the process than you really are, and you’re probably going to need of some onions in your dinner plans anyway! I’ve used that advice many times!
You’re so lucky to have both your parents in your life. Your joy and pleasure in your parents’ presence in your life is obvious, and well deserved!
Hello Marion, what great advice! It is true, isn’t it, that so many dinners start out with sautéing some chopped onion. I am truly blessed to have both of my parents still here and healthy. While I lived with them for 7 years now I live just a few houses down the street so I still see them almost every day. For this I’m grateful beyond words.
God Bless You and Your Dear Mama. What a great Mother’s Day gift to know your MaMa’s
I just returned from a Mother’s Day brunch with my mom at her lovely retirement community. She doesn’t cook much anymore but she was a very good cook and always cooked with seasonal ingredients. I was so lucky to have a mom and a grandmother who not only welcomed me in their kitchens but taught and encouraged me. In their later years, as things go, I became the family cook and it was/is a pleasure.
You’re mom is adorable! Her tips remind me of my granny – I can’t tell you what an inspiration in life and in cooking my granny has been to me.
Keep the wonderful posts coming my dear!
Your mom is gorgeous (and the photos of her and your dad just make me smile and give me hope that my marriage will remain happy and satisfying throughout my life).
The tips are so simple and logical but a great reminder every day! Thanks.
Wonderful pictures and great story. How sweet of you to feature your Mom. I am sure she is very proud of you too!
What a wonderful post – and what a wonderful mom! My mom would have been about the same age now, had she been alive. She said many of the same things as your mom – like the sugar in tomatoes thing & everything in moderation. Being a working mom, she also always said that nobody should be embarrassed about taking a shortcut now and then, but to make sure you make it your own. Her favourite was to use gravy granules, but to sautee some onions and garlic to add to the gravy along with a splash of sherry. I really miss her & hope you treasure your time with your mom.
Very nice list. My only comment is regarding the concept of salt. “Don’t be afraid of salt” is not a good policy when cooking. Excess salt contributes to much of America’s obesity and heart disease, and everyone (no matter how healthy) will benefit from a lower-salt diet.
Sorry if it appears I’m raining on your parade. This list was otherwise helpful and very interesting!
You can avoid excess salt by avoiding packaged foods. Salt is actually necessary for the body to function. My next door neighbor was hospitalized last year because she was so good at avoiding salt in her diet she overdid it. I’m not kidding. See the Wikipedia on salt or ask your doctor. Salt is necessary for health. The skill is navigating the area between “excess” and “not enough”. ~Elise
Funny thing is, I hardly ever taste the food while I am cooking. It somehow always turns out fine….
I do, however, do the same thing your mom does. One might call it old school cooking. I am not impressed by the ready made stuff in the supermarkets.