I’ll bet you thought from the title of this that this would be a post full of all the yummy things my Mom created in the kitchen during my childhood.
My mother wasn’t a very good cook. In her defense, her mother, my grandmother Jenny, wasn’t much better, so she really had no one to learn from. If you talk to my siblings, you’ll hear lots of funny and not-so-funny-at-the-time-but-funny-now stories about my mother’s cooking.
There was the time my mother cooked the Thanksgiving turkey in a paper bag. It was, apparently, the “thing” to do that year. I’ve heard other people my age say their mother did that one time as well. It must have been a recipe that appeared in the local newspaper paper for all of them to try it the same year. Mom got a lot of her recipes from the newspaper. But I don’t think their turkey burned to a crisp because the paper bag burst into flames like ours did.
I was convinced I didn’t like vegetables until I ate over my friend, Lydia Zborowksi’s, house. Her parents wouldn’t let you leave unless you ate everything on your plate. They had a huge garden. Everything tasted so fresh and delicious. Veggies were crispy? Who knew? As an adult, my husband brought home some asparagus to cook on the grill. I said I hated asparagus. My mother served us canned asparagus which was limp and mushy. It was gross. But asparagus on the grill? Hello, I love you.
Sundays at the Horner home meant a big meal like pot roast at 1pm. We would go to church and when we came home, Mom would immediately start getting Sunday dinner ready. My mother’s recipe? Cook it until the veggies were mushy and the meat well done. Really well done. Like extra, really well done.
There were 5 of us kids and I know money was always tight. So, maybe we didn’t get fresh veggies very often, but Mom always gave us a balanced meal of meat, veggies and a starch like potatoes. By the time I was 5, Mom had to work part-time. So cooking had to be quick and easy.
I remember a favorite of mine was Baked Beans and Brown Bread. Have you ever had bread in a can? Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. I’m not sure they even sell it anymore. But with hot butter melted over it…omg. Seriously delicious.
Who remembers Underwood Deviled ham ? The thought of it today makes my tummy woozy. But back in the day, Deviled Ham on Wonder white bread was the bomb. In fact, ANYTHING on Wonder bread was the bomb.
For Easter, though, I remember helping Mom with the toothpicks as she graced our ham with canned pineapple rings and a cherry in the middle. It was incredible! This one was a keeper!
Mom knew she wasn’t a good cook. The fact is, she really didn’t enjoy the process of cooking, so she really wasn’t motivated to improve. But Mom tried. And we always had a hot dinner on the table at 6pm every night. When I look back, we really didn’t seem to mind her bad cooking. We were all together eating a meal. Spending time together as a family. We enjoyed teasing her about it when we were all adults about her cooking from our childhood. But in an age today where family dinners are getting scarcer and scarcer, my memories of bad food at the family table are somehow sweet memories.