My mom is a skilled cook, coaxing excellent flavors out of inexpensive cuts of meat and canned veggies. While I can’t say that she loved to cook in the way that I do, I too would have wearied of making 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year—for more than 70 years.
I think cooking was simply something you had to do, not something that provided pleasure or was an outlet for creativity. She was also cooking during the heyday of the convenience food revolution, so Velveeta, Tang, Spam, Chef Boyardee pizza mix, La Choy chow mein, and Hamburger Helper were often in the rotation in our house.
Where mom really shown in the kitchen was when she made dessert, always from scratch. Brown bananas turned into luscious banana cupcakes topped with chocolate frosting, inspiring these banana-chocolate-chunk muffins. Christmas wasn’t Christmas without German anise cookies. Easter had to feature a bunny cake.
It was her pies that were truly outstanding, and teaching me how to make pie crust is a gift I will always appreciate. I didn’t know that people were intimidated by pie crust, or that pie crust was considered difficult, because I started making pies with mom when I was 11. It was a simple crust recipe out of the Betty Crocker Cookbook… vegetable oil, milk, and flour. Stir with a fork, “it should be streaky,” then roll out between sheets of waxed paper.
I have made countless pies over the years, impressing the heck out of people who think that pie crust is beyond their ability. I have almost never tasted pie crust that I like, because I have always compared it to mom’s. And I was easily able to adapt her pie crust recipe to be gluten-free, and continue to make pies a few times a year. When I do, stirring the oil and milk into the flour, I am transported back to her kitchen and we are rolling out the dough together. No matter that I now use soy milk and gluten-free flour, the memory is the same.
My favorite was her cherry pie. One Thanksgiving in Connecticut we all sat down to dessert, stomachs bulging from an immense turkey dinner. Everyone took a big bite of her cherry pie, and instantly we all puckered up, shocked to discover that Mom had somehow forgotten to add the sugar. Not wanting to let a great pie go to waste, we grabbed the sugar bowl, carefully peeled back the top crust, sprinkled liberally, and happily ate our pie.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom!
Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients, Tuesday reviews, Wednesday essays, Thursday how-to’s, and Friday giveaways (when available).