Thursday, February 3, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal History & Genealogy, Week 5: Favorite Food

What was your favorite food from childhood? If it was homemade, who made it? What was in this dish, and why was it your favorite? What is your favorite dish now?

When I was growing up, the only time we ate out was when we were on vacation.  My mother worked full-time and came home EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and cooked dinner.  So naturally, she had to use some shortcuts in her cooking, but since that is what I grew up with, that is what I know and love.  For instance, Mom didn't make spaghetti sauce from scratch... she used Ragu spaghetti sauce in a jar probably from the time it was invented!  I still use it to this day, and homemade spaghetti sauce is just not as good to me.  My mother is a good cook.  She doesn't cook much anymore, but when she does, "she's still got it!"  Some of my favorites from childhood?

* Chicken and dumplings.  The ultimate comfort food to me.  Mom didn't roll out her own dumplings; she used Mueller's pre-packaged dumplings, which were very similar to regular egg noodles - just wider.  To this day, I do not care for homemade dumplings... too "dough-y" to me.  I love Mom's chicken and dumplings.  I can remember being an adult and having my wisdom teeth out and my mom coming over and cooking a pot of chicken & dumplings for me.  I was in my 30's before I ever attempted to cook them myself.  They still are not as good as Mom's, but they will do when I need some comfort food.

* Fried chicken.  Yum.  Nothing I need to say about this - you know what I'm talking about!

* Sausage balls.  Mom started making these for Christmas sometime when I was a teenager, I think.  They are still a favorite, and she just made me some this past Christmas!

* Banana pudding.  Still my favorite dessert. 

There is no discussion about food in my family without mentioning our lifelong friend, Colene.  I have eaten some of the best meals of my life at her table in South Carolina.  She makes some of the best cornbread in the world.

We can thank my father for my love of McDonald's.  Sometimes, while Mom was at work, he'd take to lunch there.  I think I cut some teeth there!  He loved to tell the story of how, when I was little, I would sidle up to him in the cab of the pickup truck and say "My froat (throat) is thirsty" meaning I wanted to get something to drink at McDonald's.  I can remember it being a rite of passage when I graduated from eating a little hamburger to a Quarter Pounder!  

What are my favorites now?  Well, I still love all of the above, of course.  I still have not attempted fried chicken or sausage balls, and I just made my first banana pudding (under Mom's watchful eye) this past Thanksgiving.  I know, I know.  My only excuse is that I do not want to be disappointed when they are not as good as hers, because I know they won't be. 

And anyone who knows my mother is screaming at their computer screen right now while reading this because I have not mentioned her CORNBREAD.  My mother's cornbread is every bit as good as Colene's - it's just different.  My mother makes magic out of corn meal, self-rising flour, and water.  That's it.  Oh, and a cast iron skillet.  People ask her for the recipe... there isn't one.  It's so simple and yet so complicated at the same time.  I don't think I appreciated her cornbread when I was growing up, but it is definitely a favorite now.  I have cooked it... and as expected, mine is not as good.  Alas, I don't have a cast iron skillet and can't use one on my smooth top stove.  

I have also loved fried turkey since it was "invented."  It is now our only way to prepare a turkey for the holidays.  My husband is the best turkey fryer I know.  He has to slap my hand away as he's carving!   Mmmm, just look at that golden bird!

I don't cook much at all.  I don't enjoy it.  So my favorites tend to be from restaurants, like Mexican food, hot wings, or McDonald's french fries. I would run over small children and old ladies to get to a bag of potato chips.  For that matter, I have never met a potato I didn't like. 

Disclaimers:  (1) I actually can cook and am a pretty good cook, but don't tell anyone cause then people would expect me to do it! and
(2) All those wonderful foods I mentioned are now casualties of getting older and must be taken in moderation.

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