"The only real stumbling block is the fear of failure. In cooking, you have got to have a what-the-hell attitude." ~ Julia Child

Memories of Mom’s Kitchen

by Julie on May 8, 2011

in Chew on This

Wonderbread sample bag from the '70s

it grew my strong body in eight ways...

The Salisbury steak. That was my favorite TV dinner entree. Something about its oval shape and pleasing Naugahyde color. Easy to cut, sometimes not entirely warmed through, but I didn’t care. It was chewy and salty and tasted good in my hungry 8-year-old mouth. Nice brown sauce, too.

I ignored the little orange and green cubes that passed for vegetables. I’d eat the middle of the mashed potatoes, leaving the hardened bits around that had cooked into the tin perimeter. I always left the brownie square for last. I’d chip off the burnt parts of that with my butter knife.

I don’t remember my mom ever standing over the stove. I remember her high heels and power suits as she clacked in the door after work. I remember her making minute rice over which to slop the crock pot chicken every night.  And I remember her pouring herself a large glass of Gallo wine. Every night.

Although our kitchen was the hub of our household, where all the discussions and arguments and family meetings took place, not much actual cooking happened. My Mom fed us, but standing behind the stove was not where her interests lay. I think of my childhood kitchen and I think fondly of the middle drawer underneath the counter microwave, where she hoped to hide the Hostess products from us. I remember the cabinet over the oven where the breakfast cereal was kept: the Froot Loops, Cap’n Crunch, Rice Krispies, and my personal favorite, Sugar Pops. There was never enough of that to go around.

But while Mom wasn’t known for her cooking, she was known for most everything else. She got up every morning and made it happen for us. She was smart, strong-willed, dynamic and kind.  Every year she was chosen for jury duty and every year they’d make her the foreman. That’s the kind of confidence my mom inspired in everyone.

OK, and she could make a pretty killer poached egg.

My mom could kick your mom’s butt, but she wouldn’t have to. Your mom would adore my mom. Everyone did.

Everyone does. But no one more than me, her first-born daughter.

You had your Gallo. I have my Two-Buck Chuck. And I raise my glass to you, Mother. I love you. Now more than ever.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Lukelele May 8, 2011 at 9:05 pm

This made me feel warm inside. Thank you, BHC.


Kate T May 9, 2011 at 6:44 pm

I love this so much Julie, because my mom couldn’t cook for ^&*&^&% either — but that was because she spent all that time reading to me — books like “The King Must Die” and “Things Fall Apart.” So I have fond memories of top ramen and Branola bread! Now, I shall try to poach an egg! Love, Kate


Laura Zinn Fromm May 10, 2011 at 3:53 am

I loved this, Julie. Your Mom sounds fantastic. My mother was/is a great cook, but I lived for the occasional TV dinners she let us have on Saturday nights. There must have been MSG in them because I remember really craving them. You write so movingly about your Mom. Happy M Day.


Linda McGivern May 10, 2011 at 5:28 am

Wow. Aunt Tish had a “hidden” Hostess drawer too. I thought that was unique to our house.

I have managed to vanquish all of the bad eating habits of the 70s Irish upbringing save one: sugar. No matter how I try to convince my body otherwise, when I see Snowball or a Kit Kat or a box of Lucky Charms or godhelpme, the straight-up stuff itself, like Lick-m-Aid, I am powerless against a tidal wave of gustatory desire. New research is showing this is the habit that will kill you! As you might note: sigh.


Karl Valentine-Rothenberg May 10, 2011 at 7:02 am

My favorite was the Veal Parmesan.
Honor to mom…


Dawn B May 10, 2011 at 7:11 am

Tish rocks!! Happy Mothers Day to you both.


Tish Sublette May 10, 2011 at 1:59 pm

Guys! I never knew you cared!!!


Deana Busch May 11, 2011 at 6:59 am

Great article “Big” Julie! I do remember going to your house for dinner. Although I don’t remember our Mom’s actually cooking anything together I do remember the Gallo and a lot of it. My Mom was actually a really good cook. None of her skills were passed on to me. I’m awful!!

Kisses to you and Aunt Tish!!


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