Cooking with Ma

A while back, Ma posted about how to cook my Grandmother Mammy’s Chicken Fried Steak but what was fun about the whole thing was while she cooked she told me what she was doing as she cooked and why she was doing it. It was like a cooking class, she taught and I asked questions.

During Christmas break the children and I drove down to Smith Mountain Lake to my parents house to spend a few days with them. I always like going “home” because my mother pampers me. I know I am a mom but I really like being a daughter. Even though my kids are there my Ma makes sure that she mothers me too. I love her big meals. I know I cook too but there is something about Ma cooking for me.

See that KitchenAid mixer up there? While we cooked we did some math to figure out how old that mixer is. It is 28 years old and still going strong. It has some dings and nicks but it has worked well for her. Below is a tip I learned from her on this last trip. You don’t need another gadget to keep the food from spattering, she simply covers her mixer with plastic wrap when mixing anything messy, in this case mashed potatoes or whipped potatoes I should say. I have used a towel but it is not as efficient as the plastic wrap. Isn’t it nice to watch other people cook?


My mom also shared stories about Mammy (her mother-in-law) and her cooking and I was glad to know that she and my own mother had a good relationship. One funny story is that Mammy was a Texan and every time she visited my Ma (who is Italian), Ma would make Mammy Italian food and it wasn’t until many years later that Mammy finally admitted to my Ma that she did not care for it! While we cooked Ma pulled out this old pot to boil the potatoes. “This was Mammy’s pot.” she said. I think it is very special that some of Mammy’s cookware made it into my mother’s own kitchen.

TIPS I LEARNED WHILE COOKING WITH MA

1. When you dredge meat in flour, use that flour to make the gravy then throw the flour away.

2. When mixing something messy in the KitchenAid cover and seal the entire bowl with plastic wrap, no gadget to wash!

3. If you are having difficulty getting everything on the table hot at the same time, then turn your oven on low and place hot covered food in there to keep warm. I knew this one but it is so good to be reminded of the obvious!

4. Mammy’s fried chicken, pork chops, and chicken fried steak was always so tasty because she was never afraid to “season the heck” out of the flour. The flour should taste seasoned!

5. Mammy made sure to have one vegetable on the table that each child liked. That meant 6 different veggies for them! Does ice cream count?

6. Ma also told me that Mammy’s green salads were so simple. Lettuce, tomato if she had it, cucumber, and carrots. But the neat thing was that she chopped everything up very small. I thought about this and figured it is probably easier for little ones to eat it that way too. We asked my dad what Mammy served as dressing and he said, “salt and pepper!” Umm, no, pass the Ranch please!

Do you have cookware, cookbooks, or gadgets in your kitchen passed down to you from a loved one? Or special tips from mom, grandma, or an auntie?

25 Comments

  1. noble pig
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 12:40 PM | Permalink

    Six different veggies? That woman will have a special place in heaven for that. Unlike like me who says eat it or there will be trouble. LOL!

  2. tamilyn
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 1:01 PM | Permalink

    I have to admit that I do fix a couple different veggies but there are only two kids here. I have several hand written recipes from my Grandma Isabelle, along with a cookbook from her kitchen and two Pyrex bowl. I also have one towel left that she made me when I got married. I think I originally got 6 or 8 flour sack towels that she whip stitched the edges. I used the heck out of them and I only have one left. I put one away for each of my kids for when they move out-a piece of family history, I guess.

  3. Laura
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 2:31 PM | Permalink

    My favorite paste pot (for small amounts) is a copper bottom revereware from my paternal grandmother.

    Anyhoo, your post made me think about the fact that my mom “upgraded” to the KA Pro 6 qt mixer and gave hers to my brother. We have since realized that the KA mixers have gone down in quality (although mine runs just fine) and I think she wishes she had kept it. She has had issues with the new one–her old one, similarly aged to your ma’s, is still going strong for my brother.

  4. Laura
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 2:33 PM | Permalink

    Make that pastA pot!

  5. Lori
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 2:51 PM | Permalink

    Mammy, love that! Bravo for her making six veggies.
    Got to love cooking with Mom. My Mother comes over every Sunday for dinner. She always tells me how to cook. As if. Hey, shes Mom, I guess that is her license.

  6. biz319
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 3:42 PM | Permalink

    Shut up! My aunt and Uncle have a house on Smith Mountain Lake in Roanoake that we go to every year! What a coincidence!

    Their house was actually once upon a time the sheriff’s house and they have a small cottage off to the side that used to be a jail cell!

    And I have that SAME exact mixer – my mom gave me hers (or actually I asked her for it) when I knew she only used it like once a year.

  7. Dawn
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 4:23 PM | Permalink

    six veggies huh? wow, patient woman indeed.
    I had no real family growing up, so no pots and pans to pass down. but I do love my ever-growing collection of la crueset. I would be lost without it.
    Never thought to cover the mixer part in plastic wrap, might have to try that.

  8. Sheila
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 5:31 PM | Permalink

    As soon as I saw the picture of the pot with the lid, I thought, “My mom had one of those in our kitchen!”

    Last Christmas (no this is not a George Michael impression) my sister surprised me with a tupperware container of cookies. What was so special is that I immediately began to tear up; the container was my Mom’s that she kept sugar in. I use it now for my cookie cutters.

  9. Peter M
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 5:38 PM | Permalink

    R-Sue, I’ve had the best cooking tips (and arguments) with my mom…too many to list! lol

  10. unconfidentialcook
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 6:12 PM | Permalink

    I don’t…but I love that extra long spatula Paula has from her grandma.

  11. Elyse
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 7:01 PM | Permalink

    Cooking with your mom is one of the best treats ever! My mom is coming out to visit me this coming weekend, and I can’t wait for her to pamper me and get in my kitchen to make me some of her specialties. Food from mom tastes so much better!

  12. Maria
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 7:40 PM | Permalink

    Great post. I love cooking/baking with my dad. I have his favorite mixing spoon! It doesn’t look that special, but it is to me!

  13. Lucy
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 7:56 PM | Permalink

    When I asked my Auntie to show me how to make our family Easter Ricotta Pie, OMG! the procedures were very involved and I follow through for years!!! Then it dawned on me that those steps weren't really necessary, I didn't have the heart to tell her that I had the same results changing it up & making it easier 😉

    I have some wonderful pasta making tools from my Mom that she brought over from Italy that I treasure.

    I'll have to try that plastic wrap trick!!

  14. Netts Nook
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 8:04 PM | Permalink

    How sweet I love to cook with my Mom. ……..

  15. Girl Fisher
    Posted March 2, 2009 at 10:15 PM | Permalink

    I have a few pieces of kitchen equipment that belonged to my favorite aunt, a fabulous cook! I didn’t start cooking until after she passed away. My mom had a lot of her stuff and she gave me a few pieces. Our family has a lot of her recipes so those go on!

  16. Kristen
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 1:07 AM | Permalink

    I love chicken fried steak and haven’t made it in ages. Now I’m so hungry for it!
    Salt and pepper for dressing – very healthy, but I’m with you. Give me the sauce 🙂
    Great post with some really fantastic tips.

  17. Theresa
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 8:04 AM | Permalink

    Six veggies at a time. What a Ma!!

  18. pigpigscorner
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 8:13 AM | Permalink

    Great tips from you ma! but 6 different veggies?! O.O

  19. Grace
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 12:46 PM | Permalink

    hooray for smith mountain lake and spending time with loved ones in the kitchen. charming post, robin sue!

  20. Karen
    Posted March 3, 2009 at 1:05 PM | Permalink

    What a nice post and how lucky you and your mom are to have each other 🙂

  21. Gigi
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 1:06 AM | Permalink

    I have a mixing bowl and pastry cutter that belonged to my great grandmother! I don’t use them, but they have a special place in my china hutch.

    I’ll definitely be using plastic wrap the next time I make something messy in my mixer. And to think I was just about to buy another gadget! Thanks for the tip.

  22. cb2manor
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 1:35 AM | Permalink

    I have a biscuit cutter (with the green wooden handle), copper-colored (real light though) measuring cups (that we used to bang like drums), and a wooden-handled potato masher that all belonged to my grandmother. She had the best fried chicken..unfortunately I haven’t mastered that yet!

  23. Marysol
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 2:03 PM | Permalink

    What a great way to spend the day, amid a bunch of great cooks!

    Mom is currently living 500 miles away, so we no longer cook together.
    But I still have her wood cutting board, and most of her recipes, all hand-written.
    And I’m hanging on to them, like a 3 year old with her blankie.

  24. Joie de vivre
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 5:59 PM | Permalink

    Aww…that makes me smile. We have tons of little gadgets passed down to my husband from his grandmothers. And dutch ovens, and a cast iron skillet!

  25. Sara
    Posted March 4, 2009 at 7:25 PM | Permalink

    When I got married, my mother in law made me a little cookbook of family recipes. It was a great way to get to know the food traditions of the family, and it makes my husband happy when I cook from it.

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