My mother has influenced much of my cooking habits, so I thought it would be fun to make a list of all the things she has taught me!
1. It’s better to make way too much food than not enough. If you have to feed two people, you should definitely make enough to feed five. At least. I grew up in a family of five and there were always leftovers. Let that marinate for a minute; leftovers with five people eating. I’ve spent most of my adult life cooking for just myself and always having leftovers. Now that I’m cooking for two, I’ve got to tweak my recipes a bit so that there’s leftovers. This brings me to my next point.
2. Pack your own food for lunch/dinner. I take my lunch/dinner to work nearly every day. It saves me a ton of money and I’m a way better cook than the place I work. 😉 Having leftovers means there is no excuse for not packing your own lunch. My mom made my lunch for school every day until the day I graduated high school. She also made my siblings’ lunch. The napkins that frequented our lunch with “I love you” written in pen make me tear up a little bit these days. I wish my mom still packed my lunch.
3. Don’t accommodate everyone. My brother hated onions. My sister hated mushrooms. Sister also hated the fat in meat was was very meticulous in picking out the visible fat from her proteins. I don’t know that my brother ever ate vegetables, unless they were smothered in Newman’s Own Italian Salad Dressing. Yet, my mom continued to cook with mushrooms and onions and paid no attention whatsoever to what anyone like or disliked. If she was going to make food for us every night, then there would be no complaining about it. If you don’t like something, don’t eat it. Brother became an expert miner of onions out of dishes. The boyfriend eats what I put in front of him. Without complaint.
4. Make big meals for special occasions. Always include in that apple pie/cobbler. Every major occasion in our household was celebrated with food. While I don’t think my family is unique in that sense, it was different in the fact that nearly everything was from scratch. Except pie crust. My mom is not one for pastries. Thanksgiving: all the fixings and apple pie. Christmas: coffee cake in the morning, enchiladas and apple pie at night. These are the best enchiladas. Ever. My birthday: arroz chico and apple pie. Sister’s birthday: salmon and pesto pasta and apple pie. Brother’s birthday: meat and potatoes and apple pie. Dad’s birthday: arroz con pollo and apple pie. Her birthday: I would try and cook and always make an apple pie. We really don’t care for pie that much…on a related side note, there will be apple pie at my wedding. I don’t care about cake; all I want is pie!
5. Make time for sit down dinners. Our family always gathered around the dinner table at the end of the day for dinner. Every night. It wasn’t optional for us to not show up at dinner. You would be there. Dad was home from work by then, school was done and it was a very peaceful time. Silverware clinking on plates, quiet swallows of milk or wine. Usually, I was talking a mile a minute. I love to talk, especially in that setting. We’ve got a pretty small family here, me, the boyfriend and the cat, but I try to make time for eating. It’s a ritual that stays very deep inside me. To this day, I hate eating by myself for that very reason. It just seems so lonely without other people to talk to.