My mom is an amazing chef, raised by my grandmother, yet another amazing cook. It goes back like that for about a bajillion generations. When I hear people talking about how great Paula Deen and her cooking are (don’t get me wrong, they are), I smile to myself and think, “You haven’t been to my mama’s house for dinner.” While I was growing up, my mom cooked a homemade, from scratch dinner every single night. Except when I begged to order pizza (oh, how STUPID I was). Spaghetti, meatloaf, chicken cordon bleu, chicken with firecracker salsa, stirfry, the list goes on and on. In the mornings (yes, even weekday mornings), she would make me pancakes or waffles, again, from scratch. No Bisquick or anything. But Saturday mornings were her “thing.” She would pull out all the stops. She made (I guess it goes without saying now) homemade, from scratch buttermilk biscuits. She has tried to teach me how to make them, but the only information I retain is that they involve buttermilk and flour. However, these two things alone just make a weird, lumpy soup. In addition, she would make cheesy scrambled eggs, grits, hashbrowns, sausage, and bacon. Oh my goodness. Just thinking about that bacon makes me want to renege on my vegetarian vow. She used Jimmy Dean hot sausage and Hormel Black Label bacon. I know, right? I was pretty spoiled. Lemme just tell you that a buttermilk biscuit with a slice of Jimmy Dean hot sausage and a dollop of grape jelly is just about the most perfect thing in the world. (Again, this was before the vegetarianism. Remember the suffering animals, remember the animals…)Whenever she had downtime on the weekends, my mother would make cookies and snack-y foods. Snickerdoodle cookies, sugar cookies, mexican wedding cookies, cheese straws, and her world famous fudge, to name a few. I know people who would sell both their kidneys and right arms for a taste of this fudge. I’m not exaggerating. Not in the least. I would hear, “Tinky! Come here!” and there would be a plate of whatever creation she had whipped up and a glass of milk (Mayfield skim, of course) on the counter. Or she would just deliver them to me wherever I was in the house. When this happened, I would walk to the kitchen behind her anyways because as soon as she had turned her back, I was done with that batch and ready for another.
This past year, whenever I would go home for a weekend, my mom would make eggs benedict (sans Canadian bacon for me). I would like to go swimming in Hollandaise sauce. Please?
My mom and I actually went to Paula Deen’s restaurant years and years ago while on a Girl Scouts trip. It was good, but my mom just shrugged and said, “I grew up eating better than this my whole life.” It also needs to be said that my mother grew up dirt poor. Like, “don’t even try to compare your life to hers” poor. And she still ate and learned to make food better than the $15-per-entree stuff that they serve at the Lady and Sons.
All this is to say that you don’t need to be rich or be like Paula Deen in order to have a wonderful meal. Sometimes the best biscuits or the best spaghetti are right where you left them…at home.
P.S. I love you, Mommy.