Tuesday, February 22, 2011

YOUR mom's kitchen.

This blog has been going through somewhat of a spiritual challenge. Let's just say that when you re-root your life and reassess your priorities (people and otherwise) it leaves your head spinning. Sparing you the details, I haven't had a single thing over 140 characters that I've felt like sharing for some time. I have a wonderful significant other, a new place to live, more job prospects and some contract work with a dot com. That is where my personal life has landed.

In a valiant attempt to pay back my significant other for a sliver of what he's done for me lately, I've been cooking almost constantly.  This isn't necessarily a bad thing for me... but cooking for myself and cooking for another person are totally different things.  I can eat a bunch of kale sauteed in olive oil with garlic and red pepper flakes with a side of whatever happened to be at the farmer's market that morning without much of a fight. Unfortunately, not everyone likes their veggies as much as I do.  So, I've been cooking a lot of my mom's old recipes.  Six or Seven months later... I'm out of ideas.  I mean, there's always TV and Magazines, but my job search has rendered me incapable of finding the time to lounge around in my favorite schools of food.

So, I'm proposing a trade.  Below are 2 of my mom's best recipes, steeped in Midwestern values and probably pulled from a Good Housekeeping by my grandmother in the 50's.  Yes, they're a bit vague, but to a good cook, "Just Enough" is just specific enough.  You know what you like. What I'd like in return are your recipes. What do you make on a regular basis? What is the best thing your mom can make? Only have a half idea of how it's made, but know what's in it? I'll take that, too.

Chicken Egg Rolls 

1/4 lb chicken, cut into strips
½ cup chopped mushrooms 
2 ½ cup bean sprouts (can or fresh. I use fresh, my mom uses canned.)
½ cup chopped bamboo shoots
2 cups spinach, cut into 1 inch lengths
1 scallion or green onion, chopped fine
 2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Sherry
½ teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

2 packages of egg roll wrappers
Peanut or Safflower oil for frying

Heat oil in a wok or deep fryer. I just do it in a wok.  I honestly don't know how hot... test the head with a bit of a egg roll wrap. If it doesn't bubble, it's too cold, if it turns brown immediately it's too hot.

In a separate wok or pan, fry chicken in a bit of the peanut oil.  Move the chicken to the edge, and the remaining ingredients (except wrappers) to the center. Fry for about 2 minutes, or until fully cooked.

Drain this mixture really well.

Roll the mixture in the egg roll wrappers and fry until golden brown.

For sauce:
1 cup plum/apricot jelly
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp vinegar

My Mom's Stuffing
(This recipe is a partial transcription of my mom's verbal instructions given over the phone, Thanksgiving 2007)

2 lbs hamburger
1 pk Sage and Onion Croutons (Brownberry if you can find it)
A whole thing of celery
4 onions
2 sticks of butter
2 eggs
Whole Milk
Brown the hamburger.  Drain it if it's oogy.  Sautee the onions and celery until soft in stick of butter.  Add another stick if needed. Put stuffing stuff (just the Croutons) in a big metal bowl and wet with milk. You want it to be pretty gunky (very, very moist).  Put the hot stuff in the bowl and mix it all together. Beat a couple of eggs, put them in there. (If it's the night before Thanksgiving, make yourself a Bloody Mary and eat half the stuffing raw).  Make sure the stuffing is super wet... it will dry out in the oven.  Salt & Pepper to taste.

Bake about an hour at 350.  Cover for first 45 minutes.


  1. Don't get me wrong, my mom is a good cook... but I make a Mean Manicotti. :)

    Victoria's Stuffed Manicotti

    1 brick of Feta
    1 lb of Mozzerella (shredded)
    2 cloves of minced garlic
    4 green onions or a small white onion
    1 lb hamburger (browned)
    12 Manicotti Noodles
    Fresh Basil and Oregano
    2 eggs
    6-8 cups of sauce (homemade or store bought)

    Cook the noodles to Al Dente. You don't want them to get too soft but not soft enough, and they will split while you are stuffing them.

    Put cheese, herbs, garlic, green onions, and eggs into a large mixing bowl. Remove any rings from your fingers. Using your hands, moosh everything together, until you can easily shape the cheese mixture together into a turd-like shape. (I don't recommend putting the white onion in with the cheese. If you're going to use a white onion, dice it, and cook it with the meat.) Spinach would also be a delish addition to the cheese mixture.

    Spread a little bit of your sauce into a 9x13 baking pan (so the noodles don't stick). Stuff the cheese "turds" into the noodles. Hold onto the noodle, like you would a microphone, around the edges so they don't split while stuffing.
    I usually can fit 8 noodles across and two the long way, and then I eat the extra noodles. Hooray for carbs! Sprinkle meat over noodles. Cover with remaining sauce. Bury in remaining cheese. Bake at 350 for about 45-60 min, or until cheese is all ooey gooey and toasted.
    Makes enough to feed 2 people for 4 days. (I can't tell you how it freezes, it never survives).

    If you are ambitious enough to make your own sauce, just quarter a bunch of large tomatoes and sautee them into mush. Add a little olive oil for the heck of it. Toss in some herbs and spices. Let simmer for about 30-60 min.

  2. "Moosh." It's a technical term. <3

  3. Sweet Sour Chicken

    In a small saucepan, combine 1 T cornstarch and 1 T cold water. Add 1/2 cup cugar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4cup vinegar, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 t corsely ground pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat till mixture thickens and bubbles.

    Brush one ready to cook broiler-bryer chicken, split in halves lengthwise, with glaze. Can also use cut-up chickens or chicken breasts. Place skin side down in greased shallow baking pan.

    Bake in hot oven (425-degrees) for 30-minutes. Brush with glaze every 10-minutes. Turn chicken skin side up. Bake 30 minutes, brushing occasionally with glaze. Drain 1-lb vsn pinrspple spears, chunks or slices; add pineapple during the last 10-minutes of baking. Serves 2.

  4. 3 T flour
    1/2 t salt
    1/4 t pepper
    4 skinless boness chicken breasts halves
    2 T olive oil
    1 medium onion
    1 T margarine
    1 cup chicken broth
    1/2 t thyme
    Lemon wedges (optional)
    1 T chopped parsley (optional)

    In a plastic or paper bag, combine flower, salt and pepper and shake to mix. Add the chicken and shake to coat lightly. Remove the chicken and reserve the excess seasoned flour.

    In a large skillet, warm 1 T of the oil over medium heat. Add the chcken and brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 T oil, turn the chicken and brown well on the second side, about 5 minutes longer. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.

    Coursely chop the onion. Add the margarine to the skillet. When the margarine melts, add the onion and cook, stirring, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes.
    Stir in the reserved seasoned flour and cook, stirring, until the flour is completely incorporated, about 1 minute.

    Add the broth, 2 T of the lemon juice and the thyme and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring constantly.

    Return the chicken to the skillet, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover the skillet. Cook until the chicken is tender and opaque throughout, about 5 minutes.

    Plate the chicken. Stir the remaining 1 T lemon juice into the sauce in the skillet and pour over the chicken. Serve the chicken with lemon wedges and a sprinkling of parsley if desired.

    Serve with steamed or roasted broccoli and if desired, buttered pasta.

  5. This recipe sounds delicious. Thanks for sharing!