The other night at one of my dinner groups the question was posed to us, “What is your simplest pleasure?” It only took me a moment to realize what gives me the greatest pleasure in life is to spend time with my family, especially my mother. Many people may claim their mother as their best friend, but I truly regard mine as my closest of confidants, the keeper of my fears and my dreams. She is the reason I watch the clock every morning with anticipation until the hands reach 9am. (I am not allowed to call and wake her before then, and trust me you do not want to call before then!), I can’t wait to talk to her every morning, even if I have absolutely nothing to say.
As an adult I now see just how much of a positive and profound influence my mother had on my life. She was always the one to stand up for my sisters or me, even if it was to the principle of our school. She would be the one organizing PTA groups, sitting on some board or committee, sewing all three of us matching Christmas outfits and further educating herself by taking either jewelry-making or art classes while making us delicious home-cooked meals and maintaining (with a lot help from my Father) a gorgeous garden. Did I mention she did this all while looking fabulous…and well rested?
But as I sit back and remember all of the crazy memories of us as a family what stands out the most about my beloved mother is her smile. When I was younger I knew my family was going through some difficult times, but my mother never let on to any of us what was really going on in her or my father’s life. All I remember is her smiling, laughing and entertaining friends and family.
It was from my mother that I first learned how to cook. She not only personally taught me, she also thought it was important to expose me to all sorts of cultural education classes, including ones such as sewing, art and cake decorating! Needless to say, I have since decided it is also important to have my own daughter take such instruction. How many seven year olds do you know who can make spanakopita?
I thought it would be nice to share with you a couple of my favorite momma recipes. But as I started to go through the volumes of loose recipes that I have, I realized that I have so many recipes from my mother. She loves to try new recipes and if they pass her “test kitchen” then she will make a copy for my sisters and me with the changes she has made and her personal comments. The ones I chose are some of the ones she is best known for. They are very simple recipes which more than likely resulted from my mother’s busy days and desire to still put a delicious meal on the table. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do and I wish all of you a Happy Mother’s Day, especially you, Momma. Love, Elizabeth
8 chicken breasts
1 can stewed tomatoes (Italian style)
1 small can tomato sauce
2 large onions cut in pieces lengthwise
½ cup olive oil
4 russet potatoes cut in fourths
¼ cup dried oregano
Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste
Mix all ingredients in a large baking pan. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour. Uncover and cook for about 30 minutes until potatoes and chicken are cooked.
3-4 lb brisket, trimmed of fat
2 teaspoon liquid smoke (Figaro mesquite, preferred)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Trim brisket of fat; rub with liquid smoke and salt. Wrap brisket in foil, opening facing up and place in a shallow baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 2 to 2 and a half hour. When cooked, drain off fat juices and slice brisket. Return to foil lined pan.
1 cup ketchup
4 tablespoons vinegar
4 tablespoons lea & Perrins
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon liquid smoke
Cook all ingredients for 10 minutes in a saucepan. Pour over sliced brisket, cover again with the foil and cook for an additional 1 ½ to 2 hours at 350 degrees.