One of my favorite days lately has been the one that I spent with my Mom. I guess you could say that she's The "Original Comfortcook"....from a long line of Comfort Cooks. In the next few posts I'm going to share some of my favorite "Mom Dishes" and perhaps you'll begin to understand why I'm such a foodie and why I love to "Play" with my food. She can still cook circles around anybody I know, just smaller circles now and maybe not as fast...but oh boy! That great taste is still in there. I can prepare it exactly like her...step by step, ingredient by ingredient and it never tastes the same. I know many of you know exactly what I'm talking about. It's that Mother's Love...I just know it. I think my sons are beginning to appreciate that from their own Mama's kitchen. There's something in the way Mom holds her mouth or flicks her wrist or something magical, I guess, that I miss. Maybe slight of hand? A kitchen Houdini? I can keep up...but I'll never pass her. She'll always win that race. So with a lot of my childhood favorites, I've just learned to add a little, "somethin, somethin" to give it my own spin and most of the time I end up with a pretty good replica of one of the master's. I've covered her Potato Salad recipe in an earlier blog (see Potato Salad in the recipe list at the bottom of the page) and that still ranks way up there on my all-time favorite list. I made that potato salad yesterday for a friend's cookout and it was a huge hit...again. One fella even grabbed pen and paper right after he'd eaten and asked for the recipe. Just like with so many of her recipes...there are none. Just good ole cookin' know how. I gave him the best recipe I could..at least I told him what all the ingredients are, along with all the steps, proper temperatures, "I always use russets", you know the basics. Folks are just kinda on your own from that point on. Unlike with her baking, I've never seen Mom measure anything that goes into that potato salad. I get it pretty darn close....or so I think till I eat hers again!
Another one that is so simple and so delicious is her cheese salad. Not the Pimiento Cheese salad of the south. Close. But this, too has a quirky little difference. She uses pimiento stuffed green olives and Miracle Whip. Now, I'm a Mayo girl, but Mom is Miracle Whip all the way. I don't think she even has any mayo in her house. That pleases Geraldo to no end. He's a M.W. kinda guy. So, of course he prefers her potato salad to mine..(but would rather both of us leave out the olives!! Geraldo's not an olive man.) You gotta try this cheese salad someday. I'm gonna share the recipe in the next blog. It's so good and my brother Allan and I will still fight over that last bit. I went shopping and bought the ingredients to make it when I was home because she always makes it for us and I sure don't want to lose the opportunity to learn her version of a childhood favorite. You have to use real American cheese. Don't even suggest any "processed cheese product" or mention the V word!! It's not an inexpensive dish to make...but it's totally worth the extra bit to make a really superb product. I had it for my lunch at work for 3 days. It's great just on plain white bread, but it's also excellent when prepared like a grilled cheese. So, I bought the right cheese and she had all the other ingredients so, we got busy as she stood close by and guided me thru the process. I remembered the hand cranked food grinder that she used to screw onto the edge of the counter to make this stuff. She's stepped up to the food processor now and that makes things a little easier. I miss the nostalgia of the food grinder, tho. And man, she's funny...funny "Ha Ha", I mean! We were putting the green olives in the food processor and I asked how many and she said "Well, however many olives you want. How olive-y do you want it?" So, I dropped in a coupla handfuls and started to put the top on the processor and she stopped me..."Put more olives in there! That's not enough! You want it olive-y, don't 'cha?" And I did. I did want it olive-y. So, therein lies the mystical part of figuring out her dishes. You just gotta make it till it tastes right. Until it takes good...just like Mom's. Oh yeah, I left Allan some Cheese Salad in a butter tub for him to pick up. I'm a thoughtful little sister (ahem) and besides, there's no better judge of that particular dish than him!
This is a great recipe for Coconut Pie...Mom's version is another kind that takes patience and time standing over the stove cooking the custard. This is an easier version and it's good. In fact, it's a prize winner from a little old lady in North Carolina that made this for every church supper she ever attended.....Yes, this one has won blue ribbons and County Fair accolades.....but it's not like my Mom's. Hers is THE BEST! I'll include that when I get into her recipe box again and get a copy!! Yes, there's a written down recipe for that pie. Mama don't play when it comes to baking.....
AMAZING COCONUT PIE
A great family favorite.This is one of the simplest recipes for a delicious dessert I've ever tried. Now, I'm not one to judge you if you use a premade pie crust, but you may find you have a bit of filling leftover and how do I know that? Yep, I used a premade Pillsbury "rolled -out" pie crust and it was great. Everytime!
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
1 Unbaked 9-inch pie shell
1⁄4 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1⁄3 cup buttermilk
2 large eggs
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
1⁄2 package (31⁄2- to 4-oz.) shredded, sweetened coconut
1. Place the oven rack in the middle position.
2. Cream butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add buttermilk. Add eggs one at a time. Add salt and vanilla. Fold in coconut. Pour filling into pie shell. Bake about 40 minutes, or until top is firm and crust is golden brown. Cool completely on a rack. Store loosely wrapped in wax paper in the refrigerator.
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