Saturday, May 8, 2010

Strange Meals My Mother Made

Win a rare, out-of-print
Betty Crocker Cookbook!

Most of us were not raised by mothers who cooked like Julia Child. Many of us grew up with ordinary fare. A few of us grew up shaking their heads over meals an ax murderer on Death Row would turn down. These are the people we want to hear from. Send in your stories by posting a comment on the blog. Just a short description of the strangest thing your mother made.

Pam and I also want to know which meal you think is the strangest. Whoever submits the meal that generates the most comments will win a  Betty Crocker cookbook published in 1960. It’s not signed but it is rare and out-of-print. If you want, I’ll get Hansel to sign it and ask him to enclose some cute photographs of himself.

Here are a few examples of strange meals that mothers made back in the day:

Mama Watts, creator of the dried fruit and nut pancakes described in the January 12, 2010 blog, had ample motivation to excel as a chef.  Here’s her story:  “My mother made the worst liver I ever ate.  It was so tough you couldn't take a bite out of it.  I complained about it one night at dinner and even picked it up and waved it in the air.  She got so mad I had to go get a branch from the Lilac bush outside and give it to her so she could whip me.”  Well, today that mother would end up in court for child abuse but this story is from a long time ago…

Lostpastremembered:  “When I was young my mother made a dish called Frank ‘N Bean Mash (frankenbeanmash).  She served franks baked with beans and mashed potatoes and a scoop of cottage cheese on the side.”  It sounds OK until you get to the part about the cottage cheese.  That’s what landed this one on the Worst Meals list.

Lyndsey:  “My mom had a different version of Snow on the Mountain:  she would layer cooked rice, chow mein noodles, chicken soup mixture, tomatoes, celery, green pepper, green onion, pineapple, cheese and more chicken soup mixture.  This was topped with almonds, coconut and pimentos.”  OH… MY… GOD.  It sounds like the kind of cocktail Dr. Kevorkian used to give people who wanted to end their lives.

I discovered the meal below in an old cookbook.  The eggs benedict look like Ms. Pacmans.  What kind of animal could eat Ms. Pacman?  There’s also something called a “jelly omelet”.  Ugh.  Nobody over 6 would be willing to eat that.

Those little ceramic chickens in the back are kind of cute though.  But wait there’s more:

Eggs Foo Yung?  That blasted me back more years than I'd bargained for.  If you're not sure what this is, don't even ask.

So let's hear from you.  Post a comment with your description of the strangest meal your mother made.  Whoever gets the most votes will win the Betty Crocker cook book.  C’mon, you know you’ve got a story… send it in today.

By Guest Blogger Randy Ashton
All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef

Thursday, May 6, 2010

My 6th Photo

Sarah, at  All Our Fingers in the Pie, tagged me for the 6th Photo Game. I really enjoyed this exercise because it allowed me to go back, look at what I shot and the order I shot it in. 
I took this photo after snow storm in February. Because of the storm our flight had canceled and we were reassigned to work an all-nighter home. The timing was perfect, it was right before daybreak when I pulled in front of my house. Even though I was dead tired I ran for the tripod and camera, set up in the street and began shooting. Lucky enough it was Sunday morning and there was no traffic. As the sun came up the light changed and all the blues and pinks disappeared.  This is my 6th photo, taken before day break but after the moon set. It just might be my Christmas card next year.
So now I will send this out to 7 bloggers to do the same (even though I choosing 8) . Show us your 6th photo and tell it's story.

Kate at Serendipity
Joumana at Taste of Beirut 
 Ilse at Insh'allah 
 Barbara at A Moveable Feast 
Stay tuned we are going to have a very unusual give-away.......
All photos and text belong to The Gypsy Chef

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Snow on the Mountain

Where I grew up there had been a huge German immigration wave.  I inherited German genes from my mother’s side of the family.  To feel more connected to this tradition, she made a strange version of a German dish she called “Snow on the Mountain.”  The recipe had been passed down and Mom adapted the wonderful dish as best she could to our mid-60’s supermarket and Ozzie and Harriet lifestyle during the years of Sputnik and the Superball.

For us, it translated down to two Kahn’s wieners and a big scoop of instant mashed potatoes topped with some canned sauerkraut which was the “snow” “on the “mountain”.  Kahn’s slogan was “The Weiner the World Awaited”.   That slogan baffled me then and now, I am just glad I didn't live in a world waiting for these wieners.  Our wait was over.  Now they sell it at Balducci’s in New York as some kind of rare delicacy or homage to regional food.  I have to laugh every time I see it.

I now enjoy a somewhat more authentic version of this wonderful German staple.  I wouldn’t exactly call it “Snow on the Mountain”.  I think that is an embellishment my Mother threw into the mix at a rather late date.  It's more than a little questionable from an historic perspective.  But it tastes better than when I used to chew on my Superball OR the concoction Mom made back in the day.

First of all, loose the Kahn’s:  love ‘em but leave ‘em.  I drove down to Findlay Market and bought the real thing... hand-stuffed German fresh metz at Kroeger & Son's Meats.

 Here's a list of the different kinds of sausages they have:

Then I bought some Yukon Gold potatoes -- not paper bags of instant potatoes that tasted like pocket lint.

Now for the sauerkraut, my favorite is Stokely’s Bavarian Style Sauerkraut with caraway seeds.  What’s not to love?  If you want to get fancy and make your own sauerkraut, just remember the following cautionary tale.  My Mother took this on and filled up a big crock pot with cabbage and other stuff.  Time went by.  It started to smell really bad.  By the time she cleaned it out we all had to stay at Grandma’s place for the whole weekend.

This is quite pedestrian compared to Pam's gourmet treats, but isn't comfort food wonderful sometimes? Here's the recipe:

Fresh Metz, Potatoes and Saurkraut:  Traditional German Cuisine


4 metz (I prefer Fresh Metz but there are a variety of choices)
5 gold yukon potatoes
1 can of sauer kraut

Boil potatoes for 25 minutes

After starting the potatoes, poach the metz in a skillet with enough water to halfway cover the metz.  Cover with a lid and let boil for 15 minutes.

When the metz are done, pour water off and add 2 tablespoons of canola oil.  Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes until metz are brown on all sides.

When the potatoes are done, drain the water and put in a large bowl.  Kee some of the water in case you need to moisten the potatoes.  Add two tablespoons of butter and smash.

Heat one can of sauer kraut in a bowl covered with wax paper in the microwave.  The amount of time to heat varies depending on your microwave oven, usually about two minutes.

Serve on a plate with sauer kraut on top of the potatoes.  Finish dressing plate with some brown or Dijon mustard.

by Guest Blogger Randy Ashton
All text and photos are property of The Gypsy Chef