How good are/were your parents at cooking?

How good were your parents at cooking? I got to thinking this when I saw caseydog 's remark on the American Goulash/Chili Mac "Even my mom couldn't mess it up.".

Both my parents are still alive and these days (both in their 80s) pretty much subsist on convenience foods. Back in the day, when I was growing up, my mum wasn't the best cook TBH, though she did have bouts of trying things from cookbooks, but mostly our meals were frozen things prepped quickly. My dad was fond of deep-fried things and was quite adept with a pan of hot oil, but was too absorbed in other interests to really be serious about cooking, but he could make some decent Chinese stir fry dishes if he put his mind to it, which wasn't that often...
 

Windigo

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My mother was a great cook, though not a very creative one. She relied on recipes for everything, and didn't have her own unique dishes. But the recipes she cooked were fantastic, she was really good at following them and thus created great food. My parents were foodies, which was unusual in the Netherlands in the 80's and 90's, foodie culture is really something only starting out here for the past two decades.

The first ten years of my life my parents ate a vegan, macrobiotic diet which was not something very varied or nice. Until they decided to stop doing that because the doctor had told them that I was anemic and in poor health due to the restrictive nature of their diet. When they stopped doing that, they went all out with cooking.

My mother was mainly influenced by her Indonesian heritage, and French classic cooking. The result was that we ate good food almost always. My parents adored the way the French lived, so there was always wine at our meals and most weekends were a lavish affair of at least two courses for dinner each evening. Lavish at least by Dutch standards. I remember growing up with classic French dishes and seeing my parents eat things like duck stomach (gesiers), foie gras, mussels and crab. Things that were rare then, and are still considered exotic and luxury here today.

When there was a party, we ate Indonesian food. My mom would be in the kitchen at least for three full days to serve a feast, and it was always fantastic. I definitely love that part of my heritage. I still cook many foods I associate with those parties, and the weekend specials my mom used to make.

My father is the classic 'can't boil an egg and proud of it ' type, he likes to eat but not to cook. That's why this piece was only about my mother.
 

FowlersFreeTime

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When I was growing up, Mom cooked everything, and she was a good cook (still is). The only thing she wasn't good at was steak, but I didn't know that at the time, I simply thought all steak was chewy and gray. Thank god I learned to enjoy medium rare.
From highschool and on, I saw my dad master the grill and mom never cooked steak again (yay!). Dad still has grill duty and even makes a good pizza on the grill (using a pizza stone and dough that he and mom prepared).

After a baker's dozen years married and almost age 40, the gender role in my house is flipped: I do all the cooking, and wife stays the heck out of my way in the kitchen 😅 I will be the one to teach our child how to cook.
 

TastyReuben

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I’ve talked about it before, and I’d rate my mom a a capable cook, but not a great cook.

I say that mainly because she was always a frantic, disorganized cook, and she’d didn’t (by design) have a large repertoire. We raised nearly all our own food, so we ate a variety of fruit and veg, and had plenty pork, beef, and chicken. Of those, we had pork more often than not.

On the plus side, I give her credit, because at her peak, she was feeding 10 people three solid meals a day, every day, and she did it all on her own, with no help, and she cooked the largest part of it on a wood cookstove.

Growing up, Dad didn’t cook a damn thing, didn’t even break his stride walking through the kitchen, but once he retired, he graduated to cooking one thing - salt-cured country ham and red-eye gravy.

Typical breakfast that I had most days growing up: fried eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, biscuits, gravy, and sliced tomatoes, fruit pie sometimes.

Typical dinner (lunch) & supper - pork chops, fried potatoes, green beans & ham, pickled beets, sliced tomatoes, gravy, biscuits, pie and/or cake for dessert.

“Light” meals when Mom was running late - burgers or fried bologna sandwiches, fried potatoes, fried green tomatoes or fried squash, sliced tomatoes, pie and/or cake.
 

JAS_OH1

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My mother wasn't a great cook, but I think some of that was due to lack of resources, since when I was a young child we didn't have much money and there were six kids for her to feed, so she had to buy cheaper foods and was constantly budgeting for shoes/clothes/food while my father was flying missions in the Vietnam War. After my parents were divorced in 1972 and my father retired from the Air Force, he went into real estate and my mother started working for the first time in her life. Within a year or two she was working two jobs, and there were still four kids left in the house, so again, not a lot of money and she was darned sure too busy and tired to do much of anything. And her child support/alimony pay were based on my father's income at the time of his retirement, so once he got into real estate and started making a lot of money, she didn't get an increase in child support/alimony, and then the middle siblings moved out so it was just me and my brother who is closest to me in age. Of course Dad had enough money to buy steaks and seafood for me and my brother when we spent the weekends with him, and he had a boat, a Mustang car, and he bought me a horse. I was only 12 at the time and just didn't realize until after I moved out how much my mother had to sacrifice in her life, being married at 18 and never getting the chance to go to college, raising six kids, and then having to work like a dog for the remaining years of her life.

So sorry for deviating on the subject, but what I grew up on with Mom was lots of tuna casserole and other cheap meals, peanut butter or bologna sandwiches, frozen TV dinners, and frozen pizzas. She sure was a good baker on the occasions where she was able to show off her skills, and also knew how to throw down an elegant holiday feast and at parties. I did not inherit the baking gene, LOL!
 

JAS_OH1

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I did not learn my passion for cooking and food from my parents.
I pretty much got my passion for food from my friends in Florida. I had a lot of friends who worked in restaurants and several who were chefs, and also I just knew a bunch of really great home cooks. Which meant I ate well without having to do much work in the kitchen most of the time. I was an avid scuba diver and loved to spear fish and fish with rod and reel, so I always had something to contribute but really left it up to others to prepare (and pretty sure they liked it that way).

My dad could grill steaks quite well and also was good at making pancakes.
 

TastyReuben

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I pretty much got my passion for food from my friends in Florida.
My mom has never been passionate about cooking, but she’s passionate about consuming food. To be direct about it, she’s a glutton, in the best sense of the word, and I know just about her favorite thing in life is eating a good meal, and she’ll try just about anything once. She has stuff she doesn’t like, but she’ll try anything once, and unless it’s fish/seafood or garlicky, she’ll probably like it.

Growing up, I was always slightly disgusted, to be honest, by Mom’s…lust for food. She never ate meals with the rest of us, which meant she picked and ate while she was cooking, and did the same when she cleaned up after us, and it gave the appearance that she was always stuffing something in her mouth (because she was, I suppose), and when I got into my teens and we began to eat out more, she’d get almost giddy at the thought of going to this or that restaurant - nothing fancy, by any means, but just that she always seemed preoccupied with thinking about her next meal, even while actively eating something.

Of course, that’s exactly how I think now. We’re going to Pennsylvania next week, and we’ve got every restaurant picked out, on what day and what meal we’re going to eat at them. :laugh:

My dad could grill steaks quite well and also was good at making pancakes.
That’s one thing we never did. I can count on one hand the times we grilled out growing up and have four fingers left over.
 

madebyyouandi

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My parents were TERRIBLE in the kitchen. My mom (who grew up in the South) had terrible taste in food as well and would absolutely not eat anything "strange". My dad was from Portugal, so he had a broader pallet but zero skills in the kitchen. Their failing are the backstory to how I came to learn how to cook.

On the plus side, their other family members were great cooks, so I learned the difference early on.
 

JAS_OH1

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My mom has never been passionate about cooking, but she’s passionate about consuming food. To be direct about it, she’s a glutton, in the best sense of the word, and I know just about her favorite thing in life is eating a good meal, and she’ll try just about anything once. She has stuff she doesn’t like, but she’ll try anything once, and unless it’s fish/seafood or garlicky, she’ll probably like it.

Growing up, I was always slightly disgusted, to be honest, by Mom’s…lust for food. She never ate meals with the rest of us, which meant she picked and ate while she was cooking, and did the same when she cleaned up after us, and it gave the appearance that she was always stuffing something in her mouth (because she was, I suppose), and when I got into my teens and we began to eat out more, she’d get almost giddy at the thought of going to this or that restaurant - nothing fancy, by any means, but just that she always seemed preoccupied with thinking about her next meal, even while actively eating something.

Of course, that’s exactly how I think now. We’re going to Pennsylvania next week, and we’ve got every restaurant picked out, on what day and what meal we’re going to eat at them. :laugh:

That’s one thing we never did. I can count on one hand the times we grilled out growing up and have four fingers left over.
Yeah, my MIL used to have a food-driven schnauzer. My husband used to compare my passion for food to that in a joking manner when I would talk about the next meal after just consuming one, LOL...he'd say, "You are such a schnauzer!"
 
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kaneohegirlinaz

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My Mother was what is today called a stay at home Mom.
My Father, it seemed to me, was constantly at work (I found out later in life, that wasn't the case :whistling:🎶).
When I hit middle school, my Mother went to work.
Mom was never a very good cook and would have to force us to eat whatever it was that she made us, burnt or not.
The funny thing is that my Mother was brought up by her maternal Grandmother who was the county's head school "cafeteria lady", she could cook boy howdy dowdy!
I wanted to cook/bake from a very young age, mainly because I wanted something good to eat!
My Mother said that I couldn't use the range/cooker/grill until I could reach it without a stool.
Once I started there was no turning back.
My Mother never got why I like to be in the kitchen, she hates it.
That's okay, because now that she is elderly, living in a Senior Community, I bring her all sorts of lovely dishes that I know that she likes. She told me not so long ago, "I don't like the dinners they serve here, I like what you make me."
 

caseydog

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Well, it looks like I inspired a discussion that is actually interesting. :laugh:

My mom was not a good cook. Her mom was not a good cook. I don't know where my cooking talents came from. My mom recognizes good cooking when it is served to her, she just doesn't know how to make it.

Growing up, everything was way overcooked and very bland. The overcooking part was a generational thing going back to early 20th century worries about food safety. The bland part came from how she was raised -- no seasoning until it is on the plate. Her parents dumped large amounts of salt on their plated food. They were the kind of people who would salt restaurant food before even tasting it.

My dad did the grilling (bbq). He could ruin any steak you gave him to cook. Being cheap, the steaks were not a big money loss. I remember being forced to sit at the table until I finished my steak (shoe leather).

Basically, nobody in my family before me felt any kind of passion for food. To this day, my dad will eat pretty much anything you put in front of him. My mom still prefers food with no seasoning.

Funny thing is, my parents love it when I come to visit, and I am cooking a meal. I have adapted my regular meals to their tastes, without much in the way of change, and they love it. My mom has even asked, "Where did you learn to cook like this?" She thinks it came from her grandmother, who was apparently a very good cook.

CD
 

Windigo

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Typical breakfast that I had most days growing up: fried eggs, bacon, sausage, fried potatoes, biscuits, gravy, and sliced tomatoes, fruit pie sometimes.

Typical dinner (lunch) & supper - pork chops, fried potatoes, green beans & ham, pickled beets, sliced tomatoes, gravy, biscuits, pie and/or cake for dessert.

“Light” meals when Mom was running late - burgers or fried bologna sandwiches, fried potatoes, fried green tomatoes or fried squash, sliced tomatoes, pie and/or cake.
I love the way you write about your parents, it's always in such a loving way and the way you describe the food they made is very appetising to me.

I realise that I didn't describe any typical meals we had growing up, and my mom had a rotation too so I will describe a typical week.

Typical breakfast: English breakfast tea (Darjeeling, still my favorite), toast (my mom often made her own marmelade) , and yoghurt with fruit and granola. On sundays we always had a continental hotel style breakfast, with scrambled eggs, orange juice, toast or bake off bread, croissants, yoghurt, fruit and granola.

Typical dinner: we had a rotation scheme of the same dishes, with exceptions for holidays or when visitors came. During a week we ate at least one spaghetti dish, one typical Dutch dish like stamppot (mashed potatoes with veggies mixed in and a type of meat on the side), one meal of soup and bread (my least favorite, because my mom doesn't make nice soups imo), one day of the Dutch holy trinity (meat, potatoes, veg), one day of asian or other food, and the rest was usually French or other European cooking. My favorite day was friday every two weeks, because then my parents would turn the fryer on or go to the chippy.
We also went to a restaurant at least twice a month.
 

karadekoolaid

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My grandmother died in 1943, leaving my mum (aged 15) as head of the house and responsible for cooking for her 4 brothers & sisters, plus dad. I imagine she just took it all in her stride.
By the time I can remember home cooking, in the 50s and 60s, I´d say we ate OK, but nothing special. Mum has never eaten meat or fish, so we didn´t get any of that in our diets. Food was mostly vegetarian and very British - no wierd things like pasta, sweet & sour, curry, etc. She´d make pies, chicken (usually roast), pastries, and vegetables that had been cooked for about 3 weeks before serving. Veg were potatoes, carrots, swede, turnips,green beans, parsnips, cauliflower, brussels sprouts. I never saw (and have still never seen) an aubergine/eggplant, fennel bulb, courgette/zucchini, pumpkin, okra, broccoli or artichoke in that house. Olive oil was reserved for the medicine cabinet to treat ear ache.
Every Saturday we´d have "Salad" for dinner: lettuce, tomatoes (if in season - no tomatoes between November and April), cucumber, radishes, beetroot,cheese, ham. Later on, once I was a teen, we´d start getting Marks & Spencers coleslaw, and then pasta in tins ( Heinz spaghetti, or ravioli ) which were generally served up on toast. We also branched out and ate fishfingers.
My dad would cook us sausages, his famous minced meat stew, and the baked ham/turkey at Xmas. He´d also make pickled onions, beetroot and red cabbage.
We were poor, so there were no luxuries until we all started working. Sometimes at school I´d take 4 jam sandwiches so that I could use my (school ) lunch money as pocket money.
Only when I got to university did I begin to experience other cuisines: Indian, Chinese, Italian, Turkish. That was about all there was at the end of the 60s/beginning of the 70s.
I started cooking because (a) I was mostly vegetarian and (b) I wanted to experiment with new foods.
 

madebyyouandi

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My dad did the grilling (bbq). He could ruin any steak you gave him to cook. Being cheap, the steaks were not a big money loss. I remember being forced to sit at the table until I finished my steak (shoe leather).

Same! My dad grew up without a lot of food on the table (being the youngest 13 kids in the Azores) so I wasn't allowed to leave the table unless my father pressed his hand to my young belly and determined it was full enough -- and he loved to feed me the fatty part of the steak first.
 
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