Tastes Like Home

by jenna on October 11, 2010

I’ve always had a big appetite!

Just a little while ago, I found myself flipping through the pages of a family cookbook. I’m in kinda a nostalgic mood today…grumpy because we’ve having another heat wave and bummed because it looks like I won’t be able to go home for Thanksgiving again this year.

Anyways, as I was looking over all the recipes of my childhood it made me remember lots of wonderful food memories!

You know, like the time you had your first hot dog….or when your mom convinced you that frozen peas were candy (thanks, mom).

I’ve shared with you all some of my very favorite family recipes. My mom’s turkey chili, my great-grandmother’s bundt cake, the chocolate chip cookies I made all throughout high school and college….

All of these recipes hold a special place in my heart and take me the three thousand miles home, even when I can’t be there physically.

If I had to put a finger on my absolute favorite food memory growing up, it would probably be when my mom made her special beer battered flounder. Totally eighties, right? I haven’t had it for years, but I remember her only making it on special occasions because even in 1988, we were a semi-health conscious family and frying wasn’t something my mom did regularly.

I don’t have a recipe, but I know that she made a thin batter out of flour, beer, paprika and salt and would gently dip the flounder fillets in it before frying to a crisp in golden oil. The end result were fillets as light as air that crackled between my teeth. We always had beer battered flounder with something healthy on the side, like broccoli, because my mom always said “we had to have something green on our plates”.

What about you? What’s your favorite food memory growing up?

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{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

Exercise and Eat October 11, 2010 at 3:06 pm

My Dad’s enchiladas always take me home. It was the first recipe I learned! I make them for everyone I really love.

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girlatastartup October 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

Definitely my mom’s Korean sushi rolls. Just picked radish, fresh spinach, egg fritatta, crabmeat, rice, wrapped in nori. So yummy.

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Kristina @ spabettie October 11, 2010 at 3:17 pm

corn on the cob eating contests with my Beloved Grandpa Z. we also had watermelon eating contests. :D

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Lisa October 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

My mom would make this totally epic baked mac n’cheese. She wasn’t a very good cook but she could do casseroles. YUM!

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Tina October 11, 2010 at 3:18 pm

I’m loving the nostalgic posts. :) My favorite food memory would have to be our family dinners in Daytona Beach every year on vacation. The food always varied but having that time together each summer with the entire family always felt so special.

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Angela (Oh She Glows) October 11, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Love this post! :)

I have very fond memories of my dad’s ‘famous’ chili and ceasar salad. He still makes it for me every time I go home to visit- well, vegan versions now, haha. bless him!

I also have very fond memories of my mom’s sweet potato casserole or even just the PB and J sandwiches she used to pack in my lunch. I still can’t make them as good as she used to. :)

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Estela @ Weekly Bite October 11, 2010 at 3:22 pm

How funny! I just wrote a post about feeling nostalgic too :)

I have so many memories its hard to pick just one. My mom’s homemade sopapillas are on the top of my list right now :)

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Erin October 11, 2010 at 3:23 pm

All the casseroles! Both my parents worked so we had endless casseroles my mom would put together on Sundays that my sister and I would pop in when we got home from school. So good and SO bad for you. I think I’ll make one this weekend!

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Kim October 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm

My Grandma made homemade bread everyday – she lived on a farm – and that is just what they did! She didn’t have a recipe, just a pinch of this or that, but it was the best bread ever! Wish I had taken the time to learn how to make it while she was still with us!

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Kelly October 11, 2010 at 3:30 pm

We used to have “rock n roll dinners” once a month. My dad would make spaghettie and homemade meatballs and we would put on classic rock (Janis Joplin, ZZ Top, David Bowe…you get the idea) and we would eat and dance and eat and dance. Lip singing with the hairbursh and marinara sauce all over my face…good times.

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eatmovelove October 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

LOL – that’s hilarious!

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Heather (Heather's Dish) October 11, 2010 at 3:31 pm

this is so cute…i’ve been totally nostalgic since my papa passed away last week. i remember every time we would go to california to visit them he would make Stouffer’s lasagna, a HUGE green salad with homemade garlic dressing (i would get heartburn from all the garlic…it was glorious), and then some sort of intricate dessert (he used to make wedding cakes!) i miss him :)

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Molly October 11, 2010 at 3:35 pm

My best memory that still gets me every time is just the smell of onions cooking on the stove when I woke up on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning. It filled the house with warmth. I couldnt wait for holidays like that.

The best thing my mom made that always brings me home?
This recipe from gourmet magazine circa 1990 or somewhere in that era. Time consuming but worth every minute.

http://www.razzledazzlerecipes.com/lasagna-recipes/lasagne-chicken-peppers.htm

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Lindsay Perrone (goodiesgalore) October 11, 2010 at 3:36 pm

My dads “veggie boats”! I’m not sure what exactly they were–something tells me my dad chopped veggies in a fancy dish and popped in it the micro for a few minutes. I’m easy to please.

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Alexa @ The Girl In Chucks October 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Three Way Tie:

Cornbread n’ MIlk — My grandmother was from Georgia, so she made cornbread on a fairly regular basis. She taught us (my mother, sister and I) how amazingly good it tastes when you crumble it into a bowl, pour milk over it and eat it like cereal. Seriously. It’s insanely good. Also, it’s very different when you do it hot out of the oven vs. cold the next day. Totally different experiences, yet both good in their own ways.

Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches – Long before I ever knew what a healthy living blog was, my grandmother was feeding me peanut butter and banana sandwiches. She would put 1-2 tablespoons of Skippy in a bowl and then mash a banana into it. When it was all creamy and lovely, she’d smear it on bread and I would be a very happy camper. The other kids always thought I was gross. Didn’t matter. More for me!

Poor Man’s S’mores — I gave a creation of my grandmother’s this name. She never really had a name for them herself. Essentially, you take a saltine cracker, top it with a tiny piece of Kraft American cheese, put a dallop of peanut butter on top of that, then put a jet-puffed marshmallow on top. Bake until the marshmallow spreads out and gets a nice brown color to it. Remove from oven. Enjoy. Are they healthy? Not in the least. Are they pretty? Well, no. Do they taste good…you bet your last dollar they do! Make them…now!

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eatmovelove October 11, 2010 at 3:39 pm

Ahhh – your not the only one who can’t get “home for the holidays” girl! I’m sure you’ll be whipping up some major dishes anyways ;)

Beer-battered fish…now, that’s something else…

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 11, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Definitely a pot roast with mashed potatoes, egg noodles and gravy. I request it for my birthday every year!

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Amanda (Eating Up) October 11, 2010 at 3:46 pm

My favorite food memory growing up is my mom’s rainbow Jello-cake with Cool Whip icing. We always had it for birthdays. I really want to get the recipe from her and put my own spin on it–although I know it will never be as good!

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Dorry October 11, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Mine has to be Saturday nights at my grandparents. My parents would drop us (me +2 older sisters) off for a sleepover. Grammy would make fried chicken. I loved the drumsticks. And homemade creamy mashed potatoes and buttery green beans. Then every Sunday morning, we’d wake up and she’d be making pancakes. She had a handful of different types of syrup – I loved strawberry. And she’d make me sausage even though everyone else wanted bacon. :)

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jenna October 11, 2010 at 3:48 pm

my mom makes some of the most delicious food i’ve ever eaten. my favorite memories are birthday meals when i was growing up. my sister and i got to request our favorite dishes, and my mom would make them- even though they usually didn’t quite go together as a meal. the first thing i learned to make in college was my mom’s chicken casserole, and i recently made her chicken and dumplings for the first time. both of these trick me into thinking my mom’s hiding in my apartment’s tiny kitchen somewhere.

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Whitney October 11, 2010 at 3:50 pm

My mom always made kielbasa, corn and mashed potatoes. Yeah. Not the healthiest meal ever, but I still make it from time to time because it totally takes me back.

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theemptynutjar October 11, 2010 at 3:53 pm

Instead of being bummed, be grateful! Look at the marvels and wonders of your life. Sometimes when I read your blog I feel like I’m on a different planet! :)
I watch the Nightly News each evening and miners are stuck down mines (for months!), people are losing their homes to foreclosure, others live in different countries from relatives.

So instead of feeling nostalgic or bummed on thanksgiving, smile and say thanks for all you have and all you are .

;)

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Anne @ Chute Assis October 11, 2010 at 3:55 pm

My fave cake is/always has been carrot cake. My mom had to tell all the kids at my birthday parties that the orange things were jelly bean shavings to get them to eat it! SOMEONE told this lovely story, and my best friend in college surprised me with a carrot cake for my 21st birthday… and decorated it with jelly beans. :)

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Jenn October 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

I think that would have to be my mom’s chicken and dumplins’!! I would wait for the broth to boil while I carefully plopped the dumplins in the big pot. Oh, and don’t forget the homemade red velvet cake for dessert!

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Charise October 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

We were really big on potatoes of all kinds (Irish Catholic, after all, plus my mom doesn’t like “green things” except for green beans). When I was in 3rd grade, I had a splint on my fractured wrist from my brother karate-kicking me in the middle of the mall. I was the first to get the large bowl of my mom’s awesome mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving that year, and refused any help with serving myself at the table. Obviously I upturned the whole bowl onto the floor and no one got potatoes! My family still won’t let me be the first to get to the potatoes, even after 15 years!

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Lauren October 11, 2010 at 4:03 pm

Your mom is the best cook! I love that you still remember her recipes from when you were a toddler. The only thing I remember my mom making was Chicken Casserole. Just Campbell’s Soup, Swiss Cheese, and Chicken, but it was my absolute favorite. Probably because it reminded me of her. ;)

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Suzanne de Cornelia October 11, 2010 at 4:19 pm

Hah! We got raw carrots before dinner, too.

Was always so impressed with Mom’s entire meal preparation style. Everything was always fresh, colorful, beautifully arranged, very nutrient rich & delicious. She was so efficient that it appeared effortless–tho cooking for 5 kids, dad, & feeding the dog & cat. And, she always looked like ‘The Breck Girl’ while doing it .

Among lots of great memories– Thanksgiving is extra special. Usually we kids ate in the kitchen with the dog, our parents in the dinning room, except for holidays when we also had company.

Mom & the housekeeper teamed up to make everything gleam, silver polished, beautiful flowers, special desert, a fire, music, everyone dressy…champagne…laughter….but the best was that before dinner my parents (who both had excellent trained voices) sang a duet of ‘One Alone’ from desert song. Not that it was planned…just everyone begged. It was unforgettable.

Here’s a version by a famous singer…but of course, I liked my parent’s version best….& esp that Mom’s blonde hair sparkled beneath the chandelier when she sang. I thought it was magic. Still do.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kcrsTdcaAg

Now am laughing having listened again–that’s kind of a hot song to sing in front of the kids. ;)

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Alexia October 11, 2010 at 4:22 pm

mangoes. i loved climbing our mango trees growing up in jamaica.

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Alexia October 11, 2010 at 4:23 pm

thanks for reminding me!

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Amanda Davis October 11, 2010 at 4:26 pm

My favorite food memory was eating fish and chips in England. It was always such a special treat and we only ate it when we were in England because once you’ve had real English fish and chips it’s hard to have anything else.

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katiek October 11, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Ah family food memories. I was so fortunate to have a home cooked, sit down with the family meal nightly. My mom is a good cook- not superb but there are those dishes that you’ll never forget. My mom always made me pancakes or an egg sandwhich before my swim meets, and pasts 48 hours in advanced. The little things. Ironically though my favorite food memories were when she didn’t cook. My grade school had market day- like a food delivery Swansons that you ordered and picked up at school. We had Italian dippers the nights that my mom stayed at school late or she went out with her friends. It wasn’t that my dad couldn’t cook- they were good! HA Oh and of course the year my sister and i learned that she didnt actually make the beloved sweet potato casserole…it was frozen. Tragedy!

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Food & Other Things October 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I always think its so interesting to hear about the food people grew up with that they still remember today! My favorite food memory is definitely my mom’s stuffing!

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Katie @ Healthy Heddleston October 11, 2010 at 4:34 pm

I remember my parents making “pizza casserole” and “beef stew” a lot. I had a love-hate relationship for the longest time with the beef stew and now finally enjoy it again!

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The Wife of a Dairyman October 11, 2010 at 4:35 pm

Probably my mom’s snickerdoodle cookies. And I have to say…..Your MOM is a beautiful lady! Sorry you won’t be able to make it home for the holiday:(

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megan October 11, 2010 at 4:38 pm

my favorite food memory growing up are the ham -n- cheese sandwiches and chocolate malts at my maw maws house (and the way my maw maw cut the sandwiches into 4 triangles), the yummy smells from my momma’s kitchen during the holidays, and the saturday morning breakfasts my daddy used to make me… turkey & eggs in the frying pan :) i also remember thinking that it was really cool when my momma used to give my sister and i peanut butter toast for breakfast! haha!

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Angie - My Life in Bites October 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

(1) That first picture of your is ADORABLE!

(2) My favorite food memory is pork tenderloin sandwiches. My mom and dad grew up in a small town in Iowa and pork tenderloin sandwiches were a local delicacy. It was so good – pork pounded nice and flat, dipped in egg, then dipped in crushed RITZ crackers, then deep fried, and served on a soft roll with pickles and mustard. SO GOOD!

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Chelsea @ One Healthy Munchkin October 11, 2010 at 4:44 pm

I loved it when my dad would make my sister and I “cheese dreams” – toast with melted cheddar and crispy bacon on top – when we were young. Sooo yummy! He was the same way as your mom though – we always had to have something healthy on the side.

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Lizzie October 11, 2010 at 4:49 pm

We had ‘days’. Friday night was fish and (homemade) chips (well, until the whole concept of cholesterol came out and my mum switched it to mashed potato for my dad), Saturday was spaghetti bolognese (one of the first dishes I learned to make myself), Sunday was baked dinner (lamb w/ roast veggies). Other days were salmon mornay, stir fry, shepherd’s pie etc. My nana, grandma, and mum all cooked amazing desserts. Butterscotch pudding, sandwich cake, trifle, lemon merengue pie, and my (still) absolute favourite Lemon Delicious – yes, I just drooled on the keyboard!
Now I’m homesick! :) Great post Jenna!

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Nora@LifeLifeEatRight October 11, 2010 at 4:55 pm

I just wrote a post about food and family memories! My grandma always made veal cutlets with a slice of provolone on top served with whipped potatoes with a well of stewed tomatoes in the center and chocolate cream pie for dessert (using jello pudding!). Nothing fancy but nothing will ever taste quite as good. The special ingredient was always love. My mom’s chili recipe, mac and cheese and “Sunday Chicken Bake” (aka chicken, cream of mushroom soup, rice and stuffing) also hold a special place in my heart. They were always offered on the coldest days. I remember coming home from swim practice with icicles in my hair (literally) and devouring generous portions of this stuff. The house always smelled fantastic. The Fall and Winter were my favorite time of year. Cozy meals and family. The things life are made of!

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Krystina October 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm

My mom’s meatballs. She made round ones and long, poop shaped ones we called “dodo’s”. I used to sample one fresh from the frying pan to “test” it and make sure the batch tasted okay. Sometimes I would test multiple meatballs, you know, just to be sure.

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Anna October 11, 2010 at 4:59 pm

My favorite food memory involves my grandmother, who died of cancer when I was 5.

I’m from Massachusetts and once a decade or so, a really nasty hurricane will make its way up the Eastern Seaboard to us. When I was three years old, Hurricane Bob hit with full force and we ended up losing power for about a week. My grandmother always kept her fridge full of Haagen Dazs (only the best for her!) and faced with the prospect of 10 rapidly melting pints, she called all of us grandchildren over to her house for an ice cream feast. She handed out the spoons and we all dug in. It was the best day of my 3 year old life.

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Katherine @ Left Coast Contessa October 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

Ah! Swedish meatballs, ‘funeral’ potatoes, salmon burgers, cider doughnuts, raw butoni pasta (is that weird?)- mostly because my mom worked on tuesday and thursday so we always had buitoni on tuesday, shrimp cocktail on Christmas, apple crustini and all the food my mom made for thanksgiving.

I can’t go home for thanksgiving this year either. It’s my first year not going home and it kinda sucks.

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Cynthia (It All Changes) October 11, 2010 at 5:00 pm

I spent a good bit of my childhood in Germany. My favorite thing was when we got our report cards and had good grades my mom would take us for spaghetti sundaes.

Basically soft serve vanilla squeezed through a playdough thing and topped with chocolate meatballs and strawberry sauce. Shaved coconut was the cheese :-)

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hippierunner October 11, 2010 at 5:03 pm

My favorite food memory is eating Velveeta mac n’ cheese with all my couins after school at my nana’s house! Wish I had some right now.. :(

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M October 11, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Love the old photos ,especially the one that I believe is your brother John?
Sweet face.

Sorry you can’t get home for Thanksgiving,it’s obvious you and your parents
are extremely close in spirit which is a beautiful gift in life.

Happy Thanksgiving TODAY in Canada all!

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Alli October 11, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Eating piroghi! If I was lucky, homemade by my great-grandma….but storebought would do in a pinch.

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Hannah October 11, 2010 at 5:21 pm

I always remember at Christmas time my mom would let me help her bake Christmas cookies. She’d turn on our Amy Grant Christmas album and then we’d go to town using these really old cookie cutters. Often times though I would just end up sticking my hands in the bucket of flour, squishing my fingers around, and enjoying the sound of my mom singing. :)

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Julie B. October 11, 2010 at 5:30 pm

My mama’s cornbread dressing makes me feel like I’m home.

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Erin (Travel, Eat, Repeat) October 11, 2010 at 5:33 pm

My mom always mixed peas in with mac & cheese to get us to eat our veggies. Now as an adult, I still mix peas with my mac & cheese. It’s a combo that goes together like PB&J as far as I’m concerned!

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Rachael October 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Lamb stew with lots of lamb – my grandmother grew up pretty destitute in Ireland, and almost every night her family ate what was essentially water, flour and carrot stew. Once in awhile, they’d get some lamb bits to throw in, but my grandmother was, literally, the red-headed stepchild, and so her sister and folks would get the meat, while she got the fat. Flash forward sixty years, and she would make these epic, amped up stews full of veggies, nuts, meats and whatever else she could throw in there. It was the only time I remember eating (and liking) lamb, and I think it was just because it made her so happy to see me chow down!

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s October 11, 2010 at 5:54 pm

I suggest you have a virtual Thanksgiving like you did for your Project Food Blog…that was really neat! Just a thought–it is a bummer to not be able to go home.

Any of my food memories are centered around the dining room table and the lace table cloth. I think I would never ever want to decorate with one these days, but it reminds me of every holiday as a child.

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sarah k. @ the pajama chef October 11, 2010 at 6:09 pm

my mom’s side of the family is assyrian (as in the Assyrians of the Bible… uh huh, present day iran). so we have a ton of yummy middle eastern recipes my grandparents made, including the best rice ever! it’s baked. with lots of butter. yum :)

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Marie-JourneyToBodyZen October 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm

My mom isn’t the greatest cook in the world. And, bless her heart, most recipes she tries somehow end up tasting badly. However, the woman can cook the best spaghetti that you have ever eaten. Ever! Somehow, she has found the perfect blend of tomatoes and garlic, and as hard as I try, I can never recreate it :)

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Emilee October 11, 2010 at 6:11 pm

It must be something in the air, I’m feeling nostalgic too. I have mom’s meatloaf and cream of chicken sandwiches on the meal plan this week.

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rebecca lustig October 11, 2010 at 6:12 pm

my favorite food memories include all the ridiculous amounts of traditional jewish foods my family would prepare at the same times. every year. i get a whiff and im instantly taken back :)

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Laughter-Loving Stacy October 11, 2010 at 6:15 pm

Cheese fondue. It was also one of those special occasion foods, because who can get away with eating a ton of cheese and bread a few times a week? ;) Plus, my mom made two different types: a yellow cheese fondue, and a white cheese fondue. She goes all out, buying the best and most expensive cheeses. Sometimes we not only use bread, but meat and veggies and anything else that wouldn’t just fall into the ooey gooey cheese.

Man, I might write a post about that fondue! :-p

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Jessica @ The Process of Healing October 11, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Definitely rolling out homemade buttermilk biscuits with my grandmother and cutting them out with hollow cans as biscuit cutters. And her homemade pancakes with butter and Caro syrup…. oh boy.

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chelsey @ clean eating chelsey October 11, 2010 at 6:33 pm

Most of the time when I think about my family + food, I think of traditions… like cinnamon rolls on Thanksgiving and Christmas, black bean salsa for cookouts, and potato bombs cooked on the grill. Yum.

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Camille October 11, 2010 at 6:36 pm

Aww, you were such a cute kid!

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MMiller October 11, 2010 at 6:38 pm

The first food memory that came to mind was actually when we ordered Pizza on Friday nights and watched the Brady Bunch and the Partridge Family! (Dating myself here)! For home cooked, it would be my mom’s home made vegetable soup and her Baked Mac N Cheese!

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Jessica October 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

mine would have to be Mom’s french toast. Not only do I have the recipe, but she’s made it with me before and it literally doesn’t taste the same unless she does everything from start to finish.

I’m sorry you can’t go home :( if it makes you feel any better there’s a heat wave in Florida too lol :)

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Helen October 11, 2010 at 6:50 pm

My grandparents use to work in a dairy barn. I can remember her making a sweet cream out of the fresh milk and homemade buttermilk biscuits. Oh the memories I have of her and her cooking. No matter how hard I try my Chicken & Dumplings will never come out like hers! Thanks for reminding me :)

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Hillary [Nutrition Nut on the Run] October 11, 2010 at 6:55 pm

I loved my mom’s cream of spinach soup as a kid – that’s a sign of a future foodie!

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Cara Craves... October 11, 2010 at 6:57 pm

Friday night pizza night!
Every Friday my fam would all gather and make and eat pizza together…
no store bought pizzas or dough here…the fun was creating it together.
Good ingredients and fun family company made this tradition one that
I will pass on with my own in the future.

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Lauren @ Fun, Fit, and Fabulous! October 11, 2010 at 7:22 pm

I love this idea! My husband and I had a blast making homemade pizzas yesterday, and I can’t wait to do it when we have kids! Growing up we never really did the whole family dinner thing, so it is something that I am definitely looking forward to doing with my own kids!

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Natalia - a side of simple October 11, 2010 at 7:08 pm

Aw Jenna I’m sorry you won’t be home for Thanksgiving :(
Some of my favorite foods growing up (and now!) are homemade raviolis, chicken pot pie, homemade pizza, and oh so many more foods that taste like home for me :)

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Lola October 11, 2010 at 7:20 pm

The first thing that pops in my mind was the time when we had a terrible storm on our town and the schools didn’t open and my mom made us this kind of hot pecan pudding. It was delicious!!
This post is really lovely and from the bottom of your heart Jenna!
xoxo
Lola

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Emma Ruth October 11, 2010 at 7:23 pm

my favorite meal is country fried steak (uh, yes) with noodles and butter. JUST noodles with butter. and rolls.

by the way, i teach biology at the citadel in charleston… i made my students your chocolate chip cookies and they loved them! i’m their new favorite person:)

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Diana @ frontyardfoodie October 11, 2010 at 7:36 pm

mmmm beer battered fish. Sounds amazing.

My mom made a killer carrot cake that I always asked for it on my birthday and also Huevos Rancheros. I would ask to have those for breakfast on my birthday growing up.

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AmyJoGo October 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm

So many memories.

Earthquake cake. Ever had it? Yum…imagine chocolate, pecans, coconut and sweetened condensed milk altogether. And the scm creates this sorta caramel crust along the top. It looks…well…like an earthquake but tastes like heaven.

Meatloaf, mashed potatoes (lumpy!! creamy usually meant they were instant and blah) with cream corn and buttered bread. NOT healthy but oh so comforting.

Potatoe Soup. Seriously…we guard the secret ingredient with our lives. Everyone asks for the recipe but you can’t duplicate what isn’t written down ;)

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katy @ a shot of life October 11, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Great post! So hard to pick- probably fresh strawberry shortcake or homemade bread :)

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Laura October 11, 2010 at 8:30 pm

So many! I think it’s inevitable that so many of your significant memories (celebrations, etc) are tied up with food. That’s one of the main reasons why I would *always* argue that food is more than just fuel. (It actually makes me sad that some people think that way! Talk about missing out! Even animals will comfort eat sometimes. My dog does, whenever he has a stressful trip to the vet or the groomer. :D) My mum is an amazing cook, so a lot of it revolves around her (supremely impressive birthday cakes, homemade pizza – the best I’ve ever had – every Saturday night, ginger and chocolate biscuits in the biscuit tin, cheese pancakes for weeknight dinners, her tandoori chicken), but also my own early cooking – particularly my microwave cookbook, ha. (Ah, the early nineties!) I made many a marble cake from that cookbook. And making Russian Fudge with Mum, stirring for what seemed like hours, then eating enough that would probably turn me into an instant diabetic these days. (I miss my childhood iron gut!) And, of course, cooking class at Intermediate school. (Your Junior High, I think; I’m a New Zealander). We had “techology” rotations, which was one week of cooking, then one of sewing, one of woodwork and one of metalwork. That was pretty much listed in order of my favourites. And, with less fondness, the cooking and eating at school camps, which were the bane of my young existence and compulsory every year between age 10 and age 16. Watery scrambled eggs, watery Milo, watery spaghetti. There seems to be a pattern emerging…

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Julia October 11, 2010 at 9:04 pm

So many foods, so many memories. I think one of my favorite would be a memory of my Grandma who passed away when I was in junior high. We were very close, and I absolutely adored her. She always had cheese dip from one of the local grocery store chains in her refrigerator. It was sort of a port wine cheese dip and we would sit and eat it usually with New York Bagel Chips, but sometimes with Triscuits or Wheat Thins. Every time I have cheese dip it reminds me of my Grandma.

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Leticia October 11, 2010 at 9:11 pm

I am have both Mexican and Irish heritage, so naturally I cannot think of a single family tradition that does not involve food somehow. My absolute favorite meal of the entire year is breakfast on Christmas morning. My mom and I stay up late on Christmas Eve after midnight Mass and make a breakfast stratta, which chills in the refrigerator overnight. We put in in the oven the next morning when we are almost done opening presents and make cinnamon rolls, breakfast potatoes and coffee to go with it. My mom keeps trying to make it for other occasions throughout the year but I have put my foot down! Some things must remain sacred, and Christmas morning is one of them :)

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Still Life in San Francisco October 11, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Sweet John and Jenna

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Moni'sMeals October 11, 2010 at 9:29 pm

that first pic melts my heart!
My favorite meal was my grandma’s grilled cheese sandwich. She did something so slightly different to it, I will never know her tricks. Made with love I guess!
other fond memories were actually always around Fall time and Halloween with the goal of getting as much candy as possibile during “trick or treating”…we would fill pillow cases and start at like 4 pm! The good ol days, right!

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Mandy October 11, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Tuna noodle casserole! No shame.

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Maria October 11, 2010 at 9:56 pm

My Grandma’s peanut butter cookies :-) Nothing else even comes close! And baking cookie cutouts with my mom at Christmas time.

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Katharine (Meal Muse) October 11, 2010 at 11:25 pm

Hands down, my mom’s chicken picatta. I used to pound the chicken with a mallet when I was a little girl and toss the tenders in a bag of flour. Lemony, buttery and delicious, I’m convinced my childhood would’ve been completely different without that picatta. Thanks for sharing!

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Samantha Cernock October 12, 2010 at 3:12 am

Macaroni and Tomato. I’ve never had it anywhere other than my dad’s or my grandma’s. Elbow macaroni and stewed tomatoes, preferably from our garden. And just a little bit of butter, salt and pepper.

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Sarah (Running to Slow Things Down) October 12, 2010 at 3:35 am

Hmmm…great question.

I’d say that my mom’s chicken stew brings me home. It’s simple, warming, and always special. Especially when served with buttermilk biscuits. :D

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VeggieGirl October 12, 2010 at 5:21 am

Beautiful memories and photos! My favorite food memory as a child is helping my mom bake a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake from scratch for birthday get-togethers. I can envision myself as a toddler helping her, and I can even remember the sweet, rich aromas that would fill the house.

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Heather October 12, 2010 at 5:40 am

Aw, I always love when you wax nostalgic about your childhood and food memories!

My favorite childhood food memory was when my dad would make his Chicago-style deep dish pizza. It wasn’t something he did too often, so when he did make it on the weekend, it was an event. I can still smell the dough rising in the warm kitchen and stealing slices of mozzarella as he assembled the pizzas. That mozzarella always tasted delicious, and even though I’ve eaten the cheese on its own and in different ways back then and now, it never tastes the same as when my dad was making pizza! Just one of those things, I guess.

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Kristin (Cook, Bake and Nibble) October 12, 2010 at 5:50 am

I will always remember the excitement as my mom’s “famous” broccoli bake baked in the oven before every thanksgiving, christmas and easter. That’s the only time we got it- three times a year. But I LOVED it.

xo
Kris

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Jil October 12, 2010 at 6:00 am

My favorite food memories are easily my grandmother’s desserts at the beach…pies, whoopie pies, turnovers, meringues… oh the never ending goodness.

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Lori October 12, 2010 at 6:07 am

My dad wasn’t around much when I was a kid, so almost all of my dinnertime memories are of just me and my mom (I’m an only child). Mom used to make lots of comfort foods: meatloaf and mashed potatoes, spaghetti, breaded pork chops. My favorite, by far, was her chicken and dumplings. I now make her recipe for my family…it’s my daughter’s favorite!

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Christina October 12, 2010 at 6:09 am

Hi Jenna! I made your turkey chili for a party Saturday night and I thought people were going to lick the pot. It was delish!

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Andrea October 12, 2010 at 6:13 am

blueberry pancakes! We could run up to our blueberry bushes and pick a big bowl full on the weekends for Dad to make blueberry pancakes. I still love them!

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Stephanie @ The Cookie Battle October 12, 2010 at 6:16 am

My favorite is my grandmother making fried rolls (oh my heavens to this day I have never tasted anything so good). She would make them only on holidays and everyone always fought over them in my family. I have been trying to recreate them for years, but I still have been unable to :( But I’m going to keep trying!

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Rachel @ The Avid Appetite October 12, 2010 at 6:55 am

Baking Christmas cookies with my mom is my best memory, and still my favorite culinary activity to this day! I remember doing this with her since such a young age and I love that every holiday season we have this to look forward to.

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Beth @ DiningAndDishing October 12, 2010 at 6:58 am

My favorite memories are of visiting my family in England (they’re all there except for my immediate fam) when they would try to make us children “American” food. One night my aunt made us a pizza of dough topped with relish, cheese and pineapple. It was awful! England has become a lot more Americanized since then :).

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Chicago Cuisine Critique October 12, 2010 at 7:27 am

Definitely my mom’s homemade mac n cheese (which was actually my grandma’s recipe). It’s delicious and thankfully i’ve found a way to make it a tad bit healthier as i’ve gotten older and more health conscious. Cute post!

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cathy b. @ brightbakes.com October 12, 2010 at 7:28 am

hickory nut cake! It’s a total central PA thing, because people outside of the area have very rarely heard of hickory nuts. It is THE most amazing blend of smoky, nutty, caramely cake-ness ever!
Love,
Cathy B.

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Katie G. October 12, 2010 at 7:43 am

This recipe reminds me of my mom’s “battered steak” – flank steak fried with egg and bread crumbs. Helping mom out dipping the steak into the egg and crumbs was a big highlight! I haven’t had this is years either, but one of my favorite meals at a restaurant nearby makes a healthier, similar tasting meal with chicken…I get it every time I go there! It tastes like home!

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lcgrant03 October 12, 2010 at 8:31 am

Great post, Jenna. A lot of it sounds familiar. Probably my favorite memory is any time my mother makes her beef-vegetable soup. It has to cook for a couple of hours, so this awesome aroma fills the house and gets you drooling long before dinner time. It’s usually one of the first meals of the Fall season, so that usually marks the end of another long, hot summer. And it makes great leftovers for me the rest of the week! Keep up the great work!

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Rachel October 12, 2010 at 10:03 am

When I was very little, one of my favourites was corned beef hash, which I think I liked mostly because I could play with it – make a perfect circle and cut it up like a pie, make it look like clouds, that sort of thing.

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The Healthy Apple October 12, 2010 at 10:31 am

My Nana’s butter cookies and my grandma’s German Chocolate Cake…both homemade and incredible….I can still taste them today…

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Molly October 12, 2010 at 11:23 am

First hot dog… Devil Rays game… ; )

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jenna October 12, 2010 at 11:33 am

I think I vaguely remember…. ;)

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Clare @ Fitting It All In October 12, 2010 at 11:30 am

My grandmother was NOT a cook (more of a shopper) and whenever we slept over at her house it was microwaved eggs and melon for breakfast! She taught me that maple syrup is good on ALL breakfast foods, not just pancakes or waffles!
She also always had a loaf of white bread on her counter to feed the ducks in the backyard, but I would steal some slices of the doughy plain stuff. Haven’t had that in forever!

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Nikka B October 12, 2010 at 12:28 pm

My Mom’s biscuits & gravy. Hands down.

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Lacey @ Lake Life October 13, 2010 at 7:25 am

My favorite food memory was having homemade pizza and watching “TGIF” on Friday nights. I miss good Friday night TV shows and good Saturday morning cartoons.

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