How NOT To Cook Christmas Dinner

My mother was no Julia Child. Not even close. If there had been a "Worst Cook in Town" contest, Mother would've won it. Every year. Considering her mother, sisters, and sisters-in-law were great cooks, I suspect she secretly enjoyed being known as a bad one. Never mind my dad and my brother and I were the captive recipients of most of these culinary disasters.

Some simply were beyond edible.

Cauliflower steamed for 3 hours looked nothing like the crisp version nestled among equally crisp fingers of carrots and celery on an appetizer tray with veggie dip. It smelled even worse. From 9 a.m. to noon, the house would reek of that smell. To this day, I can't eat cauliflower, raw or steamed.

Meat? Mother never brought home a cut of beef or pork she couldn't turn into tough, gray shoe leather. Until I left home, I had no idea a steak was supposed to be moist and the center faintly pink.

Nor did I know real spaghetti didn't come out of a can from Chef Boy-R-Dee, or that spaghetti sauce was supposed to be the consistency of ketchup, not soup broth.

Sunday dinner was always baked chicken. Always. Not a fat roasting hen, mind you. Old scrawny hens better suited to stewing or broth-making were much cheaper. Never occurred to Mother that baking a stringy, anorexic bird would shrink what little meat was left on it.

She also had a habit of leaving out key ingredients, like the sugar in cookies or the baking powder in biscuits. The food might look okay, but taste like library paste. My dad, bless his heart, would somehow choke down full servings of everything, no matter how bad it tasted. I and my brother, on the other hand, got into the habit of never putting more than a bite or two of any dish on our plates, and if it was inedible, sneaking into the kitchen later to raid the fridge.

Holidays were the worst. That's when Mother would decide to try "something different". One year it was oyster "stuffing", but instead of using canned oysters, she substituted oyster soup and because it was soup, added a can of water. The result was soggy bread cubes and pieces of oyster floating in an unidentifiable broth.

I should mention Mother's rigid schedule for meals. Breakfast was served at 7:00, not 7:04 or 7:06. Dinner...she never called it "lunch"...was at 12 noon sharp and supper at 5:00. Late arrivals would find the kitchen closed. No exceptions. For this reason, she rarely attended holiday dinners at the home of relatives who usually didn't serve the big meal until 2:30, or maybe 4:00. The concept that "holiday" meant a break from one's normal routine was totally foreign to her.

It didn't matter if a dish wasn't ready, it went on the table anyway at 7:00, noon, or 5:00. No exceptions. It's a mystery why none of us became deathly ill (or died) from food poisoning, but we never did.

This inflexibility and adherence to her own schedule was responsible for the culinary disaster I remember above all else: Christmas Tree (sometimes called "Broken Glass") Jell-o, similar to the photo at right.

Very simple to make, actually. One pkg of red Jell-o and one of green, prepared separately in flat containers so that they'll be an inch or so thick. When set, cut into cubes, combine in a pretty bowl with whipped cream and voila!  Making it in a mold as in the photo is a bit more complicated, but the effect is essentially the same.

The key words, however, are "when set".

One year, she forgot to make the jellos early enough to set completely. At 11:55, she scooped both into a bowl anyway and stirred in the whipped cream. The result was similar to the photo at right, but worse.

Much worse.

In fact, the concoction at right looks quite appetizing compared to the inedible mess Mother set before us that day.

That was the year I was old enough to drive, so around two-ish, drive I did...straight to an aunt and uncle's home in time to feast with them, their children and grandchildren, and an assortment of other "strays". Every year after, if I hadn't arrived by the time they sat down, Auntie would set a plate of my favorites on the back of the stove for when I did. Then I'd pop over to an aunt's from the other side of the family for dessert. Mother never caught on as to how I could eat like a bird at her table, but come back stuffed and ready for a nap at sundown.

To her credit, not everything she cooked was bad. She made the absolute best ever Banana Nut Bread, the taste and texture no one has ever been able to duplicate. Grandma and The Aunts tried, I tried, but whatever Mother did (or didn't do) to make it come out the way it did remains a mystery.

Happy Holidays!

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Comments 109 comments

Paraglider profile image

Paraglider 6 years ago from Kyle, Scotland

Yet you survived to tell the tale, and with gusto! Good reminiscences - I enjoyed this one :)


drbj profile image

drbj 6 years ago from south Florida

JG - Could that have been your mother I saw at the bakery buying their delicious Banana Nut Bread? You know, the woman with the scarf over her head, the big, big sunglasses and the trench-coat?

Great memoir - very readable.


Candie V profile image

Candie V 6 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

ah!! Jama! Where have you been!!??

I'm rolling on the floor cuz I'm only a so-so cook. I don't ruin anything, but I also don't have a creative bone in my body. My sister on the other hand can make amazing brunches and meals! Mom is more like me. Basics are the safest way to go. My sister in law made baking powder biscuits that resembled hockey pucks. Her hubby thought they were fab! When her brother made the real thing the husband commented once "You should make these!".. Oooops! Hahaha!

Thankfully you had relatives to rescue you! What a hoot! sorry about the Jello mess!


chspublish profile image

chspublish 6 years ago from Ireland

Amazing story of your mother's cooking - you survived, which is even more amazing and hopefully you became a 'good' cook?


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 6 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Good to see you back - even with such a tale! Hope you're enjoying your food more, these days. :)


SilverGenes 6 years ago

Hahaha I love this! Your mother and my mother were cut from the same cloth as far as culinary talent went. For years, I thought scraping the burnt layer off the toast was all part of how to make it! Spaghetti in a can? Oh yes. That's the only kind my mother made. But the upside is we were all so slim! Lovely to see you again! :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks all! I inherited my (quite good, btw) cooking skills from Grandma and the Aunts. Oddly, Grandma inherited the Banana Nut Bread recipe from her mother. Every now and then I dig it out and try to figure out how Mother altered it to make it her very own.

drbj, more likely that bakery unlocked the secret and sells it as *their* recipe!

Candie, as for where I've been, that's the subject of my next hub.

SG, being slim IS one advantage to having a mother who couldn't cook. The rest, not so much...except maybe developing an immunity to food poisoning and the cancer-causing charcoal that couldn't be scraped off the toast. ;D


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

What a wonderful, wonderful hub!

7am sounds rather early for breakfast, for my taste.

I'm lucky, my mother is a domestic goddess (-:


robie2 profile image

robie2 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

ROTFL Jama--what a fabulous Christmas hub especially the Cbristmas Jello mold story and the picture of Julia Child. Can't stop laughing. Merry Christmas and Bon Appetit.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LG, you have no idea HOW lucky you are to be blessed with a domestic goddess for a mum! I was always jealous of my cousins for having mums like yours.

robie, life with my mother was a laugh a minute and usually not in a good way. If I didn't share so many of her *physical* traits, I could (and would) claim to have been left on her doorstep as an infant by a roving band of gypsies. ;D


funride profile image

funride 6 years ago from Portugal

Thanks for sharing such Funny gastronomic experiences with us, Awesome :)

I`m a privileged one... I`m surrounded by great cookers :D


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

Who is Julia Child, anyway?


Christoph Reilly profile image

Christoph Reilly 6 years ago from St. Louis

JamaGenee: You poor deprived child. I made oyster stuffing just thanksgiving, and your description of your mother's made me gag. (Mine was delicious, however, one of my grandmothers specialties.) Glad you inherited cooking skills from others in your family! Fun hub!

@London Girl: Really? She's British, and was a spy for England in World War II, and virtually created the cooking shows that are so prevalent today.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@Christoph: Glad you liked it!

@LondonGirl: see the movie "Julie & Julia".


LondonGirl profile image

LondonGirl 6 years ago from London

Feeling ignorant, I asked my mother just now (she loved your hub too, JG) and she'd never heard of Julia Child either. So I looked her up on Wikipedia - famous, yes, but all-American. Californian, and a spy for the pre-runner of the CIA, the OSS.


Whikat 6 years ago

I loved this story and I can relate. My mom once used Tapioca pudding to replace corn starch in the turkey gravy. She made the best Pumpkin bars with cream cheese icing though. :) Thanks for sharing your experience.


KsCharles 6 years ago

How did you survive your mother's cooking, girl? There were all those "ordinary" days when you couldn't escape for a good meal at your relatives' homes! I'm so glad you managed to survive!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 6 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

LondonGirl, there are probably clips of JC's cooking shows on YouTube. She was quite theatrical, and should remind Brits of Stephen Fry in a shirtwaist and apron.

Whikat, Tapioca pudding as a cornstarch substitute? Then I'm lucky that Mother never bought Tapioca. Ewwwww!

KsCharles, the answer is: many saltine crackers in a glass of whole milk until I was big enough to make things more filling and nutritional. And I'm equally glad YOU survived YOUR mother's version of "cooking". ;D


mysterylady 89 profile image

mysterylady 89 6 years ago from Florida

What a hoot! How yucky those oysters must have been. Instead of scalloped oysters made with butter and saltines, I like to use Ritz Crackers and sour cream and, of course, fresh oysters.

I am lucky that the women in my family were all good cooks, but my father told a story about bringing home a steak and my grandmother beating it and frying it until well done. He was furious!


Winsome profile image

Winsome 5 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

Jama G so nice to see you surface and I can't wait for your tell all hub. I thoroughly enjoyed your description of your mother's culinary mishaps and military schedule. My mother was the queen of the leftovers and made a thousand varieties of what she called "Tamale Pie." Amazingly everyone was as different as our leftovers and incredibly delicious. To this day, even those to whom she told the ingredients and let watch her make it could never achieve the magical taste of her "Carmel--she didn't call it Caramel--Pie."

Incidentally I did see her twitch her nose when she thought no one was looking. =:)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Twitching her nose, huh? lol! ;D


princess g profile image

princess g 5 years ago

:) ouch


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What a lovely read. Although my mother is a wonderful cook, she kills plants. Good thing we never had to rely on a garden for food! Nice to see you back. :)


coolAustin5109 5 years ago

you survived??? that is shocking with cooking like that... but at least you are OK and are a good cook (i can only pray that) well i hope you will never taste food like that again


Xishan Ansari profile image

Xishan Ansari 5 years ago from Pakistan

nice :)


glassvisage profile image

glassvisage 5 years ago from Northern California

Very good. My mom is a pretty good cook, but once Christmas comes around, she is pretty burnt out from Thanksgiving, so she tries to enter sweepstakes to win free Honeybaked Hams :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

glassvisage, I can certainly appreciate your mother entering contests for Honeybaked Hams! I soooo overdid making one year's T'Giving meal that my kids insisted on *simple* for the following Christmas. Which is how lasagna and salad became the traditional Christmas Day feast at our house. ;D


GALAXY 59 profile image

GALAXY 59 5 years ago from United Kingdom

Very funny hub, your mother sounds a bit like my mother in law, only don't tell her I said that! I remember the first time she made food for me just after I married her son, I thought she was trying to punish me for taking him away from her.


arb profile image

arb 5 years ago from oregon

My wife's cooking is evidence that love is blind and oblivious to "that which nurishes the body". I suppose the heart sustains us longer. Enjoyed the read and your sense of humor.


Petrov profile image

Petrov 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing such Funny gastronomic experiences with us, Awesome :)

I`m a privileged one... I`m surrounded by great cookers :D


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Galaxy 59, at least you figured out your M-I-L's lousy cooking was the norm for her, not revenge! ;D

arb, thanks for the compliment and the insight that love, indeed, does survive bad cooking.

Petrov, you are soooo lucky to be surrounded by great cooks! I'm green with envy!


craigmissuea profile image

craigmissuea 5 years ago from USA

Really nice post I like the way you described whole information. but i have a question Are you sure she was your mother?

thanks.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

@craigmissuea: Alas, the relatives who accompanied her to the hospital confirmed that, yes, she was my mother. She was simply absent when Good Cook genes were handed out. Being something of a tomboy, she was probably out climbing a tree that day. ;D


Loveslove profile image

Loveslove 5 years ago from England

This braught back memories of my mums cooking.

My mum boiled the arse out of vegetables ,she still doesnt know the meaning of the words par boil or bring to the boil and simmer until tender but still firm !!! and she is 91 .I dont take after her,in fact I dont know where I get my culinary skills from.

Great HUB thank you


Sweetsusieg profile image

Sweetsusieg 5 years ago from Michigan

I must share this!! I have a few friends who if it weren't for Mc Donalds and Burger King I fear their children would starve!!

Your Mom's time frame had me in stitches!! I wonder if it was you or your brother who had a hand in inventing 'instant pudding'... LOL Too bad no one has come up with instant jello..

Great Hub!


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

roflmao. Grody bommer! I don't think I could have ever eaten any of it! A joy to read. I think I've busted a gut. I'm soooo sharing this one. Thanks JamaGenee


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're most welcome, Frieda. Between the snow and tornadoes, you need a good laugh right now. Glad I could oblige. ;D


Feline Prophet profile image

Feline Prophet 5 years ago from India

How would the world appreciate good cooks if there weren't some not-so-good ones around? :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

FP, excellent point! ;D


motherbeastly profile image

motherbeastly 5 years ago from Argyll and Albox

FP, I keep telling my children that. They were so lucky to have me as their cook, they've all left home now (wonder why), but my daughter doesn't cook either. I am a wonderfully lousy cook and at least no-one is ever bored by 'samey' meals in my house. This was a wonderful hub, loved it and I know just how your mother feels.


Edoka Writes profile image

Edoka Writes 5 years ago

What a funny story! A great way to end my night...with a good laugh! Thank you.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're most welcome, Edoka. And thank YOU for stopping by!


JodiVee profile image

JodiVee 5 years ago

What a wonderful essay! I'll look into your other hubs for sure :)

http://www.jobvirtue.com


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Looking forward to your hubs, too, JodiVee!


Rouillie 5 years ago

There's a sort of nurturing that goes into baking bread that is very different from slaving over a hot stove when you'd rather not! Maybe banana bread is what made sense to her...and nurtured you.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

An interesting thought, Rouillie! Grandma and the Aunts and I always thought Mother's banana nut bread was a screw-up that for once, turned out well. But perhaps, as you say, it was the only dish that made sense to her and that's why she could make it better than the rest of us. Now if I only knew WHY it made sense to her! ;D


onegoodwoman profile image

onegoodwoman 5 years ago from A small southern town

This is hilarious!

I do hope your Mother is able to

laugh at herself, as seen through

your eyes....


mviadam profile image

mviadam 5 years ago

Its amazing the family memories that are created around food. My g-ma has secret recipes she made us swear over, like a bible, that we would not divulge them to anyone under any circumstances.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yes, I have a few "secret" recipes myself! But knowing my children would rather give up a limb than dig around in my genealogy files, they'll probably never know they've all been written down for posterity.

The family Banana Nut Bread recipe itself, btw, is no secret. Grandma submitted it to the fund-raiser cookbook of an organization she and Mother belonged to. The secret is how Mother altered it; the possibilities are *almost* endless considering Grandma and The Aunts and I eliminated several dozen variations trying to make it turn out like Mother's. ;D


mviadam profile image

mviadam 5 years ago

I can just imagine what that process must have looked like. There is an episode of Friends where Monica tries to re-create Phoebes grandma's choc chip cookie recipe.

She bake's over 20 batches and Phoebe finally mentions the recipe was from an old French Village 'Nes Le Tol Haus' (Nestle Tollhouse.)

Too bad your kids don't appreciate those recipes, if you want them to continue tantalizing the pallet you can send them my way! ;)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

I remember that episode. Hilarious!


midnightbliss profile image

midnightbliss 5 years ago from Hermosa Beach

my mom doesn't know how to cook, its usually our dad and my aunt who cooks for us, but 3 of us sibling learned to cook young. when my mom retired, that's the time she practiced cooking. lols


CarpetDiem profile image

CarpetDiem 5 years ago from Southern California

JamaGenee,

Great hub! I will always remember the first Christmas that we had my wife's parents visit, and we tried to roast a turkey. The problem was that we discovered too late that our oven wasn't working very well. And we also discovered that microwave-cooked turkey just isn't very good. It was very embarassing back then, but now we can laugh about it!

Steve


Silver Fish profile image

Silver Fish 5 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

Just like Mamma used to make! My mother was a dreadful cook also, it took me years to realise that not all cooked veg were naturally served in half an inch of tepid water!

We survived though. Great hub a delight to read.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

CarpetDiem, if done right, nuked turkey is actually better than oven-cooked. Much more moist. The trick is to use a turkey no larger than 13 lbs...or like I did last Thanksgiving, cook the parts of a larger turkey separately...i.e. breasts, legs/thighs, etc.


eventsyoudesign profile image

eventsyoudesign 5 years ago from Nashville, Tennessee

Hey! Great story. Good read. I was fortunate to have a mother that was a good cook. I bet you could write many funny stories about your mothers cooking. Thanks for sharing. I will read more. Teresa


Nomason profile image

Nomason 5 years ago from Nigeria

THAT'S A GREAT WORK, KEEP IT UP. FROM NOMASON


CaravanHolidays profile image

CaravanHolidays 5 years ago from Wales UK

This is a great hub, and as well as the subject matter, I really love the 'tempo' of your writing and the way you use formatting, you really know what you are doing


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Caravan! I used to write fund-raising letters and brochures for a non-profit. As for the formatting, it's simply a matter of learning how to manipulate HP's text capsules and such for the effect you desire. Having a background in web design helps but isn't absolutely necessary, only a little patience and lots of practice. ;D


John Holden profile image

John Holden 5 years ago

I'm sitting here with a big grin on my face after reading that :)

Cheers.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

They say comedy is the natural by-product of tragedy, so in that respect, my mother and her side of the family were a never-ending source of grins. ;D Cheers to you too. Must be a bit after midnight there, right?


stars439 profile image

stars439 5 years ago from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State.

love it.


ethel smith profile image

ethel smith 5 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

Great read. But I bet she was still a great Mum? Not all women yearn to be good cooks. Perhaps she hated it? The positive is that any Christmas Dinner since will be heaven I guess :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yes, every Christmas dinner since has been heaven! lol!


carolinemoon profile image

carolinemoon 5 years ago

Thanks for sharing! I enjoyed reading your hub.


DuchessDuCaffeine profile image

DuchessDuCaffeine 5 years ago from United States of America

I'm dying! I can see you and your brother at the table ready to do battle with the meal of the moment!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yep, "battle" was what it was! Glad you enjoyed this bit of family laundry! ;D


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

What a funny story! It's hard to pick out just one favorite part: the chicken, the oyster soup, and the Jell-O are simply hilarious!

With my mom, it isn't so much about the cooking as it is about the ingredients. She won't buy "I can't believe it's not butter" because it costs so much, so she buys "I can believe it's not margarine" because she can get a six pound tub for $1.19!

My kids tell me they couldn't stand watching me cook, but always loved the meals. Their mother is also an excellent cook, but is more conventional than I am.

Ron White talks about his wife's inability to cook. He said he slipped some of his meal to the dog while she wasn't looking. The dog ate it, then went into the corner and started licking its "bippy." "Why is the dog doing that," she asked. "Probably trying to get the taste out of its mouth," he says!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Life with my mother (and her side of the family) was what comedians would call a "material-rich environment". If we'd had a dog, he would've been doing the same thing as RW's.

Ron White, btw, happens to be one of my favorites. Never heard of him until a friend played a short audio clip that included "I didn't want to be in pub-LICK...I wanted to be in THERE [the bar he'd just been thrown out of]". I laughed so hard I cried! Such a funny, funny man, as are his buddies Jeff Foxworthy and Bill Engvall!

And WHY exactly couldn't your kids stand to watch you cook?.... ;D


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Don't forget Larry the Cable Guy! He's not much of an actor, but he's a funny person!

My style of cooking is best described as concocting. I don't use recipes; I use what's available, and add onions and garlic!

Something like spaghetti sauce would be hamburger, onions, and green peppers cooked down and drained. Then I'd add tomato paste and some water, spaghetti seasoning mix with some additional spices, yesterday's leftovers, a little sugar (about the only thing I put sugar in), and garlic.

I'd never mix the sauce with the noodles lest I ruin the mix for spaghetti omelettes in the morning!

My baked beans are even more concocted than that! Just about everything available goes in those!

What I cook is always good, but it's also always different.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Oh, I didn't forget Larry, just never have been as fond of him as the other three.

I rarely use recipes or measure ingredients, which used to be a problem when the kids would rave about a new dish I threw together from whatever was on hand and wanted me to make it again!

Spaghetti omelets? This I have to try...but for dinner, not breakfast! ;D


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

Chicken! ;^)

I had the same problem with recipes. "How did you make that salsa?" "I honestly don't remember, but I know it had tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, onions, and garlic!"

Please let me know if/when you try the omelette!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

It's been so hot here in central OK - 100+ every day for two weeks and no end in sight - that even with AC I haven't had much of an appetite. So it may be awhile before I whip up an omelet of any kind.

Recently went through boxes from storage and found "recipes" for some of the dishes the kids found especially tasty. I'd hastily scribbled them from memory after the fact on whatever paper happened to be handy. One of these days I'll try them out and see how tasty they really were. ;D


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

I don't know how I'd fare down there. It was about 80 here today, which is plenty warm enough for me!

I'll look forward to a hub or two about the recipes you find tasty!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Yes, I've heard that when we're cooking "down here", you keep sweaters handy "up there". Also understand it rains a lot in your neck of the woods. We haven't had rain in so long that we'd probably react the same way Portlanders do when the sun comes out - drop everything, go outside and enjoy the novelty!

Have to test those scribblings a time or two before I put them in a hub. Don't recall what made them worth a repeat performance just by looking at the ingredients. ;D


Tom Koecke profile image

Tom Koecke 5 years ago from Tacoma, Washington

It isn't so much that it rains a lot as it is it rains often. Florida gets more rain than we do; it just pours, then gets on with sunshine. We get weeks of overcast and drizzle that accumulates an inch or so. The result, though, is that when the sun comes out, we drop everything, and enjoy the novelty!

If the recipes were the children's favorites, but the ingredient list leaves you scratching your head as to why, then the secret ingredient was probably love served with togetherness!


ajcor profile image

ajcor 5 years ago from NSW. Australia

Really loved this hub JamaGenee - had me laughung aloud! with all due modesty I am not a bad cook now but I do remember when I was first married and had no experience with cooking chilies and my then husband's mother gave me a special gift of a tin of really hot Argentinean chilies. So I popped them into a pot to serve as a side dish with steak and cooked them - then forgot about them and later came back into the house to find black acrid smoke and the smell of burnt green chilies! the chili stinging was so bad our eyes ran - no they poured - and we couldn't breathe, also the house stunk for days- never went down that track again....cheers


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

ajcor, now we're even. I can't stop laughing about your chilies disaster! Too funny! Just glad you didn't set the house on fire...well, not in the way that requires a call to the Fire Dept! Pepper spray (aka Mace) is based on the "stinging" properties of hot chilies, but sounds like you found that out the hard way.

But if for some weird reason you EVER want to stink up the house for days again, I know from personal experience that 8 BULBS (not cloves) of garlic in a pot of spaghetti sauce simmered for 4 hours will do the trick. That's the track *I* never want to go down again. ;D


Lita C. Malicdem profile image

Lita C. Malicdem 5 years ago from Philippines

I was like your mom, trying out on things. We simply are our own chef. The difference though is, I try many times until I get a presentable dish or menu to offer. I love to cook, innovate, create. I was laughing as you got me on here. Good sharing! Thanks!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

You're welcome, Lita! Glad to brighten your day a bit. My mother's pie crusts tasted like baked library paste, so after I left home, I used trial and error to learn to make really flaky pie crusts from scratch (chill the shortening beforehand and use as little water as possible).


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 5 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom

We had the opposite problem in our house. My mother was a good cook, who always gave us lovely healthy homemade food.

The result was that we couldnt wait to go round some of our less fortunate neighbours, and eat chips and beans.

That's kids for you.

Thanks for another very funny article.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

christopher, your story just proves even kids who get the best meals on earth can feel "deprived". ;D


gryphin423 profile image

gryphin423 5 years ago from Florida

Great hub, a pleasure to read.


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

This was funny to read, and bless her heart, your mother probably tried the best she could to cook tasty meals for your family. Who knows what she ate when she grew up? Nice to know that you survived the ordeal and are here to tell about it. Ha!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, my mother was surrounded by great cooks growing up and throughout her adult life. She simply didn't inherit the Good Cook gene! Much like those who can't even play Chopsticks despite growing up in a family of talented musicians. ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

My my! A good cooking gene? They neglected to teach us that in our biology and microbiology lessons. Who said that learning stops at the school steps! Apparently my husband got a healthy dose of that portion of genetics and I got a fair sprinkling of it. Now, as to a sewing gene...I got left out completely. But that's another story!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Peggy, there are LOTS of things they don't teach us in biology and microbiology! As for the sewing gene, an ex-boss (a female) didn't have it either, or anything else in the Domestic Arts department for that matter, but she was perfectly at home in hip waders fly-fishing in a trout stream. Go figure. ;D


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 5 years ago from Houston, Texas

I have actually taken sewing lessons (a long time ago) and had nothing to wear afterwards. They took our measurements and told us what size to buy. Simple enough! Done! Cut it out...all under supervision...sewed it together and the pants fell right down on the floor being waaay too big. So...the instructer remeasured and had me disassemble the outfit (hated that!!!) and resew. Same end result. By then I hated that fabric! They offered at no charge ANOTHER sewing class. Did I do it? Think you know without my answering. Ha!

I did use a sewing machine to make comforters, pillows and the like. Eventually donated it to a charity that was happy to have it as they taught people how to sew. Hopefully those people made good use of it. :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Oh, how funny, Peggy! For what it's worth, it's my experience that pattern sizes didn't/don't reflect the actual measurements of any living human. Naturally, they're supposed to be a bit bigger to account for the seam allowance, but come on. That instructor should've known by looking at you that you had the wrong size pattern. Perfect example, I think, of "those who can, do; those who can't, teach". Sorry your foray into sewing wasn't the joy it should've been. )-:


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, I couldn't stop laughing reading this! it reminded me of a tv program called Butterflys years ago, when the main character used to burn peas! they always looked like bullets! ha ha! mind you, I shouldn't laugh, I am not much better, I hate cooking, to me, sticking it in the microwave is my idea of cooking, even then I burn it sometimes! really funny!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Nell, so glad you found this hub humorous. Someday I'll write about how our pet parakeet almost drowned in the spaghetti. Or how Mother used to leave out key ingredients, like the time she left the sugar out of a batch of cookies, and another time, a cake.

Was Butterflys a Brit program? Don't recall it on this side of the Pond, so I'll have to look for clips as it sounds quite funny! Thanks! ;D


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 5 years ago from England

Hi, yes it was back in the seventies, but has been shown lots of times over the years, really funny!


Darkmetaly profile image

Darkmetaly 5 years ago from Iceland Höfn í Hornafirði.

nice hub I have never eaten jello I don´t even know if I could find it here in Iceland but my mother knows how to make a wonderful toblerone ice cream so I think that's good enough. anyway have nice day or evening.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 5 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Hello, Darkmetaly! I've never heard of toblerone ice cream, but I'm guessing it's much tastier than Jell-o. Perhaps my friend who's visited your lovely island several times and has friends there can tell me.


Darkmetaly profile image

Darkmetaly 4 years ago from Iceland Höfn í Hornafirði.

its an home made Ice cream she makes with toblerone.she might have gotten the recipe somewhere else ill just have to ask her one day.


Lilleyth profile image

Lilleyth 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic

Reminds me of the Thanksgiving my mother put cinnamon in the turkey dressing...fun times.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Cinnamon in the turkey dressing? A pity my mother didn't try that. lol! Fun times...definitely! ;D


Movie Master profile image

Movie Master 4 years ago from United Kingdom

A fabulous entertaining and funny hub - I could almost smell that cauliflower!!

Loved it, voted up and shared.

Best wishes Lesley


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Thanks, Lesley! So glad to know you only *almost* smelled it. The odor of cauliflower cooked for 3 hours is truly awful! ;D


Cyndi10 profile image

Cyndi10 4 years ago from Georgia

This was a great read! So funny! (Although I'm sure it wasn't at all funny while you were going through it.) My mother wasn't all that fond of cooking, but she could cook, so I'm very happy to say I can't relate to your experience :-) I absolutely loved that you wrote about it! So entertaining and so well written. Vote Up!!!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Cindy10, thanks for the kudos! Happy to know you found it entertaining as well as a great read! No, it wasn't fun (or nutritious) while it was happening, but sure was fun to write about. Was a case of "tell it to a shrink or tell it on Hubpages". Putting it here has been infinitely more cathartic! ;D


timorous profile image

timorous 4 years ago from Me to You

Haha..hilarious, JamaGenee. Cooking well is a bit of an art. You also need the desire to do so. I suspect your mom was a reluctant cook, as though by default. I'm surprised that, if you were so disgusted at the regular results, that you didn't take it upon yourself to learn to cook for the family. Perhaps in hindsight, your mom would have been relieved to not have to cook.

I agree..even when cauliflower is steamed, even for a few minutes, it emits a sort of unpleasant, almost earthy odor. Tastes pretty good with some shredded cheddar cheese, though. Cheers.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

timorous, as you've probably figured out, my mother wasn't a typical mom. My own children were preparing simple meals when they were in grade school, as could I at that age, thanks to aunts on my dad's side and my best friend's mother. But nobody but Mother - not even me or my dad or my brother - was allowed to cook in HER kitchen. This was NOT negotiable. I know now why, back then I didn't. That was just the way it was.

And yes, she WAS a "reluctant cook" with no desire to learn the "art" of cooking. To her it was drudgery, plain and simple. Most people who have to do something they truly detest will do it badly on purpose so someone else will step in and take over the task. Not my mother.

One of these days I intend to give cauliflower a try. Raw. In veggie dip. No way will a cauliflower ever get near the stove in MY kitchen. Some childhood memories stay with you till you die!

Thanks for dropping by, and for the insightful comment! ;D


Just Ask Susan profile image

Just Ask Susan 4 years ago from Ontario, Canada

My son hates it when he eats at his girlfriends house as he claims her mother can not cook anything. The other day he says to me "Mom have you ever had chicken jerky? I did last night for dinner and was told it was roasted chicken."

He claims she overcooks everything not just chicken.

Enjoyed reading your story. When I first saw the title I thought it was going to be on excuses to get out of cooking :)


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Susan, life is full of surprises, right? lol!

I can personally attest there IS such a thing as "Chicken Jerky". My mother made it EVERY Sunday! (Sadly, beef never quite made it to the jerky stage...which would've rendered it edible as well as having some flavor...)

I'm assuming your son's girlfriend LOVES to eat at your house, but have to ask, like a previous commenter asked ME, why doesn't the girlfriend cook when your son comes to her house for dinner? Perhaps for the same reason I wasn't allowed to cook in my mother's kitchen?

Glad you enjoyed this hub, and THANK YOU for the comment! ;D


vespawoolf profile image

vespawoolf 4 years ago from Peru, South America

JamaGenee, this is a unique and humorous hub! It actually reminds me of my childhood. I always thought my mother's lack of caring was the problem with her cooking. My mother-in-law was no better. Her favorite dinner was delivery pizza! Anyway, I enjoyed your "throwaway" hub. : )


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Tanks, vespawoolf! Delivery pizza would've been HEAVEN in a box at our house. An ex-boss whose husband verified she couldn't boil water without setting the house on fire had it easy. HER mother-in-law was a great cook who didn't want her "baby boy" OR the grandkids to starve, so she'd stock Boss Lady's freezer with casseroles and such while BL and Hubby were at work!


B Lucy profile image

B Lucy 2 years ago from Podunk, Virginia

I am HOWLING! I can absolutely identify with your Mom one hundred percent! While I also have some really good signature dishes, I am for the most part, a dreadful cook. Dangerous even. I once substituted wine cooler for lemon juice and paprika for curry powder in an undercooked Chicken Divan recipe that sent my ex to the ER. The upside is that out of necessity, my daughter has become an amazing cook so I guess alls well that ends well!! = ) Love the hub, my friend!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 2 years ago from Central Oklahoma Author

Now I'm HOWLING, B Lucy, over your poor husband having to go to the ER from undercooked chicken! He would've been perfectly safe at my mother's table; the only thing she ever "undercooked" was Jell-O!

You being a (mostly) dreadful cook and your daughter an amazing one reminds me of the mother and daughter on the Brit mystery "Midsomer Murders". Joyce (the mother) would've had no problem substituting wine cooler for lemon juice, either!

That said, I have to admit to a paprika disaster of my own recently. A cooking show featured a recipe for steak rub, and I must've misread "tsp" as "Tbsp" when I measured the paprika because steam practically came out of my ears at the first bite! Luckily, I give new recipes a few test runs before trying them out on other humans, so I won't make THAT mistake again! ;D

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