Cooking

Why My Mom Should Have A Cooking Blog….And Yours Should Too!

My grandma Mary (so was my grandma Rose) was a wonderful cook, and while she made a wonderful Sunday gravy  (pasta sauce) and a tender pork roast, her most memorable dish was the Antipasto tray that she would do for family parties.  For those not Italian, a family party could be counted as any time you had more than eight related people in a room at one time, which could me a weekly event.

Anyway, I remember that  she would always save some olives for me to put on the tips of my fingers and then eat them of, after watching them glisten on my fingertips, like fake nails.  She would also have salami, tuna packed in olive oil, tomatoes, provolone cheese and…..  I can’t remember.  No one really can remember everything that was in the dish.  We also apparently never took a picture of the dish, and my grandmother passed away without telling us.

My mother is a fabulous cook.  Actually, all of the women in my family are fabulous cooks, and most of the men were not too bad either.  I remember my dad made awesome baked ziti.    I led such a sheltered existence that I didn’t realize that everyone did not know how to cook, until my parents took us to the house of one of their friends and we were served spaghetti with a sauce that tasted like ketchup and american cheese melted on the pasta. (Its been a few decades since I was served that and I still shudder at the memory)

But back to my mother.  Night after night she would put wonderful meals on the table.  In addition to pastas and sauce she would serve breaded fish fillets, chicken, pork chops in applesauce gravy,  homemade chicken soup, pot roast, sloppy joes in pita pockets and a hundred other tasty meals, that she would conjure up quickly each night.

Once I was married and cooking dinner, I asked her what cookbook she got her recipes from.  She looked at me, sniffed and said, “Recipes are for people who don’t know how to cook.”  And for her this is true.  She is an intuitive cook, using a recipe as a starting point for proportions perhaps, but usually went off on her own.

And this is wonderful, until you want to re-create that wonderful dish at home.  And she is a very generous and willing to give cooking advice.  However, when you ask her for the recipes, she starts with “Get a bunch of chicken cutlets, and the chicken broth in the can”  and you are sitting there thinking, ‘How many is a bunch, what sized can?  Low Sodium broth?  Will the world end if I use the stuff in the box?

And I find that after years of watching my mom cook has led me to be an intuitive cook.  I have cook books and recipes pinned and recipe cards, but unless I am baking, I very, very rarely make the recipe as it is written.  Sometimes its because I get distracted while cooking and I leave something out, but usually its because as I am tasting and smelling as I go, I adjust things.  Including recreating my favorite recipes of my mom’s even though they never taste exactly the same.

However, my love for intuitive cooking makes it difficult for people who like my cooking and want my recipes. I am happy to share, but when I started to discuss the process, I find that I give guidelines as opposed to specifics.   So, I now record the recipes on the blog and force myself to measure and time things.   I am hoping my kids appreciate this later on.

For me, a lot of my family memories are tied up with food.  I remember wonderful meals growing up.  And the funny thing, that even though a lot of popular Italian foods contain the same basic ingredients, I can’t pick up an Italian cookbook and recreate my family’s sauce.  Heck, my mom and her sister don’t even make the same sauce.

Now that I am getting older, I want to have those recipes to make for my children, and hopefully my grandchildren (way in the future) and have stories to tell them about my cousins, aunts, uncles and assorted relatives.  My mom’s bout with cancer 5 years ago, and the fact that several of my aunts on my father’s side are hitting their 80’s remind me that my time to collect these recipes/memories are slipping away.

Which is why my mom needs a blog.  This way her recipes are there for me and my brother, and the other people who love her food.

If you are reading this and it sounds familiar to you, then perhaps your mom should have a cooking blog too.

One thing I do have, and I am eternally grateful for is a video of my mom, aunt, daughter, cousin and brother all making Cavatelli.  My mom is the one in the purple apron.

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Dessert Without Drama-Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

Many of you that know me, might know that I love my slow cookers.  All three of them.  I typically use them to make sauce, chili, or beer and onion chicken, but I keep seeing slow cooker desserts online and decided I had to try one.

I picked Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake from Recipe Shoebox, who found it in a Betty Crocker Book.   This cake was very easy to make, and super delicious.  The hardest part was waiting for the 30 minutes after cooking to end so we could dig in.  Vanilla ice cream is essential to this dish.

The only thing is this is an ‘eat it the night you make it recipe’ as I am not a big fan of nuking cake.

I made this in my 2qt slow cooker.  You need to use the small one for  the recipe as printed, otherwise the cake will be dry and you won’t get the sauce.

Slow Cooker Chocolate Cake

10-15 minutes prep time
2-2 1/2 hours cook time

The Cake
1 c flour (I snuck in whole wheat flour & I bet Gluten Free would be fine)
1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 c milk
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 package chocolate chips (6oz) I added more
1/2 c chopped nuts (optional)

The Saucy Part
1 c brown sugar
1/4 c cocoa powder
2 c hot water (If I was making this for adults, I would probably swap out a little water for kahlua)

SUPPLIES: Cooking Spray, 2 QT Slow Cooker, Mixing Bowl, 4 Cup Measuring Cup, Spatula, dry ingredient measuring cup, measuring spoons.

How To

1. Spray the inside of your slow cooker with non stick spray or rub butter all around inside the bowl.

2. Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt in a bowl.

3. Stir in the milk, oil, vanilla until smooth. At this point you can add chocolate chips/and or nuts.

4. Spread the batter evenly in the crock pot.


5. Meanwhile, heat up the water in a microwave safe measuring cup (4 cups size or bigger). [Takes 3-4 minutes]

6. Add the brown sugar and the cocoa powder and stir until smooth. You may need to use a whisk or fork to get out the     lumps of sugar.

7. Pour the liquid mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the cake batter in the crockpot.

8. Cover with the lid and turn the slow cooker on high for 2-2 1/2 hours or until a toothpick comes out clean. Then turn off the slow cooker. The longer you wait to serve this, the thicker the sauce will get.

You MUST serve this with the sauce.  Its completely essential.