News From Terre Haute, Indiana

July 2, 2013

LIZ CIANCONE: Cooking with love may be the difference

Liz Ciancone
Special to the Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — A lot of us when faced with the question, “What’s for supper?” wish we could turn it over to our moms. Somehow every mom is remembered as a super cook. Maybe that’s because our fondest memories of food center around the supper table of our youth.

Of course we were — as were most of us as we grew — ready to eat almost anything. I had friends who feasted on school paste. It did smell good, like wintergreen or mint.

After Mom died, I came back to Indiana laden with her cook books and some cards on which she had written out the recipes for my favorites. But, try as I have and as many times as I have, my chop suey just doesn’t taste like her chop suey. Maybe it’s because she really liked to cook and I don’t. Cooking with love may be the difference?

One of the books I brought back from Missouri was a spiral notebook which I remembered as containing her recipe for a chocolate orange cake. Sadly it was the wrong spiral notebook and one of my favorites is lost along with a favorite recipe for sugar cookies which contained a pound of ground raisins.

I miss Mom’s Christmas coffee cakes and her unforgettable plum pudding, also a holiday must. Her yeast rolls and cakes did not begin with a box featuring a picture of Betty Crocker, they started with eggs and sugar and flour and, sometimes, oh happy day, chocolate and orange juice.

I lost a yen for her chicken and dumplings when that dish appeared on the supper table the same day I found my pet chicken, Rosie, missing from the chicken house.

My Best Friend’s mom was an incomparable cook. Her start-from-scratch pasta, which she filled with her special blend of meat and chopped spinach to end as ravioli, was added to my list of favorite things when covered with her slow-simmer spaghetti sauce. She used to say that if the sauce was right, you could put it over almost anything and it would be good.

I am smart enough not to enter the Italian chef competition. I leave that to my BF while I chop the onions and the garlic and open the tomato paste can. He has the knack. I furnish the taste buds.

My sons remember that sauce and they make it. As for my chop suey — well, in a pinch.



Liz Ciancone is a retired Tribune-Star reporter. Send email to opinion@tribstar.com.