Since this is a blog about cooking, I tend to write a bunch about food I loathe, much of which I learned to hate whilst growing up. In the process, I kind of make my Ma like a terrible cook. She wasn’t/isn’t, and I feel bad about that. Especially since her mother, to my best recollection, was … uh … not a spectacular … er … less than the greatest … uh … a very nice lady.
Ma kept three kids alive and relatively healthy from 1977 to whenever my brother moved out. She even had a few dishes that we went crazy for, which included (but weren’t limited to):
Lasagna. I know there are more authentic lasagnas out there, with homemade sauce and fresh-from-the-store mozzarella and sausage ground from pigs kept in the basement. But Ma’s, made from Prego and Ronzoni and Polly-O, was manna to us. Part of it was the taste – with kids, you can’t go wrong with cheese and sauce – but the other part was the extra time she put into it, even after a full day at the hospital.
Crumb Cake. This is a recent development, but Ma makes the best dang crumb cake I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure she got the recipe from a unicorn or leprechaun or other mythical creature, because it’s that good.
Meatballs. For a woman who only tans at gunpoint, these are impressive. Her secret? I have no idea. She won’t tell me and I don’t pay enough attention.
Christmas cookies. These are Ma’s specialties. Every year, she takes a full weekend in December to just bake her face off. In the end, there are dozens and dozens of pinwheels, peanut butter kisses, lemon bars, M&M chocolate chip cookies, and my absolute favorite, peanut butter and jelly bars. Nowadays, I make them myself for parties and such, and friends tend to suck them up like water.
Banana and Irish Soda breads. One is moister than a bucket of Jergens. The other is drier than the surface of the sun. Both are delicious with jam.
Sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping. This is one of my Top 5 absolute favorite foods in the world. In my brain, it’s the reason for Thanksgiving, and gives canned vegetables an excuse for existence. I’d eat it everyday, but then it wouldn’t be special for the holidays. (Like, say Easter.)
Honestly, I don’t know where Ma got the recipe. It’s easy enough for a fetus to make, though, and contains very little fat, to boot. Plus, if you have a sweet potato hater in the house, it’s guaranteed to change their minds forever.
Er, maybe I’m playing this up a bit too much. But it’s hard not to do when you like a dish this much. And it’s hard not to do when talking about your Ma. Because when all is said and done, she did good.
Ma’s Sweet Potatoes
40-ounce can sweet potatoes or yams, drained, with 1/8 cup liquid reserved
½ cup low-fat sour cream
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon salt
¼ - 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1-1/2 to 2 cups mini-marshmallows
1) Preheat oven to 350°F.
2) Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and beat on medium-low speed until there are no lumps.
3) Coat a small casserole dish (1 or 2 quarts) with cooking spray. Pour sweet potato mixture in dish and top with a single layer of marshmallows (enough to pretty much cover everything).
4) Bake for 30 minutes.
5) Eat, love, and apologize to your mom for anything bad you’ve ever said about her.
Approximate Calories, Fat, and Price Per Serving
246 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.51
40-ounce can sweet potatoes or yams, drained, with 1/8 cup liquid reserved: 982, 2.7 g fat, $1.99
½ cup low-fat sour cream: 140 calories, 8 g fat, $0.38
1 large egg yolk: 55 calories, 4.5 g fat, $0.18
1 teaspoon salt: negligible calories and fat, $0.01
¼ - 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg: negligible calories and fat, $0.02
Cooking spray: negligible calories and fat, $0.05
1-1/2 to 2 cups mini-marshmallows: 300 calories, 0 g fat, $0.40
TOTAL: 1477 calories, 15.2 g fat, $3.03
PER SERVING (TOTAL/6): 246 calories, 2.5 g fat, $0.51