What foods remind you of home? What tastes or smells make you think of your Mom?
My Mom had a big impact on my love of food. We were very close when I was growing up, an only child. I think we all carry the memories, tastes and smells from home with us wherever we go.
For me itis pretty hard to narrow down to just a few of my favorite dishes she made. My Mom made quite a few things that have stayed with me over the years. There was my favorite lasagna she made for my 13th birthday, She would make whatever I wanted for dinner on my birthday. She even spelled out "HBA" for "Happy Birthday A" in cheese across the top. She made wonderful rice pudding, Triangle Delight Bars, corn meal mush and of course there were her mashed potatoes. Those were always my favorite.
I remember my job for family holidays was to help peel potatoes. Not glamorous, I know, but, I didn't mind. I loved those potatoes and wanted to make sure they always ended up on the holiday table.
I traveled to Japan for a year during college, and then worked there for 3 years after I graduated. It was during this time that food from home took on a whole new meaning. When I taught English, everyone asked me about the United States, my region of the country and what foods my family enjoyed.
Despite all the amazing flavors and exotic foods I tried while living abroad, I also missed things my Mom had made...like those mashed potatoes from my childhood! I ended up making mashed potatoes to share with friends and coworkers while I lived in Japan.
Some enjoyed it, others not so much. They didn't have the same history with the food as I did.
While living abroad it wasn't as easy to stay connected. Now Skype is commonplace, texting was just taking off and calling internationally was amazingly expensive. There was no substitute for scraping up enough money to fly home for a visit.
And sometimes my Mom would surprise me by sending me a little extra spending money.
Western Union recently created a video that I think sums up what it feels like to be a "dual-belonger" and how food is tied to the homes we miss. The video caused me to tear up. I know what it feels like to be far from home and get a taste of childhood favorite.
If you have ever been away from home, or live away from your Mom, you might want to grab a tissue to watch the Western Union #WUHomedCooked video. I still rather miss my Mom's mashed potatoes since we currently live on opposite ends of the United States.
I was so inspired with the food and meals shared in the video, I wanted to share a humble but memory-rich meal from my family. This is something I remember not only my Mom making, but also her Mother, my Grandma Mary.
It is comfort food, through and through, but it has a special place in my heart. Of course, it is something that was always served with my Mom's famous mashed potatoes. Here is my family's Round Steak and Peas, Mashed Potato and Gravy.
Round Steak and Peas, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
You Will Need:
- 8 thin cut round steaks
- 1/4 c. flour + 2 Tbsp.
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 4 Tbsp. butter, divided
- 1 c. beef stock
- 1/2 c. frozen peas
- 5 russet potatoes, peeled and diced
- 1/2 c. milk, or more to achieve desired consistency in the potatoes
- salt and pepper to taste
Heat up a cast iron skilled with 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Set up a dredging station for the round steaks. Season the 1/4 cup flour, dust the steaks in flour, dip them in egg wash, then dredge again. Place into the heated skilled and brown both sides and bring steaks up to desired temperature.
While the steaks are cooking, start the potatoes boiling in enough water to just cover them. Salt the water generously. Boil for about 15 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Drain off most of the water and add 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 c. milk. Mash the potatoes and add more milk if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.
Once the steaks are finished, they can be set aside and covered. To the skilled add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons flour. With a whisk, cook the flour till pale and remove any bits of steak still stuck in the pan. Add the stock and whisk to remove lumps. Let simmer till slightly thickened, then add the peas. Season to taste and let the gravy warm through.
Serve the steaks over mashed potatoes and drizzle with the gravy and peas.
If you have ever been away from home, what flavors did you miss most?
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.