Wickedly Perfect by Sarah Thurmond

These are two recipes I associate with Mom and the holidays. Whenever my family would come over to our house for Christmas dinner, my mother would always have this punch simmering in the percolator. I remember my grandmother sipping her cup of hot punch, looking, pardon the pun, pleased as punch at her little granddaughters behaving themselves in front of company. The hopping john, on the other hand, was the bane of our existence around New Year's. My sisters and I were not friends of the vegetable and would fight off any attempts made by our mean mother to feed us anything in the v-word food group. It is a well-known, albeit unproven, fact that eating black-eyed peas on New Year's day brings good luck in the coming year and our superstitious mother would use that threat to get us to eat a bite of hopping john. For most of the meal, we remained steadfast in our boycott of the pea. Misfortune, ha! However, Mom would always triumph in the end as we inevitably gave in to our guilt or fear and ate a black-eyed pea. Mom's mantra, "The more you eat, the more luck you'll have," didn't work on us though.

Elsie Jean's Hopping John

1 can condensed onion soup
1 can water
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
1 (10 oz.) pkg. frozen black-eyed peas
1 1/2 C cooked ham strips
2 Tbs salad oil
1 1/2 C water
1 1/2 C packaged precooked rice

Put onion soup in medium saucepan. Add can of water, salt and Tabasco. Bring to boil. Add black-eyed peas. Cover and simmer 40-45 minutes or until peas are tender. Sauté ham in oil. Add 11/2 C water, rice and ham strips to pea mixture. Continue to simmer about 5 minutes until rice is tender and water absorbed. Serves 5 or 6.

Hot Punch

4 C apple cider
2 C cranberry juice
1 C orange juice
1 (12 oz.) can apricot nectar
2 sticks cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in large coffee percolator. Heat and let simmer 20 minutes. The longer it sits, the better it gets. Serves 20 to 25.

More Peas Please!
by Kim Fusco

When asked, "What's for dinner?" Mom (Janice Cacace) would say, "Macaroni and peas!" As a kid I loved to eat this. Mom made it throughout the fall and winter, it's a great one pot meal. However, when I moved out on my own and made this meal for myself, I found it a little bland to my now adult palate. Adding a dash of crushed red pepper made it better. (But don't tell Mom, she thinks it's great just the way it was.)

Janice's Mac & Peas

2 14 oz cans of Chicken broth
I 28 oz can of crushed canned tomatoes
1 yellow medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 lb of chopped meat, prepared (see below)
1lb of Ditalini pasta (or any small tube shaped pasta)
1 package of frozen peas
1 Tbs of oil (your choice)
crushed red pepper to taste

Prepared chopped meat:
Combine 1lb of chopped meat, 1 egg, 1/2 C of bread crumbs, 1/4 C of freshly grated parmesan cheese, and 1/8 tsp black pepper.
Mom used a big bowl and her hands to mix it.

In a large stockpot, add oil and coarsely chopped onion. Simmer onion for 2 min. Dump the chopped meat into the pot. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat into bite sized pieces. Cook until almost all pink is gone. Add 2 cans of broth and the can of tomatoes, add pasta and frozen peas. Add crushed red pepper if you're not cooking it for kids. Turn the heat up to medium, bring to a boil, cook until pasta is al dente. Top each serving with more parmesan to taste.

Serial Mom by Candice Owens

When I was a kid, I tended to hallucinate and become extremely paranoid whenever I had a fever. One time, when I was down with a nasty bout of stomach flu, I came to believe in my heart of hearts that Russians were trying to kill me. My mom, figuring I could use some comfort food, made some tuna casserole for me and I promptly threw it up. Of course, I took that as proof that Russian spies had taken my mom and put an evil double in her place and that this fiendish lookalike tried to poison me! Turns out it wasn't a spy or my real mom, but the makers of Tuna Helper that were to blame, and I once again trusted my mother with feeding me. Her green chili, by the way, has never made me sick and it's pretty darn good.

Shirley's Poison-Free Green Chili

Bacon grease
Diced pork, center loin (pork for chili)
1 can diced tomatoes
2 Tbs chili powder
Minced or chopped fresh garlic (as much as you like)
1 can diced jalapeno peppers, mild
1/2 onion
1/2 tsp cumin
1-2 Tbs sugar
Chopped fresh basil to taste
1/2 C water
Salt and pepper

Flour, salt, and pepper the pork and brown it in the bacon grease. Put browned pork and the rest of the ingredients in a crock pot and set it to "low." Let it cook all day. Enjoy.

When You're Too Poor To Buy Real Candy by C.

This family recipe was discovered due to a forgotten container of refrigerated jell during my parent's divorce. The result: this fabulous recipe for Hard as Rubber Jell-O.

Hard as Rubber Jell-O

1 box of Jell-O brand gelatin, any flavor you like
One Tupperware container

In the Tupperware container mix the water and Jell-O as directed on the Jell-O brand gelatin box. Place the Tupperware container in the very back of the refrigerator and leave for two to three months. More if you like. After many months, take the container out of the refrigerator, remove the lid and, using your sharpest knife, slice the jell into squares and remove the thoroughly rubberized jell with whatever kitchen implement works. Then start chewing! Just like gummy bears!

No Grazie! by Alisa Welch

Contrary to reports, not all Italians are amazing cooks and unfortunately for me, good cooking abilities are not in my genes. My grandmother, God bless her, could warm up a Honey Baked ham but not much else. My mother liked to fry liver and onions for us. Why would she think a group of five- to ten-year-old girls would eat that? I ended up eating a great deal of hot dogs instead. There was one dish that we could all agree on, and that was clam spaghetti.

Mother Theresa's Clam Spaghetti

6 C cooked spaghetti
1 can of clams
1 can of mushrooms
2 Tbs dried parsley
1 C olive oil
1/2 C parmesan cheese
Crushed garlic to taste
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the ingredients in a pot and put on the table for ungrateful family.

Mothers Issue Features:

{ She's Having a Baby: The Lesbian Gayby Boom }
{ Universal Mother: An Interview With Writer Ariel Gore }
{ All About My Mother: The Greatest Movie Moms }
{ Somebody's Mother: A Photo Essay }
{ Losing the Almighty Mother }
{ A Grandmother's Lament }
{ Are You Going to Eat That? Mother's Cooking }

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