Food and memories: an ode to one of the finest….

Food, aromas, tastes, they all can bring hidden memories rushing to the forefront.  Memories from when you are a kid and comfort foods.  Trying a recipe and reaching to call one of the best cooks you know, only to realize she’s not there any more…..

We recently lost Old Rooster’s mom, Mama Rooster.  Best MIL a Phathen could have; to be loved as one of her own chicks, and crowed over as well. Its hard to lose someone you love, but its especially hard to lose someone as wonderful as Mama Rooster.

She raised three kids on next to nothing.  Oh, things got better as the years went by, and she and Papa Rooster eventually lived comfortably on their 5 acres and in their beautiful home.  But the real story of this fabulous cook, lies in the hard times and the creativity it took to make a meal out of very little and fill those 5 tummies….

An old school cook, Mama Rooster used lard/Crisco for her pie crust, and plenty of butter and evaporated milk and all those things the health nuts wince at even thinking of using.  But let me tell you something, no food tasted better than what came out of her kitchen.  She is best remembered for her icebox pies; I especially loved her chocolate and Papa Rooster loved her coconut.  I never liked coconut pie until I ate hers.  Still won’t eat any other coconut, they just are terrible next to hers.   EVERYTHING was made from scratch and her crusts were so good.  You could hold a slice in your hand and eat it like that, they were so firm, but so tender.  I tried making pie crust and served it to her.  It was okay, really it was, but she was so loving and told me it was just so good and I’d done a good job.  Thanks, mom, for loving me and encouraging me.

I wouldn’t eat all day knowing I was going to be sitting at her table that night.  Fried chicken, oh Lord could she fry chicken.  I learned to fry it properly from watching her.  Still isn’t as good as hers, but she taught me.  Pot pies, hams, pork chops, whatever.  If it came from her kitchen, it was delicious and heavenly.  And everyone wanted a place at her table.

She could go into her pantry and whip together a meal that tasted good even if it wasn’t of the fanciest ingredients.  If she didn’t have what was exactly needed, she could find a substitute and you’d never know it wasn’t made just the way it should.  Have you ever had chocolate gravy?  Over biscuits?  Well, her kids grew up having that for breakfast on occasion.

Oh and she didn’t use recipes, no not at all.  So nothing is in writing.  Except Sister, who is as good a cook as her mother, was able to write out the recipe for dressing for Thanksgiving.  Its still a do it by feel type of thing, but we almost have it down.

I sure need her advise and experience as I experiment in cooking without salt to take care of her son.  She had a wealth of knowledge about food and seasoning and such that is gone and lost to me know.  So, as those aromas and foods trigger memories, perhaps I’ll pull out of those memories some tidbit from her said long ago that will help me as I endeavor to make salt free taste good.

Treasure the people in your life, for we all know someday they will be gone.  Right now, Mama Rooster is cooking up a storm for the Heavenly Host and I bet they just love her chocolate and coconut pies!!!  Lucky dogs.

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