- Baked Macaroni and Cheese. Mom never cooked that awful bright yellow boxed stuff. I was introduced to boxed Mac & Cheese powder as an adult, and I’ve never been able to develop any taste for it. Truly horrific stuff. I miss the goodness of real cheese, melted with milk into a roux of flour and butter, then baked with al dente macaroni noodles in the oven. I’ve tried a variety of baked macaroni recipes over the years, but none of them quite achieve how mom’s was. It mostly seems to be a problem in the crust — I remember mom’s baked mac and cheese as having a kind of chewy/ crunchy crust, but all the ones I make have a barely-there crust.
- Mint Surprise Cookies. Mom made these every year at Christmas. She would buy a pack of Andes mints, slice them up into slivers, wrap the mints in the cookie dough, roll them in granulated sugar, and bake them. Fresh out of the oven, they would get topped with a pecan. They were delicious, but I don’t know the actual cookie dough recipe.
- Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies. I know, I know. Recipes for this cookie abound. I even made them all the time as a teenager. I don’t know what the hell is going on with my PB cookies now, but they always turn out (in my opinion) kind of dry and crumbly instead of chewy on the outside and moist on the inside. I thought maybe it was because I was using crunchy PB, so I switched to creamy, but nothing doing. This, admittedly, may be a situation of me being a perfectionist, because everyone who’s tried my PB cookies swears up and down that they’re delicious.
- Jam. The homemade jam recipes I’ve tried have been pretty basic. The jam turns out as required, but it’s not very . . . jammy. Like, thick. Mom’s was thick. Mine is spreadable and still delicious, but it’s not as thick as mom’s was. Again, no one else seems to mind. Last time I canned jam, we ran out within 3 months. But every time I ate it, I remember the jammy perfection of my mom’s jam, and I felt let down and disappointed.
- Schnitzel. My parents made it out of breaded pork, served it with a squiggly pasta and capers, and usually had an apple/ raisin/ yogurt salad on the side. I’ve never even tried to make it, but I’ve been missing it lately.
- And finally, that most important and wondrous of recipes . . . Crescent Rolls. I don’t know what mom did or where she got her recipe, but I’ve been unable to recreate it. These were the flakiest, butteriest, most delicious rolls in the world. She would usually make a double (sometimes triple) batch at Thanksgiving, and they were always the first leftover to disappear. We’d just wander into the kitchen, grab a couple of these babies out of the bread drawer, and wander off snacking on them. My dad’s new wife is a pretty freaking awesome cook, and even her crescent rolls can’t match my moms. In sorrow, I’ve reverted to buying those Pillsbury canned rolls — they may not be awesome, but I least I can comfort myself that the inadequacy and lack of flavor is derived from the can.
I’d also like to try my hand at fried chicken again. Mom never made this, and I never really learned how. However, I recently learned that my husband loves fried chicken, but he dislikes KFC about as much (if not more) than I do. We’ve been settling for Albertson’s fried chicken in the lack of a Church’s Chicken (which is, according to John, the only place to buy fried chicken at). Amy, Goddess of the Kitchen and All Things Delicious, has promised to send me her fried chicken recipe, which I’m excited to try.