What Our Moms Taught Us in the Kitchen and Beyond

We Have Them to Thank for Our Love of Food

strawberries on top of lemon cake

The Spruce Eats team won’t be able to see their moms and grandmothers in person this Mother's Day, but spending so much time in our kitchens lately has been a reminder of how much they’ve taught us and where our love of food came from. We'd love to hear your stories—share what you've been cooking up in honor of mom with us on Instagram at @thespruceeats.

My mum is one of the best cooks I know. My whole life, she's made it look so easy and one of my favorite parts about visiting her now is all the meals she cooks for me! But my favorite recipe of hers that I've come to know by heart is her stuffing. It's a drier stuffing than the traditional North American kind (my parents are British), but all the better for soaking up gravy. It's perfectly-balanced with fresh parsley and sage, lemon juice and zest, a solid amound of bacon, and onions cooked in bacon fat. She learned the recipe from my grandma and I serve it at every Friendsgiving and holiday that I'm not able to spend with my parents—it's a comforting taste of home and always brings back warm memories. —Kate McKenna, Newsletter Editor

I live a few states away from my family, whom I’m incredibly close with, so there are definitely days when I’m feeling the deep pangs of homesickness. Since I can’t just pop over to say hi and share a meal (something we typically do in our family), I like to recreate some of the favorite childhood recipes my mom made for my brother and I when we were little. My mom, a wonderful cook and baker, makes these delectable desserts she calls “crispas.” Essentially, they’re our family’s take on churros. She uses water, a stick of butter, flour, and eggs to create the batter. Then once it cools a bit, she transfers the batter into a piping bag. She pipes little, finger-length dollops into frying oil that she heats in a deep skillet and fries them until nicely golden brown. Then she dips them in this incredible cinnamon-sugar mixture. I remember being super little and my brother and I sneaking in to grab the piping hot finished ones and running away laughing while my mother was cooking. I don’t think there were ever any that made it past the cinnamon-sugar dish onto an actual cooling rack or plate. It’s nothing super fancy, but this recipe has some great memories attached to it and makes me feel like I’m at home in my mother’s kitchen. Thank you, mom, for such wonderful memories! —Victoria Heydt, Contributing Writer

My grandmother has made so many delicious things for me that remind me of happy times. Sausage cheese puffs, chocolate chip cookies, bundt cakes—you name it. But there are a few that come to mind instantly and they all involve bread. First are bunakins, a traditional vacation breakfast for my family that involves frying dough in Crisco until they become delicious puffy bread clouds that you cover in butter and powdered sugar. Next are potato chip sandwiches, another vacation favorite, where she makes homemade potato chips and piles them high between two pieces of buttered white bread with some salt and pepper. Sounds weird, tastes amazing, but that could be because I associated so many happy summers with those sandwiches. Finally, there is my personal favorite: two pieces buttered toast, cut into triangles. Since both of my parents had day jobs, my grandma would pick me up from school if I was sick and take care of me at her house and she always gave me buttered toast triangles. To this day, it makes me feel better when I'm sick. Are there any medicinal properties associate with white bread and butter? Probably not. But for my grandmother, bread and a hearty slab of butter fix everything, and I wholeheartedly agree. —Brooke Schuldt, Social Media Editor

food editor jess kapadia and her mom in the kitchen of their family restaurant
Food editor Jess Kapadia and her mom in the kitchen of their family restaurant.

Jess Kapadia

I grew up with a chef mom, all but ensuring that my obsession with delicious food would influence my career. Thanks to her inspiration, I've worked back and front of house in restaurants, in a food truck, at a catering company, on cookbook shoots, and at many food publications over the course of my professional life. It all feels exactly right and natural. Connecting our passions has brought us closer as family, and everyone wins when it comes to big holiday meals together, and I'll spend the rest of my life trying to reach her skill level in numerous cuisines (especially Indian). —Jess Kapadia, Food Editor

My mom would be the first to admit that she doesn't love to cook (and now as a working mom with an energetic 15-month-old, I see why meals can often feel more like a chore and less like a fun hobby), so most of my food memories with her involve dining out. She would whip up quick meals on weeknights (simple noodle soups, dumplings from her freezer stash, the occasional gussied-up instant ramen), but weekends were for restaurants. Dimsum was a reoccuring Sunday morning activity—and one I loved well into adulthood—and we made our way through my neighborhood's robust restaurant scene on Saturday evenings. It was on those mini eating adventures that I got my first taste of Vietnamese pho, Malaysian roti canai, Taiwanese braised pork—flavors and ingredients that were then new and now bring as much comfort as the home-cooked Chinese food of my childhood. —Patty Lee, Senior Food Editor

My relationship with my mother revolves around food. It is how we connect with each other. No matter what time of day I am talking to her on the phone, the conversation invariably turns to what she and I made for dinner the night before, are making for dinner that day, or some random baking project or recipe that we are inspired by. It was from her that I developed my love of food and cooking. She grew up in Brooklyn and learned to cook from her Italian neighbor, Loretta. Therefore, she cooks like an Italian grandmother. Her red sauce, meatballs, sausage, and baked ziti are famous amongst my family and friends. But she doesn't stop there. She makes so many things that are so delicious that I would be like Bubba in Forrest Gump just naming them... squash soup, spicy pickles, pot roast, pepper jelly, duck confit, enchiladas, chicken stock (and these are just things I remember getting from her as leftovers in the last month). I am one of four boys and even though it's now just her and my dad at home, she still cooks like we're all there and bringing a friend so no matter if I see her once a day or once a week, I never leave her house empty handed. —Eric Handelsman, General Manager

One of my favorite food memories with my mom in the kitchen was us pretending to host our own cooking show together. As a kid, I spent hours watching old episodes of Julia Child, Graham Kerr, and of course, early 90s Food Network. My mom and I would cook together often, but it was most fun to put out all of the ingredients into little bowls and dishes (just like they do on television) and proceed to "teach" the imaginary audience how to make the cake or the cookies that we were whipping up. ("Today, we'll be making one of our favorites, a hummingbird cake.") Our go-to line to transition between any part of the recipe was, "as you can see here." As in, "as you can see here, we have the dry ingredients," and "as you can see here, we have the two eggs and oil." Perhaps the production value of our little "shows" could have used some help on the script front, but my mom's willingness to entertain my obsession with cooking, even down to the part where I wanted to pretend to be a celebrity chef, is something for which I am eternally grateful. —Kristin Stangl, Assistant Editor