4 The 1’s I Love

 Several weeks ago I received an email from one of my sons’ childhood friends. She was commenting on her mother’s cooking and I was enjoying this new perspective on a woman who I had long held in high esteem and viewed with admiration. (Her mother is a brilliant sculptor with works in the permanent collections of several of the world’s major museums).

She wrote, “My mom made macaroni and cheese with Mueller’s corkscrew pasta- and the cheese was Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup, condensed.  At least that’s all I remember-  there might have been other magical ingredients, but I don’t think so. well- butter.  lots of butter.  the macaroni was passable- but her meatloaf was DREADFUL. Image of: mom’s hands mixing raw hamburger meat, raw eggs, Lawry’s crazy Salt (sp?)  oatmeal and ketchup together in a big orange bowl.  Yuck

The idea of this woman, whose talented hands created life sized bronzes for the Tate and the Hirshhorn, squishing meatloaf between her fingers, sent me into gales of laughter. How our children view us! I wondered what my sons thought about my cooking (when they were young) and  I fired off notes asking what they remembered.

                     From #1 son:

Of course, the first good food things that come to mind are Chicken with Cashews and Tuna casserole.

The two not-so-good things are Salmon croquettes, and of course, the frozen salmon itself.

Mom, those croquettes (and the pork chops, now that I think about it) were so dry, you could have used them as sandpaper. I never wanted to hurt your feelings, though, since you always looked so pleased when you announced the dinner menu on those fateful nights… No wonder that I don’t eat salmon at all??”

I’m adding a note on the frozen salmon (since #1 son diplomatically omitted why he added that to his list): I had pulled a large piece from the freezer to defrost for dinner. Shortly after there was a need to grab something in an attempt to level discipline and the frozen salmon was handy. I swung and made good contact with a fleeing tush. Later the salmon was cooked and served. Like O’Henry wrote, the evidence was consumed and the injured party was not to be believed when he complained about “being beaten with frozen fish”

                    From #2 son:

Corn fritters.

Corn fritters.

Corn fritters.

And also, corn fritters.

One time when you were living in Bedford Hills I came over for lunch and you made homemade mayonnaise to mix in my tuna sandwich. I thought then and still think that stuff is gross, but I was still impressed you knew how to make your own. 🙂

Later on #2 son added silver dollar pancakes (as something he liked).  After reading their remarks I realized,  I should have left well enough alone.

Stu’s Chicken with Cashews

Serves 8

  • 3 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 TBS cornstarch
  • 6 scallions, white and green part, sliced thin
  • 1 4oz can water chestnuts, sliced thin
  • 3 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ LB salted cashews
  • S&P to taste
  • 4 TBS Peanut oil + more for cooking


  • Cut chicken into 1” pieces (partially frozen chicken is easier to cut)
  • Pat dry and put the pieces in a bowl. Season with S&P.
  • Add the cornstarch and mix well, making sure all pieces are well coated. Dust with more cornstarch if needed
  • Add the 4 tablespoons of peanut oil and mix well.
  • Heat a heavy duty sauté pan or wok over medium high heat. Add peanut oil to 1”. When the oil “shimmers”—is hot—add the chicken and stir fry until light golden brown and just cooked. Do not crowd the pan. Do this in batches if necessary.
  • Remove the cooked chicken pieces to a strainer to drain and set aside.
  • Pour off the old oil, reheat the pan over medium heat and add enough fresh oil to lightly coat the bottom of the pan. Add the water chestnuts and sauté for one minute.
  • Add the garlic and sauté until the garlic is softened, about 2 minutes.
  • Add the cashews and sauté an additional minute.
  • Return the chicken to the pan, mix in the scallions and cook just to reheat the chicken, about 1-2 minutes.
  • Check seasonings and serve immediately over white rice

 Cory’s Corn Fritters

Serves 4

  • 1 1# can of corn, well drained
  • 1 large egg, well beaten
  • 2 TBS whole milk
  • 3 TBS flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • Optional: pinch cayenne


  • Mix all ingredients together, cover loosely and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Heat a heavy duty pan over medium heat, and coat with ½ ” vegetable or canola oil.
  • Drop the mix by soup spoon full carefully into the hot oil to form small cakes about 3” around
  • fry until golden brown on both sides.
  • Drain on paper towels and serve hot

2 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    Pat said,

    Oh you bring back so many memories. I remember my Mom’s cooking in the 40’s and 50’s. And it is what your #1 son describes. Tuna in various forms on Friday (growing up catholic it was a given) and homemade spaghetti and meatballs and corned beef and cabbage were some of the meals of the week. They were all prepared on Sunday after Sunday dinner and then frozen. Mom worked 6 days a wk and had 4 kids plus my dad worked everyday too. So it was important to have the meals ready so we kids could heat them up before they got home from work. We were latch key kids…….Thanks for the memories. Pat

  2. 2

    Nice post. One thing, i’m running Win 7 with the Firefox 4 Beta browser and your columns are overlapping a little. Though you may want to fix it 🙂

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