Cooking From the Heart

So much of life becomes better simply by changing your perspective.

In his book Yes, Chef, Marcus Samuelsson explains how the flavors of his childhood influence the way he cooks in his restaurant now. His Swedish grandmother’s roast chicken and potatoes shape the style of food he serves today.

That got me thinking. What are the foods that influenced my childhood? Was it my dad’s boxed mac-and-cheese with hot dogs? Or perhaps the “scrambled” eggs me and my brothers cooked in the microwave for Sunday lunch? While they are both memorable staples of my early years, those are not tastes I’d choose to recreate.

We fared a lot better when my mom was cooking. I remember being greeted after school with the smell of baking on my mom’s day off; she always seemed to be making a loaf of banana bread. We loved her chicken Oriental salad, her  turkey stuffing, and her chimichangas. My dad was in the army when they were newlyweds, and they made their first home in Texas. When his two years were up, they headed home to Seattle with a baby boy, an old car, and a new-found love for Mexican food.

While my mom’s take on chimichangas was far from authentic–I doubt that most cooks south of the border add frozen peas–it was a special meal we always looked forward to. So last week, I shared a little of my childhood, the flavors I love, and the love I felt when I made some for my family.

Cooking becomes less of a chore when I look at it as a way to share with those I love. Maybe you’d like to share a little with your family.


Grandma Donna’s Chimichangas

Meat filling:

1 1/2 pounds hamburger
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup water
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 package frozen peas

Add all ingredients (except peas). Cover and bring to a boil. Break up meat.
Add peas. Turn heat to medium, and leave for 15 minutes.
Simmer and stir a bit. Drain meat.

Heat oil in a large skillet. 
Put 2 tablespoons of meat in the center of a flour tortilla. Fold like an envelope, and place in oil.
Fry until golden on each side.

Serve with chopped lettuce, guacamole, sour cream, and salsa.

I did tweak this a little by substituting homemade, gluten-free tortillas for the flour ones, adding a chipotle chile packed en adobo to the meat mixture for a little heat, and skipping the peas since we were out. Instead of frying, you can bake the chimichangas in an oven at 350-degrees for 10 minutes–flipping them after 5 minutes. 

Perhaps I need to pull out a few more old recipes that speak to my soul.

What food says home to you?

I just added this to Titus Tuesday Link Up Party. Hop on over and join in the fun. 


7 thoughts on “Cooking From the Heart

  1. Well fancy that, one of our families favorite meals was on taco night too. Perhaps that was one of the reasons our son married you! We also liked ‘steak fingers’ where you just cut up the sirloin steak in strips, dip in egg and flour ans fry in a little oil till brown, then steam in some added water to the pan and cover till done, about 3 min. depending on how thick the strips were. My favorite, or soul, food was always, and still is, hamburger with no bun, mashed white potatoes and peas. Fry the mean with Johnny’s Dock seasoning, .Boil the peas, mash the potatoes and add a dollop of butter on top. Love the texture and flavor of mixing the peas and potatoes on my plate. Thanks for the memories and for the new recipe, however, that is your recipe and I would love to have it at your home someday. Grandma MeeMee

      • Oh that makes me so happy that the Mr. likes that food too. His sister was thrilled when I cooked bone in pork chops when we visited. That brought back memories for her, and now she is cooking them for her family.

  2. I was telling Tim, just this past Thanksgiving about your mom’s (Grandma Donna’s) Thanksgiving Stuffing–yum!! That was my favorite dish! She often invited us over a day or 2 after Thanks- giving for leftovers and always sent us home with a little stuffing. She must have made enough for an army!! I remember he banana bread too! Grandma Donna, she was so special to our family—because she made us feel so special!!

  3. Looks yummy! Mine are probably meatloaf (which I have actually tweaked from how my mom made it) and homemade pizza. It is funny, there are also things that I detest, mainly goulash. If I never have to eat it again I will be just fine.

  4. Pingback: February Unplugged | bigwhitehouseonthehill

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s