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Too Many Cooks: Your "Colorful" Family Recipes

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You'll be hearing from the staff at FOOD52 in Too Many Cooks, our group column in which we pool our answers to questions about food, cooking, life, and more.

Blueberry Schlumpf


Though it can be argued that family recipes make for some of the fondest memories, certain recipes (or recipe names) might be best left in the past. A family recipe for a one-bowl chocolate cake is one thing, but trying to explain what a schlumpf is can be difficult (even if this dessert is delicious). And some family recipes are what one could call interesting at best -- like that fruit-dotted mound of jello your aunt brings to Thanksgiving every year. We had the Food52 staffers gently pick on their families and reveal:

What strange, interesting, funny, and/or endearing recipes come from your family?

Did a mayonnaise-heavy meal turn you away from the stuff forever, or did you have a family snack that your friends never understood? Tell us in the comments!

Peanut Butter and Cheese Cookies

Stephanie: My nana made a tuna salad with lettuce, potato chips, and mayo. It was more lettuce than anything else, and it's still tasty to those of us who grew up thinking that was a normal tuna salad. My mom used to make these almond cookies that we originally called "drops," until we started calling them "scats," as in scatology. We're weird.

Lauren L.: In my family, we love peanut butter and cheese sandwiches -- preferably chunky peanut butter and white cheddar on toasted white bread.

More: If you like this combination, try these peanut butter and cheese cookies.

Savory French Toast Recipe

Hillary: My grandfather once ran out of milk when he was on vacation on an isolated island. There was a lot of orange soda around (think Fanta or Crush), so he mixed it with eggs, then dipped in white bread to make french toast. The sugar actually makes the bread brown very well. 

Erin: My mother baked bread fresh everyday and made everything from scratch, but even so, one snack still gives me chills to this day. When I would come home from school, my mom would make me "Turkey Roll Ups" -- a slice of turkey slathered with mayonnaise and rolled into a log. As an adult, I don't really like mayonnaise, so it freaks me out.

Lemon Bar Recipe

Haley: My family employs the phrase "Lemon Bars" to mean punishment of some sort. "You didn't clean your room? Lemon bars for you." "You forgot to take out the trash? More lemon bars." The only person who doesn't know about the phrase is my grandmother, who makes the legendary lemon bars. Hers tasted something like dog food and have the consistency of baby food. Here's to hoping Grandma never finds out...

More: If you're interested in better lemon bars, you've come to the right place.

Jackie: My grandpa used to make chocolate sandwiches. My grandma didn't really permit sweets (as in, she did NOT permit sweets) and so when she went out, my grandpa would make chocolate sandwiches for my dad and his brother. Literally just a chocolate bar sandwiched between challah or other bread. I guess it was the closest he could get to an Austrian Konditorei on Long Island. Not sure if Grandma ever knew about them.

Peanut Butter Sandwich Recipe

Julie: My grandma always claimed that she "invented" the grilled peanut butter sandwich: peanut butter smeared between generously buttered pieces of white bread and fried just like grilled cheese in a skillet (greased with even more butter). Sorry, Elvis -- Nana came first.

More: Stir up some homemade peanut butter for your sandwich.

Catherine: My two grandparents had very different interpretations of weekend breakfast food, each of which I love in its own way. My father's mother, Nana, would make us toasted Eggo waffles with literally a tablespoon of salted butter on each, and then she'd drench it in fake maple syrup. My mother's parents would make us the crêpe-like pancakes, which my grandfather would drizzle in random shapes on the griddle. We would argue over what the shape of the pancake was (an alien, a bear attacking a porcupine, etc.), and then we would devour them with peaches and powdered sugar. Those were the days.

Chocolate Sauce Recipe

: My grandmother makes something called "specky," which is a chocolate sauce peppered by little specks of more chocolate. I think it's mostly corn syrup and chocolate melted together, and that it was once a mistake, but then her children began to ask for it by name, and so "specky" was born. Growing up, we'd eat it warm, poured over vanilla ice cream, and it would quickly melt into slick pools of chocolate-swirled cream. With specks.

Kristin: My mom made "snails" -- pieces of bread dipped in melted butter, then spread with cream cheese and cinnamon. She'd roll them up and slice them like sushi, then bake them in the oven. The cream cheese would melt with the butter, and the bread would get slightly toasted. Probably not the healthiest choice, but so yummy.

One-Eyed Sandwich Recipe

Merrill: My grandfather was famous for his one-eyed sandwiches. My grandmother loved anything with lots of butter and/or cream. One of her specialties was fried bread -- Pepperidge Farm white bread, pan-fried until golden and crisp in a shallow pool of butter. She was also obsessed with aspic, and passed this fixation down to my mother; I'm happy to report that it ended there.

More: Learn how to make the perfect one-eyed sandwich.

Amanda: Not sure if this counts, but my aunt used to make what she called Mock Lobster, which was meatloaf that she shaped like a lobster.

What strange, interesting, funny, and/or endearing recipes come from your family? Tell us in the comments!

Tags: too many cooks, behind the scenes, family recipes, heirloom recipes, quirky recipes

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