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Some of our own best recipes, the ones we want to copy down for friends and make for dinner parties and eat when we're happiest and saddest, were never ours to begin with. Call it stealing, or call it inspiration—inspiration from our mothers and grandmothers, some of the best nourishers we know. From their kitchens and recipe boxes (and ours) to yours, here are some of the recipes the Food52 editors think of fondly when they think fondly of their moms. They're some of the best we've got to offer:
- 10 whole chicken wings
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 4 teaspoons lemon pepper
- 4 teaspoons salt
- 3 lemons, or to taste
My mama is always embarrassed by her "recipes" because she thinks they're too simple to be called such. She doesn't get why I want them or why anyone else would, but the reason is they're always really good. She's the best cook I know because she knows what tastes good and tinkers 'til it's there—there are no tricks to her recipes. —Ali Slagle
This is my mom's straight-shooting potato salad (she is a straight shooter), which I have adapted and fussed with (I am a daughter). I believe it is the chief reason I get invited to picnics in the summertime. Here she is, making grilled chicken to go with it, a few years ago. —Kenzi Wilbur
My mom and I both turn to the the same thing in low moments in life—a straight-up classic pot roast. Now she texts me photos of the inside of her crockpot when she's making it, so we can experience if not eat it together, her in California and me in New York. —Kristen Miglore
I always admired how much fun my grandmother and grandfather had together in the kitchen: They would sing—"Moon River" and the like—lightly stepping around each other, almost dancing as they cooked. That joy lingers on, I feel it every time I make one of her recipes. —Lindsay-Jean Hard
The recipe that I can never seem to turn out as well as Sharon Weiss is her molasses cookies. (For a while, that was because she gave me the wrong amount of salt in the ingredient list—very stealthy, Sharon. My batches are coming for your batches.) Her mom, Jeraldean, made them regularly, working from a handwritten recipe card that I coveted even before I knew how to bake, so it's only natural I've fallen in love with them. I feel like these cookies are what I always share with people as "my" recipe. So much so that after the first time I met Amanda and Merrill, I sent them handwritten copies of the recipe.
They're similar to some that are already on the site—dark brown and pouffy, crackly and covered in a sugar shower—but the one big difference is that my mom uses no butter, only oil. So they're very soft on the inside, almost like you've made a gooey molasses fudge, and holding up just barely while you nibble away. They should be no other way in my opinion. One of these days the recipe will make its way to the site! —Samantha Weiss-Hills
These green bean sandwiches aren't my mother's recipe—but they do make me think of her (it was our favorite order at a very sadly closed Italian deli we both loved), and they feel so emblematic of all of her cooking, like the sort of thing she might have thrown together after a careful analysis of what was in the fridge: simple and a little experimental, Italian-ish, olive oily (I don't really know how to cook with any other oil), and thrown together by eyeball and by instinct rather than by recipe. She is always clipping out recipes for her (physical, plastic, notecard-filled) recipe box, but the food I think of as hers is very much not written down.—Caroline Lange (me!)
My mom is a very busy woman. What, between ice dancing (yes, ice dancing), seeing 30 plus patients a day, and texting me purple heart emojis (recent development), she doesn't have so much time to cook. But when she does head to the kitchen, especially when she's cooking for me, she tends towards simple feel-good foods (generous with the cheese and the chocolate, but not together) that make we want to snuggle into bed and turn on a movie. These are all desserts (let it be known: my mom does not like ice cream or pie), but I also have Risa Jampel recipes for lasagna and more macaroni and cheese, if the Food52 community would like! —Sarah Jampel
My mom—one Jeanie Sims of Almond Coffee Cake Food52 fame, a sharp-eyed seamstress and past president of the Knoxville Garden Club—has incredible instincts in the kitchen (though she'd say she knows nothing). I prize her butter, ham, and poppy seed freezer sandwiches (you make a batch of them and then pop one in the toaster when you need a snack), her green bean bundles (wrapped in bacon, baked), her basil-flecked tomato pie, and her cheese straws (made crispy with Rice Krispies) especially—though it doesn't really matter what she's making so long as I can be teetering on a stool nearby! Sometime I'll upload her recipe for the legendary casserole known as Husband's Delight. —Amanda Sims