One of those ways is with food. Of course she baked whatever birthday dinner and cake we asked for. When I was younger, she always made spaghetti for my birthday, with her own special twist — she added a package of chili seasoning and made it spicy and Mexicany. For many years, I thought that was how spaghetti was supposed to taste!
And she always makes me a chocolate cake — from scratch, not from a boxed mix.
Love you, Mom!
She’s older now and doesn’t cook as much since Dad died, and I don’t eat so much pasta, so we haven’t done the birthday spaghetti in a while. Also, my day falls on or near Thanksgiving, so my birthday dinner is likely to include turkey leftovers and apple or pecan pie. (I can totally deal with a pecan pie as a chocolate cake replacement!)
Let me just give you the bottom line: Everything my mom cooks is delicious.
Probably because the main ingredient is love. (Sorry, I’m not trying to be corny; it’s just true. She’s my mom!)
And because she doesn’t cook as often as she used to, when she does it’s something special.
Recently I got a hankerin’ for her vegetable soup, and her version is always better than mine. So, what did she do? She made a big ol’ pot of it for me. (Yes, for Bruce, too. I shared.)
Until a couple of years ago, I hadn’t realized that the reason I like her version so much is that she uses tomato juice as the liquid base, whereas I’ve always used broth (chicken, beef or veggie). Also, when I shop for the ingredients, I buy generic tomato juice with as little added sugar as I can find. Not mom. She insists on Campbell’s (no, I’m not paid to say that).
“I’m telling you, it’s the best tomato juice,” Mom says.
She may insist on a particular brand of tomato juice, but the vegetables are adaptable to your preferences and what’s in season. The last time she made it, Mom used all fresh veggies (from our local farmers market) except for the frozen corn. She often uses the frozen mix that has broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, but not this time. She also forgot to buy potatoes, so the most recent pot didn’t include them. We decided we like it just fine without those, though. In fact, I think this was the best pot of veggie soup she’s ever made.
Play with the ingredients until you and your family like it, or, if you crave variety, make it a different way every time! If you’re vegetarian, I suppose you could use beans or tofu instead of the beef, but we’ve never made it that way. (Sorry, we’re carnivores.)
- This isn’t seasoned a lot (just salt, garlic powder and a bit of black pepper), so if you’re expecting something exotic (like Mexican spaghetti), you won’t get it here. This is plain ol’ comfort food, and it’s delicious just the way it is. Bonus: It’s nutritious!
- Amounts are approximate. This isn’t so much a recipe as it is an ingredient list.
- My mom’s name is Dorothy, and her nickname is Dort. Hence the recipe’s name.
- I’m trying a new recipe plugin that gives you a printer-friendly option. Please let me know how you like it or if you’d like to see more info; I’m not using all its features here.
All right, your mouth must be watering by now, so let’s get this recipe rolling.
This recipe will feed a bunch of hungry people. If you live alone or have a small family and don't like a lot of leftovers, it's perfect for freezing for another day when you don't feel like cooking.
- • 2 pounds ground round
- • 1 large onion, chopped
- • 1½ quarts tomato juice
- • 3-4 medium yellow squash, sliced
- • ½ pound okra, sliced
- • 16-ounce bag frozen whole-kernel corn
- • 1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped
- • Garlic powder, to taste
- • Salt, to taste
- • ½ teaspoon black pepper
- OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS:
- • Red potatoes, cubed
- • Frozen vegetable medley (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots)
- • Green beans
- Crumble ground round in skillet. Add onion, and cook until meat is browned. Drain, then add garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Transfer to large soup pot, and add tomato juice and vegetables.
- Cover and cook on low heat 3-4 hours, stirring occasionally.