Me, I make a mean veggie pasta salad.
With my MIL it's not one thing, it's several dishes that she is known for that are absolutely delicious. She makes a mean spinach dip, bean dip, and ranch pretzels (dubbed "Grammy's pretzels" and which my children could polish off in one sitting). After our hurricane party (it was supposed to be a pool party), she is also kown for the BEST ribs ever. Our guests polished off 8 or so pounds of ribs in no time. The recipe called for margarita mix. Anything with margarita mix is bound to be yummy.
She's also the one who is in charge of the Thanksgiving turkey and which turns out amazing year after year even though she doesn't measure the ingredients. According to her, its just a little of this and a little of that based on whatever is in our cupboard. If I did that it would turn into some nasty science experiment gone wrong. These are the people I envy since I am not a natural cook. I need a recipe and a little luck on my side when I cook.
My MIL is also known by her family for her hamburger gravy. Sausage gravy seems to be the norm here where we live and in the south but in the midwest where my husband's family is from, it is hamburger gravy. We occasionally gather at her place for breakfast when the whole family is together.
After Family Fun Magazine featured a recipe for biscuits and sausage gravy that looked almost exactly like my MIL's hamburger gravy, I decided to tackle this dish myself. My husband has been saying forever about how I need to learn how to make his mom's hamburger gravy. How hard could it be? (Asks the woman who still has issues using her bread maker). I had low expectations so I figured I wouldn't be disappointed when it didn't turn out well since I was deviating from the recipe.
When my husband saw the finished product, he gave me THE LOOK.
It was the dubious look that asks, "will this kill me if I eat it?" Actually, it was the "I have REALLY high expectations and this is so not going to live up to them" look since I have never sickened nor killed anyone with the food I've made. Of course there was that one time I mistakenly used cups instead of teaspoons of salt and instead of baking powder I used baking soda (or was it vice versa). I was making peanut butter cookies and they came out looking like bad tasting pancakes...Hey, I was only about 8 at the time. Yes, I was using a stove at that age. Of course, only when my dad was watching us.
I had been worried especially after my husband asked me if I wanted the truth or if I wanted him to be nice. Anyway, it came out good. Okay, at least the gravy did. My husband said I nailed it or at least came really close. *Insert me grinning wildly* I even have my grandparents as witnesses.
The biscuits were another matter. They were small. Apparently they were supposed to be large enough to break in half. The recipe said it would make 10. I had 12. On top of that they were a little "funky". They were dry. Some were flatter than others and some had multiple ring marks since I had some little hands helping roll and cut the biscuits with a glass. The girls had fun and really got into twisting the glass to cut out the biscuits. And if I'm truthful, I hate rolling dough so that could account for the different size biscuits since I rolled most of the dough. When I talked to my MIL and told her about my foray into cooking her signature family dish, she laughed and said she probably only gets about 5 or 6 biscuits out of a regular recipe.
My little helper & the finished product
I can never make my mom's casseroles taste just like her's either. So the lesson I learned is this: it will never live up to his mom's. Just like my casseroles and cookies will never taste quite like the casseroles my mom used to make and the cookies my grandmother used to make. And that is the way it is supposed to be. Maybe its because they put a little bit of their heart and soul, a little bit of them, into what they cook.
What is your signature dish?