July 16, 2024


Built General Tough

Cheryle Finley: Favorite foods tied to memories of moms | Food

What’s your favorite dish that was or is cooked by your mother? I can’t narrow it down to just one.

There’s meatloaf, fried potatoes and onions in the cast-iron skillet and a pot roast that turned into vegetable soup the next day. That Joplin Woman made hash brown casserole, and that made me smile because she alternated it with macaroni and cheese and the potatoes were my favorite.

Honestly, everything each of them cooked could be deemed a favorite.

I was surprised when I asked my grandson, Atlas, what his favorite food is that I cook. It wasn’t the sometimes requested coffeecake. It wasn’t the more often requested lasagna or the most requested goulash.

He said it is the Salisbury steak and green beans meal that he has never requested but is often served for Sunday dinner. This magical dish is really just hamburger patties cooked in a jar of brown gravy and some green beans cooked for a long time with an added beef bouillon cube.

To make it more special, I sometimes add a container of Bob Evans mashed potatoes. It’s funny what makes an impression.

Many years from now, I hope Atlas remembers his grandma as he maybe fixes himself hamburger patties in brown gravy. Sometimes the littlest things make lasting impressions, and food can be a part of that.

This is a big week in our house. My birthday is Friday, Mother’s Day is Sunday and Atlas turns 16 on Tuesday. I am also thinking of That Joplin Woman, who would have been 99 on Tuesday. We are spending my birthday with the Saferites at Stone’s Throw Dinner Theatre, so I’m sure to have a nice birthday meal. And I should probably prepare for Atlas’ birthday dinner with his favorite food.

My wish for Mother’s Day is simply to be with family. If your mother is still with you, maybe she would like a Sunday brunch. An overnight casserole is perfect for the celebration. Perhaps a light breakfast then a big lunch or dinner is her choice. Offer up her favorites, and don’t forget dessert. A little chocolate is never a bad idea.

Growing up, most of our desserts were 9-by-13-inch frosted cakes. Dad’s favorite was yellow cake with chocolate frosting so that was a staple, but chocolate cake made frequent appearances.

The first time I had a Boston cream pie, I thought it was the fanciest and most delicious cake on earth. Cake, pudding and chocolate.

I remember enjoying it only a couple of times, so that infrequency probably helped make it more special. It must not have been Dad approved.

I’ll bet Mom would approve of this special cake on Sunday. Plan ahead as the filling and finished cake need to chill. This recipe is from “The Cake Mix Doctor.”

Happy Mother’s Day, and happy eating.

Boston cream pie cake


2 cups milk

1 (3.4-ounce) box vanilla instant pudding mix

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1 butter recipe golden cake mix

2/3 cup water

1 stick butter, room temperature

3 eggs


2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

1 tablespoon butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted

3 tablespoons milk

Filling: Pour milk into large mixing bowl; add pudding mix. Beat on low 2 minutes. Stir in butter and vanilla. Cover and chill 1 hour.

Cake: Blend cake mix, water, butter and eggs on low in large bowl for 30 seconds. Beat on medium 3 to 4 minutes.

Pour into sprayed and floured Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees until it springs back when lightly pressed, 33 to 35 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 20 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Glaze: Stir and cook chocolate and butter over low heat until melted and smooth. Remove from heat; whisk in powdered sugar and milk until smooth.

Slice cake into 3 horizontal layers. Place bottom layer on serving plate; top with half pudding. Place middle cake layer on top; spread on remaining pudding. Place top cake layer on top and spoon glaze over top. Chill 20 minutes. Yields 16 servings.

Address correspondence to Cheryle Finley, c/o The Joplin Globe, P.O. Box 7, Joplin, MO 64802.