In every family, there are those meals that might not be great to outsiders, but are special in that sentimental, traditional way. There are those dishes that take you back to the memories, like the time your family cooked a pig in a hole in the backyard, Grandma Quackenbush’s really moist banana bread that she always has in the freezer, and that super moist chocolate cake mom cooked in a water bath when the oven was broken.
On my dad’s side, there are a few of those meals. One they grew up on is known as “okie dinner,” where bratwurst and potatoes take center stage. And the other favorite are homemade bierocks, those German popovers stuffed with cabbage, onion, ground beef and spices.
My grandma Nelson made them often. Her kids were raised on them, so naturally they became comfort food. Mom’s food. The best, right?
A couple of weeks ago, my Aunt Jo said she wanted to make them. They had been one my Uncle Jerry’s favorite dishes, which meant it had been in Jo’s best interest to learn the recipe when they got married. So we spent the day watching dough rise and then rolling it out. That evening, my dad and Uncle Brenda came over for a taste of grandma-inspired cooking.
It’s funny how there are rules with traditions. With us, if we were going to have bierocks, we had to have the entire meal — even if I was slightly eerie of the sides that I’m sure I didn’t eat as a child. The bierocks are just as important as the sides: beans made by my dad, potatoes fried by Aunt Brenda and a pea salad with simply lettuce, canned peas and mayo (omg, like I said, every family has strange food traditions that outsiders wouldn’t touch; this might be one of ours).
Take a peak. Check out the old KitchenAid mixer. Aunt Jo has a brand-new one in the box, but she still uses this old beauty her mother had when she was growing up. It has extra special skills, and dances its way around the counter as it kneads dough. So now it’s your turn: What — delicious or strange — food traditions does your family have?