Cooking Advice We Learned From Our Mothers

Because no one does it better than Mom

You could give your mom the biggest box of chocolates, oldest aged whiskey or puffiest bundle of flowers, but nothing beats what she's given you: the gift of knowledge, like "Please, stop putting aluminum foil in the microwave." In honor of Mother's Day, we're sharing the invaluable cooking lessons learned from spending time in the kitchen with our mothers. Now, take these tips and go make your mom breakfast in bed.

Bailey Bennett, Social Media Editor

I think it went a little something like this: "Bailey, please, clean up the kitchen when you're done with that." (Long pause and internal struggle over the flecks of flour on the counter and dirty bowls in the sink.) "Never mind, just let me do it. I have a system." Thanks, Mom.

Andrew Bui, Editorial Assistant

Based off the number of wontons I was pinching together at the age of seven in our family restaurant, I guess the biggest thing I learned from my mom is that child labor is A-OK. But on a more serious note, anytime my siblings and I make a trip back home, she'll without fail wake up to make us a bowl of pho, no matter how late we fly in. I'm thoroughly convinced that no matter how skilled or unskilled your mother is in the kitchen, her cooking will always be the best food you'll ever eat.

Jake Cohen, Food Editor

A stereotypical Jewish mom, my mother is deathly allergic to using both salt and recipes in the kitchen. Nevertheless, she is an excellent cook who filled my childhood with beautiful home-cooked meals. Every Hanukkah, she would fry up a big batch of latkes as we waited by the stove, eating them immediately once they hit the paper towels to drain. She never used a recipe, because cooking, as with latkes, is all about consistency. Every potato and onion releases a different amount of water when grated, so she'd add enough matzo meal and egg to hold it together, adjusting the mixture as needed.

Jane Frye, Managing Editor

I'm not gonna lie; the one thing I remember most from my childhood was my mom yelling, "Get out of my kitchen!" But the lesson I'll never forget and carry with me to this day is that cooking is an incredible way to care for others. Any trip home from college meant sitting down to her grilled cheese hot off the stove and returning to campus with a Ziploc bag full of fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies (which usually never made it back to the dorms). My mom is the first one to go on a frozen yogurt run with you when you need a little pick-me-up or whip up a batch of homemade chicken 'n noodles for a sick friend. After all, no three-star restaurant or foie gras terrine compares to a meal made with love.

Aaron Hutcherson, DINE App Editor

My mother was—and still is—a creature of habit in just about everything she does, including the food she prepares. Her idea of being adventurous was when she introduced stir-fry (using a bottled sauce) to her repertoire of predominantly Southern menu items. It was this repetition that sparked my love of experimentation in the kitchen. As a kid, I would spend much of my free time in the kitchen with her, acting as sous-chef and eventually taking on more and more responsibility when it came to mealtime. I can still hear her voice saying, "Don't mess up my chicken," as I doused it with a slew of new spices before frying. After tasting the finished project, she would often admit to enjoying my new creation. While it was my mom who laid my culinary foundation and first taught me how to fend for myself in the kitchen, I like to think that I in turn pushed her to try new things she wouldn't have experimented with otherwise.

Delia Mooney, Editorial Assistant

My first memories of being in the kitchen were rolling meatballs with my mom and grandma on Sunday mornings. We'd work from recipes that had been passed down from my great-grandmother and other family members. Both of them were also excellent bakers, which is why I think baking is in my blood. We have a big family, so I always look forward to cooking and baking for the holidays with her: Feast of the Seven Fishes for Christmas Eve, biscotti and drop cookies for Christmas Day, and sweet ricotta pie for Easter. My mom taught me patience, as well as there's no such thing as mistakes but rather new ways of doing things.

Abby Reisner, Assistant Editor

My mother instilled the fear of salmonella in me with the power of a thousand suns. It wasn't until culinary school that I dared taste raw cookie dough, and even then, I felt a filial obligation to confess later on. But she also taught me that using a boxed mix is a display of sagacity, not a shortcut; there is a right way to assemble lasagna (smear, dollop, smash > layering), and four hands are always better than two.

Alison Spiegel, Features Editor

My mom taught me that dessert is appropriate at all hours of the day. If breakfast isn't something sweet like French toast or pancakes, then capping off the first meal of the day with some sugar is always welcome. Dessert after lunch doesn't mean you can't have dessert after dinner, and if you're not eating a piece of cake or brownie at 4 p.m., then how are you going to make it through the rest of the day? Needless to say, I learned how to bake some delicious recipes, like her famous zucchini bread, a mud pie we make every summer and an orange cake made with boxed cake mix that you can't knock unless you've tried it.

Michelle Sun, Photo Assistant

My mom taught me that the way to someone's heart is through their stomach.

Share the lessons you learned from your mother in the comments section below.