My mom was a great cook. That's because, when my Dad and Mom were first married, they lived with my Nonni. That was not unusual, it was during the depression and times were tough. Families did that. She learned to cook Italian from Nonni.
My mom was Irish and grew up in the Pennsylvania Dutch country. She knew how to do a lot of great Irish and Pennsylvania Dutch food. And Irish is very similar to Pennsylvania Dutch...a lot of chicken, potatoes, noodles. Very starchy food.
My mother always did Thanksgiving, Easter, and Christmas dinner (despite what we did at Nonni's).
My favorite thing was staying up until 1-2 o'clock in the morning preparing everything for the next day. Sometimes we would start 3 or 4 days ahead of time. I was always be her helper along with my older sister, right at her elbow.
My sisters and I tried for the longest time to get our mother to do a cookbook. She didn't use measuring cups for the most part. And if she did it was very loosey goosey. And the spices were never measured. She would say, “I don't know how I'm ever going to do a cookbook because I cook from the gut, I don't measure stuff. I eyeball everything. It's a pinch of this, a handful of that, a tablespoon to this. I cook by taste, I cook by sight, I cook by smell.”
And I just sort of picked that knack up.