Examples of the Gross Food My Mom Cooked

OK, I know a lot of people like these dishes and I’m not dissing you. But I hate them.

“What’s for dinner?” I might ask home from school.

If one of these was the answer I knew I was in for a salt-laden hell.

“Tuna casserole.” My mom never used noodles. She used potato chips.

“Creamed chipped beef on toast.” It didn’t just taste like someone had stirred pieces from the bottom of the Great Salt Lake in a pan with flour and milk, it looked horrible.

“I just can’t make you happy,” she said when I groaned or (oh my god!) didn’t eat (much) of the portion on my plate.

My dad called creamed chipped beef “army food” but he liked it. My brother liked it. My mom liked it, but I hated it. “You’re just fussy,” my mom.

There were other gross looking dishes that weren’t quite as terrible to eat. Creamed hard boiled eggs on toast.

Hamburger gravy on mashed potatoes.

Then there was boiled beef and potatoes which stank up the house. Even after all day in the pot, the beef might still be chewy. It might also fall apart. No way to know. When I was very small and didn’t understand three dimensions, I tried to hide it by sticking it under my plate where, at least, I couldn’t see it.

“Take that good meat out from under your plate, put it on your plate and eat it.” Followed by, “You’re going to sit there until you finish your supper.” It was a test of wills at that point.

I think my mom was a good cook, but the foods she enjoyed were just different from those I enjoyed. In order to make this blog post a little bit more interesting and less about my own personal experience, I did a little research into why taste preferences vary between people. I didn’t get any surprising information. Some of it is based on the associations we have with a particular food.

My mom grew up on a farm during the Depression, and I think creamed chipped beef on toast might have been both a treat and a kind of comfort food for her. In my mom’s world, as she was growing up, there were no refrigerators. Dried, salted meat was safe meat. I took a survey years ago. Not a Facebook quiz, but a legit quiz to determine what people believed was the greatest invention of the 20th century. Among the choices was refrigeration.

The boiled beef and potatoes? Home food for my mom. She lived in a world replete with vegetables but where meat could be scarce, and definitely not the fancy cuts.

I can’t speak to the tuna casserole except maybe she didn’t have taste receptors as sensitive to salt as I do. I guess that could be a product of our individual DNA, or her chain smoking.

My mom liked to cook and over time she tried out a lot of new recipes and made many delicious meals, but the memory of these old standbys from my school years could never be erased by prime rib and Yorkshire pudding. The was the ever present possibility of their return. I started cooking at age 7. My mom knew a good thing when it happened to her. She took advantage of what seemed to be my aptitude for the culinary arts and started teaching me. I was able to make stuff I liked like tacos and spaghetti (not together).


63 thoughts on “Examples of the Gross Food My Mom Cooked

  1. My son and I always kid each other a out cooking when we are getting together. I threaten him with dishes he did not appreciate growing up and he threatens to serve me hummus or fruit salad – things I do not appreciate now.

    • Ha ha ha. I can’t imagine my mom eating hummus. Fruit salad, yes. She visited once and said, “I don’t know where you got into cooking like this.”

  2. What was wrong with those mothers when they got let loose in the kitchen? My mum always cooked everything the way her mum cook, but her mum was cooking at the end of the 19th centuary when food was just a little different. “Eat your greens, they are good for you” and I hated those green soggy leaves pulled out of salt water.

  3. i grew up with many of these too, and still love some, and can’t stand to look at others. that being said, i don’t make any of these anymore, but something about them is nostalgic.

  4. Oh my. I just don’t get the tuna potato chip casserole. That’s really awful. I also remember the “sit there until you finish your supper” line. A battle of wills after a while. Although, there was a time when we had a dog and we could slip stuff to her (even at 9, I knew that liver was NOT ham). But even the dog wouldn’t eat everything.

  5. I giggled all the way through this. My Mom is a “young” Mom at 74. Grandma would be 108 if we were alive today and lived to 95. Unlike you, my Mom cooked just like HER Mom. And these dishes are familiar to even little ol me. My twin and I laugh now because we know our calves are going to swell, in addition to every digit on my hand, and I might as well start drinking water now just thinking of all the salt. Oddly, I love salty over sweet. And I didn’t even know tuna casserole was made with noodles and that ice cream wasn’t served with potato chips in the real world. 😬

  6. I laughed all the way through this — not because of the specific foods, but because of the concepts! I ate so much mac & cheese as a little kid that I still hate it! And my mother cooked all vegetables in the pressure cooker for 3 minutes — longer than I cook them in open pans on the stove-top — they ALL tasted the same, except for brussels sprouts, which smelled so bad I had to leave the house when they were cooking!

    • My mom didn’t make Mac and cheese nearly often enough. I guess she didn’t like it. And OH YES! The pressure cooker. I remember Salisbury steak coming out of that thing and sometimes pot roast. Oh god. Fortunately for me, she didn’t like Brussels sprouts (I’ve learned that’s a DNA thing) but parsnips from the pressure cooker…

      • During WWII, beef was a rarity — it became a treat, although it was usually roast or ground — no chipped beef! And, believe it or not, I loved mutton — and still love lamb, though I can’t eat it! Chicken was like mac and cheese, though I learned to like chicken later on — good thing, since it’s the mainstay of my diet now! And I taste every grain of salt, so leave it out of most of my cooking, using herbs instead — it helps to taste the real flavor of the foods!

  7. Remember all the greens on the plate were “boiled to death” with all the goodness (if there was any) leeched out into the water. Cabbage would be a strange pale yellow colour and mum would add bicarbonate of soda to make the greens look green again. Gravy with the Sunday roast dinner was filled with half a ton of salt and it was so thick and glutinous you could cut it with a knife.

    • I never saw you at my house. 😉 Actually, my mom made good gravy and I liked that part of a roast beef dinner. But the veggies! Yes… But no bicarb. My mom knew it would neutralize the vitamin C.

    • That’s so funny. What you must have aifdered, I have to say it looked as bad as it sounded. Creamed anything was very popular in the States I believe.

  8. I’m sure you know that the army name for creamed chipped beef on toast is shit on a shingle. I love your disgusting photos! I’ve always wanted to have a junk food banquet. Some your mom’s dishes would be perfect. It would of course have to include green Jell-o with canned fruit cocktail in it. Dessert would be Ritz mock apple pie. (For those unfamiliar with it, broken up crackers substitute for apples.) A personal unfavorite for me was ham and scalloped potatoes. Some nights I sat at the table until my dad fell asleep in the living room. There are only so many times you can get up to go to the bathroom with a mouthful to flush.

    • I hated ham mixed in with scalloped potatoes but as separate dishes, it was OK with me. Otherwise, another salt over load. I tried the bathroom gambit once or twice and got, “You’re going to sit there and finish.” That woman could read my mind. (Or saw I hadn’t swallowed…”

  9. oh dear. My mom wasn’t a brilliant cook, and she wasn’t very adventurous either. Never had creamed chipped beef. Hate tuna casserole to this day. Vegetables over boiled. Yeeech. My personal horrors include spareribs and sauerkraut, meatloaf and baked potatoes, pork chops and rice with stewed tomatoes. Run away, run away. Like you, I learned to cook out of self defense. By the time I was in high school, I had worked out a deal with Mom. I cooked dinner 2 or 3 nights a week, and she did my housecleaning chore of cleaning half the basement (my sister and I each had rooms down there, it was finished) each week. Probably took her half an hour to clean, and I’m sure she was hugely tired of cooking dinner for 6 every night. Worked for us.

    • Oh god, I completely blocked spareribs and sauerkraut (and potatoes) from my memory. Meatloaf and baked potatoes, though. I liked that (if the meatloaf was good…).

      • sorry if I triggered an unpleasant flashback with the spareribs. Meatloaf best in sandwiches , in my opinion. Like you, I grew up eating lamb and liked it. Still do, although I rarely eat mammals any more. A trip past the feedlots will do that.

  10. My mom used the to put salt in everything) I don’t) even when boiling eggs ( supposedly to stop them boiling out if they cracked), I only put seasoning on after food is cooked. Worst food was school dinners. Boiled cabbage smelling of old socks, or sprouts, in the kitchen, enough for 100 children. Yuk,

  11. Oh my! My mother was a very good cook BUT she had a thing with canned vegetables. Her favorite thing was canned spinach, drained and then mixed with vinegar! Talk about vile! I still can’t stand the smell of vinegar! Her other favorite was lime jell-o with cottage cheese, celery, raisins and crushed pineapple – yech! For many years she would stretch the budget by making her vegetable soup. It would contain leftover vegetables (all of them), the gravy and fat from whatever meat had been prepared that week, and all the wilty celery rescued from the refrigerator. It took me nearly 30 years to be able to eat soup. I don’t use salt in my cooking. I prefer to use real spices and save the salt for the table…

    • I have the same problem with apple cider vinegar — have solved it by using rice vinegar (not rice wine vinegar, but rice vinegar from the Asian foods aisle of the store), which is a milder, slightly sweeter vinegar, and doesn’t smell so strongly acidic.

      • We’re getting to the time of my favorite summer food — caprese. Fresh mozzarella, garden tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar and olive oil. 🙂

        • Ooh, yes — although I’d go very easy on the olive oil. I just planted some grocery store basil in hopes of making something like that.

          • I experimented learned how much of each I like. I plant Genovese basil seeds in March and grow them with the tomatoes (they help each other). I really love my garden this year. It’s a major bright spot.

    • My mom cooked canned spinach and let us put vinegar on it if we wanted — or mayonnaise. 🙂 That jello sounds ghastly. My aunt made lime jello with carrots, celery and pineapple. It was pretty good. The vegetable soup sounds absolutely horrible. We really should all cooperate on a cookbook. Someone suggested “Discomfort Foods” for a title. 😀

      • Hehe! I’d be able to contribute my mother in laws “three bean salad” it was so bad that even the dog wouldn’t eat it! She gifted me with the recipe at my wedding shower. When Sparky saw it he was afraid that maybe she didn’t like me then thought that she didn’t love him!!

  12. My mom made the most disgusting meatloaf — so greasy and filled with onions. I hated meatloaf until I decided to try to make it myself. Ground turkey and onion powder were two swaps that made a huge difference!

  13. We had a large family, but always had great food on the table. My parents tried to make us all eat everything they cooked. Several of us siblings hated peas. Over the years some of us grew to like them… Except for me. I hate peas (legumes in general). Funny things is I may like them now as my tastes have changed. But I’m an adult and if I dont want to eat peas I dont have to, you cant make me.

  14. Hahaha I kinda feel bad for you
    Btw even my dad cooked gross stuff until my mom banned him from the kitchen

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