I married a man whose mother was a legendary cook, at least in the mind of the man I married.
She made everything from scratch — biscuits, pancakes and fried pies. My husband was a later-life “surprise” and by the time I met his mother, she was long and happily retired from cooking.
When we visited her in Burnet, she and I enjoyed going to Storm’s Drive-in for a burger and shake or picking up fried chicken someone else had cooked. She had earned her retirement from cooking and even reveled in it.
Once, when she visited us, I was very young and tried to impress her with round steak and gravy, a childhood favorite of my husband’s. My mother-in-law took a bite, covered it with her napkin and said, “Honey, I don’t care for it.”
She wasn’t being mean, just honest. It stung a little, but I loved my mother-in-law and she loved me, whether I could cook or not. (My mother’s best advice in the kitchen was to marry a man who could cook. I did.)
After my mother-in-law passed away, her legendary cooking skills lived on, were magnified even. And I inherited some recipes, including one for her famous pecan pie.
One Thanksgiving, I painstakingly followed every word in that pecan pie recipe and proudly served it to my husband and family. Everyone loved it, except my husband, who thought it was good, but just wasn’t exactly how his mother made it. He comes by his honesty honestly.
I knew what was missing, and it wasn’t any ingredient. My husband missed his mother and there was nothing I could ever do to change that. It’s the same each Thanksgiving when my sisters and I try to recreate my mother’s famous sausage dressing. It’s just not quite the same.
When we asked readers what their favorite dishes were for Thanksgiving, most offered recipes from their mothers, fathers, grandmothers and grandfathers. They are all, no doubt, enhanced with a pinch of nostalgia.
Each year, I still make that pecan pie. And one day, my nieces and nephews will make it, too, I’m sure.
They will try and try, but it will never be quite as good as they remember.
Coast Monthly extends a special thanks to Charlotte Schramm, with Spring Hill Farms in Anderson, Texas, for providing a turkey for us to photograph on the beach. Schramm is raising Bourbon Red turkeys, a heritage breed, alongside her broad-breasted white turkeys. She and her husband, Eric, raise a variety of animals on their farm, from beef and lamb to pork and poultry, all of which are processed for meat and sold at local farmers markets such as Galveston’s Own Farmers Market at The Bryan Museum, 1315 21st St., on Sundays. For more information about Spring Hill Farms, visit springhillfarms.biz.