Side Dish for March 29, 2012

See Mom’s love in food she prepares

I can still see my mother-in-law standing, favoring her bad hip, at her kitchen sink patiently peeling a mound of little shrimp that she’d fry for our supper.

Her older son occasionally went shrimping. He’d sell most of the catch, and he’d give his mom the small shrimp that most people wouldn’t want to bother with. But, she knew my daughter loves shrimp so when we’d call to say we were headed to her Lafayette Parish home, she’d get busy cleaning those little shrimp. She’d later toss them in a light batter no one in the family has ever successfully reproduced and then drop them into a pot of hot oil.

My daughter stood close to her MaMom, watching as the shrimp turned golden and were scooped onto a paper towel-lined plate. Like an expectant hatchling, Gillian bided her time, waiting for the shrimp to cool, then she‘d swipe a few and pop them into her mouth. Her grandmother pretended not to notice.

My husband and I always marveled at the love for a grandchild that went into that simple act of peeling and frying dozens and dozens of tiny shrimp.

There are thousands of such examples of love, and we know you have a few. Send your stories about cooking with your mother or grandmother to us and we’ll feature a few in our Mother’s Day edition. Email food@theadvocate.com or write The Food Section, The Advocate, P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821.

My mother-in-law also made a terrific macque choux — that’s another of her dishes I’ve never been able to duplicate — and a wonderfully rich cooked-custard ice cream.

What do you get for a woman who is always cooking for you and doesn’t seem to want anything? Well, if she has the sweet tooth my mother-in-law did, you make her a cake. She loved the Sour Cream Coffee Cake I made for her and often requested it.

I got the recipe when I was single and working in Houston. It came from my supervisor who said she’d gotten it from her mother.

Here's the recipe for that cake.

Advocate-tested recipe

Sour Cream Coffee Cake

Makes 1 (10-inch) tube cake. Recipe is provided by Cheramie Sonnier.

Cake:

1/2 cup butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

2 cups sifted flour

1 tsp. baking soda

11/2 tsps. baking powder

1⁄8 tsp. salt

1 cup sour cream

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Filling:

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp. cinnamon

3/4 cup chopped pecan

4 tbs. brown sugar, optional

1. Cream butter and sugar very well. Add eggs one at a time and beat after each egg. Sift dry ingredients together. Add to creamed mixture alternately with sour cream. Stir in vanilla.

2. Mix filling ingredients.

3. Grease 10-inch tube pan. Pour in half the batter. Sprinkle with half the filling. Pour in rest of batter and top with remaining filling.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes.