In honor of Mom, Mother’s Day is the perfect day to reminisce about her culinary skills and all the delicious foods she prepared for us over the years, often multiple times a day.

Fern Bazinet and daughter Nancy St. Pierre, who offered her mom’s recipe for pork chop casserole, pose in this photo taken a few years ago. Submitted photo

Loaves of homemade bread, creamy fudge, versatile creton in the Quebecois tradition, warm cake topped with Maine blueberries, and hearty one-dish meals like one-pan pork chops and vegetables are just a few examples of the abundance we were fortunate enough to feast upon throughout our childhoods.

When we pause to recall Mom’s specialties, it brings us back to a place of comfort and security, when all seemed right with the world. Now more than ever, this is a time when warm, fuzzy feelings are especially needed, so along with a recipe from my own mother, I asked Sun Journal readers to share recipes handed down from their moms. Here are the tasty results.

Agnes Schneider, 86, still makes bread using her antique bread pail when family comes to call. Submitted photo

A bread-baking tradition

My 86-year-old mother, Agnes Schneider, is a fantastic cook who still reigns supreme in her upstate New York kitchen. In her lifetime, she has made thousands of loaves of this fluffy white bread. Using an antique bread pail that kneads the dough with the turn of a crank, she now sometimes enlists one of us to help her and we are more than happy to accommodate.

This was definitely the staff of life in our childhood, often served warm from the oven and slathered with peanut butter. As for me, while my four chicks (now all grown and flown) were still in the nest, I made a double batch of bread every week, yielding four loaves for lunch box sandwiches, breakfast toast, and crust for two big Saturday night pizzas.

I still make this bread from time to time, but my kids are the ones really keeping the tradition alive.

Agnes Schneider’s ‘Country Crust’ bread

Makes two loaves

2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes or 4 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 cups warm water (105-115 degrees)

1/2 cup sugar

1 tablespoon salt

2 eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

6 to 6 1/2 cups flour

Softened butter for loaf tops

Dissolve yeast in warm water. Stir in sugar, salt, eggs, oil and 2 cups flour. Beat with electric mixer until smooth. Mix in remaining flour a cup at a time until dough is easy to handle.

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic for 8 to 10 minutes. Place dough in oiled bowl then flip dough so oiled side is up. Cover with a clean towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled, about an hour. The dough is ready if an impression remains.

Punch dough down and divide in half. With a rolling pin, roll each into a rectangle approximately 18 by 9 inches. Roll up, beginning at short side. Seal ends then fold them under to form a loaf. Place seam side down in two buttered 9-by-5-by-3-inch glass loaf pans. Brush loaves with a bit of oil. Cover with towel and allow to rise until doubled, about an hour.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place loaves on lower oven rack so tops of the loaves are at the center of the oven. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until the loaves are a deep golden brown and sound hollow when tapped. Remove from pans and brush with butter. Allow to cool. Yield: 2 loaves

Alice Mogensen of Auburn holds a cookbook filled with recipes and dinner party lists hand written by her mother, Gerre Price. Submitted photo

‘Large and in charge’

Alice Mogensen of Auburn remembers her mother, Gerre Price, as being “large and in charge.” But in her mom’s kitchen, “it was always the more the merrier. . . . She was a renowned cook in our community, and she knew how to give quite an elaborate dinner party.”

Mogensen reminisced about her mom’s ability to plan fancy dinner parties to a “T” using templates that included exact time tables to ensure every component of the meal was completed ahead of her guests’ arrival. “My mother always kept track of who attended the party and what was served. That way she never served the same food to the same people again.”

Mogensen cherishes her mom’s cookery book with its pages of handwritten recipes, lists and schedules, and especially remembers her organized mother’s renowned pink divinity candy she made for St. Valentine’s Day and her famous fudge made for Christmas.

“Many friends and family members were the recipients of my mom’s fabulous cooking, but they would say her divinity is what they remember most. She made it every Valentine’s Day, adding red dye to make it pink. We would come into the kitchen and see the many dollops of divinity on wax paper lining the counters.”

Mogensen confided that it still makes her too sad to make the Divinity since her mother passed away over 25 years ago. However, she does make her fudge, testing it the old-fashioned way by putting a few drops of the cooking fudge into a cup of cold water to make sure a ball is formed, and that way she knew it was done.

Gerre Price’s famous fudge

Makes 1 pound

2 cups sugar

1 cup milk

2 tablespoons butter

Pinch of salt

2 squares Baker’s unsweetened chocolate (2 ounces total)

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup pecans, chopped

Stir together all ingredients except vanilla and nuts in a medium saucepan. Cook and stir constantly over medium heat until a few drops of the cooking fudge dropped into a cup of cold water form balls. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. (Alice adds another tablespoon or two of butter at this point too.) Add nuts and pour into a buttered 8-by-8-inch pan. Cool at room temperature, then cut into squares.

Baby Jackie Leclerc is held in the kitchen by her mom, Leona Bonneau Parent. Submitted photo

Imported from Quebec

“When she was 4 years old, my mom, Leona Bonneau Parent, immigrated with her family from St. Narcisse, Quebec, to Lewiston,” wrote Jackie Leclerc of Lewiston.

Those who grew up in the city are familiar with the Bonneau family, who opened a small market on Blake Street back in 1934. Through the years, Bonneau’s moved a few times, but with each move and transition the business continued to grow. From the market on Blake Street to the supermarket at Bonneau’s Plaza on Lisbon Street, Bonneau’s was well-known for the quality of their meats and their service. The motto: “Never a Bum Steer.”

“One of my favorite recipes from Mom is indeed meat-based,” said Leclerc. “She was a fantastic cook and everything she made was delicious, but I especially like the versatility of her creton, a French-Canadian specialty. Creton on warm toast is a breakfast comfort food, a creton sandwich with a schmear of mustard makes a fast lunch or supper, and creton on crackers is a yummy snack!”

Leona Bonneau Parent’s creton

Makes about 2 cups

1 pound lean ground pork

2 onions, finely chopped

3/4 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper

Water

1/4 teaspoon each cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and celery salt

Place pork, onions, salt and pepper in a large pot. Add enough water to cover ingredients. Cover and bring to a boil then immediately lower heat to a simmer.

Keep pot covered, with cover just slightly ajar. Cook for about 2 hours on very low heat, stirring occasionally, until water is almost gone. Add seasonings.

Remove from heat. With an electric hand mixer, blend mixture in the pot until almost smooth. Let cool slightly then transfer to storage containers, cover and refrigerate.

Blueberry sales paid for school shoes

Paula Valliere of Lewiston wrote, “My mom, Therese Valliere, was a great cook! Before I can tell you about my favorite recipe from her though, I have to tell you a little something about my dad, Paul (Leopold).”

Valliere proudly shared the story of how her parents raised eight children on a milkman’s salary. “Dad was also an exceptional gardener and used his hobby to supplement his income by lining our entire large back yard with blueberry bushes. He sold the berries to a local grocery store. The timing of blueberry season was perfect as it ended just in time for back-to-school shoe shopping.”

Valliere added, “Along with many wonderful meals, we all had our fill of blueberry muffins. But it was Mom’s blueberry cake that became our favorite. Each bite of this cake is not only full of blueberries, but is a taste of wonderful childhood memories.”

This family recipe has been passed down to the next generation and shared with many friends.

Paula Valliere recently whipped up her mom Therese Valliere’s blueberry cake. Submitted photo

Therese Valliere’s blueberry cake

Serves 6-8

Blueberries, fresh or previously frozen, enough to make a 1-inch deep layer in a 9-by-9-inch baking pan

Sugar for sweetening berries

2 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 cup of whole milk

1 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread blueberries about an inch deep in a buttered baking pan. Sprinkle with a little sugar.

In a mixing bowl, beat eggs then add sugar and beat until smooth. Combine dry ingredients and beat into sugar mixture. Beat in vanilla.

In a saucepan, bring milk and butter to a boil. Add to batter and stir in quickly.

Pour cake batter over blueberries. Bake for about 1 hour. Baking time depends on how many berries you use and how juicy they are. Test the center of the cake with a toothpick for doneness.

Nancy St. Pierre of Sabattus takes comfort in her mom Fern Bazinet’s version of fast food — her pork chop casserole. Submitted photos

A quick, wholesome meal

Nancy St. Pierre of Sabattus remembers Fern Bazinet as her busy working mother. “Mom worked alongside my dad in the business they started, The Vac Shak. While we were growing up Dad did a lot of traveling, selling vacuum bags and parts in rural northern Maine. Mom was home taking customers’ calls, typing up invoices, or being on hand for folks so they could pick up their repaired machines.”

St. Pierre recalled that in Mom’s “free time” she was active in her church, PTA, and Queens’ Guild Society. She was also a Cub Scout den mother and a volunteer at a thrift shop. “Mom didn’t have a lot of time for cooking so her recipes were usually not time consuming.” Still, the mother of three managed to prepare nutritious, yummy entrees, such as this pork chop casserole.

Fern Bazinet’s pork chop casserole

Makes 4 servings

4 (1/2-inch-thick) bone-in pork chops

2 tablespoons oil

Black pepper and Mrs. Dash

3 potatoes, peeled and quartered

3 carrots, scrubbed and cut into chunks

1/2 onion, sliced

1 stalk celery, sliced

1 (15-ounce) can vegetables or 1 1/2 cups fresh vegetables of your choice (mushrooms, green beans, etc.)

1 (15-ounce) can stewed tomatoes, including juice

Celery seed or celery salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season pork with pepper and Mrs. Dash. In a heavy skillet, heat oil and pan fry chops until browned on each side. Place in a large casserole dish. Add vegetables and top with tomatoes. Sprinkle with celery seed or salt. Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Serve with cornbread.

Writer and editor Karen Schneider has been a regular contributor to the Lewiston Sun Journal for over 23 years. Contact her at [email protected] with your ideas and comments.


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