Her father was a shrimp boat captain. So, while we couldn't afford steak, we had all the fresh caught seafood Big Daddy would skim off the top of the catch. Shrimp season was short, but crab and oyster season soon followed.
Mom had looks (like a young Elizabeth Taylor) and smarts, and a scholarship to college if she wanted it, but had no extra help from her parents. So after high school graduation, she was soon married and I arrived on the scene, followed by my brother and sister.
My Dad was in the military so we moved around, but eventually settled back in Port O'Connor after a divorce - Dad was the life of the party, but he was a little too profligate in the alcohol consumption department.
Mom went back to work as a waitress, so I leaned how to literally pinch pennies when she poured handfuls of customer tips on the kitchen table for us kids to separate and count.
After a few years Mom remarried (and a final little sister was born - catch up, with Denise's Eggplant Recipe, video here) and we soon moved to Louisiana, about the time I started in High School. There she picked up a whole other way of cooking, Cajun-style.
My high school daze were spent in Gonzales, Louisiana, the self-professed Jambalaya Capital of the World. So you know this town is serious about chow. Click here to see a culinary video tour of some local Cajun cuisine at the weekend Flea Market, including: Crawfish Pie, Boudin Balls and, of course, Jambalaya.
And here's our first video we made together (in my Los Angeles kitchen.) You'll get a kick out of her rockin' the cast iron kettle. I make her Cajun Jambalaya more than any other recipe - it's simply delicious.
Here is a link to her Jambalaya recipe with text and yummy photos.
Mom takes a star turn with her next video recipe, her popular Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
It's a traditional Southern dish and its cheap, too. Just chicken, sausage and the Cajun veggie trinity of bell pepper, celery and onion. What gives Gumbo it's unique taste is a dark brown roux, which is flour cooked in oil until chocolate brown.
Just watch the video below and Mom will take you though the steps. And, as an added bonus, my older sister Brenda makes a nagging appearance a few minutes in.
Click here to read all about making Gumbo, from roux to rice!
Mom attracts a kitchen-full of hungry relatives, when these pies come hot out of the oven. And it's a miracle they were done right, because this chef de shutterbug was shoving a camera in her face (and a hot oven) during the whole procedure. We butted heads a few times, but fortunately it all turned out fine.
I even came up with a way to dodge the high prices for pecans - so check out the video below to learn my budget secrets.
And click here to see Mom's Mini-Pecan Pies recipe with text and tasty photos.
The recipe is a traditional one made with simple ingredients. The pumpkin came from a can, but the crust was handmade with wheat flour.
All the easy to follow steps are written out here, and with delish photos, too.
Happy Mother's Day to all you lovely ladies, and especially to my Mom -- I love you !