She grew up in Texas on the Gulf Coast, in a small shrimping and fishing town called Port O'Connor. There, I learned to love seafood.
Her father was a shrimp boat captain, so 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. And you could always cast a line into the warm Gulf waters and marshes for bountiful fishing.
Big Daddy & Big Mama
Mom's Shrimp & Rice - VIDEO
Mom had movie star looks (like a young Elizabeth Taylor) and smarts, and a scholarship to college if she wanted it, but had no encouragement from her parents.
So after high school graduation, she was soon married and I arrived on the scene, followed by my brother and sister.
Billy, Berry, and Brenda
My Dad was in the military so we moved around. Mom and us kids eventually settled back in Port O'Connor, after a divorce. Dad was quite a character and the life of the party, but he was also a little too profligate in the alcohol consumption department.
Billy Doyle Robinson
Mom got back on her feet and found love again with this shuffleboard-playing fellow below, Ken.
After a couple years, Mom married Ken and a final sister was born (catch up with youngest sister Denise's Eggplant Recipe, video here.)
We moved to neighboring Louisiana the year I enrolled in Junior 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 - and my late wife, Amy, even makes an appearance at the very end of the video. You'll get a kick out of Mom rockin' the cast-iron kettle. I make her Cajun Jambalaya more than any other recipe - it's simply delicious.
Jambalaya - Recipe Video
Here is a link to her Jambalaya recipe with text and yummy photos.
Mom was always popular with my high school buddies, especially during lunch or dinner time. She brought her Tex-Mex Enchiladas to Cajun Country, and my Louisiana friend Marvin ate them up!
Me, Marvin & Dennis
Make sure to watch my wacky recipe video to the end, that's when our flashback hijinx really gets smoking (wink, nudge.)
Mom's Chili Cheese Enchiladas - Recipe Video
Mom takes a star turn with her next video recipe, her popular Chicken and Sausage Gumbo.
It's a traditional Southern dish and it's 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 check out the video below - Mom will take you through the steps. And, as an added bonus, my oldest sister Brenda makes a nagging appearance a few minutes in.
Gumbo - Recipe Video
Click here to read all about making Mom's homemade Gumbo, from roux to rice!
My Mom's Cajun Potato Salad is the perfect side to her Gumbo and Jambalaya. When she visited me in Los Angeles I got her to do it on camera. I couldn't help but give her a hard time about the recipe. I called it Cajun Mashed Potatoes and she called it Cajun Potato Salad - well, I guess you'll have to watch the video below to see who wins that argument!
Mom's Cajun Potato Salad - Recipe Video
Mini-Pecan Pies. If I couldn't make it for the Christmas holiday, then she would send a shoe-boxed size package with a dozen of these tasty pies.
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.
Mini-Pecan Pie - Recipe Video
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.
Pumpkin Pie - Recipe Video
All the easy to follow steps are written out here, and with delish photos, too.
Now, Mom is no angel -- hey, who is? Recently my brother from another daddy, the Swamp Chef, with his Spanish moss and all.
When I asked Mom: "Who's the Swamp Chef's daddy?" Her reply was: "That's a very good question!" I guess Mom will spill the beans one day, until then, check out the video below for a dessert good enough to cajole the Swamp Chef out of the bayou!
Cherry Pie - Recipe Video
Happy Mother's Day to all you lovely ladies, and especially to my Mom - I love you!