My Life In Bad Food, Chapter One: My Mother Could Burn Water

My mother was a goddawful cook.

There!  I said it!


Normally, I don’t believe in speaking ill of the dead but it is just the truth. We all learned how to cook early in self-defense.

Ever had chewy mac and cheese?  I have.

How about lasagna where the noodles were not boiled ahead of time?  Check.

Bacon is not supposed to taste like charcoal briquettes.

Mashed potatoes are not supposed to crunch.

Eventually, I became used to a steady diet of peanut butter sandwiches and Campbell’s chicken noodle soup.

You may think I exaggerate but my mother could burn water.


It happened one night when my mother decided to make ham and beans for my Dad. Normally, it wasn’t a bad idea as this was one of her less horrid items but she made a few mistakes.

First,  there was only an hour before Dad was supposed to be home.

Then, she didn’t have time to soak the beans before cooking to soften them.

Finally, she decided NOT to use a standard pan for cooking.

My mother, in all of her wisdom, decided to use a pressure cooker.

An old, poorly maintained pressure cooker.

An old, poorly maintained pressure cooker that she didn’t seal properly.

Now do you see the issue?

So, I am sitting in my room doing my homework when –


-and the whole house shook.


Coming down the stairs. I couldn’t help but notice the steam shooting out of the kitchen but no sign of my mother.

The kitchen was a mess. Boiling water overflowed the pot and flowed down into the burner where the fat ignited and poured down the stove onto the brick floor. Quickly turning it off, I grabbed a dishtowel to put out the flames.

About this time, my older sister arrived at the house after my initial phone call and bundled off my mother to see the doctor.

Left alone, I tried to clean up as well as I could but I have to admit it was a daunting task.  It was literally raining beans on me as I mopped and wiped and swept.  This was because the ceiling was completely covered with beans and they were coming to earth in their own sweet time. It seemed like I got one area cleaned up when the ceiling would disgorge yet another layer of lima beaned goodness on the freshly cleaned floor.

The ham bone had ended up in the back yard after taking out a window. To give you an idea on my mother’s cooking, even the dogs avoided it.

I was working on the lid of the pressure cooker that was embedded in the ceiling when my Dad came home. I have never heard him use language like that before or since.

We were picking beans out of that ceiling for weeks.

Now let’s do it right!


1 lb. dried large lima beans, soaked (overnight is best)

5 lbs. bone in ham hock

2 onions, chopped well

2 ounces dried garlic

1 stick butter

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Fill a medium pan with water and add beans. Allow to soak overnight.

Add ham hock, onion, and spices. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the beans are tender.

Remove the ham and allow it to cool, then cube. Return it to the pan.

Stir in the butter and serve.

(And, yes, she was fine.)


COPYRIGHT 2016 Micheal J. Hobbs


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s