Joe - your mother sounds a lot like my mother. She taught me how to make her red sauce when I was eight or ten, whenever she figured I was old enough not to burn myself at the stove.
And I still make it - although over here you can't get the same good Italian sausages you can get in NJ and NY, so it's never quite the same. So when I was home and we were cooking up the sausages, I had two sweet Italian plain on sub roles. Ahh, I can still taste it.
But it's still my mother's and my favorite meal - our birthdays are three days apart and we always celebrate them together and we just did. Sunday lunch was spaghetti with red sauce and my sister Laura made her amazing lasagne - birthday cake was chocolate with chocolate.
We've been doing that for nigh on fifty years together now.
My mother also canned, froze, jellied and jammed, pickled everything- anything you could pick out of the ground or a tree or off a bush and put in a mason jar. I LOVE pickled beets!
I'm like Saab. My mother wasn an EXCELLENT cook and I loved everything - even the liver, bacon and onions she made us eat once a week.
I seriously can't think of one thing she made I didn't like- I asked her to buy and make tuna helper one time because I had had it at a friend's house - and I even liked that.
Her pot roast melted in your mouth. Her fried chicken was to die for. Her pinto beans and corn bread - her macaroni and cheese - her chicken and dumplings...seriously - I can't think of a thing I didn't love.
Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwiches were special because you had a choice of home-made peach, pear, strawberry or blackberry preserves.
I didn't like eggs - she used to make me eat those for breakfast once a week. And I didn't like milk. I used to pour mine in the empty cookie jar when she wasn't looking.
But dinner wise - I seriously can't think of one thing she made that I didn't like.
But, again, like Saab, I'm not a picky eater and I do like everything. I even like eggs and will drink milk now.