Mom’s Poor Man’s Stroganoff

This coming Wednesday will mark 12 years since my mom passed away. I miss her terribly, every day. When I want to feel close to my mom, I start cooking. Food was always an expression of love in our house. The kitchen was the heart of our home, full of joy, sadness, laughter, and tears. Most of my memories, with my family take place in the kitchen. My mom was not a fancy cook, she cooked out of the necessity of feeding her family. She worked multiple jobs, she was extremely active with our church, and she had very little free time, so cooking dinner was a duty, not a task she loved. Most of our dinners were quickly made meals, recipes from the branded cookbooks you picked up at the register in the grocery store. There was the cheeseburger pie, this was the dish I used to frost with sour cream and cover in salt to make it edible. Her burgers were always cooked in the oven and dry, and if they were served close enough to pay day there was a little bit of charred bacon on top of the burger. I could never forget the random dinner she made once of cheap ramen noodles, bone-in chicken thighs, and a weird cream sauce, I have absolutely no words to explain this dish. These dinners are things I never want to eat as an adult. But there were still a few dishes she made, that I loved. These are the dishes I’ve made for Todd. I have made him stand in the kitchen with me while I cooked so I could tell him stories about my mom,whom he never got to meet. I’m still bummed that I never got her recipe for her tuna casserole, or her party punch. But I did learn to make her version of beef stroganoff. Traditionally, beef stroganoff is a fancy dish, a dish that could be found on the menu of the Russian Tea Room in New York in the 1930s. My mother’s version was not fancy, but it was a staple in our home during my teen years, and really simple to make. This past week, I decided to make my mom’s stroganoff for my lunches to take to work. There is something magical about any dish that can provide the fuel needed to get through the work day, and provides one with some beautiful memories of a loved one.

This is a super easy dish to make, and doesn’t take very long to prepare. First things first, we put our stroganoff over rice. Most people use egg noodles, which is perfectly fine, but I prefer rice. I made the rice in our Instant Pot. Most recipes for rice in the Instant Pot call for a 1 to 1 ratio, I however do 1 ½ cups of water to 1 cup of rice. I do this partially because of the altitude here in Colorado and I like really moist rice (I think this makes a big difference, especially when reheating in a microwave). I cooked the 2 cups of rice, with 3 cups of water on manual for 8 minutes, and then did natural release for 15 minutes before manually releasing the last bit of pressure. As for the sauce, I choose to use ground turkey, my mom used ground beef, it is a matter of preference. When seasoning the meat, I use granulated garlic, black pepper, sea salt, onion powder, italian seasoning, and minced garlic. In the pan, add oil (I used avocado oil), just once around the pan. Season the meat to your taste, I use the garlic heavily, I can always hear my mom telling me to add just a bit more garlic. Cook the turkey through and drain on a plate with paper towels. Put the meat back in the pan once drained, add 1 cup of sour cream, a 10.5 oz can of cream of mushroom soup, and a drained 13.25 oz can of sliced mushrooms (you can use fresh mushrooms that you saute or less mushrooms if your prefer). Mix all together on medium heat. Add more seasoning, to make sure it is seasoned all the way through. Let the sauce come to a low boil, stirring occasionally. Spoon over rice, or noodles, your choice.

It wasn’t until several months after my mom’s passing that I began to realize, that we didn’t keep any of her cookbooks. I wish I had thought of going through her stacks of recipes. Passing on family recipes to the next generation is a beautiful way to share your family’s history. I’ve watched my sister pass on our family’s food traditions to her boys. They love our mom’s lasagna toss dinner, that my sister makes for the boys, they call it Diego’s Pasta, it has kept my mom’s legacy alive through pasta, tomato sauce, and cheese!

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