Pine Sol, Amaretto Cakes and Oyster Dressing: How I Was Raised by My Southern Mother

By Madison Skakle

The smell of Pine-Sol in the sink…dozens of Amaretto cakes every holiday season…Russian tea simmering on the stove-top. All of those are true fixtures in my relationship with my mother. I was fortunate enough to be raised by a true Southern belle and am sharing some of my favorite lessons she taught me. Most of these lessons started in the kitchen!

  1. Before company comes over, always put Pine-Sol in the sink. I do this almost daily and think of my mom every time I put Pine-Sol in my sink. It’s simple really: put some hot water in the sink with Pine-Sol and wipe down your counters, stovetops and kitchen surfaces with Pine-Sol. It’s clean and immediately makes the whole house smell like you cleaned it from top to bottom. It’s the perfect quick tip to make your house clean in a jiffy (or for me, for my house to “appear” clean).
  2. A homemade gift is always the best gift. Every holiday season, my mom would bake dozens of Amaretto cakes for her friends and my dad’s coworkers. My favorite part of this process was getting a few spoonfuls of Amaretto cake batter. It was, and still is, the best cake batter of all time. My mom told me a story of when she and dad had just gotten married and couldn’t afford to spend tons of money on Christmas gifts, she started to make Amaretto cakes for her friends, family and coworkers. This recipe was passed down in her family, and little did she know that she’d be famous for her Amaretto cakes and people would expect them every holiday season. She is still making them and so am I! I started making Amaretto cakes in college and love to give them as gifts. Every time I see the face of someone light up when gifted this delicious, homemade cake…it makes all that time in the kitchen worthwhile.
  3. The key to a delicious dressing is a light hand. Another one of the dishes my mom is famous for is her homemade dressing every Thanksgiving holiday. The recipe is from her mom, Mama Faye. We’ve all experienced dressing that’s too hard and too dense. My mom’s is anything but that! It’s fluffy, moist and full of flavor. The key to keeping the dressing tasty is to keep your hands out of it. Also, it’s called dressing and not stuffing. And please don’t use the box mix. Homemade is way better, trust me!

Each one of these lessons were taught to me in the kitchen. My mom and I still laugh at how I followed her around everywhere she went. I loved asking her questions and learning from her while she cooked. Each one of these kitchen tips offers direction in life as well. For the Pine-Sol trick, it’s important to take care of your things. Take good care of your stuff and appreciate everything you have. For the homemade Amaretto cakes as gifts, show your kindness to others, even if it does mean spending more time on something. Lastly, for the dressing trick, keep your hands out of stuff because it works out!

I am so lucky to have my mom as my best friend. She is one of the most selfless women I know, the best hostess, loves to show her kindness to others and the perfect mother for my sister and me. I love her so much and cannot wait to teach my children all the life lessons she’s taught me!


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