Recipes For Success

Mothers of local celebrities look back on their years of feeding their famous children. Here they share some favorite memories, tips and advice.

May 09, 2001|By Tricia Bishop | Tricia Bishop,SUN STAFF

They say the heart of a home is its kitchen, and for most, even in today's modern times, that kitchen is run by Mom. In some ways it never stops being run by her, even after we've grown and moved into kitchens of our own. She shows up in our methods and our means -- a legacy made from favorite recipes, seasoning styles and chopping techniques, a thousand different nuances.

Our mother's meals and ways of preparing them -- whether remembered fondly or with a head-shaking shudder -- have seeped into our psyches and shaped the way we cook.

We talked with the mothers of five local celebrities to glean some idea of the legacies they've given their children. The women shared tips, recipes and general thoughts on their famous kids' favorite dishes and, in some cases, cooking abilities.

Keeping Cal's strength up

With two of the four kids in the family destined to be athletes, Violet Ripken has always focused on quantity when it comes to cooking.

"The only thing we ever said about food, period," says Cal Ripken's mother, 63, "was that you can't cheat your stomach. You have to eat. That was particularly important when Cal was in the minor leagues and meal money was so small."

To stretch his budget, Cal, who was then rooming with a couple of other players, relied on the home-cooked recipes of his youth, opting for Mom's turkey potpie over more expensive restaurant meals.

"He still makes it today," says Violet, who lives in Aberdeen, even though money is no longer exactly tight.

O'Malley's cottage cheese

Mayor Martin O'Malley "developed into a good cook," says his mom, Barbara O'Malley, "which is just amazing to me, considering what he ate growing up."

Barbara, who works as a receptionist for Maryland Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski and lives in Rockville, says her cooking never went much beyond the standard meat-and-potatoes meal. This satisfied her six kids, who she says liked their food on the bland side. The young mayor-to-be spent a good portion of his early years subsisting on cottage cheese and applesauce.

As her kids aged, though, she got to be a bit more creative, adding seasonings or a little wine to a dish. But today, she avoids cooking at all if she can help it.

"Thinking back about all the years I cooked for eight people," she says, "makes me kind of casual about it all now. I'm glad Martin's the one doing it and not me."

Donna and the perfectionist

"I've been cooking since I was 18 years old," says Rosemarie Crivello, whose daughter, Donna Crivello, founded the Donna's Restaurant and Coffee Bars. "My mother wasn't well, and I had a dad and four brothers that I cooked for."

She says she learned by doing and watching when her mother used to cook. Donna adopted the technique.

"My mother is a really good cook," Donna says, "and a perfectionist. She likes to do everything herself, and everything she did always spilled over to me."

Donna, 48, says she marveled at her mother's Sunday dinners and her ability to bring all the components out at the same time. She uses those lessons now in preparing the menu for her nine restaurants and teaching cooking classes on the side.

Her 72-year-old mother, who lives in Baltimore, works five days a week as a host at the University of Maryland Medical System's Donna's (with Donna's dad). The couple spends winters in Florida. She even lent her ideas to the chefs at the Mount Vernon location, which features Rosemarie's tomato-sauce recipe on Monday nights.

"When my mother makes [the sauce]," Donna says, "it's the best."

Health food for Sisqo

Baltimore-bred R&B singer Sisqo didn't learn anything about cooking, says his mother, Carolyn Andrews. But, then again, he really didn't have to. He usually has a personal chef.

Right now, though, he's between chefs and "living on Doritos and junk food," she says. "It's driving me crazy." Particularly because Carolyn, who still lives in the city, brought 25-year-old Sisqo (then known as Mark) up on health food.

"I don't do traditionalist type cooking," she says. "I don't use a lot of salt. I use a lot of greens, not much fat. My cooking's kind of bland. [Sisqo] had to go over to his godmother's to get the down-home cooking, which he did a lot. He really didn't like my cooking."

Sisqo's 6-year-old daughter, Shaione, however, does.

"We just finished the best batch of pancakes," says 54-year-old Carolyn, who was baby-sitting. "I make the best pancakes."

Cooking? What's that?

When Megan Gunning, Miss Maryland U.S.A., was growing up in Harford County, she wasn't one of those waifish beauty queens afraid of food.

"Whatever it was," says Ann Gunning, Megan's mom, "if you put it in front of her, she ate it."

And she still does, but Ann, 47, says that's now due more to the fact that Megan has no choice. The 22-year-old can't cook and eats with her parents in their Fallston home when she's not on the road.

"I think her kitchen canisters have hair products in them," Ann says.

Megan blames her mother.

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