Everyone enjoys a great home-cooked feast. Whether it comes from your own kitchen or someone else's, you can't beat delicious comfort food. For me, the tastiest recipes are prepared fresh in my parents' kitchen, and the friendly chatter that takes place when visiting before and during mealtimes is the best part of the experience.

In my opinion, it's the best mom-and-pop eatery around!

Heading to Mom and Dad's house with my husband and son for a meal with our extended family of 24 is comforting and leaves us feeling happy and satisfied. Our large clan can take their time eating and socializing - we don't feel rushed to leave.

Gatherings happen often at my folks' house, and while talking, playing and laughing come with every occasion, most shindigs are centered around an impressive spread of food.

Friends and family alike are welcome to eat at Mom and Dad's kitchen. As kids, friends often joined my four sisters and me for great food and fun conversations. Extra plates were willingly set, and company looked forward to future invitations to dine with us.

It's not the food alone that brings us back for more. Recently, a good friend from high school came to visit while my son and I were spending the afternoon at my childhood home. Upon arriving, she smiled and said, "Ahh, the memories we've had here!"

Mom and Dad's kitchen and dining room hold many memories for family and close friends. It's a place where we grew up and learned valuable life lessons. We stayed up late, laughed, cried and played, often munching on a bowl of freshly popped popcorn or ice cream topped with homemade fudge sauce.

Nowadays, when Mom and Dad open their kitchen for frequent family gatherings, it's my nieces' and nephews' friends who join us for meals. Not many of these get-togethers go by without my oldest nephew calling to get the OK for one, two or even three of his buddies to tag along. And a teenage niece brings her pal so often that her photo is displayed in the center of a faux sunflower, alongside pictures of the 12 grandchildren.

We've tested out many tantalizing recipes at this joint. I've carefully helped Dad stack one layer after another while artfully creating his version of nachos grande. And it's here that Mom taught me to make her mouth-watering crumb-top apple pie from scratch.

From Christmas Eve crepes to Dad's cassoulet to Mom's lasagna, pizza and homemade bread, with their delicious aromas wafting through the house, this place serves up a wide variety of food to tempt every tastebud.

Influenced by our parents' cooking capabilities, my sister Amy and I decided to test out our own culinary skills at a young age. As kids we created our own "restaurant," providing dinner exclusively for our parents. Named Sarami's (from "Sarah" and "Amy"), our restaurant served up meals on special occasions. We helped celebrate a wedding anniversary by creating handmade menus and cooking spaghetti alla funghi and chocolate pudding cake. Amy and I were thrilled to act not only as chefs, but also as waitresses.

Mom and Dad's kitchen never closes. I remember Dad making us late-night cinnamon toast and hot chocolate after we walked home in a sudden rainshower. It sure warmed us right up. And in the early mornings before school, Mom would cook a breakfast of bacon, eggs and toast while we talked about the upcoming day.

On a recent morning when I took my son over to play for a couple of hours, I was greeted by Dad in the kitchen making corned beef hash. I eagerly accepted his offer to eat some of the tasty grub.

In the comfort of Mom and Dad's kitchen, I've enjoyed countless home-cooked meals over the years, and I've learned helpful cooking techniques there as well. I now have my own tasty recipes, as well as some great ones from my childhood, that I serve to my family.

Even so, I can't help but get excited when we receive an invitation to dine at this one-of-a-kind establishment, which serves appetizing food and is filled with priceless memories that I will always hold close to my heart.

Email Sarah McKeown at east@azstarnet.com