My mom may not be what you would call a gourmet chef (although after the kids all moved out, she has been producing some seriously impressive meals--her homemade pasta nowadays is amazing), but I have learned some very special lessons about food and life from watching my mom cook for my family. On Mother's Day, I thought I'd share some of them with you.
1. Use real whipped cream. Special occasions call for special food, and real whipped cream is just better than the fake stuff. Mom believes this. While she is one of the healthiest eaters and cooks I've ever met, that blessed dollop of home-whipped love is pure joy for Mom. It makes special occasions special. It makes fresh strawberries sing. It made her children very happy. You, too, can make your life better by using real whipped cream.
2. Like everything. I have never heard my mother give a blanket statement like, "Oh, I don't like _____" (except once she said she didn't like okra, but I think it's only because she hasn't tried this). With this fact in mind, I really don't understand how she produced the pickiest eaters in the world. Each one of us had long lists of things we didn't like, which we made very clear: no mushrooms, onions, peppers, squash, zucchini, green beans, cucumbers, asparagus, fish or any seafood, spinach, tomatoes, pickles, olives, and I'm sure lots of other things. However, Mom kept making it anyway, telling us that someday we would like them. You know what, she was right (I still think Lin will come around and eat onion one of these days).
3. Sacrifice for people you love. We had seven people in our family, and inevitably any sort of treat or dessert would come in packages of six. You guessed it--Mom never got one. The doughnuts or cans of soda or cookies or whatever would go to everyone else, with Mom hoping that maybe she could just get a bite from one of her often unappreciative children. I'm sorry to say that often, we didn't even notice. However, Mom ate the brown bananas after everyone else took the new ones. She ate leftovers for lunch when everyone else turned their noses up at them. And you know what, I never heard her complain. Ever. That woman is a saint.
4. Eat together. Imagine this battle: 5 children with entirely different schedules + business executive husband with constantly fluctuating hours vs. Mom's shear will. Mom wins. We ate dinner together as a family just about every night (Mom once told me that it wasn't even worth it to cook for only 5 people). We may have fought to the death to be out playing with friends or watching TV or any number of other things, but we ate together as a family. However, those moments at the dinner table together remain one of the strongest forces that built the love and unity we have in the family. Those precious moments with rice pilaf or orange roughy and brussel spouts showed me how much Mom loved us and was committed to us as a family. We belonged together, and she wanted us to know it and eat like it.
Happy Mother's Day, Mom. I love you.
What lessons did your mothers teach you from the kitchen?