If you ask someone to share a memory of their mom, chances are it involves food. Nothing triggers more memories of mom than her cooking. For many of us, it’s a favorite recipe or it could be the time we spent in the warm kitchen where we felt safe and sheltered.

I was blessed with a mom who was a wonderful cook. My childhood memories are centered in our cramped kitchen where my mother and grandmother cooked and baked. My mom always said she was a short order cook, meaning her cooking was simple and straightforward. And yet I remember the cream puffs she made annually when my parents entertained my father’s office. Watching her pipe the pastry into balls did not look simple nor did making a hole in the baked pastry and piping in the custardy filling.

Not everyone has gilded memories from the kitchen. One of my friend’s never cooked. Her spouse worked long hours so she cobbled together prepared foods to feed herself and children. Both of her daughters are now excellent cooks and when I asked them why, they answered, “We were hungry.”

After my mother’s death I decided to attempt a recipe that intimidated me. Not the cream puffs, but her stuffed cabbage. She made her stuffed cabbage for me every time we visited, whether her home or mine. I followed her recipe carefully and it took me half the day to prepare. It simmered a long time in the oven and the smells that filled the house were delectable. While the stuffed cabbage tasted exactly like hers I have made it only twice because it is so much work.

Holidays foods are often laced with memories. In my home I must make my mother’s stuffing recipe for Thanksgiving. All attempts to persuade my family to try a new recipe have failed. I finally realized that making my mother’s stuffing for holiday meals is special and it keeps her a part of our family celebrations.  

So what will I be making this Mother’s Day to remember mom? I’m thinking of her pumpkin ice cream pie. I know it is out of season, but it is one of my favorites and never fails to remind me of mom. 

***

Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

Photo courtesy of author

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