My mom was not a chef. She wasn’t even really a cook. She was however, the best mother I could ever imagine. She prepared meals most weeknights and whether it was Midwest Hungarian goulash or chicken-N-dumplings, I was right beside her, wooden spoon in hand. It was my way of spending time with my working mother. The kitchen was our common ground. It was warm with a comfortable smell that made me feel like I had a place in the world. After a while, once my food basics were solid, I took over in the kitchen. At ten, I was more or less the cook, but my mom was still by my side encouraging me to have culinary adventures.
Today marks five years since I lost my mother to Scleroderma. I think of her every day I am in the kitchen. Those moments with her 3 decades ago gave me a foundation of confidence and love that carry over in my kitchen with everything I prepare.
That feeling of deep love cultivated in a kitchen is something that I want to share with my boys. They are curious about food, because I am passionate about cooking.
Recently, I invited another passionate food mom over for a little cooking with kids. I wasn’t altogether prepared but we made it work. Another thing my mother taught me: Sometimes, it’s not about being perfect; it’s about being present.
The kids measured and mixed up a macaroni casserole. They cut tomatoes, browned beef, poured and stirred. I was more than impressed at how everyone wanted a turn and I think as a mini Ironchef team, I’d pick them any day.
We followed up with a tofu chocolate pudding that Bug turned into paint. Smiles were present. It was a fun moment my boys will remember.
Was it the best pasta ever made? Not even close. For me, slowing down and letting go of the outcome was a great experience. It was an afternoon well spent. I think my mom would have been proud.
Many thanks to Fuji Mama for snapping all the photos and bringing Bug and Squirrel.
I hope for the holidays, you will build memories in the kitchen and let your kids be a part of it!