Being my first blog for Bradley, I had planned to put together an epic recipe or some form of “how to” which would make life in the kitchen easier. However, sometimes the universe has different plans for us.
So instead, for my first blog I’m going to talk about my Mom. Not in the specific sense, although she was a fascinating woman and I’m not certain others would share my enthusiasm on the topic. But on how she indirectly made me realize something last night that I hadn’t really considered previously: Sometimes it’s bigger than the food.
A Passion for Cooking
We lost my mom back in 2004, long before she had ample time to teach me ‘everything she knew about cooking. But beyond the techniques and recipes I did manage to learn, she taught me about passion.
She demonstrated how food can be a personal expression, send a message, or simply allow you to give a piece of yourself to those you are cooking. Likewise an artist would express him/herself on canvas, we who love to cook do it through food.
I recall a conversation I had with her (in the kitchen of course) during the preparation of some holiday meal in the past. It began with an offhand comment something like “Why can’t I get my potatoes to taste like yours?”
One Secret Ingredient
She looked at me with a mischievous glint in her eye and replied “Because you are just making them for you and aren’t using my secret ingredient.”
Puzzled, I looked at her and said “I make them exactly the same way you do! What secret ingredient’ are you talking about?”. She returned to her gaze to whatever task was in front of her on the counter, and with a small smile she gave a one word reply; “Love”.
OK, OK, enough walking down memory lane.You may be wondering how any of this ties into the blog. What happened last night that led to my scrapping of the blog I’d written, and putting this one in its’ stead.
That’s where the Universe comes in
My wife Chantelle and I were unpacking our final Christmas decorations, while our girls were running around the house being kids. They were all excited rediscovering all of the forgotten treasures not seen since last year. Then, Chantelle looked at me and, after a heavy pause, said: “I wish we could make a Christmas dinner exactly like the ones your mom used to make for our girls” .
I briefly flashed back to those multi-course, extravagant, “wear your stretchy pants” celebrations of all things edible that mom would put together. So, I replied: “We can!”
A Treasure of Old Cookbooks and Handwritten Recipes
You see, I had all of my mom’s cookbooks tucked away. Not only the ‘Better Living’ or ‘Women’s Day’ genre books, but also the “Good enough to cut out” and “Important enough to be hand written” stacks of homemade notebooks.
Still in the box in which they’d rested all those years since we’d cleaned out her house! To be honest, I’d never used them. Maybe because I’d never needed them, as the internet makes finding recipes all too easy. Or because I thought they may make me melancholy.
Nevertheless, with a mission of a “mom’s Christmas dinner” on the roster, out came the books. In those books I found not only the recipes for onion-sage dressing and Parmesan green beans I was looking for, but I also saw the evidence of Mom’s ‘secret ingredient’ all through those books.
Sometimes, it’s Really More than Just Food
Hand written notes, additions and modifications were throughout, and I found myself thumbing through pages and pages. Pieces of her that made each of those dishes what they were.
That’s when it dawned on me! We all take pride in serving the best we can to our friends and loved ones. However, what I didn’t realize is that when we put our passion, our attention to detail, and our own ‘secret ingredient’ on those plates, we are providing more than food for the body.
Sometimes, it’s bigger than just the food. It’s a way of taking care of our loved ones, a way of showing that they are so important to us that we want to give them our best. Sometimes it’s just a simple “I love you”.
The Universe Part 2
Thirteen days before Christmas, and I was again looking through those books to take a photograph for this blog.
Among the dozens of newspaper-clipped recipes, there was apparently something that I’d missed. When I opened the cover of one book, there was a single loose piece of newsprint.
Thinking it was another recipe, I flipped it over to read it. It wasn’t another recipe, but an old clipping by an unknown author, from some unknown paper. However, the fact that my mom had saved it in her cookbook tells me that I missed another way that it’s bigger than the food: the time we share in the kitchen.
You know,I think I’ll cook with my girls tonight. Little do they know that unbeknownst to them, regardless of what they learn, I’ll be taking far more from it than they will.
Merry Christmas all.
Writer & Editor