My Mom should really be the one in the kitchen spotlight, not me. She’s the queen. Of Amazing Salads. Of Awesome Desserts. Of Huge Kitchen Messes.
The funny thing is that no one, until recently, has ever recognized this about her. Growing up, food was just food. Holiday dinners were standard. My sister and I had no idea she was a kitchen genius—she was just Mom.
In fact, there were certain people in the family (who I will not name, but only because they’re super old and that might be bad karma), who picked on her for being messy. And they didn’t give her credit for her effort, time, and love put into the making of food. I’m not saying she always wanted to do it—she was just The One. She made everyone’s birthday dinners, holiday meals, and every Sunday coffee cake. As far as we knew it was her job (and I’m pretty sure I never thought about it). Grandma made a pie once in a while, and was notorious for bringing over cookies full of walnuts and telling me that if I would just try one I would know it was good. (I still hate nuts in cookies).
My Dad did his part—he always washed the dishes and totally cleaned the kitchen. He may have helped a bit with the food prep too, I can’t really remember (he did go through a cookie-baking phase for a while too).
My point is, my parents are both in new lives since my childhood, and they’re both still amazing. The funniest thing is that now my Mom is cooking and baking for a set of totally objective taste buds. And they think she’s amazing. She never follows a recipe, but she usually starts from one. Whenever I call and ask, “How much is ‘Some’?” after she’s emailed me a recipe, she laughs and says she doesn’t know. It’s just “Some.”
I may have told her about making pasta out of zucchini, but she found the cheaper tinier tool to make it with, and she perfected the lemon, feta, herb, skillet version of it. I may have suggested that she buy grassfed beef and sub in coconut oil for others, and she definitely buys all my nutritional/food advice hook, line and sinker… but she’s the one who puts her heart into every single meal she makes. She is a Giver. Everywhere I go when I’m around my hometown, people find out she’s my Mom, and they say, “I Love Susan!”
She is my own personal Pollyanna in life. She’s not actually my Mom anymore (except when she gives me money)—she’s my Soul Sister.
I’m not being mushy—it’s just true. We had an extra 9 years in each others’ vicinity because my sister died, a couple years living together, and one recent year living across the street from each other. Sometimes after my Sister died, Mom would make comments about how she knew that if she chose to, she could have died too. She probably could have, but I think we both know now that one of the main reasons it all happened was so that we could have more time together. We’ve both had heart stopping moments of realization when the words came out, “What would I do without you?”
She puts her heart into everything. I want to be that way too.
Here’s one of her recent works of genius in the kitchen (and I know she got it from somewhere…. and neither of us followed the recipe—-and it was amazing. People loved it, and then went home and asked for the recipe and then emailed her and said, “How much is ‘Some’?”).
Meatloaf on Crack (or, supposedly Ground Beef Braciole)
1 pound ground beef
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Pine nuts (Susan uses sunflower or pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds etc.)
3 t Parmesan
2 T parsley
1 cup spinach
6 slices cooked bacon
6 slices provolone ( I used havarti—seriously, yum)
Mix meat with crumbs, egg, garlic, onion, nuts/seeds, parm and parsley. Smush it in your hands.
Flatten on a wax paper lined cookie sheet until it is about 1/2″ thick, 12″ long and 6″ wide.
Cover with bacon, cheese and spinach.
Roll in a log 12″ long and drizzle with some oil. Remove it from the wax paper and put it on a baking pan.
Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 min. Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Top with marinara or some kind of red sauce!