So, I thought I had two disparate post ideas for today, but after thinking them over for a while, I’ve realized that, in fact, they’re deeply connected.
As you may or may not know, last week was National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. The goal of the week (helmed by the National Eating Disorder Association) is to increase awareness and, along those lines, this year’s theme was “Everyone Knows Someone.”
Think you don’t?
You do. You know me. Read the rest of this entry »
Ok, so yesterday my mom wrote this post about how she like, doesn’t need to follow cooking rules or some madness like that. She claims her cooking is not only fine, but good, rules be damned.
I grew up eating her food. I turned out fine. She rarely repulsed me (except by refusing to believe that I hate broccoli and cauliflower until I was well into my 20s) and some of her dishes remain my all-time favorite meals to eat (her Greek Pizza and granola are unrivaled in my opinion). However, the woman isn’t a professional. She just isn’t. And, as her concession that letting dairy products warm to room temperature before baking does, in fact, improve the end product suggests, maybe the pros are onto something.
I really miss my mother. And I’m surprised. She’s been dead, after all, for 11 years, and our relationship was a complicated one for sure. So I’ve been touching this rediscovered scab, thinking about how it feel when I scratch certain parts, and I think I’ve figured out where it’s coming from: This is the first Christmas where Peter and I will not see two of our three children. At all. And for the first time, I understand and feel in my very core my mother. I get why she was so (often annoyingly to me) needy at different points — “What do you mean you’re not going to spend Mother’s Day with me, Janet?” — and why she seemed so desperate at others. She saw the clock ticking and like that Salvador Dali clock knew her time was melting, ever so quickly.
This is a tiny post, rendered by tiny toddler hands and mine, come together in the kitchen for the first time.
This is my blog with my mom; this is my first post about cooking with my own daughter.
Maxine is interested these days. She’s interested in everything–what’s behind doors and under pillows, how things come together and fall apart. She wants to partake, to join, to share in everything. If I open the dishwasher, she closes it. When she comes into our room in the morning after having breakfast with her dad on our days off, she lies down next to me and pretends to sleep. Her fine motor skills are growing stronger by the second. She gets more spoonfuls of food into her mouth now than she misses; she can poke her finger up her nose on her first try.
So, last night, we made rice together. I filled measuring cups and she dutifully poured their contents into the pot. She stirred everything up and then hung out on my hip declaring hot hot hot as I set the burner to its proper heat. When the rice was done, and came out perfectly (not always the case when I’m at the helm), we high-fived and she clapped.
It was a tiny moment. But, as we separate physically more and more, as she ceases to viscerally carry the days when we were bound, here was a tiny reconnection, a new site of unity.
And I thought of the many afternoons I spent in the kitchen with my own mother as a girl, and of our coming together in this space across time zones and kitchen tables, and I smiled.
Someday I will pass down to her the recipes I have from my grandmothers and my mother. Maybe Max will love cooking; maybe she’ll be the take-out queen. There’s a Chinese proverb that says something to the effect of talk does not cook rice. Whether she seeks the kitchen as much as her dad and I do or not, I hope she knows that she is always welcome alongside me there, that we can come together silently in the simple act of cooking rice.
So sorry that G devours vegetables at my house. S also eats rice when he’s in our vicinity. I’m thinking that perhaps we can credit the bay breeze instead of my sister status or cooking prowess.
Yeah, I’m feeling confident that it’s not my cooking prowess. Particularly these days when I churn out a pretty consistent rotation of sausage and beans, quesadillas and beans, stir-fry…and delivery pizzas. I’m not knocking these dishes (way to be bean-centric though, no?), just acknowledging that they hardly amount to recipes and that it’s been a while since I’ve cooked in a way that’s exciting to me. I am, you know, just getting back into baking. Having a baby seems to mean baby steps back into the kitchen as I’ve known it.
Right now, in a rare moment, I am eating WHILE I blog. Sure this means I’m not being a particularly present eater, but most importantly it means that I AM EATING WITH TWO HANDS.
This is so rare.
So, so, so rare.
John is an amazing partner. We take turns tending to M’s needs while we eat. But the reality of it is that neither one of us eats with two hands for a whole meal with much regularity. In fact, absent grandparental visits and this one night a few months back when she was asleep during dinner, John and I have not eaten a single meal at home in which we were free to employ both of our hands for the duration. I wouldn’t call this depressing, since it is simply the byproduct of the arrival of our incredibly wonderful baby, but I do want to mark this moment, to appreciate it for what it is: a dinner for me in which I am my only concern.
And, on that note, while I love the blog, I’m off to finish eating, to relish the two-handedness of this meal.
You’re in my kitchen right now cooking dinner for Dad and G and John and me (which, I guess means you are also indirectly cooking M’s dinner). You flew out for just a few days and, in this little window, you have fed me in myriad ways. My laundry has been magically folded, my dishes done, my fridge and belly filled and I have felt myself relax for the first time in weeks (ok, maybe for the first time since you were last visiting). You are a phenomenal nana to baby M, kissing her and playing with her and tucking her into bed. Nothing makes me feel more sated then watching my mom and dad with my baby.
We’ve decided to explore a little bit more of the life side of our lives as they’re told in recipes and this is the post that kicks it off. How perfect that what you’re cooking is one of your favorite recipes of your mom’s right now (in this way, Grandy is feeding M, too, and that is just kind of mind-blowing and awesome). I’ll let you share the recipe some other day, but I do want to say that I–like you–have fond memories of eating this chicken dish while growing up. I’m excited to eat it in my house in California, feeling grateful for the continuity of and across kitchens and generations.
As you did last time, you are leaving us with a bounty of chocolate chip cookies (last time they were mookies, this time chocolate chunk…which you made without a recipe which totally impressed me). Every time I eat one, I will think of you and I will feel strong and supported and loved. This is the best kind of food.
Thank you for crossing the country for just a few days. The impact will reverberate in my belly and my heart for weeks to come.