momstown is thanking our moms for all the world to see, right here on momstown moments for Mother's Day. For six weeks leading up to Mother's Day we're connecting our moms and their lessons with our six program pillars, because we realize how our moms were our first early educators.
This week we're highlighting Nutrition. Share your 'moment of thanks' for your mom right here, and there's a $100 Chapters-Indigo gift card up for grabs for one lucky commenter. All you need to do is comment on this blog and check back next Sunday to see if the winner is you! There is one gift card up for grab each week!
Congratulations to Melissa Archdekin-Bonney, last week's winner! Please contact us to claim your prize.
This week, Ann-Marie gives thanks to her mom this week as she recalls her early experiences in the kitchen with her mom!
I grew up in a house where dinner was on the dot of 6pm every night of the week. At 5:55pm we kids were called to the kitchen to set the table and pour the milk. There was always a salad on the table (back in the old days before prewashed greens!) and a hot, nutritious meal prepared by my stay-at-home mom. We held hands for grace and then we dug in. Conversation surrounded our day, we may have mentioned the delicious meal in front of us but likely we just took it for granted.
By all accounts, it was a very traditional Norman Rockwell type setting. Not once did I ever question it until I grew up. Never did it occur to me that I had no idea how that food made it to the table.
Our kitchen was an open, welcoming space but I did other things than actually cook in there. It was a place to confide in my mom, to spread out a school project, to catch my mom if I needed to ask her permission for something, to talk on the phone (anchored into the wall!) and regular family dinners.
Our kitchen wasn’t just a place to cook, it was the place to be.
As a very young child, I have many memories of “helping” my mom. Washing, ripping and spinning salad greens. Rolling cookie dough for treats. Measuring ingredients for muffins. As kids we were involved in the food process; touring grocery aisles, visiting farmers markets, growing tomatoes in the garden, and reading labels.
But our actual meals? They simply appeared. As involved as we were, the kitchen and cooking was totally Mom’s domain. It’s not that we were unwelcome, but I’m pretty sure we would have slowed down the process and besides, our mom was, and still is, a great cook. A fabulous cook actually.
My mom nourished me both in food and in mind.
It wasn’t until I left home that it suddenly hit me - I had left home without knowing how to cook anything other than boil pasta and make toast!
When it was time for me to learn, I had a palette for food that wasn’t basic. The university dining hall was the first time I had a fried chicken finger which shocked my residence friends. When everyone else was boiling water for Kraft Dinner I was taking it one step up with pasta and figuring out how to make tomato sauce on a one burner stove.
During second year university, I was distracted and couldn’t study for Christmas exams. It’s didn’t feel like the holidays so, I made my first independent batch ever of sugar cookies, rolling the dough with a 1L plastic water bottle because students don’t own rolling pins! My roommates made fun of me up to my armpits in flour but how could it be Christmas without baking smells?
When I phoned home to brag about my cookies, that’s when my mom realised I now had an interest and drive to learn to cook. I arrived home that holiday to find a little black book ready for me. On our old dot matrix printer, my mom had typed and printed out all her famous recipes and step-by-step instructions how to create them myself and even included little Mom tidbits on how to serve them (ie: “serve with crusty rolls for a crowd”).
Mom’s black book became my guide to culinary growth. It included a recipe for making Rice (probably the same as the side of the bag!) but I sorely needed that. I’d feel homesick, 8 hours away from my Montreal home, and I’d crack that book and make something like Grandma’s Stay in Bed Stew or Mom’s Chocolate Chip Cookies.
That book kick started something inside me. I began to cut out recipes from the paper or magazines and glue them in. I glued in homemade tabs scrawled with labels like "vegetables" or "main course" to organize the recipe chaos. I’d scribble down tips I learned or someone else’s recipe like my Grandma’s Easy Banana Muffins, Carrot Ginger Soup or Rhubarb Crisp.
It turns out, while perched on the kitchen stool, I had absorbed things in my mom’s kitchen through osmosis. I inherited an appreciation for both good food and the process associated with creating it.
That black book is now almost 20 years old. And it’s still my go-to collection of recipes. It’s marked up, has egg spills and shows poorly. I use other cookbooks too, but when I have a food question, I still flip to that book or call my mom 3 hours away to ask.
Thank-you Mom for inspiring not just my love of cooking but for creating an atmosphere where food is appreciated and an understanding of what the family dinner really means. I’m so grateful for the black recipe book and for teaching me to cook from a distance as it has always felt like you’re right here in my kitchen with me, perched at my own island. xo