My mother is a saint.
She raised us while working part time, home part time and working on the farm part time. Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Somehow she still managed to find time to make sure we had 3 square meals a day, we were respectful of the land, we exercised outside, we finished our chores and we only got to watch a half hour of TV a day. We maybe snuck in an extra half hour if we were feeling devious… don’t tell.
I remember being in awe of how many cook books she had. Rows of shelves dedicated to the collection of ‘Company’s Coming’ and boxes of cards filled with family recipes for fear that one day she might need to look in them for inspiration. In those books she had a recipe for most things, but in her creative mind- she had all the recipes she needed to prepare a family meal.
Her goal was to ensure that every bit of food was used for something and nothing was tossed into the garbage. Vegetables starting to turn soft were quickly made into a soup or stew. Fruit on its last legs were transformed into a glorious crisp or pie. Nothing went into the garbage and for everything- she found a purpose.
It’s a shame our society doesn’t think that way anymore. We buy things thinking we will use it this week, this month; certainly before it starts to go ‘bad’. Sure enough, the day comes when we see one blemish or brown spot and its deemed ‘garbage’. Why can’t we look at those items like our mothers and grandmothers used to? They saw a casserole, a stew, a soup- all easy items that can be thrown into a crock-pot at a moment’s notice and turned into a huge delicious meal before dinner time.
My mother had it nailed. As a working mom, on a farm with many duties to be done throughout the day and two girls to rein in- I never once remember her saying “We have nothing to make for dinner.”. Even on a day when she meant to shop for groceries but didn’t have the chance, she still made something out of ‘nothing’. We ate many dishes growing up where she would incorporate odd ingredients that we would question when we saw it being mixed in… things like peanut butter. Her taste buds knew better and her nose became a sense of creativity for experiments. Her creative use of peanut butter in savoury dishes is where my strong love of Asian and Middle Eastern dishes comes from.
I want to become a mother like mother. She was the perfect mixture of balance between her career, hobbies, family, fun and being the perfect wife.
Oddly enough, I actually have very few cookbooks. In fact, I almost never follow a recipe. My cooking style is much like my mothers. I open the fridge, stare at the ingredients and allow my taste buds and nose to guide me toward the finishing touched of dinner made from ‘nothing’. I learnt that from my mother.
Now if I can just figure out how to manage as much as she did, with the same grace and class… maybe a blog post for another time.