I owe my mum more than any number of blog entries could begin to describe. I was not an easy child to raise. Headstrong and determined, I balked against parental authority with vehemence. And in her wisdom, my mum knew traditional methods of parenting would backfire with aplomb. Instead, she went about her life quietly, purposefully, and all the time teaching me about being a good person through example.
She stood steadfast in her beliefs, but didn’t judge. She spoke her mind, but considered others’ views. She fed, clothed and gave shelter, to all those who needed it — be they animal or human. She went without, so others could have.
No, she was not a martyr. She was however, and continues to be, one of the most genuine, generous and loving, people in existence. And while many of you are probably thinking, “Of course you feel that way, she’s your mother!” This is simply not true. I am a realist and even more headstrong now than I was as a child (heaven help us all). So, while I tout my mum as being an incredible human being, she failed at one major thing. She never taught me how to cook.
That’s right. My mum has always hated to cook. Her dream home is one without a kitchen. So, growing up our pantry was stocked with everything canned and one-pot ready on the market. Mashed potatoes came from flakes in a box. Her baked stew consisted of supermarket prepared stew meat, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Tomato soup, a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and a couple roughly chopped potatoes and carrots. And one of her favorite recipes was found on the side of the Bisquick box — Impossible Cheeseburger Pie.
So, while most mothers are terrified that their children will hurt themselves while cooking (or set the kitchen on fire), my mum allowed me to use the kitchen as my personal playground. I climbed on the kitchen cupboards to reach items in high places, emptied the pan drawer in which I sat and snacked on Ritz crackers, and when I was barely tall enough to reach the range top I created my first solo experiment which I proudly served my parents in bed — blue, mint flavored scrambled eggs.
I don’t remember going through a Dr. Seuss phase as a child, but those eggs surely were a concoction related to his green eggs and ham. And as most dutiful parents would, my mum and dad ate them all, complimenting my creation.
It was that moment, 35+ years later that seems to have defined my method of baking. I begin with basic flavors and give them my own twist — although with a slightly less cartoon like result.
So, to the woman who famously said, “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a crescent roll,” thank you for quietly showing me the goodness in people and encouraging me all the way. I love you dearly. I may never be able to afford to buy you that purple Jaguar or take you on an Alaskan cruise, but there will always be Raspberry Key Lime Cheesecake Brownies in your honor!