Tag Archives: mother

Thanksgiving remembered…

I remember fondly, as a child growing up in Michigan, my family’s gatherings. But the one I most remember is Thanksgiving. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents and anyone that happened to be alone on that day would gather together in my grandparents’ tiny home in Findlay, OH. We’d watch the Macy’s Day Parade on television followed by a full day of football. We’d laugh and play and make plans for our Christmas gathering. The star of the day, however, was the food! Oh the food!

The enormous turkey would be stuffed with oyster dressing and put into the oven the night before to roast on the lowest of settings. To this day, I’ve never tasted a more tender, sweet piece of turkey than what my grandmother, Nellie, made in that tiny stove of hers. She would hand-peel steaming hot boiled potatoes (a method I never fully understood the justification of until I was much older) just as the sun was rising for her secret recipe potato salad. Every palate would be sated. She had candied yams, mashed potatoes, ham, turkey, multiple types of stuffing, and the list went on and on ending with a stack, yes, an eyeball high stack of pies!

They say baking is an exact science and as a baker I agree to a great extent. But the rules that govern baking didn’t seem to affect my great-grandmother. Hazel Gardner was a tough broad. At a mere 4’10” and 90 lbs. dripping wet, she terrified every member of our family and I suspect most of the Midwest. Her Siamese cat, Poocheye, was probably the only living creature who didn’t shrink in her presence. But good golly could that lady bake! In her cracker box sized kitchen, she turned out my absolute favorite dessert — Sugar Pie. That’s right. Sugar Pie.

It was a slightly sweet, creamy custard pie in the most perfect of flaky crusts. Great-grandma said it would cure everything. She made it for everyone who became ill. She made it for family gatherings. What she didn’t do was write down the recipe. Doh! I set out to harness her power over germs and learn how to make the delicious pie. Well, that was my intention. It took great-grandma a blink of an eye to tell me the recipe as I sat on the floor, notepad and pencil at the ready. But I sat flummoxed. She used words like “pinch” and “dash” and “until it looks right.” What? How did a “pinch” translate into teaspoons? And what exactly was “right” about the way the conglomeration looked?

No, I was never able to recreate my great-grandmother’s pie. And I could never duplicate those soft, quiet moments with my great-grandmother either. It was like a shooting star. You had to be there to fully comprehend the moment.

So, here’s to friends, family, Thanksgiving, food and the memories they create!

What is your fondest Thanksgiving memory?

 

November 3…celebrating adoption!

“November 3 has always been my Christmas. 39 years ago the cutest baby girl to ever arrive from Korea was placed in my arms and my heart. It seems like yesterday. Now she is 800 miles away from my arms, but will never be away from my heart. ‘Happy Anniversary’, Lin.”

That was my mum’s Facebook status update yesterday. Yes, I admit it. It made me cry. I cannot imagine any daughter loving her mum any more than I do, but then again I have always felt supremely special. My parents trudged through all of the required adoption paperwork and beaurocracy, not to mention the cost, just to have me as their only child. And for 39 years, we have celebrated that incredible day when they were handed a 6 month old infant (complete with chicken pox) at O’Hare International Airport. We haven’t marked the day with family dinners and trips to Toys ‘R Us in decades (Did I just say that? DECADES?!); but not a year has gone by that we don’t remind one another how wonderfully life-altering that moment was.

People have occasionally asked if I wonder about my birth parents. Quite frankly, no, I never have. My adoptive family gave me everything a child needed — food, shelter, clothing and love. A lot of love.

For many years, I have volunteered time, organized events and donated funds, to NYC animal shelters and rescue organizations. While many look at the animals’ faces and see sadness asking why or how could someone give them up, I see hope instead — hope that someone will want to love them for the rest of their lives. Filling out paperwork and having references checked will be viewed as a simple technicality as they will want only to provide a safe and loving home to a furry friend. The past will not matter. The future will be full of love.

Of course, my rosy outlook is surely attributed to my own experience. Nonetheless, I believe there is a loving family for every homeless child and animal.

Are you that family? Here are a few places to begin your search…

 

 

 

Ode to my mum…or “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a crescent roll!”

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!