My job these days finds me in a kitchen, multiple dishes in the oven, pots on the stove, cutting boards full of diced vegetables, and the cookbook lying open on its back. I am cooking meals for a crew of men, making comfort foods most evenings. Most nights I think, “How would I enjoy this meal?” and “How would Mom make this with these ingredients?”
They keep asking me “But where did you learn to cook?” I know. I am an artist, a singer, shoot even a truck driver. I was hired as a barista, not a cook! But here I am, cooking. And they love it. I love it. So, my answer is always “I learned from my mom”. Lessons flow through my mind as I stand cutting up apples and celery to add to the stuffing. Spending time in the kitchen with you, and even watching from a stool at the counter, taught me about life.
Here is what I learned from you, Mom.
I learned that the kitchen is a wonderful place for a creative mind. It is a terrible threat to those who are too serious about life, but just cupboards and shelves full of potential to those who can see, like a painter’s palette.
That a recipe is a mere guideline, a suggestion, and there can be a hundred interpretations of that suggestion.
I learned that not having something doesn’t necessarily put an end to the dish, there is always something you can substitute.
Good doesn’t have to mean expensive, it means “made with love”.
There can never be enough cinnamon.
If something is not quite right, a handful of oatmeal will probably fix it.
Good food is best accompanied by good music and an impromptu dance party.
Strawberries are always a perfect choice.
Rules must be learned in order to be broken.
The kitchen is a safe place for experimentation, and failures are not seen as negatives, but learning opportunities.
The best recipes are the ones you make up yourself and can probably never be made exactly the same again.
Bringing nourishment to other people can bring healing to your own soul.
It doesn’t matter what all those damned diet books say, a plate of warm cookies and a cup of cold milk served with compassion does fix a world of hurts.
P.S.– I told someone the other day that I didn’t sleep through the night until I was three. She said “Call your mother immediately and thank her profusely for not killing you.”