My Family

You can see more about me and my mom at “What is Mom Food?” Sometimes, though, I mention the other people in my family, and the diagramming can get a little complicated, so I thought I’d fill you in on the who’s-who.

About the kid

I call her “the kid” (or sometimes “the teenager” or “Munchkin The Younger”) these days, but I should change that. The kid is a young adult now, and should probably get a less diminutive name.

Anyway, she came to live with us in 2008. She’s my sister’s younger child, and her older brother (whom I usually call “Munchkin The Elder”) lives with my mother (see “About my Mom”). I was their primary parental figure when they were little, and I’m happy to be part of the village that raised these kids.

She’s a great person, my kid, and already, at 18 years old, a working artist. She sells her art, including commission work, at her DeviantArt site, and she makes enough to pay her rent doing that. I couldn’t be prouder. Plus, she likes my cooking, so there’s another good quality she possesses.

About my partners and their partners

I have two partners whom I adore.

I met Guy in an online group in the late ’90s, but we really didn’t notice each other in “that way” until 2002. He’s the perfect subject for Mom Food, because my mom cooks LOTS of meat, and Guy would live on just meat happily.

Guy lives with his other partner, about 20 minutes away from me, and we see each other for a couple days most weeks. When we got together, I was in a really difficult (albeit loving and passionate and important) relationship, and he reminded me that love can be easy and joyful. Guy and his partner C live together. C has more energy than god, and holds together every social group she belongs to. Her partner B lives in the house behind Guy and C’s. B is one of my very favorite writers on the topics of fat politics and class oppression, and she’s relentlessly upbeat no matter what’s kicking her ass.

James and I also met online (in 2003), but we met in person the next day, and very soon after, we were living together. He is my perfect roommate (and I’m very picky about roommates) and a really wonderful partner. He is married to Carin, who contributes posts to this blog and is family to me. Carin and I used to be romantically involved, and we still love each other and are part of each other’s family. She lives about an hour away during the week, and with us on the weekends.

I think that covers everyone. It’s less complicated in practice than it sounds. Basically, we’re a family with kids; there are just more adults than average in the equation.

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Follow Friday: Bayless enchiladas & tomato-peach salad

The kid is a persuasive human being. She knows how to make me do things.


“Aunt San?” she says. (That’s what she calls me.) “Can we have that awesome chicken like the other night?”

How do you say no to that?  And then James was kind of hoping for enchiladas, so the awesome chicken morphs into an enchilada filling, and everyone’s happy. Never mind that making enchiladas involves standing over a hot stove and frying tortillas, and heating up the house by using the oven. Never mind all that.  My kid wants yummy chicken enchiladas, so that’s what she’ll get.  And Rick Bayless will get an enthusiastic Follow Friday mention from me, because he’s been sort of omnipresent on our menus lately. The man can write a really tasty recipe, I’ll tell you that.  Go check out his blog or his Twitter feed (@Rick_Bayless); if you like Mexican food at all, you’ll thank me.


As I’ve often said, when people don’t like the food I make, I don’t mind at all. I have managed to break myself of the old messages that rejecting food is equivalent to rejecting the cook.  Still, when someone does like the food I make, it makes me happy.  So I make it again.

pan of enchiladas

That’s one crafty kid.


“Bayless” Enchiladas

We call these the “Bayless” enchiladas because the filling is based on Rick Bayless‘s recipe for Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano and Caramelized Onion. That chicken’s the kid’s current favorite thing to eat.

2 poblano chiles
1 tbsp. olive oil
1.5 lbs. boneless chicken leg meat (or about 3 boneless breasts)
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces fresh spinach (I use pre-washed baby spinach; otherwise, clean and chop)
1 cup whipping cream (or Mexican crema or crème fraiche)
10-12 corn tortillas
oil for frying
1/2 lb. cheese (Mexican queso or Monterey Jack, or whatever you prefer), crumbled or grated

Roast chiles under broiler or over open flame until blackened fully, turning as necessary. Put chiles into a small paper bag and set aside until cool enough to handle and turn the oven down to 350F.  Meanwhile, salt the chicken meat.  Heat the skillet on medium-high, then add olive oil and sear meat for a few minutes on each side.

When chicken is seared but not cooked through, remove to a plate to cool, then add the onions to the same pan and lower the heat to medium.  Cook the onions until browned but not burnt, about 8 minutes.  Then add the garlic and cook a minute or two more.

Add the spinach to the onions and garlic and continue cooking on medium, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid is gone.

While the spinach is cooking down, chop the chicken into cubes, around 1 inch or so.  Also, peel the blackened skin off the poblanos, remove the stem and seeds (rinsing if necessary), and chop the peppers.  Add them to the vegetable mixture along with 1 cup of whipping cream. Stir and let cook another 10 minutes or so, until thickened.  Add the chicken and cook another couple of minutes, until everything is heated through. Set chicken mixture aside. If you want to use the same pan to fry the tortillas in, remove the mixture and give the pan a quick wash and dry.

One at a time, fry the tortillas lightly in a little oil (maybe 1/4 inch), just to soften them.  Fill each tortilla with a generous scoop of filling and place, seam side down, into a 13″ by 9″ baking dish.  When all the enchiladas are in the pan (there’s enough filling for 10 or 12 of them), sprinkle all the cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes, or until cheese is browned and bubbly.

Tomato-peach Salad

6 large roma tomatoes, sliced
1 large firm-ripe peach, chopped
3 scallions, sliced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Combine all in a bowl and serve at room temperature or chilled.

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Roast Beef; a.k.a. Mom’s always right

I had a five-pound rib eye roast thawing from when mom came visiting with a HUGE cooler full of meat (as moms will sometimes do, and as my mom feels compelled to do), so I knew I had to make a phone call.

roast plated

I’ve never made roast beef before.  Well, I mean, not a roast roast. I’ve made pot roasts from chuck meat, and otherwise braised chuck (or pressure-cooked it), but never a regular roast of beef.

“Mom, thanks for the rib roast; now what do I do with it?”

Thankfully, Mom actually likes these calls. They’re certainly invaluable to me.

Rub it all over with salt and pepper and garlic, she says.


Then roast it at 350F for 20 minutes a pound (or 25 if it’s still kinda frozen). Don’t forget to put a little water in the roasting pan so there’s enough liquid left at the end to make pan gravy.

I was nervous about mom’s time schedule, because I know she wings it a lot of the time, so I played it safe: I put a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the roast and checked my reference book to find out the internal temperature of rare roast beef.

Need I even tell you that mom’s timing was exactly spot on?  Does mother always know best? I don’t know, but MY mother always knows best about cooking Mom Food.

green beans

Just in case you don’t already know, pan gravy is made like so:  Pour the meat juices out of the roasting pan into a small saucepan. Make a slurry of corn starch and water.  Bring the meat juices to a boil and add the corn starch slurry in (a little bit at a time — you’ll get the feel for how much you need after some practice). As soon as it comes to a boil again, that’s how thick it will be, so add more if it’s not thick enough, or add some water/stock if it’s too thick.  Taste for seasoning, adjust seasoning, and you’re done.


For the mash, I cooked white potatoes, carrots, and cauliflower together in a covered nonstick pan, in butter and olive oil, until they were mashable.  Next, I mashed them with a teaspoon of chili powder, a bit of salt, and a teaspoon of paprika.


The result was a perfectly rare roast that made beautiful sandwiches the next day.  The kid microwaved hers to make it well done, which is more to her taste.

I know it makes my mom happy to load our fridge up with dead animals. I’m not sure she knows how connected I feel with her when I turn them into dinner. And yes, I was a vegetarian for 20 years. No, meat’s not my favorite thing. But there’s more to Mom Food than my personal preferences. More on that in an upcoming post. For now, I’ll rock in my chair and think about how I’m becoming my mother.

Without the always-being-right part.

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Summer = Tomatoes

Mom‘s birthday is just around the corner, and I knew two things when I started to blog this project:  First, that I would launch the blog on the first of August as a birthday present to her; and second, that I would have to talk first about our summer ritual and that tomato thing we do.


Mom and I have several rituals.  The first phone call of the day opens with “Good morning I love you” even if it’s no longer morning, though I get teased about that. “Love you bye” is the proper signoff.  Saturday is yard-sale day.  The response to “See you in the morning” is “Thanks for the warning.” And so on.

One of my very favorites of our rituals involves summer tomatoes.

Okay, maybe I need to say that more strongly:  There is only one thing my mother and I really like about summer, and that’s good summer tomatoes.

Stronger yet:  Summer = Tomatoes.

If we see each other when good tomatoes are in season — not the nearly tasteless balls you buy at the grocery store in February, mind you, the good stuff, or at least the best ones we can find — then this is what we do:

  • Gather tomatoes, basil, extra-virgin olive oil, salt, garlic (not shown) and a good loaf of crusty bread, preferably olive bread.


  • Chop the tomatoes into fairly small pieces and put into a bowl.
  • Cut the basil into a chiffonade and toss it in.
  • Mince the garlic finely (or use garlic powder; I won’t tell, but it won’t be as good — for this amount, I minced one clove of garlic very finely) and add.
  • Add a generous amount of olive oil and salt, and stir.


This is good right away, but even better if you leave it covered on the counter for around 20-30 minutes.  At the end of that time, stir it all up again, correct the salt if necessary, and put some into a bowl with a good amount of the juicy goodness that has collected at the bottom.  Tear off chunks of the olive bread and dip it into your bowl of tomatoes. (That bread knife in the photo? Totally an affectation. Tearing off chunks is the canonical way to do this.)

If you have any left over, it keeps well in the fridge, and is really good later on.  It gets ever more garlicky the longer it sits, which to my mind is a good thing, but it’s the kind of thing a person should warn a person about.

You may call this a salad, and I wouldn’t argue with you, but my mom and I use it almost as a dip, and we just call it “that summer tomato thing we do”, because really, it’s like a lot of things my mom cooks: there’s no recipe and never has been. It’s just a bunch of good foods that go well together, all tossed into a bowl or a pot.  Good, simple stuff.  And it’s my first post because it’s the essence of how my mom and I share our joy with each other.

I love you, Momma Duck.  I hope you like the blog.  It’s my gift to you, small payment though it may be for all you’ve given me. Happy birthday!


[Note: This post will also serve as tomorrow’s Meatless Monday post; when I scheduled the blog to launch on the 1st, I hadn’t yet formulated my Monday/Wednesday/Friday posting schedule.]

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What is Mom Food? – Find out about the Project, about me, and about the family I cook for.

Creative Commons License – Find out how to use the photos and words you find here, if you should want to.

Privacy policy – Find out what information I collect from you, and what I do with it.

[Note to sponsors:  I don’t do product reviews. I do accept cookbooks to review, but I don’t promise a positive mention, and if I don’t like your book, I won’t mention it at all, because my Mom taught me good manners.]

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