The older I get, the luckier I feel. In a lot of ways, but certainly in the Mom Food arena. Some examples of why:
Example 1: My mom served us fresh vegetables at every dinner: usually a cooked green veggie and a salad with several raw vegetables in it. One of my partners, on the other hand, didn’t have a fresh vegetable until he moved out on his own.
Example 2: My first thought when I formulated this project was that it would be cool to share my mom’s awesome food with people; I was gratified at how many people understood this impulse, but a little sad about how many people shared with me that their parents couldn’t cook at ALL, and served them packaged (or really poorly prepared home-cooked) foods their whole childhoods.
Example 3: One of my readers told how they didn’t remember a meal their family had eaten all together, rather than a catch-as-catch-can kind of thing.
I am not proud to tell you that I used to be kind of smug about this, and feel a bit superior. However, over the last few years, as I’ve talked to dozens of you about your Mom Food stories and my own, that feeling has given way to humility, gratitude, and the sure knowledge that cooking skill doesn’t equate with virtue.
If your mom or dad couldn’t cook, that doesn’t mean they didn’t love you, or that they’re worse parents than my mom, who let’s face it, was not always very good at the emotional nurturing part of motherhood.
When I was at BlogHer Food, a big name in the cookbook industry called people who read food blogs but don’t understand cooking terminology “the least common denominator” and I got pretty angry at that. Maybe you (or your mom or whoever cooked for you when you were a child) don’t know what “braising” means. That doesn’t make you less important to the children in your lives, and it doesn’t mean you’re the least anything. It just means you’re where all of us are — in a position to learn something new every day, preferably with joy and verve rather than obligation and shame.
I’ll leave you with a recipe for something my mom never made for me: spinach. Her mother prepared it poorly (didn’t wash it well enough and left it gritty), so she hated the stuff and still does. I didn’t eat spinach until I’d moved away from home. Now I love it, and have rarely met a spinach dish I didn’t like.
There’s a cream-sauce shortcut in this recipe, but if you’d rather do the real thing, use the medium white sauce from the Creamed Peas on Toast post.
2 T butter
1/2 small red onion
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup milk whisked with 2 T flour
10 oz spinach (either fresh, washed, and chopped; or frozen, thawed, and squeezed dry)
1/4 cup crumbled gorgonzola cheese
Sautee onion and mustard in butter on medium heat 5 minutes, using a pan that’s big enough to hold all the spinach at once. Add milk mixture and stir until thickened and bubbly. Add in spinach and, if using raw, cook and stir until all the spinach has wilted. If using thawed spinach, cook and stir until heated through.
Add cheese and stir briefly, then serve hot.
Variations: This is good with a bit of nutmeg or a bunch of black pepper on top, but it’s also great plain.