While watching an episode of “Giada at Home” this weekend, Giada DeLaurentiis made a comment that her memories lie in food. I must say that I agree. My life has been filled with plenty of culinary memories. Some of the best I’ve had revolve around my own mother. My mother is an excellent cook and just full of all kinds of food knowledge that only comes from years of experimentation and probably even a little failure. Tomorrow will be her birthday, and I think it’s finally time to give some credit where credit is due. My mother is probably solely responsible for my love of cooking. As a child, I would sit behind the counter and watch with an intent eye as she made the house specialties. None of them were extremely fancy, but they were delicious and filled the entire family up.
I didn’t realize how much I loved those recipes until I lived on my own and was met with cravings for them. I remember the first time I tried making my mother’s meatloaf recipe. She walked me through it over the phone, like any good culinary mother would do. I made it exactly how she told me to, yet it didn’t taste the same. I asked her what was missing the next time we spoke and jokingly she said, “your mother’s love.”
But it really is that love that we all crave when we eat dishes that remind us of our families. When I don’t get a chance to go home, I often make my mother’s favorite oatmeal cookie recipe. It actually came from a next-door neighbor of ours, but to her, it’s the best oatmeal cookie recipe on this planet. Every time I make it, it reminds me of her and of home. I still remember the first time my mother told me that my cookies were almost as good as hers were. Emphasis on the “almost.”
I know it will take years to become the cook my mother is. Each meal she makes is practically flawless. I am definitely far from that point, but I know that with her guidance in future years, I will get to her level.
My mom jokes that she doesn’t always know the best thing to do for people, but she can always create a meal for them. For me, she has done more than just create meals I have enjoyed.
Yes, they have healed me when I was sick, celebrated my accomplishments and even brought comfort to us and our loved ones during rough times. But they have also given me memories that can never be taken away. Like my Grandma Jean’s pickle recipe or my Aunt Kelly’s tuna salad, my mother will have recipes that I will never forget and will always remind me of her.
So happy birthday, Mom. I won’t put your age in here, because I know I would never hear the end of it, but thank you for all the food knowledge you have imparted so far. I know I will have plenty of questions, and you will have plenty of answers for me for years to come.
Tina’s Oatmeal Cookies
This recipe is sacred in our family and is definitely a favorite by both us and the ones we have shared it with. I switch it up on occasion and add cinnamon and roasted pecans, but they are good just plain and, preferrably, hot out of the oven.
Makes about 36 cookies
1 cup shortening
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
3 cups oats
1 cup pecans (optional)
3 teaspoons cinnamon (optional)
Cream the shortening and sugars together in mixing bowl until light and airy. Add eggs one at a time.
Once eggs are incorporated, add vanilla. In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda.
If using cinnamon, add into dry mixture.
Add the dry ingredients to the wet a cup at a time until incorporated.
Add in oats and pecans and stir until combined.
Bake in a 350-degree oven for 8 to 10 minutes until golden brown. Immediately move to wire cooling rack.