Food and My Mother

It’s difficult to even type ‘mother’ into the title as my mother became ‘Maman’ to me at some point during high school French, when I suppose I simply liked the sound of it. Even still, my two sisters and I each call our mother something different. And she rolls with all of her names without missing a beat.

My Maman. She loves food. And flowers and plants. And family… though not necessarily in that order. She cooked every meal every day as I grew up, as well as glorious chocolate chip cookies, cinnamon rolls and egg breads. I didn’t realize the uniqueness of that phenomenon until I was at least in high school.

And she always had a vegetable garden. Wherever we lived, she managed to turn something- from small plots of Florida’s sandy soil to an absolutely enormous pasture in Alabama- into literally an entire year’s worth of squash, tomatoes, greens, countless varieties of peas and beans… and okra. I still don’t understand how even three boiled okra pods can ‘slime’ an entire family’s worth of peas. But it’s true. She froze or canned extras of everything and we lived on it for the rest of the year.

My Maman, I believe, always wanted to live on a farm. We had a Jersey cow- Molly- that she milked for a few years. Molly had two calves that somehow found their way into our freezer in many small white packages. That trauma will be saved for another day. But my Maman wanted chickens too- and I distinctly remember my middle school self-conscious mind being horrified by the thought of living in a yard full of clucking feathered ‘friends.’

It’s truly amazing how some pieces of life come full circle. I learned from my Maman in the kitchen to some extent, but mostly by accident. I remember trying to cook a meal for a college crush and having absolutely no idea where to begin. Actually having a kitchen would have been a fine start, but even then, I truly had an embarrassingly meager knowledge base.

And I cannot even pretend that I learned a thing from the hours upon hours she spent outside in our yard. She frequently offered to share her little dirt-ridden wonderland with me (and all her tricks of the trade), but she never forced… and I never obliged. Her flower and vegetable gardens are not at all unlike ones featured on a Southern Living magazine cover, but I was focused on an entirely different world and different dream.

Years pass, and my Maman still has a lovely- albeit slightly smaller- vegetable garden. Her yard is pleasant hybrid of fruit trees and roses and flowering window boxes. And chickens. She is the proud Maman to six hens that lay eggs enough to share. And she cooks for my father… three meals a day. The cookie tin is never empty, and everyone looks forward to her rolls during the holidays.

Years have passed for me as well, and I’ve found myself desiring exactly what I always resisted, pursuing a different dream. It’s beautiful thing when we allow life to create change. Now I cannot learn enough about food. And I want nothing more than to get my hands dirty in any local farm that will teach me everything they know. Breads and treats frequently make their way into my neighbors’ mailboxes or doorsteps; and I have a patio full of flowers, herbs and vegetables.

My Maman has graciously supported all of my career choices, but I have to think her smile is a bit larger these days. And I don’t have my own chickens yet, but I think I am going to mix up a quick batch of cookies…

Happy day to the Mamans of the world, present and future. And a special ‘thank you’ to my own~

How to make a perfect cookie

Maman’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

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39 thoughts on “Food and My Mother

  1. Beautiful post and so wonderful to see those little details in the preserves and jars!!! We both have something similar in that we grew up surrounded by families who really cared about their food. How amazing you actually had a real live cow!!! Fresh milk oh wow! (my little rhyme, lol) I especially loved the bit where you said the cookie jar is always full!!! Now that’s living the dream!

    • I love your rhyme 😀 You keep popping up talents I don’t know about yet- that one made me laugh 😉 We are quite fortunate to have grown up in the surroundings we did, I think. Good reminder to be grateful. ANd I was always sure grateful for that full (or at least partially full) cookie jar. And now I get to add compost cookies to the mix… yippee 😀 !!

    • You are so sweet, Stephanie! My Maman is truly amazing 🙂 It is so nice to hear from you! I hope your Mothers’ Day was super, and I hope you’re doing well.

  2. Dear Deb,

    I happened to come across your post and am glad to read that you are really enjoying this new phase of life and “eating it up”…..there’ no denying those treats you brought to the call room were divine! Keep it up and I look forward to visiting your restaurant (maybe?😏) someday!

    • Jonathan! Absolutely wonderful to hear from you! You have completely made my day, maybe week actually 🙂 I am definitely enjoying this new adventure, despite the uncertainty sometimes, and feel quite fortunate to finally be doing something I love. I really hope you guys are all well and enjoying life. Are you in NZ still?

  3. I love your story! Moms are not given their credit due. We depend on them for inspiration and love and looking back on our lives and remembering how they shaped our lives should not just happen on Mothers day but every day, because where would we be without them!!!

    • P&E you are totally right on all accounts! Could not have said it any better… they definitely shape our lives incredibly. I’ll try to make every day mothers day 🙂

  4. A lovely post Deb! I can identify, I wasn’t terribly interested in cooking, or learning to cook while growing up or as a young adult. I was much too busy achieving, or trying to achieve, goals and aspirations. Until the first day I walked into cooking school, I knew I had finally found my true passion. You’re going to be the best Chef! Happy Cooking 🙂

    • Karista 🙂 That was fun to hear from you- assumed you always knew exactly what made you happy. I can tell simply by the quality of your work that you love your world of cooking and sharing… 🙂 I’m glad I get to be a recipient of the sharing end at least 🙂

  5. I am inspired! Thank you for sharing. I have five children and you do learn to roll with each term of endearment without missing a beat!

    • Thank you for reading. And I absolutely adored your Mothers’ Day post from a mom’s perspective. You have five very fortunate kiddos, big and not quite as big… that part I know for sure 🙂

      • Thank you! I am looking forward to getting to know you! I am enjoying your POV. (Ha – I just learned this blog lingo and it’s my first time using it) LOL Have a fabulous week.

    • Oh Kathryn! 🙂 Thank you for reading- I know (sort of… still exhausts me!) how busy you are. We do have quite an incredible Mom/Maman, don’t we? And your three have one that’s not exactly the same… but every bit as awesome 😀 Love you, and we need to chat sometime soon.

  6. Very sweet post! Gardening is truly an underappreciated talent. If you know how to raise your own food, you are a maverick. I want to have my own garden someday. Maybe ill start with herbs for now.

    • You totally rock… I’m so telling my Maman that she’s a maverick! She’ll love it 😉 You can TOTALLY handle a garden! It is so much fun- you’ll be addicted in no time! And herbs are the perfect place to start. Do it! 😀

  7. What a beautiful post!! Your Maman sounds like an amazing woman! And you’re soooooooooo lucky that she cooks for you every day and every meal when you were younger!! I can’t tell you how much I envy you!! and ps loving the chocolate chip cookies

    • Thanks for stopping by… especially in the midst of all your fun travel!! 🙂 I am so thankful for my Maman… she is amazing! Heehee… I’m glad you like the cookies. Will look forward to your food posts from Europe as well as Hawaii~

  8. What a lovely post. We really don’t realise how much we learn from our mum’s until they are no longer with us…I lost my mum this year and she took so much with her that I wish I had listened to more intently. Its lovely that you can now appreciate her by sharing her passion with her.

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