The movie “Julie and Julia” is one of my very favorites because:
1) It is about a blogger gone famous and who of us in the blogosphere hasn’t dreamed about that?
2) It is about Julia Child–who lived a really, really cool life filled with adventure and love!
3) It made me think of my mom, my mom who loved to cook and worked hard to master Julia’s cookbook. The recipes prepared, joked about, or ruined during the course of the film reminded me of home. Am I the only one out there who ate aspic growing up? I wish I could have shared that movie with my mom.
I don’t mind cooking, but I’m certainly not my mom in the kitchen, and Julia would likely cringe at the lack of butter used in my home. Nonetheless, I do cook. Sometimes, even from scratch.
A few weeks back, I stood, rolling raw hamburger around in my hands. I was teaching C how to make meatballs, nothing “special”, just meatballs, but a special treat for the teen who is gluten-free and can no longer indulge in the ease of Costco’s frozen meatballs. Her sister hung out at the computer desk nearby. The three of us chatted away, and I shared memories of their grandma who loved to cook. As C placed a meatball on the tray, she asked me about my favorite food prepared by Grandma. There were many, but neither of my top two came from Julia’s cookbooks. I answered: her chile rellenos and her bread. “Grandma,” I explained, “made killer chile rellenos, but it was her bread that I remember most. Fresh baked bread several times a week.”
(A wanted to know if she used a bread machine like me–or did she “Do it right?” Before her sister and I went gluten-free, I made my bread by hand, the method still preferred by the change-resistant, younger one.)
C’s question was a fun one. It took me back in time. I remembered details of my mom’s big kitchen and the food and fun shared there. I asked C to tell me what her favorite food or meal is that I prepare. She answered me with silence. Dead silence. And, an embarrassed grin.
I stood, dumbfounded. Panic filled my heart and denial raced through my thoughts. Seriously? I cook. I do. I may have relied on the fast and easy nachos a bit too often recently, but I do cook. I even been known to enjoy it and make large meals. Complete meals. Though my cookies and candies may be requested more often than any dinner I make, I cook dinners, too! Sometimes.
I waited. She had nothin’. I turned to her younger sister, “What about you? What’s your favorite?” “Your bread, when you made it by hand,” she answered.
Guilt squeezed out the panic and I pleaded for crumbs of validation. “Really?” I asked, “Has it been that long?” (It hadn’t, but I had been played by the masters: teens.)
In the last few weeks, I turned my energies to the kitchen. No child will leave this house without a food-based, favorite memory. There’s been calzones, focaccia, homemade vegetable soup, stew, lasagna, chicken with peanut sauce and (of course) chili. There’s been homemade waffles, pancakes, puddings, even (failed) gluten-free cinnamon rolls. And all before the big, big feast this week.
Yep, I had been played. But, it has been worth it. I have cooked with intention; the intention of making memories. For the previous 5 and half years,my husband’s work hours ran long and late most nights. The unpredictability of his return home made it difficult to schedule “dinner time” and the girls and I often finished our meals before he got home. It was easy to get lazy in the kitchen when I knew we wouldn’t all be sitting down together. It was easy to sit on the couch, eating in front of the TV or at the computer. We all ate alone. The family dinner table collected more dust than crumbs.
Thankfully, my husband now works for a company that wants everyone heading home by 5:15 and the girls and I can expect to hear his key in the door by 5:45. Dinnertime is family time, once again. We sit together. We laugh. We talk. We create memories.There is renewed excitement to bond together. If you feed them, they will come. And, come hell or high water, my children will be able to name a favorite dish before they leave this house!
How do you bond as a family?
12 thoughts on “If you feed them, they will come.”
Just saying…I have got to get back there!
We’ll leave the light on. ♥
Aww… I love this post! I have a first edition of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” I’ve not tried a single recipe in it and I’ve had it for almost 15 years. I found it for next to NOTHING in an antique store in Hopewell, VA! I knew I’d found something precious and couldn’t believe it only cost me $2. lol
My girls love helping me in the kitchen and certainly have their favorites that I cook. They are 5 and 7 and I actually hope the favorites mature as they do. I’m thinking around the New Year we’re going to start working through my collection of cookbooks. I have a ton of them, as I love (hoard) them. lol We can pull them all out and figure out which one we want to start with.
How cool that you found a 1st edition–an for only$2., even better! I was actually given my mom’s twin set after she died. As special as they were, I passed them on to my nephew for his 14th birthday a few years back. He dreams of becoming a chef, and my mom really was an amazing cook. I could think of no better gift than to give him the chance to “cook with his grandma.” He has already joined one of the “hot” restaurants downtown as an apprentice.
Some of my favorite memories with my girls are making our traditional Christmas goodies together. Like you, I have a collection of cookbooks, but there are only a few that my hand reaches for regularly. I hope you and your girls create wonderful memories in the kitchen together!
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I cook nearly everything from scratch. My theory is that they fail to appreciate it until they have to cook for themselves.
Like your theory! It’s been amazing at what my “time off” has done for the appreciation levels now that I have started cooking again. Even the younger one said she didn’t think the cinnamon rolls were a “total failure.”
My older~ out of the nest sons ~ had a weird case of amnesia too – not only could they NOT remember a favorite meal, they began to forget I even cooked! A bad case of college food, and probably some famine and hunger in there too, suddenly worked the memory trigger. I got requests for specific dinners (chicken enchiladas) and – are you sitting down- even requests for recipes. As they stared at the turkey they bought, one of them must have remembered : call mom. I got a call for my tender turkey cooking skills. Patience, dear friends – memories do get jolted!! Mary, don’t take it too hard. 🙂
OK, I’m counting on it Anita… 🙂 Truth be told, I know they have their favorites. It was just a kick in the pants reminder.
Great post! My kids all like my lasagna the best. I have the same problem with not eating at the table when their dad’s not home…which is most weeknights. We bond by watching mystery or sci fi DVD’s from TV shows…we even named our dog, Asta, after the dog in The Thin Man movies!
Lasagna or popcorn–it’s still bonding over a shared mystery or sci-fi–especially on the (many) nights you’re flying solo.
Named your dog Asta–Fabulous! My kids love crime dramas so had they been given the chance to name ours, it may very well have been , “Victim” or “Rigor Mortis.” (Their honest replies!) LOL!
I cook a lot. Last night I made lasagna, which — without a doubt — is my family’s favorite! When lasagna’s on the table, there’s no negotiating about how much The Caboose ‘has’ to eat. Even the lactose intolerant one gladly pops his pill and plays intestinal roulette for my lasagna.
And the best part is: I’m not Italian. Not even a little bit. But my husband is. So for him to endorse my Italian cooking over his mother’s is more validation than I can sometimes handle in a day! 🙂
Lasagna is a family fav here, too. And like you, I’m married to an Italian. 🙂 I was thrilled I was able to find a good gluten free lasagna noodle. Next challenge, gf tiramisu and biscotti. However, my chili is still tops with the 17 y.o. When she was making her way back from Mongolia this past summer, she sent me an email from Korea asking for that as her “welcome home meal.” And she said she doesn’t have a favorite. HA!
Thanks for sharing, Lisha–and I would love your recipe. 🙂