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By Laura Stec

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About this blog: I've been attracted to food for good and bad reasons for many years. From eating disorder to east coast culinary school, food has been my passion, profession & nemesis. I've been a sugar addict, a 17-year vegetarian, a food and en...  (More)

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MOM = Many o? Meal

Uploaded: May 7, 2015

My mom, and probably yours too, cooked up a lot of food when we were young. (Thanks Mom.) I watched the process repeat itself with my sisters' kids.

"You don't know what it really takes with kids until you have one." I heard that a lot in my 20's and 30's. But now, when I meet a woman my own age with young kids, I think I know more about what it's like, because while they do it without second thought, I witness and wonder at the time and energy required.

Mother's Day makes me think about food and how important it is for moms (and dads) to not only cook for your children, but to give yourselves a break by expecting and teaching your children to cook.

"When my oldest was 8, I realized all the things I had to do: work, cleaning, kids? I knew I couldn't cook seven days a week," recalls my friend Packy Conway, a retired Portland teacher, macrobiotic cook, and mother of four grown children. "So when the kids turned 8, they became my sous chef, and at 10 they were expected to plan and cook an entire meal, once a week, on their own."

"I introduced cooking to my three boys by asking, 'Do you want to learn about that big machine downstairs and how to use all the buttons?' The approached worked well - they were interested, especially in the knives. I really wanted them to know the basics of cooking. Moms don't lead boys into the kitchen."

Family favorites emerged over the years including Jacy's Quinoa Burgers and Ian's Soba Noodles with wakame, onion, kale and tofu in ginger broth. Word up is 20 years later, the boys (and daughter Kelsey) are all great cooks.

I reminisced about my own family favorites. My grandmother's Lemon Cake and Oatmeal Cookies come strong into mind. My mom still makes a mean Polish sauerkraut dish called Kapusta, and I love her Saucy Pork Chops, but I think the most famous dish must be her wildly popular Polish Kluskis, yeasted dough fried in butter and topped with a big dollop of cottage cheese. This dish returned to stardom with the grandkids. Isn't it interesting how the brain stores such long-term positive emotions elicited just by certain foods? What a nice thing to work for.

What are yours?

If you can't remember, or you haven't been using your kitchen lately, consider getting back in to create some new, or relive some old food traditions. Packy offers just one wise suggestion / rule that her whole family agreed to stick to?

I won't complain about your cooking, if you don't complain about mine.

Happy Mother's Day Mommy and to all the amazing mothers in the world.

We are the better because of you.

A classic photo of mom and brother (or is it my sister?!)
photo by Edward Stec

Grandma Frances (my mom's mom)
photo by Edward Stec

Mom's famous Kluskis ( awaiting their cottage cheese)
photo by Kathleen Stec

What is it worth to you?


Posted by AJ Crawdaddy, a resident of Woodside: Woodside Glens,
on May 7, 2015 at 10:29 am

Awe, what a sweet tie in, Laura! All women are mothers, Happy Mothers Day to you too! <3

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley: Westridge,
on May 8, 2015 at 7:25 am

Welcome back to The Food Party! AJ Crawdaddy. Many years ago I was conversing with my good friend Francesca about children. "We may not choose to have children in this lifetime," she said, "but we will use that nurturing energy to mother the planet instead." That's as close as I come, but she was right!

Posted by Berit, a resident of another community,
on May 8, 2015 at 12:15 pm

I remember my mom's kringle, the sweet yeast bread made into a pretzel, that she made for me to take with me to parties, or when my friends came to visit. Yummy !

Posted by Mom, a resident of Barron Park,
on May 10, 2015 at 8:25 am

Great post and advice, thanks!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of Portola Valley,
on May 10, 2015 at 8:33 am

Thanks Mom! and Berit + Kringle....hmmmmmm???

Posted by NW Resident, a resident of North Whisman,
on May 13, 2015 at 2:08 pm

One favorite dish I remember from my mom's cooking of the 1960s-70s was a taco salad in which she used tortilla chips, fresh greens, tomato, ground beef and red kidney beans (rather than pinto or black beans that are popular now). This dish had a lot of great color and texture, perfect for warm summer evenings in the Bay Area.

Maybe we can revist this topic again in a month or so around Father's Day since many dads are great cooks too!

Posted by Laura Stec, a resident of another community,
on May 16, 2015 at 11:30 am

NW Resident, We will do this again at Fathers Day - I made a note. Thank you for sharing your memories.

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