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By Laura Stec

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