I’ve had some interesting discussions with friends and family over the last few days that have made me realize how my life now somewhat mirrors my childhood. At least in terms of food. My parents were kind of unusual, kind of different. I’ve touched on this before, being the daughter of a farm girl from the Canadian plains meant garden fresh food, fresh baked bread and even the occasional canning and pickling event in the kitchen.
These memories keep coming up. The other day I was at Pacific Pie Company with Brother Pete and TK. We were out running errands and were in the neighborhood, it was good timing. It has been a bit cold and drizzly, so the idea of a hot lunch sounded good. If you don’t know the place, they do just what the name implies, they make pies. Savory pies, pasties, sausage rolls and dessert type pies. As we were fawning over these little warm packages of goodness (for the record I had the beef and mushroom pie) we got to talking about pot pies as mom used to make them.
Not long before that, Brother Geoff and I were reminiscing about the epic pancake breakfasts that took place on summer weekends. Mom would make pancakes for what seemed like half the neighborhood kids. Pancakes with blueberries, or served with fresh strawberries from the garden, hot off the griddle and eaten nearly as quickly as they arrived at the table. One of the favorites were the sourdough pancakes that came from the ever present glass jar of starter that resided in the back of the fridge.
And it came to mind today as I was scooping brown lentils into a bag so that I could make soup. The recipe is Mom’s, at least at the base of it. Chicken broth, brown lentils, onion, celery and smoky links was her usual ingredient list. I am going to add bacon ends and probably some more vegetables. But as I weighed the bag of legumes I couldn’t help but think about the smells of that childhood kitchen and how many of my friends had never heard of a lentil. Or a Brussels sprout. Or Yorkshire pudding. Or Mu Shu pork.
Now Mom didn’t use wine as liberally or readily as I do. The soup tomorrow will probably have a touch of a dry white in it, maybe some Sauvignon Blanc or a drop of Semillon, just to brighten the flavor a bit. But I doubt that she would object. I’d like to think that she would approve of a kitchen that doesn’t have a microwave, that pulls a lot of it’s food from local farmers and local markets. I don’t have the luxury of a garden where I currently live, and if the truth were told, I am not the greenest of thumbs. I make do with what I can.
I don’t think I ever pictured myself being this kind of a cook. I have always been somewhat timid in the kitchen, not overly confident in my skills. After all, I had an incredible cook to live up to! At the same time, as I went through my microwave meal phase of life, through the reliance on take away food, through the box mix and soup can centric kitchen, I missed the cooking I had grown up with.
Now, as I am losing her, as she slowly slips away from us; I find that being in the kitchen has given me a new meaning for comfort food. Mom will not always be with me, but the memories will be. Reliving them through lentil soup, pot pies, and the occasional slow roasted brisket gives me a certain peacefulness. It feels very much like coming home.