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Lunch Ladies

(by Marcia Weisbrot)

Cooking was not a great connection for my mom and me. She always served healthy, nutritious meals, but it wasn’t something that she got excited about. When she and my dad were much older and all the kids were all out of the house, she began to take more interest.

(With Mom and some neighborhood kids. That's me waving at the Good Humor man.)

Going out for lunch was another matter. As a small girl, it was a big deal to have a lunch outing with Mom because it was something I did without my younger brother and sister (twins!). I was frequently enlisted to watch over them and felt responsible for them. So lunch with Mom was a way to feel special and grownup while they were left at home with a sitter. The large Chicago department store Marshall Field was a favorite. There were several restaurants with tasty little sandwiches and funny colored sodas, some with fashion runways, one with a fountain where I liked to watch the orange koi fish swimming. I honestly don't remember what Mom and I talked about, but I'm sure she talked more than I did. She was funny, irreverent, curious, creative, and intense.

Other days we would go to one of the downtown diners where the waitresses wore little hats and fluffy aprons. On one particular day when I was about 13, I brought along my friend Robin. We talked and giggled and ate hot dogs with a giant amount of French fries. (Lunch like that sounds terrible now that I'm vegan, but I doubt that tofu, a current easy-peasy favorite, was even in my vocabulary at the time.) After lunch, we walked over to Marshall Field to shop. Up and down the escalators, exploring all the floors, we ended up in the bargain basement, full of discounted items.

Robin and I were perusing skirt and sweater sets when we heard my mother’s

distinctive voice come sailing across the room: “Marcia, do you need any underwear?” I wanted to crawl under the nearest rack. How could she? Robin was laughing hysterically, others around us were smiling and giggling, and I was mortified. Of course, this story spread all over school the next week.

Robin and I still laugh about that day, and I think of my mom whenever I need to buy underwear.


Marcia Weisbrot is an artist, art teacher, art therapist, and clinical counselor in San Francisco. She can be found at and

Easy-Peasy Baked Tofu

10 oz. extra firm tofu

3 T. Dijon mustard

1/4 c. nutritional yeast

optional: toasted sesame seeds

optional: lemon pepper

optional: fresh chopped coriander

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 375 F.

Dry the tofu on paper towels, and cut into 1-inch slices.

Spread mustard on each slice.

Sprinkle very generously with nutritional yeast, then add optional sesame seeds, lemon pepper or coriander.

Arrange in a covered baking dish and bake 25 minutes in conventional oven or 15 minutes in toaster oven

(Can also be microwaved for 7 - 8 minutes.)

Serves 2.

Serve over rice or pasta or in a sandwich.


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