My mother was a boil-in-bag cook. She could fry a steak. She knew how to scramble an egg. She would plug in an electric griddle on the weekends and turn out a pile of relatively fluffy pancakes (sometimes even with blueberries in them). Otherwise, it was frozen food items marinated in a hot plastic leach.
I never knew what "fresh" tasted like until I was invited to my best friend’s dinner table. Her mother had a garden, and she served something that looked like chunky ketchup. The zing of vine-ripened tomatoes and unskinned squash was almost too much of a shock for my neglected taste buds. I cringed and, panting, asked, “What is this?!” My friend said, “Ratatouille,” and I felt the poles in my body realign themselves.
A short while later, my mother asked if I would like to take cooking lessons, and I jumped at the chance. She had neither the time nor the inclination to make up for her own deficiencies in the kitchen, but she was skillful enough with her parenting that she would make up for it somehow. She began driving me first to a commercial bakery where a woman who looked like she’d never worn anything but an apron showed me and a few other kids how to tell when pasta was done, how to knead bread, and, later, one-on-one with me in her home kitchen, how to dissolve gelatin, how to double-boil chocolate, and the difference between julienne, dice, and mince.
I can’t remember the name of that woman. She was lovely and patient, and I admired her resourcefulness around food. I inherited a confidence in the kitchen from her that I rely on nearly every day. But the deepest gratitude I feel, the stock that’s always simmering on the stove, is that my mother knew me well enough to suggest those lessons. She nurtured the cook in me even though it wasn’t her cup of Campbell’s.
Stella Osorojos Eisenstein is a medical intuitive and the author of Star Sister: How I Changed My Name, Grew Wings, and Learned to Trust Intuition (North Atlantic Books, 2012).
Chocolate Blueberry Breakfast Smoothie
(a healthier solution for Saturday breakfast whose simplicity my mother would appreciate)
1 c. frozen blueberries
1 T. cacao powder
1 T. maca powder
1 1/2 T. cashew butter
1/4 t. cinnamon
2 t. spirulina
1 c. nettle or other tea or hemp milk
Blend all ingredients with a standing or immersion blender until smooth.
Add more tea or hemp milk to adjust consistency.
Note: Use hot tea to take the chill off your smoothie in the winter months.