Mama’s Cookin’

My mom is the best cook. It’s not only the food, but the joy she shows throughout the process.

She taught me how to be flexible, calm and imaginative in (and out of) the kitchen. She uses her instincts to boost or balance flavor, add a pinch of this or a dash of that.

Every year she happily makes at least 10 pounds of brisket for our annual Hannukah party. One year we hosted 28 people at Thanksgiving and the turkey was amazing. Her cooking is homey, warm and soothing. She was always ready to serve soup when we were sick, pancakes on the weekends (although my dad also makes a mighty good flapjack), and family dinners each night. Growing up, dinner was a time to relax and take 30 minutes out of our busy schedules to just enjoy each other. There was always joy around the food and laughter and discussions around the table.

Now that I’m far beyond my college days of eating granola bars for dinner, I’m trying to incorporate the lessons I learned from watching my mom in the kitchen. I still call her with cooking questions. How do I shred chicken? How do I make a stir fry? What’s your recipe for kasha varnishke’s ?

The lessons I learned also go beyond spices and culinary tips. Cooking was her way of bringing our family together, sharing our family heritage, building relationships and creating memories. I admit I may have just written half of a Hallmark Mother’s Day card, but this is all true.

In Spanish, the word sobremesa means, literally, to stay at the table. Culturally, the word implies the ongoing conversations that continue after meals and create deeper relationships between people around the table. This is what my mom created and this is what I want to emulate in my home now.

She’s a whiz and there’s a whole lot more I plan to learn.

10 Comments Add yours

  1. julia freifeld says:

    Thank you for your sweet words, & sweet memories…I’m happy to pass on the love of cooking/home/family/america & apple pie!

    You added so much of the joy that was in our home!!!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Emily, you have inspired me (’cause fast-forward into the future 20 years and my kids will be saying “You know, Mom could really make the BEST reservations.”) I’m going to learn how to cook!

    And your mom is one of the best people I know. She is fab-u-lous. Favorite MOB evah!

  3. Emily says:

    Your kids will also say what a fab-u-lous photographer you are!!! 🙂

  4. Judy says:

    Who would have thought many years ago that I would be learning Julia’s amazing brisket recipe on her daughter’s website? And so much more! Thanks for sharing, both of you.

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