Anything else cooking related, I wanted nothing to do with. It was boring, I'd probably mess it up, why go through all that work when I'd rather just eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Do you know how easy it is to microwave a hot dog? Why can't we just always eat hot dogs?
But still, she tried. Family dinner time was sacred, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners were over-the-top affairs of family favorites that my mom cooked practically single-handedly because the rest of us were all completely useless.
So she probably didn't have very high hopes for me when I announced my intention to get married at 20 years old because I was so Very Adult and Mature For My Age. But I assured her I'd be fine. Why, just that month I'd learned how to roast a tomato in the oven after following a recipe I found on a container of Parmesan cheese! A TOMATO. That's just plain fancy.
But once Jason and I were on our own, we did manage to get our acts together in the kitchen. (Especially since it was either learn to boil rice or like, starve to death.) We watched a TON of cooking shows and splurged on a few cookbooks. I learned to make all our family holiday dishes and then some new ones. When I came home to visit, I offered to cook dinner. My dad would rave and go for seconds. My mom would ask me -- ME -- for the recipes I made for them.
And then Dad died, and everything changed all over again. My mom moved into an apartment and (understandably) announced her retirement from cooking. There were no more big family Thanksgivings and Christmases, since no one could agree on who should host what and travel/lodging logistics and ugh, let's just take this year off and regroup later.
My mom would come to visit and we'd cook for her. In the last few years it's been a lot of Blue Apron meals, mixed in with the holiday staples. She always loved them and marveled at the convenience of it all -- the recipe cards, the neatly portioned ingredients, how reliably good everything came out, how fun it is to try new meals and ingredients so often. She'd say she wished there was a meal service like this when we were younger -- menu planning and shopping for our family took up entire days for her! And I think (I hope) she was proud to see that I carried on the tradition of family dinners together and the ritual of cooking healthy, delicious food for my children. Even if they, too, would maybe prefer to eat a microwaved hot dog.
This past weekend, my mom moved again. Across the country to Arizona. Her health has been getting more troublesome (she was diagnosed with Parkinson's a few years ago and its progression has been brutal) and after a few falls and hospitalizations it was clear her living situation needed to change. She'll now live just about a mile away from my older sister, where she'll be safe and well-cared for. It's really a good thing.
But I've never lived more than a few hours' drive away from her before. Even after getting married, I was never too far away for a quick weekend visit. If she needed me, I could get in the car and be there, often with a Crock Pot of brisket in tow.
A few weeks ago she was hospitalized again and I went up to help out. I sat with her and tried to sort out what was happening with the doctors (a routine pacemaker procedure turned into a collapsed lung, and two further procedures failed to inflate the lung, which IS NOT SUPPOSED TO HAPPEN). I brought her pizza and carry-out from her favorite restaurants so she wouldn't have to eat the hospital food. I went on a fools' errand to find fresh lemons for her iced tea. When she was finally discharged from the hospital, I taught her about the secret joy that is cold pepperoni pizza, which she'd never tried before. She had to admit it was weirdly satisfying. Which was good, because I was too exhausted to cook.
And then I had to come home. She gave me all her pots and pans to give to Ezra for his birthday, since they were all small and sized for cooking for one. (He was delighted.)
And then she moved. She probably won't be coming back.
We'll visit, of course. The kids need to see their Nana and Auntie and the Grand Canyon anyway. But still, everything has changed all over, once again.
For this post, Blue Apron asked me to answer the question "Who Would You Cook For?"
I originally wrote up something obvious about my kids, then shifted to our annual Friendsgiving party we're throwing later this month. I got about two paragraphs into each before deleting them and starting over.
It's my mom. If I could cook for anyone, I wish I could cook for my mom again.
Phew, this was heavy for a sponsored post, wasn't it? Thanks to Blue Apron for indulging my ramblings. (My mom is okay with it, I promise. She's always like, girl, you get that money!) Now back to our regularly scheduled programming: Click this link here to get $50 off your first two weeks of Blue Apron. And please share #WhoYouWouldCookFor in the comments below!