Monday, April 25, 2011

Mom's Kitchen

Something wonderful happens when women gather in the kitchen together.  It's an environment that is well suited for closeness, bonding, and the endless conversation that ladies thrive on.  It's been the treasured destination of women for ages, and the source of great meals for generations of families.

I spent the last two days cooking and baking in my mother's kitchen. It was my first time back in her domain since her passing, and I was bracing myself for what I thought might be a tough weekend, emotionally.  But what I discovered was that it was actually quite healing to be surrounded by Mom's favorite things.  Her kitchen is filled with happy memories, and they all came flooding back to me when I returned to her favorite spot in the house.

I used my mom's prized measuring cups from the 1970's that she refused to get rid of because they contained both the 2/3 and 3/4 measuring cups: both of which she could never find in a new set.  The 1/4 cup has a melted stub where the handle used to be...compliments of me melting it in the microwave when I was a teenager.  I also used her hardwood rolling pin and the "salad shooter" that I bought her as Mother's Day gifts with babysitting money that I earned.  I rode my bike all the way to Smitty's and back  to buy her the "Salad Shooter" and I was so excited with my purchase that I could barely contain myself.  That was over 20 years ago, and she still has it!

I spent most of Saturday baking desserts for Sunday's big Easter feast.  I made a Coconut Cream Pie from scratch, the same way that my mother taught me to make it.  Then I made a strawberry cream pie, and chocolate brownies with caramel sauce.  Afterward, my sister- in- law joined me to make some appetizers.  I prepared deviled eggs, and taught her how to make my mom's delicious "vegetable pizza wedges".  Then I prepared the potato casserole to be baked on Sunday.  We laughed and shared recipes, and talked side by side for hours.  It was delightful.

On Easter Sunday, the kitchen filled the entire house with the aroma of dinner as we prepared the main meal of the day.  My dad tackled the prime rib and honey glazed ham, while I made the potato casserole, mashed potatoes, and green beans.  We also had homemade rolls and fruit salad.  It was a wonderfully chaotic dance as people bumped elbows and shuffled about with piping hot entrees and steaming side dishes in their hands.  At last the meal was ready, and we all bowed our heads to pray for our first family feast without the queen of the kitchen. 

I thought that the food turned out delicious, and I'm not saying that to be arrogant, but rather to pay my mother a wonderful compliment for the countless hours she spent teaching me her craft over the years. She was the best teacher a girl could ask for.

After the meal was done, the ladies all converged in the kitchen to do the clean-up while the men sat around the table swapping stories.  We had a delightful time catching up on life and sharing memories as we scrubbed the pots and pans and traded recipes.  Many hands make light work, and things were looking good in no time at all. Good conversation makes even the worst chores seem effortless and quick.

When the kitchen was sparkling again, my oldest daughter took dessert requests from each guest and hand delivered each bowl as the orders were filled.  She has such a servant's heart and is becoming quite helpful in the kitchen.

By the end of the day, I was completed wiped out and it felt wonderful to sit down for a bit and rest my feet.  I felt equal parts weary and content as I reflected over the weekends activities.  I couldn't help but think of how much I missed Mom, and about how she worked so diligently to serve our family in the kitchen.  Cooking for her family was one of the things Mom loved most, and she left mighty big shoes to fill in her absence. 

Mom...the way I'll always remember her in the kitchen.


  1. Nell~
    What a beautiful tribute to your mom! I can imagine what a wonderful time you must've had over the weekend. Brings back my own fond memories of life growing up in my grandmother's kitchen, especially during holidays! When she passed, all I asked for was all her recipes & her old fashioned potato masher that she'd had since I was a baby.
    ~blessings to you & your 'ohana~

  2. Nelly....the beauty in your heart never ceases to amaze me and the beauty in your words doubles that. I am always so touched at what a wonderful daughter you are and to hear the adoration of your mom and the life she lived just touches my heart tremendously. I am so proud of you and your family for gathering together and continuing that honor. You are so loved and always will be. My prayers and thoughts are forever with you. Much love and appreciation!! -Shauna Wolynia

  3. What a lovely tribute to your mother! So glad you were able to have a sense of healing by spending time in her domain!

  4. What a blessing. What a legacy. I am so touched by this post...I can't wait to meet your Mama one day on the streets of gold. I'll probably bawl.

    I keep meaning to email you...but not sure you get my emails?....anyway, back to the song "In Christ Alone". The part you said was your favorite??? My EXACT status update on Facebook that day. That is my favorite stanza, too. OH MY. We have to meet.

    Love to you and your's!!!
    Sassy Gal