Cooking For Mom

STORYTELLING | by VALERIE GRIFFITH

MY MOTHER IS 88 YEARS OLD. She lives a thousand miles from me. Though my father died 10 years ago, my mom still lives in the house where I grew up, still drives short distances. I feel enormously blessed by her independence and good health.

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Although she’s far away, I’ve discovered that I can help her maintain her health by preparing delicious, wholesome meals, which she can freeze and heat later. So with each change of season, I hop a plane for a long weekend of cooking.

The first thing I make is a fresh batch of vegetable-rich chicken soup, which I believe cures all ills. The soup is substantial enough to enjoy for supper, and always on hand if my mom feels under the weather. A curried squash gratin makes for a warming meal in the fall. Beef bourguignon does nicely on a cold winter’s night. Spring inspires a stew with lamb, fresh peas and potatoes.

Best of all, we have fun. We shop together and chat while working in the kitchen. She likes to be my sous chef. I show her a few easy culinary techniques. We reminisce and talk about the kids. I learn things I didn’t know about her childhood and the early years of her marriage over pots of simmering stock and pans with caramelizing onions. It’s the kind of women’s work that nourishes us both.

By the time I catch my plane back home, my mom has enough homemade meals to last until the season turns again, and I am full of stories, sustained by an abiding belief that cooking is an act of love.

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