Domaine Carneros Chocolate Truffles
Rare Wonders Talisman
mini by Everpurse
A fashionable wallet clutch that’s also an iPhone charger? For the mom on the go, this will help her phone stay charged for 48 hours straight.
Oh yeah, we definitely want one of these.
Champagne Shine and Tan Leather Band
Lola Velvet by Marc Jacobs
My relationship with my mother was, um, complicated. She was a kid herself in many ways, having been neglected by her own beautiful but narcissistic mother. She pretty much raised herself and from my jaundiced teenage perspective, my mother was a disgrace. She wanted romance and adventure and was frustrated by the mundane tomb of her obligations. Never mind the fact that she’d been a parent since the age of 19 with 4 kids.
But nothing makes you appreciate your mother more than psychedelics. When I was 15, my best friend and I decided to try Mescaline and drive up to her grandfather’s house in Trancas. Right on the beach, we thought this would be a glorious place to trip.
We waited on the sand for about 2 hours for the stuff to ‘come on’ and realized it just wasn’t gonna happen. Frustrated and angry we started the long drive on PCH back to Beverly Hills.
I am surprised how much I have enjoyed raising two boys. From the moment I found out I was having my first boy, I thought, no way, I don't even know what to do with a boy...I'm a girl. Somehow its all worked out.
The boys are hilarious and always up for fun. Children are truly an extension of our lives...and selfishly I don't want them to grow up.
The boys said they wanted to make me a treat for Mother's Day, but since they aren't allowed to use knives, the stove or the oven, what could they make without a lot of help? I thought about it and suggested chocolate covered strawberries. It was easy and figured they would be able to handle it without me becoming their third arm.
I melted some chocolate and they went at it. Look what I got...
On her last visit, my mother brought over a box of things that she’d saved over the course of my childhood: early drawings, high-school term papers, first stories and notes. Looking forward to a trip down memory lane, I began to sort through them. Within moments two things became evident. Firstly, that my mother went through all of my trash (a love letter from my first boyfriend, which includes the depressingly spelled “arection” proves this point). And secondly, she apparently chose only to fish out the things that would most embarrass me.
Where are all the well-executed drawings, the A plus papers, the naive and yet endearing journal entries? They are long gone, and in their place exist all manner of horrors. A grade school essay on Goya (don’t ask) is particularly misinformed, and a drawing from my early years, in which I’ve lovingly adorned a list that my mother herself has written, is earnest enough to break your heart.
The list, entitled “Stuff That Makes Mom Happy”, places “being alone” and “working” in the top slots, and goes on to include fishing, running, and ballet class in consecutive order. (Spending time with her daughter is, needless to say, conveniently missing.) My mother has also contributed her own cartoon horse to the edge of the drawing, and with it’s back to the viewer, the horse is quite obviously running away.
My late grandmother, may she rest in peace, was very, very good at the things she was good at, and spectacularly bad at the thing she was bad at, which was cooking.
She could sew and knit and organize into oblivion, and she could draw and paint, and she had beautiful penmanship and made her bed so neatly and perfectly that you could bounce quarters off the surface. Every photograph she ever put into an album (chronologically, always, all of them) was labeled and dated, and she balanced her checkbook to the penny. She could crochet. Her collection of antique hatpin holders – she had hundreds of them – was kept spotless. She saved every dollar she ever had and could account for every dime she ever spent. She had the most beautiful long nails that she kept impeccably manicured in pearly bubblegum pink. But cook? My Bubby could ruin a bowl of cereal.
The three things you could always find in her refrigerator were artificially sweetened iced tea, powdered milk, and margarine. So you can imagine the shivers of unhappy anticipation that went through our bodies when Bubby invited us over for a meal.
If we got lucky, she would have ordered in hoagies from her local sub shop (Sack o’ Subs on Ventnor Avenue in Ventnor, New Jersey); if we were less lucky, she would have cooked. Once, for brunch, she prepared pecan pancakes. Good news! Pancakes are hard to screw up! Unless, of course, you were my Bubby.
I've been making stuffed artichokes with my mom since I was about 6 years old. When my hands were still too small to tackle the prickly, cactus-like leaves of the artichoke, I was in charge of making the stuffing. There was something indescribably satisfying about it: first I wet the stale Italian bread and squished in between my fingers, then I grated lots of cheese and added a slew of black olives (which, by the way, made lovely finger extensions). It gave "playing with your food" a whole new perspective.
When I got a bit older, I learned how to properly clean an artichoke (which is no easy task). Maybe that's why I appreciate them so much today.
Ironically, my mom never ate her stuffed artichokes. She always made them for my dad and me. After I moved away from Rhode Island, I didn't make artichokes for a long time. They'll never be as good as Mom's, I'd say. Then one spring day I asked my dad if Mom had made any stuffed artichokes lately. He lamented, "she doesn't like making them now that you're not home to have them." So strangely none of us was making or eating artichokes anymore.
My mother happily referred to herself as a “good eater.” Although she was very petite, she could out-eat even our teenaged sons. Every year for Mother’s Day the Southern California branch of the family would drive to Little Saigon in Westminster and eat at Dong Khanh, where my mom ordered her favorites: lemon grass chicken, lobster in black pepper sauce, chow mein noodles with squid, vermicelli with bbq pork, spring rolls and a large bowl of pho ga — chicken vermicelli soup.
As much as she loved Dong Khanh’s food, though, she insisted that the dessert be homemade. Since I was the cook in the family, I happily took on the assignment, and the waiters at Dong Kahn had long ago accepted our ritual so they were always ready with a stack of small plates and forks.
Over the years I made her many desserts: pound cake, hazelnut cheesecake, flourless chocolate cake, baked plums, bread pudding . . . but she pronounced the last one as the best — a banana cake with chocolate chips and roasted walnuts.
Perhaps it's their association with English tea and ladies' garden luncheons that make scones so deliciously feminine. Since they're one of the easiest baked goods to make and are always well received, they're an ideal addition to your Mother's Day breakfast.
These Apricot, Ginger, and White Chocolate Scones are a new creation of mine -- the spicy ginger compliments the sweet apricots and white chocolate, while the slivered almonds provide just the needed crunch. They pair especially well with spiced coffee and, of course, hot tea.
For a pretty, unfussy presentation, serve scones in a linen or cloth-lined basket for your Mother's Day breakfast.
I think it was Joan Rivers who joked about an epitaph that would suit her: “I’d rather be here than in the kitchen!” Or was her line, “If God wanted women to cook, he would have given them aluminum hands?" Either way, my mother has lived by both of these lines her whole life, well at least for as long as I lived with her as a kid. So imagine my and my sisters’ surprise when one sunny Sunday morning, while in our early and mid-teens, we awoke to a basket of picture-perfect bran muffins. Astounding.
We wondered what had suddenly possessed this woman whose disdain for the kitchen was evinced, for example, by small hamburgers formed in the palm of her hand, slightly bulging in the center, tapered at the edges, and so over cooked that they would crumble into gray gri stly beef pebbles. My mom had a fondness for ketchup as the panacea for all cooking ills and one time, a favorite cousin of hers placed rolls of TUMS at every place setting before one of her holiday dinners. Her reputation preceded her.
My sister and I stared at the basket, at the plump brown muffins perched in a perfect cluster. “Should we?” we tittered. We each plucked one of the muffins from their nest and peeled off the paper wrappers. We did not want to spoil the moment, but we were dying for a taste. Tentatively, we put our lips to the muffin tops, then we took big bites. Mouths full, eyes wide, we stared at each other for a second. The shock was instant.
Mother's Day is this Sunday, which means you're either taking Mom out for brunch or making her brunch at home. Last year I provided a week's worth of recipes for Mother's Day brunch and had planned on doing the same this year. I have decided against it.
Instead, I'm going to provide you with one recipe, one sublimely simple yet decadent recipe, for Mascarpone, Nutella, and Fresh Berry Toasts. Crunchy Italian toast is slathered with creamy Nutella and rich mascarpone cheese then topped with sweet, sliced fresh strawberries.
When I posted on Facebook that I was creating Mother's Day brunch recipes and that one included Nutella and mascarpone, my dear friend Kate of Kate in the Kitchen, replied, "Well, what else do you need???" Exactly.
For the past few birthdays, Christmases, and really any occasion requiring a gift, my Mother has been wrapping up her own belongings and passing them off on her children. It began the year that she divided old photos from her father’s side of the family among my brother, sister and me: huge stacks of ancient, scalloped-edged, sepia prints. For Christmas my boyfriend got an indoor grill from his mother; I got a box of anonymous, sour-looking Germans from mine.
Gift giving has never been particularly ceremonious in the French family household. My father routinely forbids us to buy him anything, ever, preferring to get something for himself. (Last Christmas my sister wrapped his present for him, attaching a card that read “To Dad: Only you know what you really want. Love, Dad.”) And yet this new trend of giving away my parents’ belongings is beyond eccentric; it’s morbid, even by my mother’s standards. The portrait of James Joyce and the highball glasses now residing in my kitchen aren’t examples of re-gifting. “I’m getting rid of my stuff,” my mother explains, pronouncing “stuff” as if collectible paintings and vintage crystal was a dubious-smelling carton of milk, “before I die.”
Around our house in those days, if you didn’t clean up your room you went to bed without dessert. Not just a mess in your own room, either. If you left a mess anywhere and refused to be responsible for it—reasons ranging from recalcitrance to outright sloth—no matter! There was NO EXCUSE FOR IT! You hit the sack with a hole in your belly. Tough patooties. That was the law of the land.
In the great Southeast, no meal was complete without something sweet to finish it off. Round it out, take the edge off. Such punishment then was tantamount to twenty lashes. While you might be able to stand fast, stay whatever course had to be stayed concerning your Mess and its necessity, it was you, the Messer, who teetered bedward in sugar shock, the withdrawal kind, not the law upholders of the land.
It was 1960, when our mother’s chums entered her in the Mrs. Nashville contest as a practical joke. Not because she wasn’t up to muster in all things home ec, it just wasn’t something anybody from our side of town had ever “done.” Nonetheless, she went right on ahead with it, jumped through the field trials, and sashayed home with the banner. Mrs. Nashville, 1960. Nice picture in the paper, everybody got a big kick out of it.
What makes a better Mother's Day than a picnic?
I contemplated this while driving down Sunset Blvd tonight, the big ol' moon silhouetted behind the palm trees, on one of those nights in LA when you feel true glee at being alive in the smoggiest city in the United States (it's true, it was listed today).
Think about this:
A roast chicken, some hummus (lovingly made, in our case, by the Maharishi, a true Lebanese purist when it comes to the blending of garbanzo beans, garlic, lemon juice, tahini and olive oil), some Arabic bread, some bright, sweet, red tomatoes, a punnet of sweet strawberries, a little Sancerre, a pretty tablecloth, the children (let's pretend for a moment that they're not too old and reluctant), a couple of dogs for good measure.