Mothers Day

Leading Lady

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by Robert Keats

gigi2.jpg My mother’s name is Gladys, and the name just doesn’t fit her.

She’s felt that way all her life. So, years ago, she started coming up with new names and identities, as her inner spirit looked to break free from her outer Gladys.

The first time Gladys became someone else was at the start of her freshman year at the University of Illinois. She was among the ninety percent of the girls at school who were from Chicago, and Gladys wanted to establish herself as different and exotic. So she made up a story that her father worked for the diplomatic corps in India.

The response was phenomenal.

After passing herself off as an American living in Bombay, her phone was ringing off the hook. All the guys wanted to go out with her. Everyone wanted to get to know the girl from Bombay.

My Mother's Grape Leaves

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by Steve Zaillian


My Mother Vina
My Mother Vina circa 1957

Instead of turkey, mashed potatoes, etc., stuffed grape leaves (along with shish-kabob and pilaf) is the traditional centerpiece of our Christmas dinner.

Disclaimer:  Every script I’ve ever written is overly descriptive and too long, so no doubt this recipe will be, too.  Apologies in advance. 


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Signature Cookie

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by Holly Goldberg Sloan

bakingcookiesart.jpg Every mother needs a signature cookie. Even if it’s one you buy—like a fresh-from-the-bag Pepperidge Farm Milano. Or a local, corner-bakery, purchased elephant ear. Of course, it’s best, when the kids look back, if the signature cookie is one you baked.

Why? Because of the effort. People like to see effort and kids seem to really respond to it. It lets them know you weren’t just phoning in the whole motherhood thing.

Growing up, my mother had a signature cookie. She probably hasn’t thought of it as her cookie, but everyone in the family knows. She’ll be 80 years old on her birthday this July and if she’s in the kitchen, and she says she’s going to make cookies, you know what’s coming: 

Amazing Chicken Soup

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by Diane Sokolow

woman-cooking.jpg I had a completely fabulous mother.  She was a pretty good cook, except that she was always so busy with her politics, and with being consigliere to her large family, and with talking  to my dad while he was on his second job shift, that she almost never cooked dinner without a phone lodged between her shoulder and her ear.  This resulted in many culinary tragedies, and seasoning mistakes.  Here are two examples.

One day she was making her amazing chicken soup, loaded with carrots, and turnips, and leeks, and dill, not to mention the largest soup chicken she could find.  When it came time to add salt, she grabbed what she thought was the large red box of kosher salt, but it was the similar-sized box of Tide.

Mother and Child Reunion

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by Sara Davidson

taorminam0007.jpg After a week in Dublin, the mother and child reunion tour moves to a town in Sicily, Taormina –built on a cliff above the aqua sea with a snow-capped volcano behind it. After settling into our room, Rachel says she wants to make no plans and have no agenda.

There are hundreds of sites to explore in Sicily: more Greek temples than in Greece; Roman ruins; Arabian ports, and chains of volcanic islands with black sand beaches. But for the next week, we'll see almost none of them.

We give ourselves over to il bel far niente, the beautiful doing nothing. Italians have raised this to an art form, but I get nervous when Rachel suggests I take off my watch.

My Mother and Gustave Courbet

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by Hunter Drohojowska-Philp

courbetapples.jpgThe press representative agreed to let me into the Courbet retrospective a day before the preview. My mother and I were in New York for a couple of days before heading up to Westport, Connecticut to attend a memorial service for her sister, my aunt Judy.  Our visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art would be our own private memorial. 

Judy used to drive into the city whenever I came out from Los Angeles and she relished taking me to lunch at the Trustees dining room. She had three sons and none of them were interested in art so she considered me her daughter once removed, the only member of the family, other than herself, who thought time in a museum was well spent. This time, I took mother. 

Spice Cakes and Stews

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by John Byers

carrotcake1.jpg My mother was not Donna Reed or Jane Wyatt.  What’s worse, in an era when father knew best, she was a single mother.  To support us, she trained race horses.  Since none of them ever won, we moved a lot. The two constants through all of this shifting and moving were my mother’s stews and spice cakes.  In both cases, she was proud of never having used a recipe.  In the case of the stews, memory tells me she could have used a cookbook.  The cakes were a different story.

Although they looked like no other cake I’ve ever seen – for some unknown reason, she baked them in metal ice cube trays rather then cake pans – their taste haunts me to this day. They were a wonderful mixture of exotic spices, sugar, and ordinary flour cooked into light golden brown loafs. I enjoyed these odd concoctions in private, but was not happy with them in public, whenever they showed up in my school lunch.  Luckily, I was never at any school long enough to really be embarrassed by them.

Roses, Lavender and Shortbread

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by Sue Doeden

lavendershortbread004.jpg About a month ago, I shared a recipe for buttery shortbread. In a cooking class I taught recently at my local natural foods co-op, we made the same shortbread, only rather than using 1/2 cup cake flour as my original recipe instructed, we used brown rice flour. It gave the shortbread a much creamier, more tender consistency. It was delicious. I thought it couldn't get any better.

Until today. I crushed some dried lavender buds, minced up some crystallized ginger and worked them into the rich dough. A sprinkling of Mrs. Kelly's Lavender Rose Sugar was the icing on the cake, or the cookie, I guess.

I first discovered dried lavender buds when a friend of mine from Pennsylvania, who also teaches cooking classes, shared a recipe for an appetizer of lavender infused honey over goat cheese.

The Only Girl at School with a Liverwurst Sandwich

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by Denise Gruska

brownbag.jpg My mother was born in Paris but to very provincial Spanish parents.  She married my father when she was 23, and he whisked her away to New Jersey to live.  Princeton, but still.  She had a lot of adjusting to do.

By the time I was born ten years later, you'd think she would have had ample time to acclimate.  But, she clung to her old-fashioned, handed- down-by- Spanish -grandmother-ways.  She  steadfastly refused to succumb to the allure of the Breck Girl... She put lemon juice on my hair to lighten it, olive oil to moisturize it, and vinegar on to detangle it.   I went to school smelling like salad.

Lunchtime was equally traumatic.   Everyone else had nice, shiny metal lunch boxes bursting with cultural relevancy and advertising.   I had a brown paper bag.   The over-sized one my mother got from the grocery store.  Wrinkled from multiple uses.

Portraits of My Family in the Kitchen

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by Lisa Baginski

lambmint.jpg I have been thinking about all the recipes of everyone I know and it is so funny and interesting the way their personalities play into everything so well and say so much. 

Like my Dad is so unassuming - until you know him and then - surprise!  Under the surface - glittering and colorful and baroque - just like his vegetable soup.  Such an unassuming classic - but in the hands of my Dad - an event people wait for!  I call it, "Dad's Baroque Vegetable soup."

My Mother, definitely "Lamb with mint sauce."  So-o-o-o rarified and neat and ultimately delicious.  No messes in the kitchen when she cooks.

Our Favorite Mother's Day Stories

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by the Editors


For our Favorite Mothers...

Mother's Day PicnicA Mother's Day Picnic
by Bumble Ward

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.


gigiLeading Lady
by Robert Keats

My mother’s name is Gladys, and the name just doesn’t fit her. She’s felt that way all her life. So, years ago, she started coming up with new names and identities, as her inner spirit looked to break free from her outer Gladys.

The first time Gladys became someone else was at the start of her freshman year at the University of Illinois. She was among the ninety percent of the girls at school who were from Chicago, and Gladys wanted to establish herself as different and exotic. So she made up a story that her father worked for the diplomatic corps in India.

The response was phenomenal.


Malibu Fish Market The Malibu Fish Market
by Anna Harari

My mother used to tell me she would drive to Malibu several times a week. She wouldn't stop there, just drive there and back. To relax…to write in her figure things out. She doesn't do it anymore, because of the price of gas, it's wasteful...but every once in awhile I'll wake up early and do the drive myself...watching the coastline as I speed by...I'd pay more for a movie...

When my parents first split up they weren't exactly on the best of terms. My time was divided. I spent way more of it with my Mom, and distinct brackets with my dad. My Mom and I had an easier time hanging out, satisfied with doing nothing. One Wednesday, in the middle of the day, she drove me along the coast. 'Where are we going,' I thought to myself, but I didn't dare ask, for one because she wouldn't have told me if I had, but also because she probably didn't know herself. She stopped at one point and we got out of the car. She disappeared up a small trail you would barely notice, and I followed her up the mountain.


Betty CrockerMy Own Betty Crocker
by Seale Ballenger

As Mother's Day quickly approaches, I am reminded of the many reasons I love my mother. She is smart, kind, funny and she makes one hell of a good Hershey Bar Cake - you see, I grew up with Betty Crocker.

While Wikipedia defines Betty Crocker as "an invented persona and mascot, a brand name and trademark of American food company General Mills," my own personal Betty Crocker is a flesh and blood person who happens to be related to me and goes by the name of Jodie.

While I was growing up the fictitious Betty Crocker was famous for such delicacies as "dunkaroos" (snacks containing frosting and cookies) and "mystery fruit cake;" but my own in-home version could whip up just about anything to rival her. My mother's specialties, always made for the sweetest "sweet tooth," included lemon icebox pie with a Vanilla Wafer crust, bittersweet chocolate chip cookies, a pound cake that defined the law of gravity, a sour cream coffee cake that me makes salivate just thinking of it, and the chewiest brownies possible made with Droste's cocoa imported from Holland ("Corners, please!")



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