Mothers Day

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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frittataMother's Day is in one week. Are you prepared? Skip the flowers and the gift certificates, and make Mom a beautiful breakfast that she won't forget.

I'm starting with an easy frittata inspired by my mom. Nutmeg has an affinity for spinach. I learned that from her.

OK, so she didn't say "affinity," but she loves them together.

So will you.

Spinach and Ricotta Frittata
Makes 8 servings

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups white mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cups baby spinach, thinly sliced
8 large eggs
4 ounces (1/4 cup) whole milk ricotta cheese, drained
4 ounces (1/4 cup) grated Grana Padano cheese, divided
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg or fresh grated nutmeg
a liberal helping of salt and freshly ground black pepper

Melt butter in an 8-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add mushrooms; saute 5 minutes, or until lightly browned. Add spinach and cook just until wilted. Season with salt and black pepper.

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