Baking and breaking bread with Mom
If you can't pamper your mother with breakfast in bed, make the morning meal with her and start a new ritual.
When I was younger, I would come home from school every Mother's Day with some little art or craft - the ubiquitous handmade gift. And like most good mothers, mine still has remnants of these presents tucked away - there may even be one or two out on display. Happily hidden, for example, is the disfigured gray "jewelry box" that I carefully sculpted out of clay one year and bejeweled with maroon and green ceramic tiles.Skip to next paragraph
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"Sometimes it was indecipherable what they were," my mom said the other day, as we reminisced about her collection of Mother's Day creations. "But I always liked them anyway."
More recognizable, although probably just as messy, was our special Mother's Day breakfast. Because I was too small to be left alone in the kitchen, it was more of a collaborative effort than a feast to be enjoyed in bed.
As I got older, we continued our tradition of cooking together the second Sunday in May.
My mother and I have always shared a sweet tooth. And even though neither of us is terribly sophisticated in the kitchen, together we would cook what we called a popover, although it more closely resembled a settled soufflé. Baked in a skillet, we generously sprinkled our "popovers" with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Sometimes we'd chase breakfast with homemade fudge or brownies.
My college friend Julia Boorstin and her mother, Sharon, a food writer, also made a tradition of cooking together on Mother's Day - most likely with more aplomb than my mom and I could muster. Their annual ritual would begin with a search for ingredients at the local farmer's market in Beverly Hills, Calif. There, they would scour the stalls for fresh strawberries, just coming into season, and prepare their version of a spring sundae made with meringues covered in ice cream and topped with sugared strawberries.
"Meringues are fun because you create something out of nothing," explains Julia, marveling at the "mysterious process" by which egg whites and a little sugar are turned into a confection.
Seasoned "foodies," the sprightly pair wouldn't shy away from preparing - or eating - any recipe. Many of their favorites, from the simple to the gourmet, are in "Let Us Eat Cake: Adventures in Food and Friendship," (Regan Books, 336 pp., $13.95), Sharon's culinary memoir, in which Julia is prominently featured.
They are intuitive cooks. Sharon taught Julia to be flexible in the kitchen - to avoid becoming "so wrapped up in the letter of the recipe that you're not willing to experiment a little bit."
But whether you cook alongside Mom, with the help of another adult, or solo, the tradition of preparing a special Mother's Day breakfast good enough to linger over at home is worth starting.
You needn't labor over eggs Benedict with smoked salmon and caviar. Keep it simple. Why not try a basket brimming with homemade breakfast breads such as coffeecake, scones, or muffins?
For inspiration, take a look at Cheryl and Bill Jamison's latest cookbook: "A Real American Breakfast" (William Morrow, 454 pp., $34.95). The award-winning duo includes a chapter called "The Breadbasket," with recipes for an array of muffins, scones, biscuits, and savory popovers. Several enticing riffs on coffeecake fill the following chapter.
The Jamisons lament the loss of breakfast, a casualty of too little time - or at least the collective perception of there being too little time. Their book sets out to debunk this myth.