My inspiration for making fresh, flavorful, fabulous food comes from my mom. From the time I was a young girl I wanted to be in the kitchen, whipping up all kinds of great food like my mom always did. As soon as 7th grade and Home Economics class came around, I looked forward to it each week.
That year, my mom was taking a Chinese cooking class in Manhattan. She came home one time with a Wok, something totally foreign to early 70’s American kitchens, but thrilling to me.
I couldn’t get enough of it and one week, I was selected to do a cooking demo. I brought in that wok and the utensils that came with it and wowed the class with home made Chinese Food, right there in Frelinghuysen Jr. High School!
Maybe this is where I got my wanderlust — where the desire to travel and experience different places in the world came from. I don’t know, but I do know that it had to have something to do with my crazy need to cook and eat food from around the world.
I couldn’t wait to see what came out of that deep sided, conical- looking lightweight pan with a wooden handle.
The first thing — Kung Pao Chicken. What was this mysterious dish? It wasn’t something we were accustomed to seeing on the menu in our suburban Chinese restaurant alongside the wonton soup, spare ribs and egg rolls.
And the next dish with rice noodles? How could noodles come from those small grains of rice?
It didn’t matter. What did matter was that all kinds of delicious food could come from that pan at my mother’s hands and once again, she showed us that we could eat well without those boxes of prepared, packaged food such as Rice-a-Roni or Hamburger Helper that had become to popular during my teenage years and which I never tasted unless I was invited to dinner at a friend’s house.
My mom knew how to get around the kitchen and always made it seem effortless — unlike me, she never spun around the kitchen like a ball of stress when she had company coming and the food was always presented beautifully.
Me? I may cook well, but my stress-meter is always tipping the scales and plating has never been a skill I’ve learned, but my passion for preparing and serving food has always been at my core and I am sure I have my mom to thank for that.
I never saw my mom sweat. I simply don’t think she didShe always seemed to calm and cool in any situation and glam? She had it. When my sister and I were little girls in the 60’s, I think every woman wanted to be like Jackie Kennedy and our mom, she had that look, that sophisticated charm. Our mom was the First Lady of the house and not just the kitchen.
Miss you mom!