I Do it Better

I remember the cold weather and an aluminum box that held two bottles of milk that were delivered regularly. Sometimes they exploded because of the cold. My father-in-law ran a dairy where all the milk went to a co-op. I should ask him what happened back then, that milk wasn’t sold in a grocery store, but was left in bottles on one’s doorstep. It might just be that it was milk from local dairies and there weren’t co-ops then to pick up each day’s milk. Now the health food stores have co-oped the co-ops by offering grass-fed cow milk. I don’t know the answer.

My mother never wanted to be married, or me, and let me know for fifty years. Yes, it was a mistake helping Dad, under age 7, choose a modern sewing machine for her for Mothers’ Day as it was my idea. She never wanted me to cook, so I learned to cook and put myself through culinary school after I quit the rat race. She told me I could never do sports because of my heart. I became a track non-starter, gymnast and captain of the gymnastics team the last two years of high school.

I tried to get into her good graces. I thought that on her birthday and on Mothers’ Day Dad said she should be taken out to dinner, instead of making it for us (we weren’t allowed to cook) so I’d talk to Dad and make reservations at the best restaurant in the County.

When presented by Dad with reservations, Mom would say “I cook better than all of them.” It was true. It didn’t start that way but with 50’s cans of cream of celery soup as bechamel. Then she got a lifetime subscription to Gourmet magazine. Luckily she passed before they kicked the bucket. Now my brother and I are coming up with a list of our favorite “regular” dishes to replicate and update.

Mom was correct, she could make a better dinner than any restaurant in town. Today is my husband’s birthday. We were at the health food market yesterday at the butcher counter. He looked at the sale on ribeye steaks and said he wanted one. No, not now, honey. But they look good and are on sale! Not right now.

You’re making me one for my birthday! Yep. He did this to me once before. Sixteen years ago he had to go on a job interview in Nebraska, of all places. He said he needed a proper shaving kit and harangued me for a day or two about going to the luggage store to buy one. No, dear, not now. You got me one! Yep. Here it is, way early, but it is your birthday gift.

You’ve the only copy of my Christmas Day menu. I’m going to have to print it out so I can make my list because yesterday traffic was horrible on the way to the store and I’m going to have a nice bruise on my hip where a woman rammed into me with a grocery cart.

My butcher knows my secret. I believe they’ll keep me a ribeye and two filets mignon for today and Christmas. I have authentic Italian ingredients for a superb vegetarian lasagne on Christmas Eve. He’s a meat & potatoes guy, but I try to sneak in veg when I can.

When it comes to dinner, stews, homemade pizza, lasagne, whatever it may be, I do it better. I don’t want to go to a restaurant, would rather cook at home.

Oh, R stopped by yesterday to thank me in person for the bountiful trifle, of panettone, whipped cream with vanilla and a touch of sugar, and tons of blackberries and raspberries. He can’t have any because he recently had a heart attack (just two weeks ago and he’s back at work) but came by in person to thank me for thinking of his staff.

Thanks,  Mom. You were always very bright and accepted new challenges. Sorry I didn’t inherit your math gene, but am happy our brother did so. I do look at a recipe and usually follow it the first time if it makes sense, then do my own riff on it. I only use Italian OO flour for my pizza, so I’ve taken it to another level. Oh, and no green cans of fake parmesan cheese. Only Parmigiano Reggiano for me. The times have changed. Not that much, it’s seven in the morning and Dogma needs to go out. Cheers and don’t get too stressed with meals. It’s family and friends. Enjoy! Dee

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