I find myself noticing more and more ways that I'm becoming like my mom. For instance, I often scoop up a box of Frosties (Kellogg's Frosted Flakes) when I'm craving a bowl and rarely eat them after I've gotten my fix. There's something about those sugary flakes with milk that reminds me of hanging at home with mom. As I start to open up to the world of baking, I notice that it brings about a sort of reflective nostalgia to be in the kitchen baking a cake for no reason at all. My mom used to (and still does) always do that.
"Why are you making cookies, mom?"
"Oh, just because. I felt like having some oatmeal raisin cookies."
I can't wait to get my hands on some oats to try my hand at her soft and gooey oatmeal cookies! A lot of my mom's cooking comes from improvising with what's on hand. I'm not really good at that yet, and I haven't been cooking long enough to know what to sub if I'm missing an ingredient for a recipe or something. Last week, I really wanted to make some rice with the drumsticks I bought for baking. My mom often makes baked chicken rubbed simply with a bit of salt, pepper and flour and serves it with freshly steamed rice and corn or some other vegetable. Even though it's a meal she probably threw together one day out of what she found in the fridge and pantry, it's one of my favorite and most nostalgic meals. As I was preparing to make the rice, I noticed there were still a couple of delicious sun-dried tomatoes swimming in their jar and I decided they needed to be rescued from their loneliness. Trying to recall how my mom makes her famous Spanish rice, I attempted my own version of rice by adding the oil from the tomatoes, the tomatoes chopped and some purple onion along with a few spices. As the smells started to mingle and the pan sizzled, a wave of memory hit me and I was transported to my mom's kitchen, sniffing the air, humming an "mmmmmm" and telling her how good her rice always smells.
The meal turned out perfectly and I know my mom would have loved the rice - it was really amazing. Still, being the ever-so-impatient lid-lifter, I couldn't make the rice cook fast enough! I giggled to myself as I thought of her telling me to "quit lifting the lid because it's almost ready!"