Tag Archives: food

A steel fist in a velvet glove

9 Oct


The fall is always a nostalgic time of year for me – schools get into swing, the leaves turn color and Thanksgiving weekend rolls around.  Contrary to popular opinion I am not a lover of Thanksgiving dinner. So much work and so many dishes for a meal that (for me) is underwhelming.   Mom and Dads’ kitchen is not particularly large and Mom (how do I put this) is rather, ummm, bossy when she is in there.  Mom is not a chef with papers, but boy she can handle herself in the kitchen just as well as Jamie Oliver, Rachel Ray or Mario Batali. This weekend it is just me home so we decided to keep it simple and not prepare a meal fit for a small country.  Over the years Mom has produced more food, for more people than Michelin produces tires.  On the topic of Mom and since it is Thanksgiving I will tell you about her.

My mother is an extremely capable, selfless and productive human being.  Last night we were invited over to friends of our family for dinner.  During our after dinner conversation Kathy (our hostess) said ‘Emilie, can you tell me if you’ve ever seen your mother just do nothing for a day?’ Honestly, unless she was down and out with some kind of an ailment I couldn’t remember ever seeing her just be lazy.  Mom was a nurse doing shift work until I was in grade 9 and after that moved to management where she worked Monday to Friday. It would be nothing for her to make us a gourmet breakfast, send us off to school with lunches all made from scratch (I often traded her homemade cookies for a can of caramel pudding or a Flaky- you always want what you don’t have), wash the walls, clean out a flowerbed and head off to a 12 hour shift at the hospital.  About 10 years ago Mom had to have her thyroid taken out.  The doctors said she had a very hyper thyroid (in overdrive), so finally we had an answer as to why this woman never seemed to run out of energy. After her surgery it took quite sometime to get her TSH levels regulated and so she felt tired and might fall asleep in the chair.  Very unusual.  My father (who could be described as being as laid back as a Saint Bernard) said he loved that Mom was exhibiting laziness as it made him feel human.  Fast forward to now, it seems that her natural determination has made up for her biological changes.  What this woman achieves in a week should be analyzed by productivity experts as I think she could teach them a few things.  One year Dad said he was going to get her a miners lamp for a gift so that she could continue working after dark.

I love how perspective allows you to see things more clearly.  At my age my mother had 4 children.  In fact, I am shocked that I was even conceived as mom had awful pregnancies with terrible morning sickness and many other complications.  Thankfully they went for a 4th and got me.  A few years ago on mothers day I took my Mom and Grandma out for lunch.  Mom said ‘thank you’ when we were done and I said ‘thanks for giving birth to me’.  To which she said ‘it was quite the strenuous affair, you were posterior’.  My 90 year old grandmother piped up and said ‘that is nothing you came out feet first Janice.’

On top of that a full-time job, a husband, a house, a massive property with gardens galore, and animals, she somehow managed to cook, pickle and jam it all, visit family, maintain friendships, keep a clean house, plan/host most any event happening in our lives, cart us around to our sports/after school bits, and keep my 3 gong show brothers in line. We always had friends over which meant she was cooking for more than 6 on a regular basis. She starts thinking about Christmas at least 11 months in advance – making quilts for each us or dolls for the grand kids.  Honestly, when I compare my days to hers it makes me feel a wee bit self absorbed… as I get my nails done and sip a latte.   I talk to Mom daily on the phone.  Sometimes it is 5 minutes and sometimes it is an hour. General gab about the day, what is happening at home, what we cooked for dinner and what is on deck for the next day.  Nowadays we are more friends than Mother/Daughter.

When I was a kid I didn’t look at my mother as leader – I looked at her as my mom.  As an adult I now see she has all of the attributes of a great leader – loyalty, patience, generousity, responsibility, determination, trustworthiness, supportive and selflessness.  When you have a great leader you are bound to be more successful in life.   On the outside she comes across as a total softie, but in reality she is a steel fist in a velvet glove.  Donald Trump should get an injection of her modesty.  In the words of Mother Teresa ‘if you want to change the world go home and love your family.’  Thanks for doing that Mom.




An Italian in the making…

15 Jan

I’ve been taking Italian cooking lessons for about 1.5 years at the Italian Culture Centre in Halifax.  Although I do not have Italian heritage I’ve been asked by many creepy men if I am Italian; I guess my dark eyes and hair lead them to believe that I came from “The Boot”.   Although my blood isn’t so my taste buds are certainly Italian by nature.  My class is composed of a strange mix of people: Pierre, the insanely pervy retired navy guy who now rescues cats. Jerry who attends with his wife Sandy – Jerry follows along with Pierre’s pervy comments until his wife gives him a snake eye.  He is like one of Pierre’s cats just dying to get out of the cage. Janet and Trevor: she has the most nasally voice I have ever heard, but I can’t say anything about them because they are quite fabulous.  Dumb blond and husband (I can’t recall their names), this woman asks some of the most idiotic questions you have ever heard and it makes me wonder how in the hell she got through life and how she scooped such a nice husband. “Franco, where do bread crumbs come from?”  This year my boyfriend Maurice comes with me, so Pierre edits his “pussy” comments for when he his talking about the feline sort.  Oh and John, he is awesome. Anyhow….

We’ve made some absolutely outstanding food!  Prior to this I shied away from lamb (the imagery of a little lamb steered me away from buying it), veal and other meats.  Franco and Bruno jump from English to Italian, he spills everything and she cleans it up and they guesstimate most of the ingredients as they toss them into the bowl.  As Franco cooks he sporadically tastes his dishes, once the goods are in his mouth he pauses and if it is good his eyebrows go up, if it needs something salt/pepper or garlic are usually added.  One of last nights dishes knocked my socks off!  Lemon Pasta.  I actually asked for seconds which I have not before – we do at least 3 courses so I usually preserve stomach space for the next.  For more of this dish I was willing to feel like I would vomit from being so full.

Here is something similar as they don’t give us the recipes until the week after we cook them (not sure on the strategy there)


There is a fair amount of cream in this recipe so it isn’t one you will be making all the time. Well, you will be tempted to make it all the time but that will result in the purchase of bigger pants and a double chin.