Cooking in Langley: Remembering Mom, and her cooking

Mother’s Day is approaching, and it is not only a day to show respect to your mom, grandmother, and/or wife, but also to remember and reminisce.

A couple of months ago my mom turned 80 years old. We held a large birthday celebration for her, and I was called upon to address the crowd with my recollections of her being in my life. This is kind of ironic actually, because I am the one who has caused her the most pain on that date in history – I was born on her birthday.

I took great pride to tell the stories of my childhood and upbringing that made an impact on my life and who I have become today because of those experiences.

My mom was the biggest influence on my life. Being a single parent of four children for many years, she persevered through many of life’s obstacles to ensure a suitable developmental environment for all of us. There are many examples of her dedication to motherhood, but the fire of culinary aspirations that she fueled within me is something that I am forever grateful for.

Ever since I can remember, she was always there to offer me a spot beside her in the kitchen. While other boys my age were involved in various sports activities, my idea of a team was her and I in the kitchen of our home. Still to this day, I can almost hear the scuffing of the old wooden footstool as I dragged it across the floor. There I would stand proudly upon the flour-dusted crevices as she secured my apron readying me for our next culinary adventure.

Many of our kitchen conversations were a journey back in time. Descriptive adventures of what life was like when she was a child, were what I loved the most. Her parents migrated to Canada from Germany in the early 1930s, and they worked the land as farmers in Saskatchewan. Stories of the brutally cold winters and how most of their meals came from their crops and the pigs that they raised always kept me captivated.

As a child, she, too, was always by her mom’s side in the kitchen. It was there that she gained the culinary skills that were passed on to me. Many of the meals that I was exposed to as a child were influenced by not only her German heritage, but also by the underprivileged lifestyle of fortuneless farmers. Creative simplicity was always the focus as we transformed everyday ingredients into something incredible. Some of the most memorable foods for me that stimulate thoughts of my childhood are rice pudding, cherry soup, and sugared milk bread slices.

Now as a father of four children myself, I look back and realize how much work and dedication she had in raising the same size family of her own. It is within these thoughts of reminiscing that comes the highest regard of respect for her. She has not only given me the influence that has created my whole career, but has given me the strength, courage and understanding that I need to be the best parent I can be for my children.

This is not to say she or I have never made any mistakes in parenting. We all have at some point. This is to say that she has taught me how to love. I have learned from her that in the long run that the most important thing we can do for our children is to make sure they realize that we are there for them, no matter what. No problem or situation is ever too big for them not to turn to us for help. No one’s perfect, and it is in my realization of this where a greater understanding of love and support comes from.

Thank you, Mom, for the laughter, the tears, the guidance, and the years. You are always on my mind.

Happy Mother’s Day.

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