I couldn’t get going on yesterday’s prompt to write about my favorite meal, because it seemed to stir up a lot of mixed feelings. Meal time when I was growing up could be quite stressful, when my mom was having a flare-up of her illness (paranoid schizophrenia). We might be called to the table, only to find out that at the last-minute she had thrown the food out because it was saying something to her she didn’t like. Sometimes our cupboards were bare because she would go to the grocery store, fill her cart, and then dash out of the store mid-checkout because she imagined the clerk was plotting against her. Sometimes she thought she was being poisoned, so all we would get is a small block of Colby cheese on our plates for dinner.
This being said, my mom was actually a very talented cook, and she made many delicious meals, especially during the holidays. She was always ahead of her time as far as the types of food she made, leaning towards whole foods rather than processed foods. She even made whole wheat crusts for her pies.
My sisters and I, and now my oldest daughter, have adopted two of our favorite Shirley holiday recipes. One is her zesty carrot recipe which can be found on my daughter’s food blog, Sunny Side Up. I remember my mom serving this tasty dish when my grandmother, whom we called , Ma mère, would come to our house for Christmas dinner. It was always a bit nerve-wracking because she was such a straight-laced woman with lots of food preferences, and I can only imagine the kind of stress that put on my mom. Mom’s zesty carrots were always a big hit with Ma mère.
The second holiday favorite is my mom’s secret bourbon ball recipe which she always made at Christmas. My co-workers, family members, and friends start hounding us to make them as soon as the leaves drop off the trees in the fall. My favorite part of making these is talking about the process of soaking the nuts in bourbon for weeks, and then getting together to roll the balls and dip them into the chocolate. We always get some good laughs out of that at the lunch table.