Mother's Day has been special to me all my life. As a little girl, I counted down the days until dad would take me to the five and dime to pick out a special gift for mom. Looking back, it's hard to imagine that Mom was thrilled with the trinkets I picked out for her each year, but she surely never let on. It was the one day a year that I truly got to give back. And even as a girl, I knew my mom deserved it.
Happily, the legacy of women in my life mirrors that of so many families across the globe. The recipes they've passed on are, themselves, living testaments to the love these special women shared with their loved ones on a daily basis. The Kitchen Crew and I feel privileged that so many of you are sharing the heirloom recipes on www.justapinch.com that continue to bring joy to those who treasure them.
Renata McAdams of Raleigh, NC honors her 100-year-old mother every time she prepares the family's special pasta sauce. "[My mother] has been my life inspiration with her amazing talents in the kitchen and in all other areas," says Renata of her mother, a native Italian. "I have taken her pasta sauces over the years and added my own touch." The result is a vibrant sauce rich in both flavor and tradition. Combining pork and beef with fresh peppers, onions and herbs, Renata's sauce has become a favorite with all who try it. We especially love it served atop penne - the ribbed, barrel shape holds the sauce best - but any shaped noodle works well.
Virginia gal Jennie Pagano has her grandmother to thank for special kitchen memories. "Growing up I absolutely loved my Cuban grandmother's tamal en cazuela. I couldn't wait for it to be ready to eat!" This delicious recipe, which in English translates to "Grandma's Tamale Casserole," is a delightful blend of pork, smoky cumin and citrus. We could eat it for days and never tire of it! Jennie tells us that she has fond memories of her grandmother cautioning her not to burn herself as she would eagerly scoop from the serving dish, unable to will herself to wait for it to cool. It's THAT good!
Sheila Senghas of Concan, TX pays homage to her mother with the reverently named Mom's Chocolate Decadent Cake. The recipe was christened after a special day in the garden.
"[It] was a beautiful fall day and I was sitting in the back yard perusing the pages of an old cook book when mom came to the screen door and said she wanted to sit outside," recalls Sheila. "As she went to get her sweater, I went into the kitchen and I cut a piece of her favorite chocolate cake, poured a glass of milk, grabbed a fork, and carried them out to the table... under the pecan tree, beside the garden where I had been sitting.
"'Oh my,' my mother exclaimed as she walked towards the table, 'it is absolutely beautiful.'
"'Yes,' I answered, 'the birds are singing and the sky is so blue.' "She looked at me quizzically and as she sat down and picked up the fork she replied giggling, 'No, silly girl, the cake.' In a flash her fork was in her mouth and in between chewing, I could barely understand her garbled words as she said, 'This is the best chocolate cake I ever had!'”
From that day on Sheila's cake has been referred to as "Mom's Chocolate Decadent Cake." Every bite brings back memories of a perfect, sunlit afternoon. Thoroughly chocolate-y, the cake is absolutely delicious served on it's own, or try stacking it with a filling of cherry or raspberry preserves!
A BIG, sweet thank you to all of the moms - past and present - who have shared their special recipes and gifts with us and who, without even trying, inspire us every day to carry on the tradition of nourishing our families, body and soul. Happy Mother's Day!