Thoughts on Mother’s Day

 

Celebrating Mother’s Day is still a bit of a novelty for me. We sort of had a Mother’s Day in Romania- March 8, but that was really International Woman’s Day. I refused to celebrate Mother’s Day, the American holiday, before I was pregnant, yet now I gave in. But I still am not 100% sure of exactly what to give into- the gardening season, the cheap jewelry, or the mind-numbing gift buying?

Does Mother’s Day need to be the official beginning of gardening season? That is how we choose to celebrate those who gave us life, by asking them to dig in the dirt? It is fun, you say…Sure it is, sometimes, but equating the beginning of gardening season with celebrating mom makes me cringe just a little.

I hate how commercial it is. I have been seeing ads for cheap useless jewelry for weeks. That is what mom wants for Mother’s Day? Showing up with a white gold heart-shaped pendant from Kay’s jewelers could easily guarantee no kiss for a while for the husband in our house. Don’t believe everything you hear on TV- not every kiss begins with Kay!

So what to get for mom, or what not to get? It is the thought that counts, you will say, no matter how inappropriate the gift turns out to be. And I agree with you, it is the thought that counts-as in thoughtfulness not as in merely thinking to get something.

My mom seems impossible to buy a present for. She is probably much easier than me really, but then I apply the don’t do onto others maxim and exclude all the gifts I hate getting myself. Among them, clothes (hardly ever fit right), books (rarely matching my taste), cosmetics of any kind (I’m very particular), or anything than can fall in the clutter category (we have a small place and want to keep it that way). The idea of a list of prohibited gift items may seem harsh but it is just a reasonable defense mechanism against pretending to wear something that doesn’t fit, trying to return a book you won’t read, wondering what to do with cosmetics you won’t use, and thinking who to re-gift your newly acquired clutter to.

I don’t actually have a list of things not to get me. But Ruth Reichl’s mom did. As years go by, I see my own list of things not to be bought as a gift emerging and expanding. Ruth Reichl’s experience with her mom nicely put in her article, Present Rules, may one day become Lulu’s experience with me.

Not trying to be difficult, just saying… homemade chicken stock would make an excellent gift. And since I already shared my chicken stock recipe, vegetable stock is this year’s Mother’s Day gift idea today.

Homemade Vegetable Stock, French Laundry-Inspired

Ingredients: 1 lb carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch rounds, 1 ½ lbs yellow onions, peeled and chopped coarsely, 1 ½ lbs leeks white and light green parts only, chopped coarsely, one large bunch of flat leaf parsley, 3 springs of thyme, 2 Turkish bay leaves, 6 tablespoons canola oil.

Photo by Jennifer Olson

Set a large heavy bottomed stock pot with the canola oil over medium heat. When the oil warms up, put all of the vegetables in and cook stirring a few times until softened, around 7-8 minutes.

Add the bay leaves, thyme, and parsley and enough water to cover everything comfortably, Bring to a simmer and skim several times. Cook for 45-50 minutes.

Strain through a chinois or other available sieve.

Use this light and gently flavored stock in your favorite spring dishes within 2 days of making it.

 

Freeze what you don’t need in two cup containers (or bags) and maybe use it as a gift for any occasion to your favorite foodie, whether she is a mother or not!

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