Of all the blog events happening in November- this one was my favorite. Apples and Thyme, which is hosted by The Passionate Palate andvanielje kitchen, is a celebration honoring our Mothers and Grandmothers, and the influence they had over us in the kitchen. Perfect timing for my Mother Kym, who's birthday just happens to be today.
Happy Birthday Mamma!
My grandmother has been mentioned here many times, and she obviously influenced me a lot in the kitchen. But it was mom who really should get credit for inspiring me to become a pastry chef. You see, my mother has a special something inside her. I don't know how, but for as long as I can remember she has been able to make everything she touches beautiful. Be it the home, garden, clothing, jewelry, make-up, hair, etc.- she has a true artists eye and outstanding taste. For over 2 decades, she has been a hair stylist. She used to deal in antiques as a hobby, and now she makes stunning jewelry.
everything in mom's house, right down to the napkins, is beautiful
I am a lot like my mom, personality wise- but have never, ever been good at putting together an outfit. Make-up is a big pain in the ass for me, I don't usually bother. I forget to even put on jewelry. This is the worst part- I have my husband do the home decor.
I did however, inherit Mom's taste for great food. Just like everything else, she could even make recipes prettier. She followed a recipe to the letter the fist time and we'd all like it. Then she would make it again, adding her own sense of style and flair, with scrumptious results. This is how I too, always cook. She has an adventurous palate and was always trying new things. If we didn't like what was put before us at dinner, we were made to take 3 bites. After that, we could gag all we wanted. But rarely was that necessary. It was usually pretty damn good. She also baked with my sister and I. Especially Christmas cookies. I have very warm and fuzzy memories of sugar dough candy canes, butterscotch wreathes, and Jonny Mathis.
Her biggest inspiration on me were the two things she installed into my brain regularly. Number one: Get married because you love the man, not because of his pocketbook (which I did, I love my hard working hubby more than anything). Number two: Go to school to become a pastry chef. This one started around 10th grade, when I had expressed an interest in baking. Rather than pushing the 4 year university thing, as most of my friend's moms were doing, she nurtured my interests and started doing research on local culinary schools. She encouraged it all through high school as my enthusiasm toward the idea kept growing. I now have the coolest job ever, in an incredibly exciting industry.
As I mentioned it's her birthday, so her and my dad are celebrating in New York. I am house sitting for them, which is always an opportunity to cook in a way cooler kitchen than mine in a way cooler house than mine. Today, for mom, I am baking oatmeal cookies, which I will leave for her to snack on when she comes home tomorrow. This is a recipe adapted from another lady who has influenced my career, Sherry Yard.
My mom loves oatmeal. Her oatmeal should be another post of it's own. It's amazing. Thick steel cut oats, slowly cooked and served with the traditional accompaniments. For mom's oats, once the bowl is served, drizzled with milk, and sprinkled with brown sugar (berries and nuts are sometimes in there too), stirring is an absolute no-no. It must be left as is. Just trust me, it's better this way. I wouldn't dream destroying a perfect steamy bowl of oatmeal by swirling my spoon around in there.
Mom, you deserve a big thanks for how happy I am today. You nudged me toward my dreams. I admire you, I respect you, and I LOVE you! Here, have some cookies. You deserve them.
Oatmeal Cookies adapted from Desserts By the Yard by Sherry Yard
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
7 oz. softened butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
2 large eggs
3 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cup fat raisins*
sift flour and soda together in a bowl and set aside.
Cream the butter until it's lemony yellow- about 2 minutes. Add the sugars and spices. Cream until smooth and lump free- about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl in between additions. On low speed, add the flour, beating just until it's incorporated. On low speed, mix in the oats and raisins.
Form dough into 2 logs and chill for a minimum of 1 hour**
Once the dough is cold, slice off 1/2 inch rounds of dough. bake for 17-20 minutes in a 350 degree oven
*fat raisins are in her book- basically just raisins plumped with a little white wine, orange juice, rum and sugar. I just used plain currants and had good results.
**Instead of the logs, I scooped the dough a seen in the slide show. This is also mentioned as an option in Sherry's book.
Hanging out at Mom's, baking cookies
A big thank you to our hosts!