Saturday, May 11, 2013

Mother's Day Memorabilia
What's Cooking? Six Great Breakfast Ideas

We’d sold the house in New Jersey and I was packing up the boatload of stuff we’d been collecting in our basement, winnowing the collection down to what had to go to Texas and what really could be thrown out.

I’d been through both boys’ rooms, tossing soccer trophies and ancient video games, the bowling ball that never got finger holes drilled, some ratty comic books, and several Gameboy cartridges that no longer had a player to run them. In the basement, I’d saved the arsenal of Nerf guns and the box of Lincoln Logs, but was determined that all other toys and child-related paraphernalia would be either trashed or sent to the Salvation Army.

Then at the back of one shelf, hidden behind some serving dishes I used only for parties, was a wooden flower, painted blue with green leaves and standing firmly upright on a small, square wooden block, also painted green. Probably some school project, I thought. Surely no one needs this any more. But as I tossed it into the pile of items for the Salvation Army, I noticed writing on the underside of the base. I looked closer. “Happy Mother’s Day! 1991. I ♥ U. I made it. Robert.”

So now it sits on my desk in Texas, and the thought that I came so close to losing it makes my heart feel a little squeeze of relief. It stands amid the handful of other Mother’s Day gifts that only look special to me. The tiny block wrapped in aluminum foil from my older son, who told me in great seriousness, “It’s a gift of love.” The baby food jars of colored sand that were supposed to be in neat layers but got jostled a bit too much when held by tiny hands, so that neither arrived home with its layers intact. And the sign my younger son made for my home office, in letters cut out of felt: “Keep out. Mom is working.”

Several years ago, at the Dodge Poetry Festival in New Jersey, I heard Billy Collins’s first public reading of his magical poem, “The Lanyard.” It has become an iconic Mother’s Day piece, about the lanyard he gave to his mother, and if you haven’t heard it or read it, click here for a special treat before you read on. The last lines – about how sure he was as a boy that the lanyard was sufficient payback to his mother for all she’d given him – hold such a universal truth for all of us in regard to our mothers. But it has only recently occurred to me that, speaking as a mother, I should say he had it right. It was enough.

* * *

My two sons will be far away from me on Sunday, so no one will make me breakfast. But if you’re planning that sort of thing for your mother – or even if you just want to make yourself a celebratory breakfast, here are a few of the Kitchen Goddess’s favorites.

Gladys Hilton’s Scones – My mother-in-law was raised in a Victorian English household, set down incongruously in the mountains of West Virginia. I’m not much of a raisin fan, so I usually substitute candied ginger for the raisins, but the scones are the real deal, and delicious.

Cochineal Drop Biscuits – Another great breakfast treat, this time from the desert. We stopped in at a darling café in Marfa, Texas, on a trip to Big Bend a couple of years ago, and I almost didn’t want to leave, these biscuits were so good. Lucky for me, they were generous with the recipe, so here it is.

Coconut Oat Pilaf – An amazing concoction with a faintly Asian flavor, mostly due to the Chinese Five-Spice Powder. Serve it warm with a touch of pure maple syrup, jam, or honey, for a sweet-and-savory start to the day.

Paris Breakfast – My younger son’s favorite breakfast of all time. You mix the batter in the blender, so it takes hardly any time to put together and bakes in only 15 minutes. Easy, eggy, and light, with a soufflé-like texture.

Debby’s Quiche Lorraine – Visiting friends (who are also related to my husband – how lucky is that?) in Scottsdale, we were served a royal breakfast of smooth, custardy quiche Lorraine. You, too, can feel like royalty with this dish and a little fresh berry salad.

Texas Breakfast Pizza – If you’re looking for something a bit less exotic than a pilaf or soufflé, here’s the most fun you can have with guacamole before 10 a.m. Fun, fast, and fab.

Here's one my own mother saved.
 Happy Mother’s Day, everyone!

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