Saturday, 10 March 2012

Mom, Auntie Martha and Soups

When I was a little girl it was always a treat when Mom took Davie and me to Dad's office.  We didn't go often, but I can still envision the view from his window as we watched the Santa Claus parade in the warmth of the office tower.  I can also remember going there on the occasional PA day, and sitting at a free desk, typing away and preparing text books for my play classroom at home.  On one of those visits I told my father that I was going to be his secretary when I grew up.  He smiled, and told me I could be the lawyer.  I humoured him and nodded.  End of story. 

Fast forward 14 years, and I started working in his office, and I have been there ever since.  Originally, it was a means for me to get practical experience for my thesis in University, but I discovered I loved working there.  Slowly, I learned the ropes - first reception, then secretarial, then legal bookkeeping and eventually clerking.  Twenty odd years, a university degree, a husband and 2 kids later and I am still working with my father, and treasure every moment. I know how lucky I am to be able to spend my days with him, and that I have been given a gift most people never enjoy.  Mom worked with Dad from the time I was 12, and we spent a number of years working together too.  Time well spent - no regrets.

Around the time that I got pregnant with Sara, Mom was starting to stray from her full-time gig at the office.  Lucky for me!  And for Sara!  And ultimately for Becca!  Why, you ask?  Because, when Sara was born, and Carlo and I were looking at daycare facilities for her, Mom generously volunteered to keep Sara with her.  She could not bear the thought of a stranger raising "her" baby.  And so it was that the "Sara and Bubbie adventure" began.

Every day I would drive up to North York and leave Sara with her Bubbie.  They would do everything together.  Go visit Auntie Nora and Auntie Ethel (mom's friends), go to Costco and Yorkdale (Rainforest Cafe was an all-time favourite), go to the park, play piano...the usual things. 

But, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, Mom also thought it was important to let Sara experiment in the kitchen. 

Mom L-O-V-E-D Martha Stewart.  She had every magazine and watched every one of her shows.  Mom was never computer savvy, but she could use a phone, and did she ever - every day she would call me and have me surf Martha's website for some amazing recipe she'd just made!  Seriously!  And lest we forget the quotes..."It's a Good Thing" is permanently emblazoned in my memory.

Something else Mom loved as much as Martha was making soups.  I cannot count how many times I came home to find her stirring a pot of freshly made soup - black bean, mushroom, lentil, bean and barley, chicken, gazpacho...the list goes on.  She and Sara would watch "Auntie Martha" on the television - Sara securely in her high chair - as Mom would whip up some new soup Auntie M was preparing.  Sara was her captive taste-tester, and especially loved the "vanilla soup" (it was actually mushroom soup & she hates mushrooms - go figure).  Funny enough I, too, am developing a thing for soup-making.  Squash, sweet potato, bean & barley, chicken... in fact, I have a bag of red lentils downstairs in my cantina just waiting to be transformed into a hot broth of liquid goodness.  Like mother like daughter.

Which brings me to my next point - did you notice the honourable mention to some of the special Aunties of Sara's early years?  Auntie Nora and Auntie Ethel are 2 of Mom's oldest (read: long-standing, not elderly!!)  friends...and Auntie Martha!  Yup!  One day when I came to pick Sara up I asked how her day was.  "Oh, it was great mommy, and do you know what Auntie Martha did today?"....wait a minute Sara, we don't have an Auntie Martha.  "Sure we do, we see her every day - she comes on the TV".  Somehow, Mom had Sari thinking that Martha Stewart was really her aunt! 

Fast forward a year or so.  I had taken my mother's lead and was baking in the kitchen with Sara.  "Mom, let's play cooking show, you be Auntie Martha and I will be .... Britney".  OK Sara.  And so it was that we would mixie mixie a la pixie, diddly dum and diddly dixie, all the while me trying to speak like Martha while my sweet 3-year-old bounced around giggling and laughing and talking to our imaginary audience, just like Martha's guests would on TV.

Becca, too, grew up with Auntie Martha, but had the added bonus of Bubbie coming to pick her up in the mornings, and stopping off at Starbucks for a decaf iced mocha and cookie too!  Oy, how Mom could turn a routine thing like driving home into a fun adventure.  And yes, the tradition of playing Auntie Martha continued with Becca too...again, picture this adorable cherub-faced doll bouncing around a kitchen while she runs her own cooking show!

The girls are older - tween and teen now.  I don't watch daytime television - I am at work, and when I am home, I am happily preoccupied by my own family and household - but I do subscribe to Auntie Martha on Facebook and Twitter, and cannot wait to make her tantalizing recipe for Stovetop Mac and Cheese, who knows, maybe I'll even take some to Mom for a nibble when I visit tomorrow!

While Mom's kitchen is now mine, and the soups are bubbling on my stove these days, the memories are sweet and never mother, like daughter, like granddaughters too.

I am writing this post in the wee hours of a quiet Saturday morning.  The whole house is still asleep - my favourite time to remember, reflect and write about my beautiful mother.  But alas, it is time for a coffee and to tidy up!  

Until next time, I wish you a wonderful day filled with family, fun, friends and fantastic food!  B'Tayavon & Buon Appetito!