Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mom's Tantalizing Tuna a la King... Taking Me Back In Time

"Little Nomi" - age 7

As a little girl I longed to grow up.  I dreamt of being beautiful and glamorous like my mother, wearing high heel shoes, lipstick and the sweetest smelling perfume.


This post will feature a few photos of Mom from her early 20s through to her mid-40s...this is what she really looked like every day!  She was always so beautiful and put together, it's no wonder that she'd tell me to go freshen up my lipstick or fix my makeup - I must have looked like a disheveled wreck next to her!


I can still see my mother standing at the front door on a Saturday night, giving last minute instructions to the babysitter before going out with Daddy for the evening.  I can smell the Rive Gauche perfume she wore back then, and feel the soft beaver fur of her coat as I snuggled in to her, marveling at how the fur changed appearance depending on  which way I ran my hand along it.


Mom is on the left, with her Bubbie Gertie & Auntie Etta


As a child, I would cloister myself in my room, transforming my personal space into my household of the future.  I made paper Shabbat Candles, and set up my little Shabbat Dinner table for my imaginary family.  I always knew this was what I wanted...not that a career wasn't on my list, just that I always knew I wanted to be a wife, mother and homemaker - who can blame me?  - I had the best example in my own mother.


And now I am just that, 21st century version of my mother's model of homemaker, taking the greatest joy in those moments spent with my beloved family, preparing foods that they will love, knowing that right now it is taken for granted (albeit appreciated), but one day, these 2 beautiful girls we are raising will transform and find themselves glamorous, new and improved versions of their mother.


Mom...the newlywed

Funny, now that I've reached the point where I longed to be, I look back and wish I had not wished those innocent days of childhood away so fast.  I wish I have lived in the moment, appreciating every second I had with my parents.  Now we are all older and a little more weathered and changed after living through 10 years of Mom's AD.


Sometimes, in my dreams, I am back there, a young girl or teen, living in my childhood home, and Mom is there.  The dreams are so vivid and real, I am sure that the AD journey was just a nightmare, and the dream is my reality.  I am so happy in these dreams...but even there, a part of me knows that it is a dream, and I tell myself to take in every second, bask in the glory of reliving what was.  And then I waken.  In an instant it is over. As I open my eyes and realize it was just a dream, my heart flies into my throat and both feel like they are about to burst, the tears start welling up and I rediscover the loss,which stays with me throughout the day, constantly resurfacing in fleeting sensations.


So...how do I deal with it?  I try to be positive, yet allow myself to mourn at the same time.  And this is the reason I am sharing these sadder stories with you lately.  I have thought long and hard about it, and realized that I if I am to share my journey with you, it has to be honest.  I cannot pretend that there aren't difficult lows - there are - but I still try to face it all with a positive outlook, reminding myself of all my "thankfuls" and reconciling myself to the fact that this is part of my destiny, painful and sad as it may be.

A few years later, at her Baba Dora's table
 (see the photo of the little girl directly above
her head? That's me, with my  crown of daisies!)

And then, I throw myself into cooking and baking.  My kitchen is my sanctuary as Mom's kitchen was hers.  I think of her every time I use her 4C measuring cup, every time I use her Kitchen Aid Mix master.  It's not that I couldn't buy my own, but somehow, using the tools that she used to is comforting, as though she has passed the torch to me, as my friend Donna says - I am cooking with her hand on my shoulder...


And I find recipes from my past, recipes that my family might chuckle at because they are just so "white bread", but I loved them, because Mom made them, and as far as I was concerned, there was no better cook on earth than my mother!  My treasured mother-in-law is a very very close second!


Mom - lighting the Shabbat candles


Last night I dreamed of Mom...and I have awakened with a heavy heart and a longing for "what was"...so, even though I will probably eat this whole dish on my own, for a few lunches this week (oy vey!), I have an urge to make Mom's Tuna a la King, a delicacy from my childhood.


Tuna a la King was a weekend go-to lunch Mom would prepare.  It was fast and easy (not that we cared about that when we were kids) and so delicious.  Mom would serve me a plate and I would wipe up every last drop of the sauce from my plate...always asking for seconds.  Given that it is a tuna-based dish, I know Sara won't try it, but I am hopeful that Becca or Carlo might find themselves curious enough to taste a spoonful/forkful...I will let you know in a post script!


P.S. (April 30, 2012) - I never got to make the Tuna a la King for lunch on Saturday, but my sweet Sara did whip up grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and a spizza camientu.  Yesterday, I made the Tuna a la King.  Carlo teased me for my 1950's fare, but came back for a second helping!  I guess there is a little "Leave it to Beaver" in him after all!


Mom & Earl, a dear family friend


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


Mom's Tantalizing Tuna a la King


Ingredients:
1 tin of Cream of Mushroom Soup
1 tin of mushrooms drained (Mom used button, I tend to used sliced - use whatever you prefer)
1 tin flaked tuna, drained
1 onion, diced
sliced bread, toasted

Method: 
Using a medium sized sauce pan, saute the chopped onions in until translucent.  Add mushroom soup, drained tuna and drained mushrooms. Heat thoroughly, then simmer.  In the meantime, toast slices of bread (at least 1 per person).  Plate toast, and then top with a generous ladle-full of Tuna a la King.  Serve and enjoy!