When we were little, life was filled with absolutes and superlatives. Either our mother was the best mummy in the world or the worst. No, make that the meanest mummy in the world. That’s when she insisted that we go to bed at our regular time, even if it was summer and the streetlights weren’t even on yet. But mostly she was the best. And for those of you who care to argue, don’t bother. My mummy is still the best in the world. Yours can only run a distant second. So there.
If you need to ask why my mother wins the Best Mummy Contest, it’s obvious you’ve never met her. If you are interested, I’m happy to share what makes her great.
She’s never climbed Everest although she may have made the summit of Kearsarge once, maybe twice. She’s never championed groundbreaking legislation but she did write a scathing (for her) letter to the editor several years back. The targets of her ire were the big box stores and businesses that left their lights on all night. There are no scientific breakthroughs to her credit. She is not the genius behind a life-changing cure or even a mini miracle like Spanx. That said, she served a mean orange Popsicle when I had a bout of tonsillitis. Her ministrations were so successful that I was able to avoid a tonsillectomy.
So no, my mummy will not go down in history as IMPORTANT. However, she will go down in the personal histories of everyone who knows her as important. Quite simply, my mother is the nicest person I know. Sometimes intuitively, sometimes with a bit of effort, she makes everyone around her feel good. Feel good about themselves and feel good about life. She’ll make you smile and help you laugh.
That’s it, not terribly grand just terribly important.
My mother is now well into her eighties and suffers from Alzheimer’s. Several years ago, a friend (another Susan) whose mother had Alzheimer’s told me that she learned something from her mother every day. Feeling more than a little overwhelmed and frightened by my own mother’s declining condition, I was humbled by my friend’s comment. This other Susan was obviously a much better daughter and person than I would ever be.
Mom had another idea. Although she didn’t witness our conversation, she has always been more than certain that I am just as good a daughter as any other Susan, Jane or Joan.
Alzheimer’s has stolen many things from Mom but it can’t take her smile. It lights up the room as soon as she sees me. Then she’ll tell me a story. If words fail (and they often do), she covers it up with her easy laugh or a song. Although her words are increasingly few, Mom isn’t shy with superlatives. Forget good, in my mother’s eyes I am very good. In fact, more often than not, she assures me that I am very, very good.
Like that other Susan, I continue to learn from my mother. Every day she teaches optimism and joy. With that optimism, with that joy and that smile, she shows me how to be a nicer person.
And that’s what makes my mother important.
Happy Mother’s Day to all and, most particularly, to the Best Mummy in the world. Bon appétit.
Real Mothers Eat Quiche
At one point, quiche was all the rage. Now it’s a bit (okay more than a bit) passé. But everyone loves it and quiche is a great dish for Mother’s Day brunch or lunch. Give it a try and enjoy!
6 ounces bacon, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
4 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated
2 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 1/2 cups whole milk or half & half
Savory Flakey Pastry (recipe follows)
Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crispy. Remove from the pan, drain on paper towels and reserve. Drain most of the bacon fat from the skillet, add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and arrange the rack in the middle of the oven.
Roll out the pastry dough on a lightly floured surface. Line a deep, 9-inch pie pan with the pastry and crimp the edges, leaving about 1/4-inch for shrinkage. Cover and store the pie shell in the refrigerator until ready to use.
Combine the cheeses in a medium bowl, add the flour, season with nutmeg, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Add the onion and bacon and toss again. Put the cheese mixture in the pie shell.
Put the eggs and mustard in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Slowly whisk in the milk. Gently pour the custard over the cheese mixture, leaving at least a 1/4-inch margin at the top.
Carefully place the quiche in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Lower the temperature to 375 degrees and continue baking for 25-35 minutes or until the custard is set and the quiche is golden brown on top. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Savory Flakey Pastry
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
3 tablespoons solid vegetable shortening, cold, cut into small pieces
2-4 tablespoons ice water
Blend the flour and salt in a food processor. Add the butter and shortening and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Sprinkle with ice water, 1-2 tablespoons at a time and process until the dough comes together in a ball. Remove the dough from the food processor and flatten into a disk. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap or parchment paper and chill until firm, at least 30 minutes.
If you have a big crowd for Mother’s Day, make a few quiches. Mix it up with different combinations. Try mushrooms and sausage with Fontina and Parmigiano-Reggiano or spinach with mozzarella and feta.
Print-friendly version of this post.
One Year Ago – Lemon-Lime Squares
Two Years Ago – Tarte à l’Oignon (Onion Tart)
Three Years Ago – Honeyed Apricots with Creamy Yogurt
Four Years Ago – Black & White Brownies
Five Years Ago – Rhubarb Muffins
Or Click Here! for a complete list of and links to all the recipes on this blog!
Why do you think your mother is the best mummy in the world? Feel free to share – let’s get a conversation going.