I've been thinking quite a bit lately about my mother, and most especially about her kitchen - the things I learned from her. Sometimes I think that I'm still a teenager at heart, rebelling against my mother, striking out on my own and testing the waters. In very few ways have I ever been able to escape her reign. Those of you who've known me for any time at all know how much those apron strings choke me but that no matter how hard I try I can't seem to free myself, she wields guilt like a weapon reigning me back in when I pull too far away. In the kitchen however, I am completely my own person.
When I was young, my mom actually cooked things. She made biscuits from scratch and real mashed potatoes and sit down dinners. But with every passing year her interest in cooking has dwindled. I truly expect her to declare it too much trouble to heat things up any day now and I will find her eating cold soup directly from the can. A woman who loves a shortcut, why make a cheesecake when Kroger will do it for you? I will admit to occasionally using those packaged shortcuts, especially on a work night. But when I set out to cook, I dive into it completely. However, my greatest kitchen shame is this - I can not make a macaroni and cheese that I like as well as what comes from the blue box, especially when made with butter and cream. I have tried repeatedly, but always wind up with a glompy mess that lurks in the back of the refrigerator until it is unrecognizable.
It's funny - my mom loves food, loves to try new things. However, she's rarely been able to bring herself to break away from the familiar in the kitchen. Myself, I love to branch out into uncharted territory and experiment in the kitchen. I'll bring home vegetables from the farmers' market just because they were "pretty", having no clue what I will do with them. Then I'll break out the stack of cookbooks and find some recipe to play with. And if it turns out badly? So what? That's why we keep peanut butter and bread around the house.
Dad and I are creatures of habit. It probably took us 7 years after mom left to rearrange anything in the kitchen, and most things are still kept exactly where they were when it was her kitchen. Some things may have shifted up or down a shelf, but I believe that everything is still in the same cabinet it was always in. It isn't her kitchen anymore though, it is mine. Sort of. It's mostly dad's, but he doesn't do much of the cooking anymore.
Someday I will have my own kitchen again. One where I can put all of my gadgets (instead of hiding them away in stuff jail) and where the precious kitchen aid stand mixer will once again have a permanent spot on the counter instead of having to be lugged up and down the hall and stored in a closet. That boy is durned heavy.