It is really odd to be writing a letter to you when you are just down the hall and we are crossing paths in the kitchen, preparing lists for almost daily grocery store excursions, merging dirty clothes in the washing machine and…exchanging words (not always so nicely) face to face.
So here I sit struggling to do my assignment, “mom, do ur blog” instructions in a text from you, following a text that said, “having din w friends, will b home later.”
Parenting is not an easy business at any age…of any aged child. It is perplexing and daunting and evokes anxieties and insecurities from the depths of your core. Shaina, lest you think this is about you, believe me, it is not! You are, and have been, a relatively easy child. I do know how fortunate I am to have the privilege of being your parent.
I am immensely proud of your accomplishments, your bravery and self-awareness, your independence and your many ever-emerging talents. Not to mention the bonuses of having a child who travels to exotic places, always has another exciting option up her sleeve and provides us with never-ending tales to share with family and friends.
The challenges of parenting are not about you, or any kid, I suspect. It’s about what and who we bring to the game. You think you’ve escaped the ghosts you tried so hard to release in your own life…and all of a sudden, you have become your mother…and those shreds of familiarity are chilling.
There were so many things that Bubbe and Zayde did intuitively, as parents, that were right. They had no expectations of who we should become. They only wanted us to be healthy and happy and able to take care of ourselves. They insisted on the absolute importance of love and family. I think that was it…and all that flowed from that. Any screaming and arguing was just another tactic to ensure those principles.
I think it worked, but with it came the whole package…the sense of obligation, the persistent quest for happiness, the need to leave home and find my place in the world. I did that in my own way.
I know some parents who think their job is to control their children in an attempt to produce the desired product.
My understanding of parenting is more about powerlessness and staying out of the way of the inevitable. Neither approach is easy or foolproof…and I have made errors on both ends of the spectrum.
Having you home brings all the players out of the closet…yours and mine. All in all, I think we are okay. You are a child any mother would be proud to claim…as I am. We are just both doing what we both need to do…hanging on and getting away!
Thank God for food…the grains that bind us! I have learned so much from you, although I am not sure I will ever be able to replicate your style. You prepared an amazing Indian feast for Shabbat dinner…dishes that even our Indian guests loved!
Watching you create recipes for a friend who is undergoing chemo has made me appreciate what a unique gift you have.
Your food is creative and delicious, elaborate and healing…and remarkably beautiful and awe-inspiring.
I am also impressed at how much your kitchen maintenance has improved! Thank you!
I don’t know how long you’ll be here, but I am glad to be in these moments with you. My wishes for you are simple…to be healthy and happy…to remember the importance of family…to find your place in the world and…to be safe.
Browned Butter Halibut
Although I am intimidated by your creations. I still have to cook dinner occasionally,at least when I am not throwing together all your tasty leftover morsels into a humongous salad. This is a very simple fish recipe that Dad really enjoyed.
Add a simple green summer salad and baked sweet potatoes, plus the dessert below, and you have a satisfying quick and easy dinner.
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 – 1½ pounds of fresh wild caught halibut (4-6 ounces per person)
- 1-2 tablespoons butter
- 1-2 teaspoons olive oil
- Salt, pepper, garlic to taste
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and zest from one lemon (or lime juice and zest)
- Garnish with fresh chopped dill, parsley or tarragon and lemon wedges if desired
Salt and pepper fish generously on both sides. Add fresh finely chopped or thinly sliced garlic.
Marinate in lemon juice with zest plus 1 teaspoon olive oil for a half hour.
Heat a sauté pan large enough to hold all the fish over medium heat.
Put oil and butter in the pan and heat until lightly browned. Add fish immediately to browned butter and cook 3 – 5 minutes (depending on thickness of fish) on each side. Fish is done when it is opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
Serve with lemon wedges. Add salt, pepper and fresh herbs to taste. Serve immediately.
Blueberry Oatmeal-Buckwheat Crumble
This lightly sweetened blueberry crumble recipe is inspired by your healthy crunchy-grainy approach to food…and all those gallons of late summer blueberries we picked.
- 5-6 cups fresh blueberries
- 1 teaspoon potato starch or corn starch
- Zest and lemon juice from small lemon
- ¾ cup chopped dried fruit (apricots, dates, figs, raisins or any dried fruit)
- 2 tablespoons raw sugar or to taste (agave or honey can be substituted)
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
Wash blueberries and place them in a pot with the next four ingredients for the blueberry filling. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally throughout the cooking process. Turn the heat down and simmer for about forty-five more minutes or until blueberry mixture is slightly thickened and reduced by half, but still liquidy. Add the almond extract and stir. Cool slightly.
Oatmeal-Buckwheat Crust and Topping
- 1¼ cup uncooked rolled oats
- ½ cup almond flour
- ½ cup buckwheat flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ cup butter, melted (margarine or coconut oil can be substituted)
- ¾ cup chopped walnuts or pecans
- 1 T raw sugar or agave
While berries are cooking, prepare crust by whisking together the oats, flour and salt in a bowl. Add the melted butter or margarine to the oat mixture and stir until crumbly. Reserve ¾ cup of this mixture in a separate bowl for the topping.
Preheat oven to 350°
Grease an 8” x 10” baking dish and pat the remaining oat crumb crust mixture onto the bottom of the baking dish.
Prepare the topping by adding ¾ cup of chopped nuts and 1 tablespoon of raw sugar to the reserved oat mixture. More sugar can be added if you like a sweeter topping. Mix thoroughly.
Bake at 350° for 35 – 45 minutes or until oats and nuts are lightly browned and blueberries are bubbling.Pour the slightly cooled blueberry filling over the crust in the baking dish. Sprinkle the oat-nut topping mixture evenly over the berries.
Eat warm with ice cream or serve cold as a fruit snack or breakfast treat.