Friday, February 20, 2009

Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, and Lentil Curry

Last night I had collards to use up and Rob had to bike five miles with temps in the teens to play indoor soccer after work so he wasn't around to work his Southern Magic. Last week I made Green on Green Soup again with collards and broccoli (I also used dried shiitake mushrooms since I didn't have fresh and it worked great), but the week the collards we had left looked too nice for a pureed soup. I searched and found Collard Greens, Sweet Potato, and Lentil Curry. The ingredients look great, but the recipe left something to be desired. It didn't even have a estimated amount of time to cook in the oven, just until sweet potatoes are tender. I cut up the sweet potatoes pretty small, but even so the dish wasn't done for an hour and a half. It was good, but I will work with it. I topped mine with leftover Coconut Curry Sauce and sprinkled it with za'tar.Parker, uncharacteristically, didn't like it, but he likes his curries on the spicy side not the sweet. Dema complained (as he is wont to do...he even complained about pancakes the other morning), but ate it all and said it was good. Josie gave it an enthusiastic thumbs up. She started eating before everyone else and was still eating it after the boys left the table. We went to bed before Rob got home, but he came into the room saying "You are a good cook." so I surmised that he even enjoyed it cold. I blew off the compliment because I do that and he says it a lot. If you want me to drop the ball, all you have to do is say, "Nice catch!". Compliments unnerve me. On top of that, my mom was considered a very good cook. Even at her Celebration of Life Ceremony after she died, one of the speakers talked about her cooking for everyone in heaven. Not getting into my personal views on what does or doesn't happen after death, I found the picture and thought of my mom still cooking for people...something I believe she really enjoyed...brought a smile to my face. Anyway, when someone says "this tastes great" or "you're a good cook", I look around for my mom. I still feel like a hack or a poser in the kitchen. When Rob and I first got together, we ate out quite a lot. We both worked and we lived in a vegan friendly area with a couple vegan restaurants a mile or two away. We had the money to eat out even though we liked to cook together. After we had Parker, cooking took on a new dimension for me since I had a precious new life to nourish, but I was also getting used to working in the home and not getting paid and I resisted the role of "cook". About the time my mother got sick or more to the point, started to die since I'm sure she was sick for quite a while before the month of her death, I felt like really spending quality time in the kitchen. We made some things together, but it seems like I was always rushed and flustered...distracted by my sweet toddler and not in my element yet. I remember cooking with my mom as a kid, but mostly I sat and talked with her as she cooked. She did a lot of special cooking late at night (the snacks she found out about last minute needed for school the next day, holiday baking, etc.) and I always felt bad about her sleepless nights spent in the kitchen. Now I realize she might have enjoyed them. I love cooking with my kids and I also love to be alone in the kitchen when the rest of the house is asleep and I can just cook by myself, get lost in thought, and enjoy making something without little ones nursing, asking for bites of food, or getting into long conversations about light sabers and droids. Lately, that is what I miss about my mother most...the hours of cooking together as adults, the sharing recipes and cooking techniques, enjoying each other's company, and nourishing each other that was never to be.


Jumbleberry Jam said...

What a lovely post. I'm sure your children already have such precious memories of time in the kitchen with you - a very special gift passed down from Mother to Mother.

Cheryl Allen Salinas said...

This looks great! I love reading what you write.