I’ll never forget the scrumptious holiday dinners prepared by my grandmother for her six daughters, her son, their spouses, and children. The elaborate affairs lasted a few hours with wine or beer served with the food among loud chatter and laughs. My mother kept the tradition and I did my best to continue.
In my books there is always a gregarious mamma, portrayed after my mother or mother-in-law. They were both loving and meddling, generous and strong women who cooked delicious recipes but never minced words.
From CHRISTMAS BABIES
“My dear, my Italian grandmother used to say that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Mom fussed with the wooden spoon and swirled it in the pot of tomato sauce. A secret recipe she’d never shared with anyone.
Madelyn sighed. Maybe she should start baking.
“By the way, I’m leaving you a few of my recipes.”
“Wow, the secret ones?” Her jaw sagged. Mom had often repeated that her secret recipes’ book would go in her will for her daughters.
“Make sure you cook them for Nick.”
Ah, for Nick Mom would reveal her secrets.
From PRESCRIPTION IN RUSSIAN
“Please, Mrs. Vassilov, will you call me Jillian?”
“Da, da. Jillian. You call me, Babushka, like everyone in the building. Give me your plate, dear.” His mother served Jillian generously and kept on chatting without taking the time to breathe. “We have stuffed cabbage today. I hope you like it. Later you will taste my home-made dessert, rice pudding. Fyodor, give me your plate.”
“Not so much.” He laughed at the mountain of cabbage his mother piled on his plate. “I will help myself. Take care of the children, Mama.”
His mother gave each of the children their share of the meal and cut the cabbage rolls into small pieces for the toddlers.
From NO MORE LIES
Olivia loved her mother to death, but at the moment she wanted to scream her frustration at her beaming Mama. It was obvious Marianna Crane had fallen in love with Luc the moment she’d seen him, or more precisely at the very minute he bent over and kissed the back of her hand with an “Enchanté, madame.”
“I’m delighted to meet you, Luc. Please have a seat. Where have I put my glasses? Melissa, bring the tray of hors d’oeuvres from the kitchen. Olivia, can you serve the drinks? Luc, what can I get you?”
Mama bustled with energy, the way she always did before starting a new project. Seeing her fussing around Luc, Olivia was afraid to guess the name of the new project—her mother’s ongoing goal.
“May I help with the drinks?” Luc offered.
“Of course. Make yourself at home,” Mama purred.
Dropping onto one of the overstuffed chairs of the old-fashioned living room, Olivia rested a moment. She liked coming home to her mother’s. The warm aroma of potpourri soothed her rattled nerves. Tonight, the garlic and nutmeg smell of Mama’s masterpiece roast emanated from the kitchen. Her mother had sharpened her tools to conquer their guest.
Olivia recognized the symptoms. Good dinner, good drinks, good stories. Luc wasn’t going to leave unscathed tonight, not when her mother wanted Luc’s heart for her daughter.
And here is a simple recipe for a Breakfast casserole:
6 slices of bread
sausages (I use 2 little cans of Vienna sausages sliced
1 and 1/2 cup shredded cheese
2 cups of half and half
salt and pepper
If you want you can add 1 or 2 little cans of sliced mushroom, press it well to get the water out.
Butter or spray a rectangle pan the size of the 6 slices of bread
Beat the eggs, add the half and half, salt and pepper
Arrange the slices of bread in the tray
Add the sausages, the mushroom if you want, pour the mixture on this, spread all the shredded cheese on top
Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.
Serve hot for breakfast or brunch.