Sunday, February 28, 2016

Shepherds Pie and moments

The Nameless Blog?
Blog with No Name?
Every Woman?

See, nothing is sticking.

I'm boiling potatoes for Shepherd's Pie. I make Shepherd's Pie a lot, but not the Shepherd's Pie my mother used to make, which, at one point, she explained was actually a Cottage Pie. I'm making a proper Shepherd's Pie. The difference is the meat. Cottage Pie is what we actually ate growing up. Shepherd's Pie is what my kids will remember eating growing up.  The difference is in the meat. Lamb is Shepherd's Pie, beef is cottage pie.

It's never to late to learn something new.

I'm boiling the potatoes because I'm making homemade mashed potatoes and everyone likes those better than boxed potatoes when they're done right. Except Husbear, who often prefers the instant potatoes, but he also likes white soft bread and boxed stuffing.
Brown gravy and butter seeping through.
Boy, do I just hate it when that happens.
I wasn't just thinking about Shepherd's Pie and Cottage Pie, though, I was also thinking about  my mother, like I usually do this month, since it's her birthday. She used to say that after her father died, on his birthday every year, she'd get a headache. I always thought that was awful. Mostly, at some point during February, I will remember some of the things of my mother. For instance, the wreath that I made with all of her favorite colors is hanging on the door again. On her birthday, I ran the Oskar Blue's Old Man Winter Run, and thought of how she'd say something encouraging, like, 'Do you really need to run today? It's going to be so cold. Wouldn't you rather have coffee?' because she'd think it was crazy to run on a cold day when you could be drinking coffee instead. If my mother was looking down on me running, it was only to try and prod me to jump off the course and head for the nearest coffee shop. You're running so close to the mountains. Aren't you worried about mountain lions?

Now I'm thinking about the memories of me that my children will have one day, when they're older and cooking. They'll have few memories of me baking, because I'm not much of a baker.  But what will they talk about, I wonder? Will it be my Pho? My Shepherd's Pie? My Cornish Pasties? (If I make them soon!) My Beef and Lamb stews? My pork chops with Cheesy Broccoli? The Butterfly Pasta? They'll remember me running and writing, and hiking and taking photographs of nature, I'm sure. They are the only things they think I do. I suppose they'll remember me chasing them out the door with 'where are your bicycle helmets? and begging me to make them eggs before school. I suppose that's not bad. I remember my mother's stuffed mushrooms, her astrology charts and her stories, her sitting at a desk or a table with ancient computers and word processors. I remember her Cottage Pie and her Meat Pie (I have the original meat pie recipe, if she were the Queen, I'd e-bay it) and this horrid dish she loved that she tried to pass off as fancy - a sort of turkey on toast in gravy with peas. Soggy bread. I remember how much she loved it and how much I did not love it. I remember how much she loved the Queen, and the Pope.

I wonder if it's too late to learn to bake? Then they can remember me making custards and pies and breads, too. Wouldn't that be nice?

I'm wondering all of these things and the potatoes are still boiling. The boys are at the park with a friend and their entire life is school and play and parks and computer games and bicycles and imaginary monsters. I remember being 12. It's a good age to be.

The potatoes are done now, and I've got to start the lamb mix. The boys just popped in and are making a snack - ramen - they prefer the shrimp flavors, where when I was their age, I devoured the oriental seasoning. I think even my grandfather would agree that it's better to, on a loved one's birthday (month) think about the everyday things they did, than to commemorate it with a whopping headache. It's interesting, really, that it's only the everyday things we care about. When it comes down to a lifetime recalled, it's the impressions, moments, thoughts, foods, sayings and mannerisms.

Well, my mother would be happy for me today. 'Did you write?" she'd ask. "Yes." "Did you have a good cup of coffee?" Of course. "Did you go for a walk?"Yup. Did you stop to smell the flowers? Always stop and smell the flowers. "Yes." Well then, everything is fine, isn't it?

Note: I left the potatoes in the colander to drain for a quick sec, and came back to hands picking out freshly cooked potatoes. As I was shooing the gangly fresh-from-outside scented owners of those hands, I was transported back to a tiny kitchen of red linoleum on the third floor where my sister and brother would snag all the black olives straight out of the can whenever my mother turned her back, because black olives are the best... another  thing I remember.

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