Dear friends in Holy Covenant,
This week, I want to confess publicly that my mother, Ruth Hofmann Anderson, makes a better apple pie than I do. This will not come as news to her or to anyone else in my immediate family. I’ve been striving to match her high standards for years. Sure, I’ve had my occasional, mouth-watering successes but in general, I fall short of the glory.
My mother and I, besides our vastly unequal apple pies, are very different cooks. I make curries and she makes chicken rice soup. She makes a killer minestrone and mine always turned out so bland that I gave up trying. I sauté heaps of kale every week and she, well, she notes politely that she just finds it a little…tough. So for a few years, when friends would ask, “How did you learn to cook?” I’d answer, “I’m not sure.” I’d think about college and learning to make stir-fry. I’d think about the hippie camps where I’ve worked and first eaten all kinds of things I’d never encountered before (that are now such a part of my diet I can’t even think of a good example!). I’d think about Kyra giving me her sugarless carrot cake recipe. Then finally, I wised up.
“My mother taught me to cook,” I now know and answer.
Cooking from scratch; making all our baby food when her family members thought she was nuts to do so; allowing me to try my hand at baking cookies and loaf after loaf of dense, brick-like bread; hosting dinners for church folks, and my friends, and most often for a gathering we referred to as “just us” (as in, “Are we having people over or is it gonna be just us?”): my mom taught me the joy of preparing with my own hands food for the sustenance and pleasure of life.
So while she still thinks tofu tastes bland, and I still think she ought to sauté her vegetables before she puts them in the omelette (I mean, come on, what’s up with that?), I know that my mom taught me how to cook. Not what to cook, but how. And in teaching me how to cook, she taught me a lot about how I want to live my life: prioritizing household, and health, and companionship.
None of the recipes I sent to Maria and Amy for the Holy Covenant cookbook are from my mom. But the fact that I have go-to recipes that I use to feed crowds of people, could hardly be more directly from her. That’s my story. Send yours, with your recipes, by midnight this Sunday.
See you on Sunday!
Minister of Spiritual Formation