Recently, my youngest daughter, Margot, started keeping a journal. This came after her older sister shared one of her old diaries from 5th grade. They both had a great time reading Marielle’s thoughts about the end of summer vacation, entering 5th grade, new teachers and friends and the other joys and trials of being 11. Margot was so struck by the power this journal held as she watched her sister’s reactions as Marielle re-read her own entries -- "Oh, I remember that!" "I loved that trip!" "That kid was so mean ..." -- that she couldn’t help but chose a special notebook and pen and begin the process herself, looking forward to the future when she will be recalling the end of third grade.
The wonderfully unexpected thing about writing my column is that, much like a journal, it has become a chronicle of so many things. While not always chronological, family recipes and memories, stories and antics with friends are all revisited, thought about and preserved for looking back upon. It’s too easy to have days pass and not realize or recall the things that you feel are important or had an impact on you, and we’re often too busy as a culture that this kind of reflection simply doesn’t happen unless the time is set aside.
When thinking about what I should write about this week, it became clear that even though we tried a couple of new recipes, the things that I really wanted to put on paper were the culinary adventures of Mother’s Day. This past Sunday ran the gamut -- kid cooking accomplishments, a road trip, trying a new food, finding great pizza, a ridiculous childhood throwback and the perfect evening to grill at home. I couldn’t have asked for a better day and it is definitely something worth reflecting about.
Before Mother’s Day even came around I have to admit that I took my older daughter aside and asked her to grant me one favor -- please try and make sure that I wasn’t served cold cereal and lukewarm water in bed. This had been the traditional breakfast-in-bed for years and while served with the sweetest of intentions, I just didn’t feel like I could take it again. When my husband asked me on the sly if I would rather have eggs or pancakes, I felt pretty strongly that this one Mother’s Day wish might be granted. Sure enough, after being ordered to remain in bed (finally finish a book) and only answering a couple of questions, Margot proudly served me pancakes and fruit salad that she had made with very little supervision. I couldn’t have been prouder!
It was a gorgeous day and just perfect for a drive (I tend to suffer from if-I-am-home-I have-to-clean syndrome). I follow the blog of Tammy White, a farmer over in Shaftsbury, and when I found that she was having an Open Farm Day, I knew that was where I wanted to go. A lovely drive through beautiful country and we arrived at A Wing and a Prayer Farm where we were greeted by Tammy, her daughters and their many animals, including the sweetest lambs, alpacas, rabbits, ducks and a tom turkey who cracked us all up. The farm store was open as well and we were able to see the yarn that they produce, check out postcards, admire handmade aprons and sample their granola, cider and ramp pesto. Once we learned that the family rides their horses into the woods to gather the wild ramps we were quite set on being honorary family members, volunteering our time so we could live this wonderful lifestyle in this a beautiful spot.
The pesto had revved our appetites. Tammy suggested that we head into North Bennington, about 10 minutes away and try Marigold Kitchen, which she said had delicious pizza. After getting slightly lost we eventually came out on a road that seemed familiar (my husband Jon’s family had lived in the area for years) and then found it easily. A small spot with one guy running both counter and kitchen, Marigold Kitchen supports healthy local food by using locally sourced cheeses, grains and produce. The girls loved the fact that the different pizzas were all named after women and we ordered the Margi (fresh mozzarella, roma tomatoes and basil) and the Fiona (pesto, fresh mozzarella and goat cheese). We’ll definitely be going back.
A visit to a friend at the fabulous Fiddlehead at Four Corners gallery and some ice cream for the girls at The Village Chocolate Shoppe, both in downtown Bennington, and I somehow found myself with a raspberry Tootsie Pop, the taste of which brought back many memories, especially of my senior year in high school. After the drive home I found that there was still time for some gardening and the beautiful weather insisted on our grilling and eating outdoors. A bit of meat and lots of asparagus, a mushroom or two and thickly sliced potatoes were all cooked on the grill, mostly to perfection (I still haven’t mastered grilled asparagus) and served with the ramp pesto. This was followed by a trip up the street to the Chelsea Royal where the lines were long but worth it for a kiddie cone of their fresh banana, cardamom and caramel ice cream eaten to the sound of peepers in their back field. The day was complete and absolutely perfect.
That this was my fifteenth Mother’s Day as a mom is practically impossible to comprehend, but the facts don’t lie. I couldn’t be any happier to have spent the day the way I did and am so grateful for the family who shared it with me. Years from now when I revisit these words I will love the way that I will be brought back to that day.
Today I am still trying to guess the proper combination of ramps, olive oil, almonds and sea salt to make our own ramp pesto. I’ll keep an eye out for raspberry Tootsie Pops and know that the girls are always plotting the next trip to "The Chelsea." But I also love knowing that there are all those as-of-yet unknown and unpredictable opportunities that will become part of our memories. It just takes a little time to sit down and capture it on paper to make them available to us and those we want to share it with forever.
Julie Potter is a wife, mother of two, avid gardener and passionate cook who believes good food doesn’t have to be complicated. Share your thoughts with her at firstname.lastname@example.org.