Words and images by Ship.
When I was a kid there wasn’t a week that went by when I would ask my mom what was for supper and she’d reply “glooooorrrriouuuss leftovers” in a sing songy voice and then laugh or stick her tongue out at me if I made a disappointed looking face.
My mother made every meal. Including sprout sandwiches for our school lunches ensuring no one ever – ever – ever in the history of school lunches would ever trade a sandwich with me. Rarely did a food item come pre-packaged unless it was a bag of potato chips. (My potato chip obsession is hereditary BTW.) The two word phrase glorious leftovers was so signature with my mother that I even mentioned it in the eulogy I delivered in her honour to a packed church on December 17, 2000. (after she lost her battle with effing cancer) So, Mom this post is in memory of you. This is my homage to glorious leftovers.
In the kitchen, my mother who was a passionate cook, could make almost anything; birthdays were marked by mom making our favourite dinners, mine was always stuffed manicotti, at least until I threw it up after a rather exciting birthday party. No one needs to revisit stuffed manicotti. My mother’s cakes were unsurpassed, we were exiled from the kitchen for an entire day while said cake was baked to precision and then iced in thousands of little tiny butter cream icing stars. No kid in the town of Richmond, Ontario, Canada (population 1000 in 1979) EVER had a cake to trump a Carolyn Shipley cake. She won ribbons at the fall fair with her cakes and then after more than her share of cooking and baking classes her interest shifted from cakes to pastry. This woman made a cream puff ring to rival any elite French bakery.
Mom was famous for her caesar salad, the croutons homemade, her dressing included a raw egg. There were never any leftovers and no one really could duplicate the recipe, although, I think I’m close. Muaaaaahahah! Any time mom thought I wasn’t eating enough or coincidently was headed out at night to a party where there were boys, she’d suddenly come out with a steak, sautéed mushrooms and onion, mashed potato and a very garlicky ceasar salad combo, leaving me full for a week and conscious of my garlic breath. Yes people I used to dabble in carnivore land.
A few months ago a photo of my buffalo cauliflower and an avocado salad were published in the Toronto National Post Gastro Post pages. Then again within a few weeks an image of a bastardization of my mother’s zucchini pie recipe was published. My Aunt Ann wrote to me and said, “Your mother would be so proud.” This really struck a chord with me, for all the things I’ve done in my life of which my mother could be proud of (getting a degree, selling a TV series, becoming a mother) – I agree – she probably would be most proud of my newfound interest in cooking.
Mother’s Day comes in May and while this post is for July it’s timely because my heart aches so badly when I think about Mother’s Day. I can’t breath and I can’t for fear of suffocating even think about my mother that day or in the days leading up to it. Becoming a mother myself eases the blow and is probably the real reason I have become more creative in the kitchen. I too make cakes for my kid and just now she interrupted me to ask for more green smoothie. Oh hells yeah, my four year old drinks kale and LIKES it! And when I open the fridge after a rather adventurous week of recipes I too reinvent the leftovers and one day my kid will ask what’s for dinner and I’ll smile, laugh and sing “GLORIOUS LEFTOVERS” too.
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