Sunday, May 10, 2009

Breakfast for mom

Mother's Day is a difficult one for me right now. I'm still coming to terms with my mom's death a little over a year ago. I miss her a lot. Since we live so far away from the rest of my family, I was used to not seeing her all the time. We talked often, but not every day or anything. But it still hurts that I can't just pick up the phone and call her whenever I want. I hate the fact that Gillian can't remember her at all (she was only about a year and a half old when Mom died). Brianna doesn't have that many memories either, and none of her before she was ill. So I'm trying to find ways to keep the memories alive and share them with my girls.

Mom with my sister Merri and me; I was probably about 3 (1974)

My mom was one of the most stubborn people on the face of the planet. =)  She hated having her picture taken, so I don't have that many of her.  She didn't hesitate to say what she thought, but she wasn't very demonstrative when it came to emotions.  We all knew that she loved us and was proud of us, though.  We seldom heard it directly--I'd tell her something and she wouldn't say much, but then I'd talk to one of my sisters and they'd say that Mom told them about what I'd said or done.  That was typical.  

Both my girls have a ton of blankets and afghans--many given as baby gifts.  Last weekend, Brianna pulled out one of the afghans and asked where she got it.  It was the one my mom crocheted for her.  Then of course we had to look for Gillian's.  =)  My mom loved to crochet and do other needle crafts.  It was a lot harder for her to do by the time my girls were born, but she still made sure that Brianna and Gillian would have something that she made.  I have no idea how many others she made as gifts over the years, but it was a lot.  

It's the little things that I want to remember.  Like the other day, when I remembered that Mom knew how much I disliked red jelly beans.  So there were never any in my Easter basket.  She was constantly reading, and always had a ton of books around--which in turn taught me to love reading and do the same.  (Though I'm pretty sure my cookbook collection far exceeds what she had... =)  ) And now I'm forever tripping over the books that Brianna and Gillian leave everywhere.  When I'd ask her if I could do something or go somewhere, she didn't say yes or no, but asked me how I was going to make it happen. She taught me to think for myself.  I was laughing with my Aunt Alice recently about one of Gramma's favorite sayings--"So if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?"  Yep, I know where Mom learned that one. =) 

Mom with Brianna and Gillian, April 2007

Someone suggested to me recently that one good way to remember my mom would be to make one of her favorite foods for Mother's Day.  So we had chicken parmesan for dinner (her favorite was with veal, but she liked the chicken version, too), and I told Brianna and Gillian why I made it.  As for breakfast, I mainly remember Mom eating eggs--she liked them just about any way you could cook them.  That love of eggs is one thing I definitely did not get from her, though, so I made crumb cake for breakfast instead. =)  I'm pretty sure she would have eaten that, too. =)  

Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there reading this.    

Allspice Crumb Cake
(adapted from recipes from Dorie Greenspan's Baking From My Home to Yours)

Streusel topping
1/2 cup (2.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1/2 cup (3.5 ounces) packed light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
pinch kosher salt
5 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes

Cake batter
3 large eggs
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/2 cup (4 ounces) plain whole milk yogurt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 ounces canola oil
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray the inside of a 9-inch springform pan with baking spray.  (I also wrap the bottom of the pan with non-stick foil before attaching the ring.)

For the streusel topping, mix the flour, sugar, allspice and salt together in a small bowl.  Add the cold butter cubes and use your fingers to rub the butter into the dry ingredients until crumbs form.  Place the streusel in the fridge while making the cake batter.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar.  Whisk in the yogurt and vanilla.  Stir in the dry ingredients.  Then fold in the oil, using a large rubber spatula.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan.  Take the streusel out of the fridge and crumble it evenly over the top of the cake.  Bake the cake for 40 to 45 minutes, until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Place the cake on a rack to cool.  After about 10 minutes, remove the outside ring from the springform pan, then let the cake cool until just warm or room temperature.  Dust with powdered sugar if desired.  Serves 8-10.


  1. Oh, Di, what a beautiful post. Your portrait of your mother shows a spunky and independent woman. I love the ways that you are trying to build her memory in your girls. The two pictures are parallel, which is very cool!

    I've been eyeing that coffeecake recipe for a long time, trying to wait until it's selected. I'm glad you posted it, so delicious looking.

  2. Happy Mother's Day!

    I loved reading this sweet post about your mom, Di. I'm so sorry she's not with you today. What a great way to celebrate her though.

    (I should be better at letting people take pictures of me with my kids. I don't have more than one or two with each of them.)

  3. A touching tribute to mom for mother's day, thank you for sharing it with us.

  4. Di, what a beautiful tribute to your mom. She sounds like a very special woman, and it sure seems like her spirit lives on in you and in your beautiful daughters!

    The chicken parmesan souds delicious, and the crumb cake looks perfect!

  5. What a great way to remember you mother. She sounds like she was a wonderful woman and mother.

    Your crumb cake looks delicious!

  6. What truly lovely post, Di! Thank you so much for sharing. My mom's been gone for 9 years this year and I miss her each day. I love the photos you shared of her, especially the one from 1974. She looks so happy!! Hang in there!!
    Hope your Mother's Day was a nice one, too!

  7. Di,
    I think your Mom would have loved reading your post about your memories and your inspiration from her. I know you hear her voice in your memories and those are the sharing presents for your girls. They will know they are loved too. Lovely post, thanks for sharing your memories.

  8. As always, I enjoyed your post. I still remember your mom vividly from my visit out to Pennsylvania years ago. Really liked the picture from 1974.