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Pillows of Love

The Power of "Mom Food"

By Lynn JordanPublished 4 months ago 7 min read
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Pillows of Love
Photo by No Revisions on Unsplash

It was 2011, the day after my husband’s burial. The exhausting run of hospital visits, sleepless nights, hospice, and the random sandwich in a knotted stomach was over...for now. There was so much sadness, guilt, and worry that I wasn’t sure if I could bear it. There was the stress of making arrangements and stifling my grief while contending with scheduling and finances. A father and a stepdad who could not be in the same room for longer than a few minutes. Corralling my hubby’s family and updating friends. I was nothing short of a hot mess.

My husband never got along with my Mom and stepdad; however, they formed a truce a few months before he fell ill. It was shaky and shallow, more for my benefit than to build something meaningful after years of bitterness, but it reduced the weight on my heart by half. To be loved by people who hated each other was awful. I’m sure it has shaved a few years off of my life.

This bitterness had chewed at the edges of my relationship with my mother, but we were working hard to repair the damage over the years. My Mom hates hospitals and death, but she stuck it out with me, helping me take care of everything I needed to do. I could not have done it without her.

Usually, my Mom and stepdad’s house would be full of music, people, and a spread of rich food they would painstakingly prepare. But not today. With a dreary late afternoon threatening rain, I sat at my Mom’s empty table in their quiet house, trying not to cry. My Dad had flown back South. My stepdad was napping upstairs, and my now late hubby’s family was back in Queens. Someone had brought some takeout food for the family, and Mom had reheated some for us. We shared a mostly silent, mediocre meal we both picked at with disinterest until I finally burst into tears. It was then I realized how distant we still were; I could not express myself to her, and she did not know how to comfort me at that moment.

She convinced me to stay the night, plied me with wine, and poured me into bed. “It’ll be okay, baby,” she said, stroking my head like when I was little. I nodded, but I didn’t believe her. I cried myself to sleep.

The following day, I woke up, relieved to have finally gotten some rest, but physically feeling like I had been hit by a truck. My stomach was sour and grumbling, my raw eyes stung by the sun gleaming through the blinds. But the radiator beside my bed was tinging and popping, sending me a soothing wave of warmth. I could hear the birds chirp, the cars and trucks driving by, and the passerby chatting with each other or on their phones. I was grateful for the noise as it let me forget my crap life for a few beautiful minutes. I believe silence is grief’s worst enemy.

The scent of coffee and bacon drifted up the stairs. My stomach went from a mild, uncomfortable rumbling to an audible growl. I needed food. And for the first time in a good while, I would eat not just any old food but “Mom Food”. That made me smile. The house had an intercom from the kitchen to the two upstairs bedrooms. It hummed and squawked, and then she said one word - “Breakfast!” I let my nose and tummy lead the way downstairs.

I went to her, and we had an awkward hug. “It’s almost ready. Your coffee is on the table. You okay?” I nodded. “Thanks,” I reply. I could see the steam rising from the mug of coffee, and I couldn’t get to it fast enough. Hot, milky, and sweet, it was perfect. But there was another smell.

“Biscuits?”

“Nope. You’ll see.”

She placed a plate with an omelet, bacon, and grits before me. But then she opened the oven, pulling out an unusual baking pan. I could see golden crusts of goodness that had risen about an inch over the top of the pan.

“Cornbread?”

“Nope.”

I watched her prick each puffy treat with a knife, lift them from the cups and place them on a plate. She brought them over with a small crock of freshly whipped butter.

“They’re called popovers. I hope you like them.”

I took one, and it was like pulling apart a soft, eggy cloud. I anxiously buttered it, and that first bite made me melt almost as fast as it melted in my mouth.

“Oh. My God.”

She gave me a huge smile, and we hungrily devoured our breakfast, eating all of the popovers with way too much butter. “Glad you like them! They aren’t hard to make. I’ve had the pan forever, just never used it.” But it was much deeper than that, and we both knew it.

Mom was not a hugger, and those luxurious yet light, fat-soaked fancy muffins were bursting with all the emotion she couldn’t physically put into words or display - her love, sympathy, and eagerness to make it all better for me. My patting feet, beaming face, and ravenous appetite conveyed my love, gratitude, and appreciation for her. For the first time in days, we laughed and smiled a lot.

From that point forward, a new chapter in our relationship began, and my Mom is my best friend. Now, we hug long and hard and try to spend as much time as possible together. We think nothing of snuggling on the couch, being arm in arm, having that bond, that physicality. We cry in front of each other and know that we’re safe at our most vulnerable.

She may not always make the popovers when I visit, but when she does, I am back to that place in time when she made them, and I finally believed it would all be okay.

By Seth Doyle on Unsplash

The Recipe:

These popovers are just delightful. Eating just one is impossible, and there is room for creativity. Enjoy them straight up or with butter, jam, or syrup.

POPOVERS

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) whole milk
  • 1 cup (5 oz/155 g) all-purpose plain flour
  • ¼ teaspoon salt

Have ready a standard 6-cup of miniature 12-cup popover pan, a 12-cup muffin pan, or 12 individual 3 ½-inch (9-cm) soufflé dishes. Lightly grease the pan or dishes with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter. If using individual cups or dishes, place them, not touching, on a baking sheet.

In a deep bowl (preferably with a pouring spout), whisk together the eggs, milk, and the remaining tablespoon of melted butter until foamy. Beat in the flour and salt until smooth. Do not overmix. The batter should be thin. Fill each prepared cup two-thirds full with the batter.

Place the pan(s) on the center rack of a cold oven and immediately turn the temperature to 375 degrees (190 Celcius). Bake the popovers until they are puffed high, deep golden brown, and dry to the touch. 35-45 minutes for standard-sized popovers and about 25 minutes for miniature popovers. Do not open the oven doors for the first 30 minutes of baking, or the popovers may not rise fully.

Remove the pans from the oven and immediately pierce the side of each popover with the tip of a sharp knife to allow steam to escape. Let stand for 5 minutes. Run the knife around the rim of each up and invert them onto a napkin-lined basket. Serve the popovers immediately with the spread of your choice.

When you eat them, I hope you feel the same solace and warmth I did that morning and are reminded of family no matter how far apart you may be. Be grateful, enjoy simple pleasures, and hang in there. No matter how bad it is, it will improve. It will be okay. You will be okay. Empower yourself with grace and patience and do everything with love because love makes life - and food - much better.

Thank you, Mom.

Photo by Lynn Jordan. Do not use without permission.

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About the Creator

Lynn Jordan

Gen X writer of published music reviews now putting my fiction, non-fiction & the occasional poem out there. Every piece I write, regardless of genre, is a challenge accepted, and crafted with care and love. Sit a spell & enjoy!

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Outstanding

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Comments (4)

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  • Terri Lynn4 months ago

    Loved reading this for so many reasons. And cried because it made me miss my mom. Of course I’m gonna have to try the recipe too!

  • Cathy holmes4 months ago

    This is such a beautiful story, and the popovers sound great.. I'm sorry for your loss.

  • C. Rommial Butler4 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this vignette from your life. It was both heart and gut warming!

  • Naomi Gold4 months ago

    OMG. I’m struggling to find adequate words to say how much I love this! You are an incredible writer. I felt so many emotions reading this. 😭 This is the kind of story that nourishes my soul, and that drawing is beautiful, and I must make these popovers.

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