Sunday, May 12, 2013

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad and An Ode to My Mother

Happy Mother's Day to my friend, my hero, my role beautiful mother.

I know I was not the easiest child in the world to raise. I was stubborn, strong-willed, and hated taking direction from anyone. Not to mention, I had full-blown anxiety issues about pretty much everything beginning when I was just a toddler. We're talking major emotional breakdowns about EVERYTHING. I was scared of boats after reading about the Titanic. I was scared to travel to California after seeing the news coverage of the 1994 Los Angeles earthquake. After seeing Jaws, I was not only terrified of the ocean but also lakes, streams, rivers, the public pool, and some very large puddles.

My Mom never lost patience with me and my constant, never-ending panic attacks about everything. I must have woken her up dozens of times in the middle of the night just to tell her that I was scared that we were going to die in a car crash during our next family vacation by driving off a bridge, getting swept up by a tornado, or spontaneously bursting into flames. Mom would always calmly respond with the true but not-at-all-reassuring statement: "At least we will all be together!"

My Mom has always been my biggest advocate. When I was about five years old and attending a Vacation Bible School summer program, a pair of 10-year-old girls were making fun of me for choosing to color an entire picture with a hot-pink marker (an atrociously inartistic choice for sure!). My Mom immediately marched over to them and asked: "Are you making fun of her picture?" The terrified girls quickly shook their heads and skedaddled. I proudly took my artwork home where I'm sure my Mom saved it in her filing cabinet where she kept all the other pieces of evidence that none of her children would grow up to be the next Picasso. Years later, some of us kids went through the contents of that filing cabinet and wondered amongst ourselves: "Why the heck did Mom keep all this crap?"

Because she loves us.

As little kids, we always had a set routine of prayers we said at night with my Mom while being tucked into bed. I have taught my own son that same exact sequence of prayers and we recite it together every single night. And every single night, it reminds me of my Mom.

Whenever I rock my little Emma, I sing her the same song my Mom would sing to us when we were little:

Baby of Mine
Baby of Mine
Sweet Little, Cute Little, Baby of Mine
Sweet Little Child, sent from above
You'll always be
You'll always be
My Baby of Mine.

I have no idea whether that is an actual song or her own composition based on the melody of an actual song (my Mom has a knack for forgetting lyrics), but I will sing it to all my babies just as my Mom sang it to all of hers.

Even though I am now grown and raising a family of my own, I will never stop needing my Mom. Whenever I am scared, upset, or excited about something, my Mom is the first person I want to call. I miss her when I am unable to see her for awhile and sometimes long to hug her, laugh with her, or watch a Cary Grant movie with her (that man is a bona fide Adonis). I love how much my children love her and enjoy spending time with her. Matthew talks about "going to see Grandma" every single day. I usually tell him: "Oh Matthew, I want to go see Grandma too!"

I have no idea why Mom looks so oddly two dimensional in this picture!

On this Mother's Day, even though I am unable to spend the day with my Mom, I am thinking about her constantly. I could not have been blessed with a better Mother and hope that I can give my own children the same amount of love and support that my Mom always gave me.

Thank you, Mom, for everything. I love you!

The recipe I want to share is one that I promised to post for my Mom since it reminded her so much of a dish that her mother, my Grandma, used to prepare during the summertime. I prepared this Macaroni Salad as a side dish during the family gathering we hosted the weekend of Emma's Baptism mainly because I thought it would be cheap, easy, and economical. However, this was truly one fantastic macaroni salad. After one bite, my Mom declared that it was exactly like Grandma's macaroni salad - a dish that my Mom craves from time to time. Grandma passed away almost 17 years ago and I know that my Mom thinks about her and misses her constantly. Although I did not know her very well, I understand that she was an excellent cook and I was very proud to make something reminiscent of one of her dishes.

Hawaiian Macaroni Salad
from Entertaining Magazine

Note: Do not substitute lower fat milk or mayonnaise in the recipe. It will make the dressing too watery!

2 cups whole milk
2 cups full-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
 Salt and Pepper
1 pound macaroni pasta
1/2 cup cider vinegar
4 scallions, sliced thin
1 large carrot, grated
1 celery rib, chopped fine

To make the dressing, whisk together 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 cup mayonnaise, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 teaspoons pepper.

Bring 4 quarts water to boil in large pot. Add 1 tablespoon salt and pasta and cook until very soft, about 15 minutes. Drain pasta and return to pot.

Add vinegar to the hot pasta, and toss until absorbed. Transfer to a large bowl. Cool the pasta for 10 minutes.

Stir in the dressing until pasta is well coated. Let stand to cool completely to room temperature.

Add scallions, carrot, celery, remaining milk, and remaining mayonnaise to pot with pasta mixture; stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to serving bowl and refrigerate, covered, for at least 1 hour or up to 2 days. Serve.

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