Posts Tagged ‘Mothers’

“Mom” is Mei, my mother-in-law. After literally decades of resisting to teach me how to cook like the old country (China), she up and calls me so she can come over and show me how to make lo bak gao, Chinese turnip cakes. Who knows how her mind works.

I picked her up and brought her home, where she was aMAZED to find out that we have rice flour. Yes, Mom, Chinese people live here, of course we have rice flour.

You have to understand that my mother-in-law is VERY old country. She does not hold with new-fangled inventions like vegetable peelers to peel the lo bak (daikons or Korean radish). “Take off too much! Scrape with knife! Is better!” She also wouldn’t let me use my grater, instead insisting that I chop the lo bak with a knife because “too much cleaning up.” Of course, then she criticized the size of the pieces– too big! Yes, Mom, if you let me use a grater to, um, grate the vegetables then they get, how can I put this…,um, grated.

My mother-in-law does not let anyone in very often. It is very difficult to get her to talk about the old country, where she lived through two wars, may have been a bartered bride (we’re a little unclear on this), and spent many years as a refugee. But every now and then she decides I need to learn something, and we get to sit and work together. The stories come out, and she answers questions about China and her childhood.

Sadly, her lo bak gao is not very good. I now know why. She wouldn’t let me salt the water (but then complained that the finished product needed salt). She wouldn’t let me grate the vegetables. She used hot water to create the batter (this makes it sticky). She let the batter sit too long (ditto). Here is the modified recipe:

Toisanese Lo Bak Gao (Turnip cakes)

1 large Lo Bak, Daikon, or Korean Radish
1 Chinese sausage (This is a very fatty, sweet, pork sausage. Get these in Chinatown. The ones from the specialty market are not the same)
1/2 c. pork, any cut, cubed
1/2 c. each rice and corn flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
Salt to taste

Peel and grate the lo bok. Boil until soft in a large pot of SALTED water. Drain and set aside. (I may do a test to see if I use this water for the batter, if that helps the texture of the finished product– someone experiment with this for me!) Cube the pork and sausage, and saute in a large pan in a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Add the lo bak and saute until very soft (pictured is the cubed lo bak–this is not cut small enough). The lo bak should be well coated with the oil and drippings from the pork and sausage.

Oil or spray a square or round baking dish, and fill to halfway with the lo bak mixture. Set aside. Mix the flours, salt and cold water to form a thin batter; pour over the lo bak until just covered.

Steam until firm, about 15 minutes. I use a vegetable steamer from the Chinese market; you can also steam them in a wok with a steamer insert, or just rig a large pot or frying pan.

Allow to cool. Cut into slices or slabs and eat as is, or you can brown it a little by frying it lightly in oil for a minute or two.

We had left-over lo-bak mixture and used it the next day over rice with a little soy sauce. Delicious.

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Yellow can help sharpen your memory, bring clarity and awareness as well as help clear your mind to help you be alert and active. Yellow is also the color associated with happiness and joy.  As we celebrate Mother’s Day here in the United States, yellow seems to be the perfect color to celebrate with.

This is a photo of the beautiful blooming stonecrop at my neighbors house. I shared some cutting with my mom when I visited her in Florida this past April. She was going to use the cutting in some of the planters that are around her condo building. Happy Mother’s Day Mom. Carrying on the theme of yellow, I have posted more photos over at Sincerely, Emily.
Yellow seemed like a nice choice for Mother’s Day– sunny and happy. Oddly, there are few yellow flowers blooming in my yard on this Mothers Day-just a few of the local irises. Mostly the blooming things are pink today-columbine, rock soapwort, early strawberries. Yellow here is a phenomenon of early spring and midsummer.

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Emily from Tanglewood Farm, here! My mother has been a huge role model in my life. She is incredibly practical, hardy, and full of life, and it’s these traits that I’ve been trying to cultivate in myself as I’ve grown.

She has a sort of quiet appreciation of things, and the ability to find wonder in any natural thing, often exclaiming things like “Hickory trees are nice!” or “Hello, squirrel!” Oh Boy, she’s going to kill me for posting those quotes… but it’s things like this that make me love her. She’s not afraid to blurt out the little-kid phrases that pop into her head. She’s willing to admit to staring at the way water pools on leaves and closing her eyes to pick out the songs of the local frog population. I don’t think of her as a hippie, no. More of a Hobbit. We’re all Hobbity folk, in my family – aside from living above ground, that is. (Radon gas is a real threat to modern-day Hobbits!)

This is the first Mother’s day that my mom and I have been apart. She has moved to New Hampshire while I remain in Michigan. Every year I think about how Mother’s day is so silly. It’s just one of those consumer driven buy-this, buy-that sort of holidays. Then it hits me (every single year) I don’t care if it’s consumer driven. My mother is full of inspiring energy and hard work, and it’s from her that I get my love of gardening and making things. I owe her a day – my life, really – even if I’m states away. Happy Mother’s day, Mom.


For me, Jennifer, moving from my tiny corner of Northwest Indiana all the way to Nashville, Tennessee was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, next to raising my own daughter. Fifteen years ago I decided it was time to break the invisible umbilical cord that I felt was holding me so close to my mother.


We’d been through a lot together, she and I. For ten years it was just the two of us. Because of that, we’d grown tremendously close. I’ve always considered her my best friend – from the time I was a small girl. It was incredibly difficult when she remarried, as I was afraid I’d lose my best friend. What I didn’t realize was that I was gaining a wonderful dad and a brother that still amazes me.

Moving away from that family, and the woman I idolized, was difficult, but to this day we talk several times a week. We make plans to visit as often as possible. Sometimes I even think that being so far away from each other makes our relationship and our visits that much more special. Extra efforts are made to make every moment count.

I miss my mom horribly. And to this day, fifteen years later, I still tear up when we part. I’m just glad to know that that umbilical cord still exists, but is now reciprocal. I love you, Mom.


Mother’s Day is very bitter sweet for me (Xan). My own mother died when I was a young woman, so I’ve made up the whole motherhood thing as I went along. I wrote this for my daughter when she graduated from high school. I have no photo, but rather a poem about a photo.

I think sometimes about a picture I have of the three of us
My mother, my daughter, myself
We’re laughing, arms linked and people turn to see
granddaughter catching grandmother’s eye.

I have been imagining this moment since I was a child.

It’s just a fantasy
My mother died eleven years before my daughter’s birth.
She never knew my daughter nor my daughter she
Except in the crumbling pages of the black and white photo album.
“You look just like her, Mom”

I shake my head, because I look neither like my beautiful mother
Nor like my beautiful daughter
Their beauty reaches around me,
Embracing me and connecting them
Two vibrant women who are so alike
And look so much alike
And can never know each other.

Still, I think about the three of us
and the image in my mind is so clear, it must exist on a black and white photo somewhere
I’ve just misplaced
That is why I know it so exactly  that I can tell you what we’re doing:

We’re laughing, arms linked
People turn to see because we are so happy to be together
And so connected by the shared face of my mother and my daughter
Who can never know each other
Except in my imaginary photograph.
Where we are always laughing, arms linked.

For Nora Aspasia, from her mother Alexandra, down the generations, through her grandmother Olga Aspasia and her great grandmother Eleni and her great-great grandmother Aspasia


Thinking of all of you mothers out there, with fondness in our hearts.

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