The Healing Power of Cooking

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This May right after Mother’s Day marks the second anniversary of my Mother’s passing. It has been a difficult two years filled with immeasurable grief and heartache for my whole family. But as this second year rolls around, I’m finding myself allowing the good memories of life with my mom to emerge. There was a time when even to think about the good moments was painful.

The healing power of cooking helped me through some painful memories.

Now, the pain is there, but it’s also peppered with beauty and wisdom and a yearning to keep those memories alive. For me that often translates to making my Mom’s signature dishes. These recipes had the healing power of cooking. My mother was a homemaker for most of her life and returned to work part time when we were older. She dedicated her life to raising us and keeping a wonderful home for my father, brother, two dogs and myself. This included cooking from scratch almost every single night. She was well known for her cherry pie recipe, made the best meatballs I’ve ever tasted, and had a roast beef recipe that would knock your socks off. To be honest, I can’t think of a single recipe that she didn’t make to perfection.

Even with the imperfect recipes, there was an element of the healing power of cooking.

Except that one time she ran out of breadcrumbs and tried to use oatmeal in the meatloaf and my dad lovingly nicknamed it the dreaded OatLoaf and she never lived that dinner down. Other than OatLoaf, she never had a bad recipe, so it’s only natural that cooking her recipes now give me a sense of closeness to her.

Mom and I
Mom’s well loved Cookbook
The next generation Learning Grandma’s recipes

Nothing makes me happier than teaching my daughter some of Grandma’s signature dishes. I literally hear her exact words come out of my mouth as I’m teaching my daughter and instead of rolling my eyes like I used to when people would say I sound like my Mother, I’m eternally grateful.

This past December I pulled out my mom’s well loved cookbooks to whip up some Christmas Cookies and low and behold, she had found time in the last few months of her life to write me added directions and tips in the margins of our family’s favorite recipes. She knew her health was failing and she made sure to impart the most important parts of cooking, the love. Each time I make a pot of her chili or teach my daughter how to make the perfect pie crust I smile and think how tickled Mom would be to pass on these traditions to the next generation.

Grief is a long and winding road, but it has detours that pass sweet memories with renewed perspectives and it’s worth every second of pain to have such lovely memories to hold. How lucky I am to have someone I miss AND this coffee cake recipe. Love you, Mom.


Nancy’s Coffee Cake

Ingredients for the cake

Ingredients for the topping

Preheat oven to 350. Combine oil, eggs and milk in a medium bowl. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients into the flour mixture until combined. Spread batter into a sprayed 9 x 13 baking pan. Combine topping ingredients and sprinkle over batter. Bake for 35 minutes. Let cool about 15 minutes before eating.


Have you discovered the healing power of cooking through recipes with loved ones? Share your memories and recipes with us with #MomsAroundDayton!

2 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great story. I love how your mom added the notes for you in the margins. I love how cooking her recipes is helping you heal, and I love how you’re teaching your daughter how to cook her grandma’s recipes! I know how much you both miss your mom!! I have my grandmother’s recipes. I got them from her when I got married. I love making them, and I love eating them! One of my grandmothers didn’t think that I liked her Chicken Soup if I didn’t eat at least 2 bowls! ❤❤❤

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