Memories of My Kitchen Diva


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She would have loved this day–a snowy, blustery morning presaging the brutal winter we’re supposed to get this year, which she also would have loved.

1622144_10152217882154515_1070802655_nBut days like today were made for her. She would have been in the kitchen–one of her two favourite rooms in the house–all day long. There would be something bubbling or simmering on every burner. One pot would undoubtedly be filled with butter and applesauce for her amazing fruitcakes–my mom’s recipe, and the only fruit cake I’ll eat.

The oven would be cranking out raisin tarts, Nova Scotia oat cakes, sugar cookies, sour cream cookies, lemon squares, date squares, Nanaimo bars, shortbread, biscotti, and a few other things she’d “like to try this year.” The CD player would be blasting Il Divo, The Tenors, Sarah Brightman, Celtic Woman, or The Barra MacNeils, and she’d be singing at the top of her lungs. (She’d probably be begging to put on some Christmas music a week early.) The counters would be covered with pans and canisters, spices and tools and measuring cups. The sink would be piled high with items needing to be washed, and, if I were home, she would be calling up to my office every time there was something I could lick. At every opportunity, she would sit down right where I’m sitting, on the high leather chair at the end of her “baking centre,” and conduct multiple conversations with her family, her many Facebook friends, or her international daughters who needed encouragement, advice, or a “good talking to.”

Never again.

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As I try to implement Donna’s look-ahead-cook-ahead policy today, I am feeling so grateful for her legacy–a legacy of good food, but also of the sheer joy she had in preparing it for our family, for our many guests, and for me. We didn’t eat out of boxes or cans. Our children grew up eating their mom’s home-baked, honey-whole wheat bread and real food made with fresh ingredients in her own kitchen. My daughter and daughters-in-law cook the same way for their families, and I know this made Donna very happy. The thought of eating processed foods almost nauseates the whole lot of us.

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But for me, there is a downside to this blessing–the death of my Kitchen Diva. Now, I’m fending for myself in a space that was hers for so long, an incompetent interloper struggling to eat well and still do my work. And now, her work, too.

If you are reading this and you are a man who is married to a good cook, thank God for a precious gift. Bless her often with praise and frequent hugs and kisses. Appreciate what she puts on your table and the huge effort she makes to put it there. Get her the tools she needs to do it to her satisfaction. Join her in the kitchen–it’s her playroom. Help her clean up. Remind your children just how good they have it. Brag her up to the whole world.

And learn to cook.

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