Mother's Day is an odd thing. Much like Valentine's Day, I'd like to get into the spirit of it completely, but some part of me never really can. Apart from how manufactured and focused on consumerism it can seem, I have so many friends in my life who have lost their mothers and know that the inescapability of it often serves as a bitter reminder of their absence. And there are others, who have just always had tenuous relationships with their mothers and the whole thing feels a bit forced and brings up feelings of resentment all over again.
But as a mother, I also get how hard the job can be sometimes, how powerful mother-child relationships are (even when they are sometimes dysfunctional), and how rare it is to not only be recognized for it, but to get a little break in the "work" aspect it. And yet... there are still emotional meltdowns that occur on Mother's Day. Meals are still often enjoyed cold due to various interruptions. Messes still need to get cleaned up. The work still has to occur, and for those mothers who are doing it on their own, with small children or children otherwise unable to do the cooking and the cleaning, it's still them doing all of that.
But it's one of those things where everyone has to look hard at what they do have and not focus on what others have—or more likely seem to have—which is always easier said than done, but also a valuable exercise.
Today, I did a lot of the same old things I do everyday as a mother. The tedious, the hard, the inconsequential, and the joyful. I called my own mother, who I am lucky enough to get along with and still have in my life. I mused a bit about what it means to be a mother, to be someone's child, and all the beautiful things I do have in my life. Then I made myself and my kids a nice meal, some of which they actually ate.
At dinner, Slim told me he appreciated that I make really good food, and Curly told me she appreciated me pushing her on the swing. And man, that's nothing to sneeze at.
Grilled Fennel with Radishes and Onion
Inspired by a dish enjoyed recently at Contigo
Yield: 4 servings
- 2 bulbs fennel
- juice from 1/2 lemon
- 2 T olive oil
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 3 radishes, thinly sliced (about 1 C)
- 1–2 spring onion bulbs, cut into thin rings (about 1/2 C)
- freshly cracked black pepper to taste
- Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat.
- Cut off the edge of root end and the stems of the fennel, then slice the bulbs into 1" pieces and set aside. Cut the thick part of the stems into 1" pieces as well and, set aside separately from the bulbs. Chop some of the feathery ends to fill about 1/4 cup.
- Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, and salt in a jar or small bowl and mix well.
- Place the sliced fennel bulbs on the grill pan (cut side down). Some of the outer pieces may fall away, just replace with your fingers... it doesn't have to be perfect. Grill on 1 side for 10 minutes, then flip.
- Add the stems to the grill pan and grill for 5 minutes, then flip over.
- Cook for 5 more minutes then check for doneness with a fork (total cooking time at this point is 20 minutes). The fennel should be tender. Cook a bit longer if necessary, depending on the size and age of the fennel.
- Remove from the pan and transfer to a serving bowl. Toss with the radishes, onion, and lemon juice mixture. Crack pepper over the top to taste and sprinkle on the feathery ends.