My mom passed away recently. During the last few days, we’ve spent several hours reminiscing about life at home when we were kids. One of the things we had a good laugh over was some of the food Mom made. She had her favourite fifties-style recipes that were her standbys. Lime Jell-O salad with cottage cheese, pineapple and walnuts was her standard potluck offering. For special tea times, she would make fancy sandwiches. She’d cut the crusts from a loaf of soft, white sandwich bread, spread it with processed cheese spread, roll it around a spear of CANNED asparagus and slice it into dainty rounds. For some reason that escapes me, there were never any left over after a party.
The ultimate dainties, in my mind, however, were the Cheese and Cherry roll-ups. Using the same soft white bread, Mom spread it with Ingersoll Cheese Spread (which we honestly believed was far superior to Cheese Whiz). She topped this with (are you ready?) sliced maraschino cherries, rolled them up, sliced ’em and popped them on the plate right next to those dull green asparagus babies. If we were real lucky, there might be some of these left to fight over the following morning.
Mom was not a great cook. She was not a creative cook. I did not acquire my foodie tendencies from her. But Mom loved to entertain. My parents had a wide circle of friends with whom they shared bridge games, family holidays, and service club activities. Having a home full of friends on a Saturday night for a bridge party was a regular occurrence. One of the things I admired most about her was her ability to make friends easily and to keep those friends for life. She could strike up a conversation with someone in an airport line-up and end up visiting them in their home the following year. People loved my Mom for who she was and they were inspired by her adventurous spirit, not by the way she cooked.
This week’s Food Matters Project challenge, chosen by Aura, is Updated Tea Sandwiches. As participants, we’re challenged to come up with our own healthier (and hopefully tastier) version of this old-fashioned snack. Mark Bittman offers Cucumber-Wasabi, Gingered Pea, and Pumpkin-Apple Tea Sandwiches as alternatives. See Aura’s recipe on her blog and try out the other FMP participants’ variations here.
My choice? To honor my Mom, I’ve come up with a twist on those old Cheese and Cherry Roll-Ups. Here’s my offering.
Chevre with Dried Cherries and Cinnamon
Finely chop 1 tbsp. organic dried cherries and mix with 1/2 cup fresh chevre. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp. cinnamon. Spread on thin slices of freshly baked bread.
Rest peacefully, Mom.