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An ending, but a new beginning

Published December 29. 2012 09:02AM

In a couple days we will say goodbye to 2012 and I am more than OK with that.

The year did not start off well for me, as I lost my mother in mid-January. That loss affected almost everything else that happened during the year, both the good and the bad.

Everyone who knows me, and anyone who knew my mother, knew that she was a phenomenal cook. That's even how she and my dad met. She worked for relatives who owned a successful inn in Martinsville, N.J. and my dad was hired as the chef.

Growing up, food played an important part in our lives.

Our house was always the go-to location for holidays and large family picnics in the summer. When we were sad or sick, my mother could always whip up something that would make us feel better at least a little better.

When I was recovering from knee replacement surgery a few years ago, my taste buds were out of whack for some reason, and nothing tasted right. My mother was on a mission to find something I would enjoy eating.

Every day my dad showed up with one of my favorites pot roast with creamy mashed potatoes, a cold broccoli salad with lemon, garlic-stuffed artichokes, or my mother's own version of "chili," which is nothing like real chili, but one of my favorite comfort foods.

Food was always her very special, tangible way of showing that she loved and cared about you.

Early this year, as I grieved, I said to my husband it was at times like these, I most wanted and needed that comfort food, and the love that was stirred into every bite. Making those dishes myself, brought me closer to her, and have helped keep her memory alive.

Over the past few months, I began collecting more of my mother's recipes, as I wanted to scan them many of which are in her own handwriting and preserve them. I already made a cookbook for my children of several of those recipes a few years ago, but I wanted to make sure I had them all.

There are hundreds of them, and it will take a long time to sort through them and make copies. As I read each recipe, they brought back some wonderful memories, like her "Secret Recipe," a dense, moist double-chocolate brownie, and her "Prunella" cake with chocolate icing a cake that as children, we wouldn't eat (except for the icing), because it had prunes in it. I haven't had that cake in years, but would give anything for a slice right now.

I began to think of how wonderful it would be to share those recipes and the comfort and joy they gave to me and our family over the years.

With that in mind, I began to think about creating a regular column where I could share my mother's recipes, as well as some of my own. The more I thought about it, I decided it would also be fun to include favorite recipes from some of our readers, and perhaps from some other wonderful cooks I know.

In addition to the recipes, I will share a story and photo or two about each recipe. If there are any special tricks or steps to achieving success, I will be sure to include those as well.

I'm still trying to come up with a name for this new column, and I have a few ideas I'm batting around. Look for it to start sometime next month.

As I wrote earlier, I'm OK with 2012 coming to an end, but I am really looking forward to 2013 and to new beginnings.

I wish all of you a happy, healthy, prosperous and tasty new year.

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