I am sure that in 1914 when Woodrow Wilson proclaimed the second Sunday in May a national holiday to commemorate mothers, he had all the best intentions. He wanted to set aside a day to pamper all of us who work so hard to raise healthy, well-adjusted children. However, as the mother of four, I have serious doubts that he achieved his goal.
He did increase consumer spending. What wholesome American child would deny Mother a card, bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates or lovely trinket on her special day?
And he did increase restaurant revenues. Even the most die-hard cook likes a day off now and then. That might explain why my kids made an annual tradition of bringing me breakfast in bed.
It started out innocently enough. Their rule was that I had to stay in bed until they brought in my breakfast. I turned up the TV to drown out the yelling and crying and pulled the pillow over my head to mask the smell of smoke. An hour and a half later, four glowing faces appeared at my door with arms extended, each offering his contribution to the meal.
They peered over me intently as I swallowed the blackened French toast and charred bacon. Even the Cocoa Puffs tasted burnt, or was that merely the melted marshmallows floating on the top?
After cleaning eggs off the kitchen ceiling and batter off the floor, I decided it was time to make some rules of my own:
Rule No. 1: Until they learned to keep potholders and mugs off the burners, they could use the oven but not the stove.
Rule No. 2: No screaming or hitting of any kind.
L Rule No. 3: Anything spilled must be cleaned up immediately.
Rule No. 4: I could help the day before, as long as I stayed in bed while they were cooking.
Necessity being the mother of invention, each year I came up with simple recipes for them to prepare. The warm cherry puffed pancake is almost foolproof. Unlike similar oven pancakes, the baking dish does not need to be heated before the batter is added, thereby eliminating a potential hazard. Canned cherry pie filling makes this so easy that a grown-up or experienced child can assemble the entire dish in less than 10 minutes.
The peanut butter and jelly muffins begin with buttermilk baking mix and are so delicious the children look forward to making and devouring them every Mother's Day.
To round out the meal, I make sausage patties ahead and freeze or refrigerate them. The children can then reheat them in the microwave or oven. It takes very little effort to prepare sausage in a food processor, and by making your own you minimize fat and eliminate additives and preservatives.
Granola parfaits are the perfect complement to any morning meal and the children can't burn them. You can cut up the fruit ahead of time for them to assemble.
After several years of negotiating and planning, I finally have managed to get breakfast in bed with my sanity intact. But when the children come begging for an advance on their allowance because they spent all their money on my New Kids on the Block CD (I prefer Beethoven), I know this is not what Woodrow Wilson had in mind.
Warm cherry puffed pancakes
Makes 8 servings.
1 cup regular or low fat milk
1/2 cup buttermilk biscuit mix
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 can (21 ounces) cherry of light cherry pie filling
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Blend milk, eggs, biscuit mix, sugar, butter and extract in blender for 15 seconds or mix on high speed of mixer for 1 minute.
Pour into greased 10-inch pie or quiche dish or an 11-by-7-inch baking dish. Spoon cherry filling over the top. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden brown.
Rosemary sausage patties
Makes 16 to 18 patties.
1 pound pork shoulder or loin, cut into small cubes
1 pound stew veal, cut into small cubes
2/3 cup cracker meal
2 teaspoons milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
1/4 cup parsley sprigs
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
In a food processor with the metal blade, process pork and veal until very finely chopped. Add cracker meal, egg, milk, seasonings and parsley; mix until well combined. Shape into 2 1/2 -inch patties. In a medium skillet, heat butter or margarine and oil over moderate heat. Fry the patties in batches without crowding until golden brown and all pink is gone, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. Drain on paper towels.
Note: The patties may be refrigerated up to 2 days or frozen. Bring to room temperature and reheat at 450 degrees for 5 minutes or until heated through.
Granola breakfast parfaits
Makes 4 servings.
2 cups assorted fresh fruit such as berries, oranges, melon, bananas, grapes
1/2 cup granola
1 to 1 1/2 cups vanilla or fruit-flavored yogurt
In 4 parfait glasses or wine goblets alternate layers of fruit, yogurt and granola. Garnish each with a slice of fruit or berry.
Serve immediately or refrigerate up to 4 hours.