Forget the flowers. Can the candy. Pitch the perfume. Dads, if you want to make it a Mother's Day she'll remember, get into the kitchen and whip up the meal of her dreams.
It's a tradition for the Trimmers of Timonium, who understand that the way to a mom's heart is through her stomach. For eight years now, brothers-in-law Mark Trimmer, Todd Guntner and David Wells have prepared a home-cooked Mother's Day dinner fit for their family's queens. Their entrees includes marinated pork tenderloin served with a cold mustard sauce, London broil and shrimp scampi. Preferred accompaniments include charred green beans, oven-roasted potatoes and homemade biscuits. Dessert is almost always a seasonal favorite -- strawberry shortcake.
"It's a full-service Mother's Day," says Wells, a vice president with Legg Mason Real Estate Services. "We do it all, the meal, the cleanup and the kids."
For the moms in the family, that means no jumping up midmeal to cut Jeffrey's meat, refill Lauren's or Matthew's juice, or butter little Shelby's bread. Family matriarch Lauretta Trimmer, her daughters Linda Guntner and Nancy Wells and her daughter-in-law Sandy Trimmer sit back and let the men provide service with a smile. They recognize that's the real gift on Mother's Day.
All that's asked of the women is a menu and recipes, selected about a month before the holiday. It's understood they'll keep their choices simple.
"They know our potential, so they're not too elaborate," says Guntner, a protection coating specialist with C. Ditsler Co. Inc. "They pick it, we fetch it."
No grandstanding here. Like a disciplined team, each man knows his strength and sticks to it. Wells -- the squad's rookie, who claims he can't cook -- takes dessert by default. That Bisquick shortcake recipe is right on the box and is hard to botch. Guntner -- known to experiment with the occasional weekend omelet -- has the versatility for vegetables. Trimmer, inspired by TV cooks like Cajun chef Justin Wilson, is the only one of the three who actually calls himself a cook. Labeled a gourmet by the family, he has a way with venison and fish, and he's their unanimous choice for most valuable player.
"I consider myself the conductor; I pull it all together," says a modest Trimmer, whose day job is vice president of Atlantic Pest Control.
Not once have these guys resorted to takeout or botched a meal, say the women. A rueful Chef Trimmer cites a stuffed and rolled flank steak that cooked up a bit tough and dry a few years back.
"Yes, but that was different. That was real gourmet," says his wife, Sandy, in a quick defense of her husband.
Any husband can pull this off, say chefs Trimmer, Guntner and Wells. Just get organized, plan everything in advance, keep the menu simple and communicate well with each other. ("Should I bring over a hot potato casserole, or should I warm it at your house just before serving?")
Stick with the same favorites every year if necessary, say these dads, but don't be surprised if after a few years' experience, you're ready for a big-league meal. The main dish at the Trimmers' this Mother's Day? Lobster thermidor.
Here are some recipes of their past successes:
Mark's shrimp scampi
Makes 4 servings
1 1/2 pounds raw medium shrimp, shelled, deveined, then butterflied
3/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons minced green onion
2 tablespoons olive oil
8-10 cloves garlic, minced
4 teaspoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
black pepper to taste
4 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 cups cooked white rice
lemon slices for garnish
Pat shrimp dry and set aside. Melt butter in large frying pan over medium heat. Add green onion, olive oil and garlic. Cook until fragrant, but not browned. Stir in lemon juice, salt and pepper. Cook until bubbly. Add shrimp to pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until shrimp turns pink (4 to 5 minutes). Stir in parsley. Serve over rice and garnish with lemon slices.
The next two recipes are from Mark's friend John Lang.
Pork tenderloin with mustard sauce
3-pound boned pork loin
1/2 cup low-salt soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry mustard
1 teaspoon powdered ginger
1 teaspoon dried thyme
Combine ingredients, and marinate pork overnight. Bake at 325 degrees, about 30 minutes per pound, until the internal temperature is 155-160 degrees (depending on how well-done you want it).
1/3 cup sour cream
1/3 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon finely chopped green onions
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Combine and chill ingredients. Serve on the side with pork.
The Trimmers' potato casserole
Serves 8 to 10
1 24-ounce package frozen potatoes O'Brien
1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of celery soup
1 10 3/4 -ounce can cream of potato soup
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup milk
enough Parmesan cheese to cover the casserole
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese