Juicy is my mom’s nickname for me. She was and still is always found in the kitchen. So were the dog leashes, hairy and knotted up, that hung over the wooden kitchen stools. She would stop anything to greet me and my brothers when we would wake up late after a night home from college. She’d first ask, “How did you sleep last night? And then, “Are you hungry?”

The kitchen usually smelled of onions, garlic and vegetables at 9am because my mom cooked my Dad’s lunch every day of his life starting at 7am. She did this so he didn’t have to leave the hospital to eat.  She would offer to make me eggs, or pancakes and stop her onion sautéing if I said, “sure, but I’m not that hungry yet.” Food and sleep were my Mom’s remedies for nearly anything. I love that.

My Mom’s home identity was formed in the kitchen, cooking. I’m proud of her, not because she had what some might think of as a 1950’s woman’s identity, but because she truly enjoyed it. She recently told me that her Mom and aunts were excellent cooks, plus, she said that Montreal, where they grew up, was a foody city.

I’ve started to cook more this month. Partly because I really enjoy it as well and partly because it’s so much healthier. I feel joy at completing a recipe that I’ve found in a cookbook or online. The more cooking steps it requires, the more satisfaction I get. I can be too ambitious with meals. Like the breakfast I made for Larry’s birthday last summer. I made a frittata from Cooks Illustrated (no less than 1800 steps and 140 ingredients), a chia seed side from Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook, a banana’s foster style oatmeal from NYT cooking and an arugula parmesan salad. I was sweating when our friends arrived and pretending to greet while my mind was on the frittata and whether it was properly cooking under tin foil.

I hope to create memories like my Mom did for me. I will forever feel bonded to my Mom in the kitchen. In my mind, she is figuratively hugging me with flavors and warm meals and literally tickling my stomach any chance she could get saying “I love my Juicy. I’m gonna squeeze her for Juice; that Juicy girl.”