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Cooking for family feels like love

By Jan Penton Miller

My day just got infinitely better. Now, don’t get me wrong; it was already a pretty decent day. Actually, it was a pretty nice day. That south Mississippi sun was shining hot on my pool buddies and me as we chatted away with a little exercise in the mix. That’s always a good start to any day, buddies and sunshine.

After muddling through those mundane chores that we all somewhat mindlessly do, I got a text from my youngest reminding me that he was on his way home for a few days. I knew it was a possibility, but plans change so I hadn’t been too excited until I got the message of confirmation.

I love to cook for the ones I love so I called to get his arrival time and find out what he would like to eat. When I think about why I get so excited about cooking for my bunch I guess it’s because my Mamaw filled her little green farmhouse with deliciousness whenever her family was near. All her efforts felt like love to me so I carry on her tradition with joy.

My kids and grands know I will give whatever they want a go even if I am not too sure about my success. Their requests sometimes change depending on their particular thoughts on healthy eating at the time, but usually I can just about guess what they will ask for before they answer.

Since Ryan is single I always keep a bedroom for him. I guess it could also be because he is the youngest child.

Shall I say it? I think I will. He is my grown up baby boy, and his room is full of many things from his childhood and teenage years. When the other two left home and married, most of their things went with them, but somehow with his things in his room it is like holding on to a little piece of the past.

Ryan’s dad was so sentimental, much more than I am, actually. He loved all the kids so much and held them all close to his heart, and did I mention that Ryan was the baby? I know it’s healthy to move on with life, but when I go into the bedroom filled with Ryan’s skateboard, coin collection, and tons of his clothes that I keep just in case he may need them, I feel that I’m not only keeping happy memories of that time of motherhood, but also of their loving dad.

Talk about a cook, now that was Glen R. He loved talking to the cooks offshore and getting recipes from them. I, of course, helped to feed the family, but he was the one who loved it. I remember so many times he would find me reading a book and bring a new delight to tempt me with. And he always took such pleasure in finding something that the family really enjoyed, so I guess I am taking a page from his book, as well.