So here is my confession: I don't really like cooking. I like looking at yummy recipes. I love eating delicious food. I WANT to like cooking; I just don't. Still, I think I make a valiant effort to feed my family nutritious, varied and (mostly) home-cooked meals. I do succumb to frozen, prepared foods at times, or boxed rice dishes or canned spaghettios. Looking at this picture though, one might think I had sunk to a new low. CANNED Chinese food? What really cracks me up about this stuff is that the label admits to being "inspired" by asian food. Even they can't say it's authentic! And I don't even want to THINK about the sodium content. But I have memories attached to La Choy Chow Mein. And I think sentimental food has its place, no matter how nutritionally void or how lacking in imagination it may be. Cracking open this can was like having a nice little sit down with my Gram. She's been gone for about 13 years now, but she used to warm a serving of this sticky gravy and crunchy, tasteless water chestnuts for me because I liked it. And, what I really loved was the crispy noodles underneath the warm, mushy veggie mix. The boys felt the same way. Chow mein noodles, gone. Chow mein chicken and veggies, not so much.
Some days I think a lot about my Gram and how much she meant to my growing up. I have so many good memories attached to her and what they all remind me of is how much she loved me and her willingness to share her time and interests with me. She taught me to love games, birds and baseball. She read to me and played with me and taught me simple embroidery. And whether she took the time to melt me a chunk of gooey cheese over the gas stove, or made me noodles with butter and salt because I didn't like sauce, or warmed me up a can of La Choy, she made me feel special. My parents and siblings and other family and friends have their own treasured memories that shaped my childhood and who I am today. I hope and pray my children, and their children to come, will be able to say the same about memories of me; that I took time for them, that I made an effort to be involved but not to control, that I helped them grow and that I made them feel special.