The single hardest day of my life came on January 23, 2006, when my mother passed away from breast cancer. Even now, four years later, in addition to missing her like crazy, I’m confronted with her absence on a daily basis. What does it mean to not have your mother in your life? Who helps you plan a wedding? Who helps you problem-solve and raise your kids? Who do you call for a cooking question? All of those questions continue to stump me—except for the last one. Because when it comes to cooking, I have her cookbooks.
My mother, Renée, with the help of her beloved family and friends, created two cookbooks, both entitled, “Whip Me, Beat Me, Eat Me.” The origin of “Whip Me, Beat Me, Eat Me” started in my mother’s kitchen. Every Sunday night, she would cook dinner for 15 to 50 family and friends, who would all gather around our large dining room table, filling our home with love and laughter. I spent countless hours in the kitchen, helping her prepare these feasts, and in turn I learned how to cook. Today, I make all of her recipes and I’m always pleasantly shocked by the way the memories flood back while I’m cooking.
There’s no emotion that rivals the intensity of grieving a loved one. It is unfathomably depressing. After she was gone, I had to find a reason and purpose to live without my mother, my best friend. I’ve discovered that cooking is what helps me connect most powerfully with my mom, even though she is no longer with us. And it’s not just me—my mother’s recipes bring the family together, too. My sisters and I love to sit around the kitchen, eating our favorite foods and sharing our comforting memories. My mother would have loved that.
In honor of my mother, and everyone who has lost someone close to them, I am currently working on a cookbook of my own, and asking people to send in their favorite bittersweet memories, along with recipes, from their lost loved ones. All of the family recipes that have departed with our loved ones will now be remembered indefinitely.
Please go to www.bittersweet-memories.com to send in your favorite memories and recipes!
- Emily Hoffman