Tastes of Home Part II...

So Sunday was anything but lazy as my mom, a veteran cook and amateur innovator (she sticks to staples) prepared a veritable feast for our triple-graduation party. Nothing new. Mom loves to cook.

But the amateur innovator label quickly melted away as Mom proved she still had some tricks up here sleeve.

She provided the usual fare, meatballs, lasagna rolls, Caesar salad, and her signature crabcakes (a-ma-zing). But she rolled out some new dishes that, in 22 years, I had never seen her make. Now there’s a “wow!”

Borrowing from my favorite big-headed Italian, Giada from Food Network’s Everyday Italian, mother whipped up some sun dried tomato jam. The tomatoes, with onions, thyme, olive oil, and love, was cooed to a soft and, well, jam consistency and spooned onto slices of baguette. Dollops of tangy goat cheese topped the little appetizers. I think I ate 10. They are irresistible.

Paella? I didn’t know how Spanish cuisine worked its way into Southeastern Pennsylvania. I mean I think the men who cut the lawn…I mean, it was delicious! My mother has a way with shrimp that I cannot explain. The rice was fluffy and the seasoning was just enough to let the seafood shine through. And rare is the day that dark meat chicken enters her kitchen, but I think she let some slip through the cracks, thankfully.

And if Spain wasn’t enough, she whipped out some last minute Chinese guns with a surprising orange beef dish. Unlike the orange meats of Chinese restaurants, this one was not glazed in an indiscernible sauce (usually to hide the cat meat). Instead it was tender beef cooked with broccoli and whole orange peels. It was a confusing flavor, almost too refreshing for beef, but it worked. I think I had seconds.

It was a perfect way to end the weekend trip home. With a bag full of leftovers, I ventured back to New York, prepared to enjoy the fruits and meats of my mother’s labor all through the week.

(photo notes: I'm just learning how to take photos! Success?)