cooking inspiration: my ma!

To give the blog here a little break from just recipes I thought I’d interview a couple o’ people who have influenced the way I cook, and my love of cooking. Since my Ma has been cooking for me since I was a wee tot, I thought who better to start with!

Mom & Me

Here are just a few fun facts about my Mombo:

1. I once came home from school to find my mom tearing up the entire front yard with a rototiller because she hated mowing the lawn…so she turned the whole thing into a garden – because that must be easier!


2. I grew up eating a well-balanced, home-cooked meal almost every day. There was always a meat, a starch and veggie – viva la midwest!

3. My mom made me drink a giant glass of milk with every dinner (like, even tacos!) until I was probably 10. I have hated milk ever since, but my bones are probably rock-solid.

4. I got my love of entertaining from her. Every party had a theme with a matching menu, decor, soundtrack and required attire. You’ll see this tradition is alive and well below.

5. My mom claims she was the first to bring a taco recipe from California to our small town in Michigan and served them at a surprise party (the picture of her below is from the party) – I want to believe this legend because of my love of tacos. So lets go with it.

Taco Mom

Alright, let’s hand the mic over to my Ma…

How did you get the nickname, Mombo, from me?
You and Marissa dubbed me “Mombie” which morphed into “Mombo” which I love, it’s very fun, like the dance.

Why do you want to be French?
First of all, because I’d have a tres chic name like Anouk, Sabine or Chantal. You were almost named Brigitte but “Annie” really suits you!

I’d live in a quaint stone cottage with periwinkle shutters in Saint-Remy-de-Provence surrounded by chestnut, mimosa and lemon trees.The garden would sprout herbs, garlic, radishes and lavender, heliotrope, sunflowers and lots of daisies. Bees would love it as would the faeries who would sport berets and espadrilles. Bistro chairs, an old stone table and an aqua striped umbrella would be in the center.

Photos provided by Mom:
French House


Johnny Depp would be my boyfriend. He would love my gypsy skirts, my “Pirate” red Chanel lipstick and my Diorissimo perfume.


We would listen to Eric Satie and sip beaujolais. We would cook together in the aromatic kitchen where there’d be lots of copper pots and a big stone fireplace.

Copper Pots

We would only eat good things: macarons, croissants, crepes, quiche, camembert and lots of chocolat as FRENCH WOMEN DON’T GET FAT (Mireille Guiliano, 2005).

Of course, I’d have cats: Capucine, Josette and Anais and a French bulldog named Pascal and a truffle-hunting pig called Auguste.

Mom Cat

ps: Your Mombo is quite the dreamer….

What is a must have that is always in your fridge or cupboard?
Butter in the fridge, Earl Grey in the cupboard.

What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
Any meal shared with my family. The cajun spread at your wedding kicked butt as did your spaghetti and meatballs at Christmas.

What is your favorite recipe to make?
My lasagne recipe I clipped from Vogue magazine circa 1971.

If you could have lunch with any famous chef, alive or dead, who would it be and why?
Tony Bourdain because he’s hungry for more with NoOoOoOo Reservations! He tried raw oysters when he was seven for God’s sake. Very interesting man and oh yeah, I have a crush on him.

**Can we talk about how my mom calls him “Tony?” Lol!

How did a wine-lover like you raise a beer-drinker like me?
You get that from your Dad!

If you had to describe your cooking in one word, what would it be?

Was I a picky eater when I was a kid? Any favorite recipes I liked that you can remember?
You were never a picky eater. You won an award at your 8th grade graduation from your cooking teacher for being willing to eat anything. Oh, Annie, Anthony Bourdain is your real father……

I think you liked most of my FINE cuisine: Fiesta! Tacos! Nachos! And the occasional cornish game hen with lots of herbs.

Describe your perfect day off.
If not in p.j.s or in the garden, I love to have adventures with my lovely girlfriends.Our picnics with a theme have been fun. The first was at a lavender farm. I made shortbread butterfly shaped cookies that had lavender in them and little lavender stems for their antennae.

Lavendar Farm

Last year was at a winery and this year herbs are the theme at a local botanical garden. I also enjoy a little trek to another pretty beach town to discover new restaurants and shops.

What is your next tattoo going to be of?
A daisy on my ring finger but you said, “OwWwWw” so will re-think that one. Daisies remind me of your great-Grandma Edith whose name you have tattooed on your wrist. I remember I cried when you showed it to me, it touched me so much.

True or False: You HATE baking?
False. I made a baked alaska at age twelve, oh yes I DID! I’ve been thinking of baking a lamb-shaped cake for Easter. I don’t bake, hardly at all, but I do like to for special occasions, like the lavender butterflies. I enjoy the decorating part much more that all the sifting and mixing stuff. Probably because I’m artsy-fartsy.

Do you have a favorite recipe of mine?
All of your recipes are Absolutely Fabulous, SweetieSweetie!! Your Mombo is so very proud of you!

7 replies »

  1. What a funny, sweet, warm, wonderful and enlightening interview! Learned so much about Karen…thanks girls!

  2. Annie, this post is a treasure! What a great tribute to your “Mombie”! I drank a lot of milk with meals as a child also. Even now, I still want milk with certain meals. 🙂

Leave a Reply