Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Back Again

Sorry for the long silence, everyone, but January has been quite a month....

Barb's Mum died on January 4th.

She had been diagnosed with esophogeal cancer just before Christmas of last year. We knew the end was coming and got the call just after our last posting. Her whole family was able to gather one last time, to say our final good byes, to do what we could to make her comfortable, to wait and watch and share our memories.

Mum was an amazing woman. She called herself a reverse war bride, having moved to England to marry my father. There, she learned to cook with the rationing. Ever try to bake a cake with no flour, no milk, no eggs? Mum could do it, though she was happy to get back to Canada and more traditional methods.

My father served in India after the war and came home with a life-long love of curry. Mum learned to cook that, too. She also did some amazing Italian meals, without benefit of an Italian heritage.

Despite having to get meals on the table for a large family (there were seven of us kids), she never seemed to find it a chore, instead getting really excited about a new recipe to try or a new food she'd never had before. I will always remember her pate de fois gras. It was a three day event. And, because goose liver was impossible to find in Windsor in the seventies, made with chicken liver and a couple of other substitutions. Her early training never left her.

The kitchen was her haven. It was where she could be assured of some time to herself, a bit of peace in a very busy household. So much so that I left the nest with something less than a full complement of culinary skills (this was long before Alan went to chef school).

Stymied one day by an overabundance of leftover rice, I asked her for her recipe for rice pudding. I share it with you in its entirety:


She was an amazing woman, my Mum, full of excitement and a sense of adventure that inspired and (because she had absolutely no sense of personal danger) occasionally horrified me.

She is sadly missed by many.

Helen (Dean) McMahon


Valerie said...


What an amazing letter, what an honour, your Mum would be very proud of you.

Thank you for sharing the memories and with this really wonderful picture, she was a beautiful lady inside and out with an awsome personality.

Much Love, from the 4 of us.

Shop Girl Barb & Chef Alan said...

Thank-you. She was certainly one of a kind and we miss her everyday.

Anonymous said...

So sorry for your loss. Sounds like she was a wonderful woman. You must miss her very much.

Thanks for the website BTW.