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The Perfect Mother’s Day? That’s rather subjective, no?

Is there such a thing as a perfect Mother’s Day? If I heard correctly, Sheryl Strayed told NPR’s Brian Lehrer that she wanted her Mother’s Day to include a few hours alone to read the New Yorker in peace; a listener called in and joked that she didn’t want to have to change one diaper all day. The four older ladies we saw golfing on the Hotchkiss course seemed pretty happy with their decision on how to spend it. Then again, so did all the moms being treated to brunch at our local coffee shop that morning. Our neighbor Emily, snuggling with her four-year-old twins and husband while sipping coffee on her porch had no definitive plans for the day and was just fine with that. Our daughter’s former boss, meanwhile, thought she, too, had no plans until she awoke to find a scavenger hunt had been arranged by her 18-year-old daughter, who hid 18 gifts around the house and yard–one for every year she was her mom. Game over.

We did not play 18 holes, but we hiked four miles through our favorite land reserve. We didn’t go to brunch, but we’re not big brunch fans, anyway. Instead, we planted lettuces and herbs that’ll enhance our dinner parties all Summer long, and two forsythia bushes because I’m tired of sneaking over to our neighbors’ (not Emily’s) yard and stealing clippings from theirs.IMG_0124IMG_0143

There was a yummy dinner, but for another mom–Bertrand’s.  We cooked our favorite meatball recipe that my friend Alix turned me on to (see below) and whipped up our own special mashed potatoes with carmelized onions (see belower). Then, much to Remy’s chagrin, we left the country early and drove the feast down  to his mother’s apartment for her mother’s day present. She was thrilled, and that made us quite pleased with our plan.

Being a stepmom, the idea of being feted on Mother’s Day feels a bit disingenuous. Don’t get me wrong; these two kids that I got in the marriage are the most incredible additions to my life, but having never changed their diapers or cradled them when they were sick makes me feel less deserving of having MY DAY and more blessed to have the word “mother” attached to me.

That being said, there was a gift, and it was perfect. My husband, my kids. They so know their Mom.IMG_0153

Marcus Samuelson’s Swedish Meatballs from Restaurant Aquavit

    • For the meatballs
    • 1/2 cup of fine dry bread crumbs
    • 1/4 cup of heavy cream
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
    • 1/2 pound ground chuck or sirloin
    • 1/2 pound ground veal
    • 1/2 pound ground pork
    • 2 tablespoons of honey
    • 1 large egg
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
    • For the sauce
    • 1 cup Chicken Stock
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 1/4 cup lingonberry preserves
    • 2 tablespoons juice from Quick Pickled Cucumbers
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Combine the bread crumbs and heavy cream in a small bowl, stirring with a fork until all crumbs are moistened. Set aside.
  2. Heat the oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté for about 5 minutes, until softened. Remove from the heat.
  3. In a large bowl, combine the ground beef, veal, pork,  honey, egg and half the red onions (setting the other half aside), and mix well with your hands. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the bread crumb cream mixture and mix well. With wet hands (to keep the mixture from sticking), shape the mixture into meatballs the size of a golf ball, placing them on a plate lightly moistened with water. You should have about 24 meatballs.
  4. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs, in batches if necessary, and cook, turning frequently for about 7 minutes, until browned on all sides and cooked through. Transfer the meatballs to a plate, and discard all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the skillet.
  5. Prepare the sauce: Return the skillet to the heat, whisk in the stock, cream, preserves, and pickle juice, and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add the meatballs to the sauce, reduce heat to medium, and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the sauce thickens slightly and the meatballs are heated through. Serve hot with mashed potatoes, preserves and pickled cucumbers.

Jane and Bertrand’s Mashed Potatoes with Carmelized Onions

  • -2 lbs Yukon, red, purple potatoes (we like to use a mixture of all three)
  • -1/4 cup heavy cream
  • -4 T butter
  • -3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme, de-stemmed
  • Bring large pot of water to boil. Add the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes, or until you can easily slip a fork through them. Remove from the water and place in a large sturdy bowl. Mash to desired effect.

In a saucepan, whisk heavy cream and butter over heat until melted. Stir in thyme.

Pour mixture over potatoes, then add remaining cooked onions. Mix thoroughly. Salt and pepper to taste.

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Jane was executive beauty director at W Magazine for 16 years. When she is not writing beauty articles, she's likely either hiking with her husband and dog, Remy, or in her kitchen, frauding (new verb) her way around a fancy recipe, a home decoration or a highbrow dinner party conversation of which she knows nothing about. In other words, she nods a lot and googles a lot later.