The yellowed index cards my mother wrote her favorite recipes on are my most cherished possessions. The ones with more spots and faded words--they were her favorites. They don’t have any value to anyone else. The recipes themselves aren’t anything extraordinary or inventive. They’re simple recipes for sloppy joes, brownies, sugar cookies, calico beans, and spaghetti she tweaked to make them her own. Her recipes are the story of my childhood. My mom. My memories. 

Like me, she loved to collect recipes and had loads of them stacked in her cupboards, on her nightstand, and the little table next to her favorite lounge chair. She understood certain recipes hold the power of love and memories. She liked looking for new inspiration or a new recipe that she could bake or cook to “love” on her family and friends. 

She’d call me, full of energy and life, “Leeska (my nickname), I found this new recipe. It was so amazing, you have to try it!” Food and recipes were one of the many ways we connected deeply. Gosh, I’m going to miss her.

Mothers hold the key to how we become ourselves and who we are. They know time before us and our beginning. When they’re gone, those pieces are lost forever, and we’re left with a puzzle missing pieces. 

Many of you reading this think you didn’t know my mom, but you do. Many of the recipes I’ve shared here were hers or a variation of them. There are stories, traditions, and lots of love behind each and every one. They may look like words on paper, but they are so much more if you look deeper. 

This was the last recipe my mom wrote down from somewhere or someone—I’ll never know. She knew how to spot a good one. 

I Love you to the moon and back, Momma!

Mom’s Parmesan Chicken

Serves 6

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 cup dry breadcrumbs

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp. dry basil

¼ tsp. black pepper

6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Preheat oven to 350º. Lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan and set aside.

In a large bowl, blend the oil and garlic. In another bowl, mix breadcrumbs, Parmesan, basil, and black pepper. Cut each chicken breast in half. Dip each chicken piece in the oil-garlic mixture and then the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange chicken in the baking pan and top with remaining breadcrumb mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until chicken is fully cooked. Serve immediately with a Caesar salad. 

Lisa Erickson is a food columnist who loves adventure and food. You can find more recipes at www.wild-chow.com or email her at wildchowrecipes@gmail.com

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