In our lives, when an era passes, we are not usually cognizant of its immediate occurance. We usually reflect and are then able to qualify the beginnings and endings of these eras. Most of the time. I think.
I mean, I recall leaving for college which, in hindsight, was a clear end-of-one-era-beginning-of-another time. But all I can remember thinking is ‘get me the hell outa here.’ I’m sure for my parents it was a different feeling entirely. I imagine for them it was very bittersweet - very sad, very relieved (“We kept her alive this long, and now it’s up to her!”) and very, very aware that nothing would ever be the same again. I can’t really think of any moment in my past where I was that present and aware of that moment happening at the moment. Not even when I have fallen in love or gone through a break up. Even then I’m just feeling what’s happening at that time. I don’t think I ever recognized it as a beginning or an end of a part of my life.
And then yesterday happened. My mom moved away. And as the weeks, days, hours and minutes approached that led up to the goodbye hug, curbside at LAX, I was enormously aware, painfully cognizant that something very big was happening - something bittersweet. The end of an era. And as Fred drove me home from the airport, I cried. But when he asked me what I was feeling I realized it was not so simple to answer. I was sad, yes. But I was also happy, relieved, comforted and confident that it was the very best thing. I maybe kind of even felt a little bit like she did when we hugged goodbye before I drove away to college. Maybe?
While my mom and I have always been close, and no one could ever deny that the woman is an incredible mom, an amazing nurturer, the queen of positive reinforcement and encouragement, we have definitely had our struggles with each other.
I think it all started when I was about thirteen. I was going through puberty right about the time she started to go through menopause. Talk about a hormone extravaganza. And two women at opposite ends of the hormone extravaganza spectrum. Double yikes. And you know, mom wanted to, like, mother me so much, and Dad, Dad was always so chill. I could get away with anything at Dad’s house. You get the idea...
Mom and I have always talked on the phone a ton, visited each other regularly and all the normal stuff. But we have always bickered. When she moved out here I realized that we had not spent so much physical time around one another since I moved away to college. When I was eighteen.
And so, for the first three of the four years she lived here, in The City of Angels, we treated each other like anything but angels. Everyone from my friends to my Dad had to either listen to us bicker or listen to one of us talk about it. We made each other, and everyone around us, crazy, mad, sad, and exasperated. And tired. Ourselves included.
And then, about a year ago, the tide changed. I don’t know what happened, I really don’t. But we have been closer than I can ever recall. We talk (too) many times a day, run errands together, cook together, cry together, share our laughter and fears, all of it. And then she left. And I wanted her to. She needed to. And though I’m sad and all the other stuff I already said, I am so happy to know that in the time she was living out here we fixed it. We fixed us. And now we have a truly enviable mother-daughter relationship. And I already miss her so much. And I’m so glad I do.
The week before she left, she practically lived with me and Fred. And during that time we cooked a lot of food. As I’ve mentioned many times, we have very different kitchen super powers. For instance, she can bake. So this last week we made a lot of things that I normally shy away from: banana/rum/pecan bread, a honey-lemon tart with salted shortbread crust, granola, and bagels. She has been making her own bagels since forever and they are really good - crisp and lightly brown on the outside and dense and chewy on the inside. They are extraordinary when eaten within a couple of hours of coming out of the oven. By the next day they are mostly only good as anvils or anchors for large ships.
So she showed me how to make them. The funny thing is, she made the bagels while I merely kneaded the dough for about thirty-eight seconds. And even though she made them, she told everyone how proud of me she was because I did such a good job on my very first bagels. That is so Mom.
And here is how to make her bagels.
Yield 8 medium-sized bagels
2 teaspoons of active dry yeast
1 heaping tablespoon of brown sugar
1 cups of very warm water (you may need ± ¼ cup more)
3 ½ cups of bread flour or high gluten flour (will need extra for kneading)
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
1 egg white
Coarse salt, minced fresh garlic, minced fresh onion, poppy seeds, or sesame seeds.
In 1 cup of the warm water, stir in the sugar and yeast. Let it sit for five minutes, until frothy.
Add flour and salt.
On a floured countertop, knead the dough for about 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic.
Roll the dough into a tubular shape and cover with damp dish towel. Let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
Carefully divide the dough into 8 pieces. Shape each piece into a round. Now, take a dough ball, and press it gently against the countertop (or whatever work surface you’re using) moving your hand and the ball in a circular motion pulling the dough into itself while reducing the pressure on top of the dough slightly until a perfect dough ball forms. Repeat with 7 other dough rounds.
Coat a finger in flour, and gently press your finger into the center of each dough ball to form a ring. Stretch the ring to about ⅓ the diameter of the bagel and place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet. Repeat the same step with the remaining dough.
After shaping the dough rounds and placing them on the cookie sheet, cover with a damp kitchen towel and allow to rest for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375f.
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Reduce the heat. Use a slotted spoon or skimmer to lower the bagels into the water, 2-3 at a time.. Keep them in for 20 seconds on each side.
If you want to top your bagels with stuff, do so as you take them out of the water, you may use the “optional toppings” (listed above) to top the bagels, but before hand, you will need to use an egg wash to get the toppings to stick before putting the bagels into the oven.
Once all the bagels have boiled, give them a light egg wash (and have been topped with your choice of toppings), transfer them to a lightly oiled baking sheet that has been dusted with cornmeal.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown.
Cool on a wire rack.
One year ago: Cheebo
Two years ago: Cremini Mushroom & Meyer Lemon Risotto
Three years ago: Chicken Pot Pie
Five years ago: Oyster Stew