to make, eat and share food is love!

I love everything about food. I love talking about food, I love to cook food, I love to eat food and I love to share food! Because I have such great memories of my mama’s cooking growing up, I’ve written a new cookbook that will be coming out this spring.

Mother Daughter Dishes is a collection of recipes inspired by my mom’s downhome cooking. Many of the recipes in the book are actually family recipes my mom used to make that I have updated just a bit. Food evolves just like we do, and I wanted to create the same great flavor and feel of the meals, but with fresh veggies, herbs and spices instead of canned veggies and soup mixes.

My mama’s name is Peggy Sue. She’s is 5’2″, with a short blond coif, blue eyes and a belly laugh that lights up the room. She’s full of mischief and loves to stir up trouble if things get too boring quiet. In a word—she’s a total rascal. My mama is the reason why I never take myself too seriously. Her down-to-earth approach to the world has centered me as a person and given me the ability to see through all the transparent crap that is only set dressing in life. She’s my hero.

Because of her laidback persona, my mama often finds herself searching for words when she is explaining something and if she can’t find the right one at the right time, she’ll just make up a word. The word may be super close to the one she is looking for, but if it is close, she’ll say, “Aw, you know what I mean, that’s all that matters,” in her sweet, Missouri drawl. So temperature becomes ‘tempchaber’ and consistency slides into ‘consistacy.’ But you’ve gotta love it! It’s what makes her Peggy.

Mama’s cooking and recipes have the same flavor (no pun intended). They’re always ‘close’ to how she cooked it in the past, but if you ask her to repeat a specific recipe, you’ll find yourself puzzled and confused—or ‘confuzzeled,’ as my daughter would say. You’ll find her using phrases like ‘just add a pinch of this,’ or ‘cook it until it’s ready,’ or ‘just add a couple of glugs.’ These phrases make total sense to her, but to the struggling cook who would love nothing more than to recreate her childhood favorites, it is extremely frustrating! I’ve playfully accused her of trying to sabotage my version of the recipe, so that she, in turn, can maintain her reign as Queen of the Hill in the kitchen—an accusation she vehemently denies.

I cannot give you an accurate description of my mama without pointing out how she is totally set in her stubborn ways. Especially when it comes to cooking, she has strong opinions on how things should taste and what ingredients should be used and what shouldn’t. She’ll say in despair, ‘Why would I want to insult my pie with anything but real butter?’ I don’t disagree with her in the pie’s case, but there are some dishes where olive oil makes a beautiful substitution—but you’d think I’d just asked her to change political parties!

So now when you read recipes that credit my mama, you’ll know the inside scoop….they came from a spunky little Midwestern woman who lives to stir the pot—literally!

Live the moment,

Cheryl Najafi