This coming Sunday is Mother’s Day – that time of year when we celebrate special women in our lives.  Not all of them are a biological parent.  I could name several ladies that served as mother-figures to me during various seasons of my existence.  I owe each one a huge amount of gratitude. 

I have been thinking a lot about my mom lately.  My lawn has been purple with violets; while many consider them weeds, to me they are a reminder of the woman who gave me birth.  She loved them!  I’ll never forget one of the times we went to Tennessee to visit her.  Almost as soon as we arrived, Mom (who lived in a rural area) insisted that I come with her, as she had something she wanted to share with me.  As I followed along, I inquired, “Where are we going?”  “To eat violets,” she declared.

If anyone else had told me they were going to eat flowers I might have thought they were kidding.  But I knew my mother well enough to realize that she planned to do just that.  Sure enough, when we reached a big patch of violets, she began picking them and soon she was munching away.  “Violets are good for you,” she informed me, even revealing the source of her information.  I knew already that violets are edible; however, I still had no desire to put one in my mouth.  Feeling generous, I told her that she could have my share.   Not long after, Mom lost her taste for eating violets, but she still loved to see the little purple flowers appear each spring.

There is something in me that drives me to do what I am supposed to do.  I have had many moments of rebellion, yet for the most part, I don’t like the way I feel when I behave badly.  My parents usually trusted me to do what was right, and I didn’t give them a whole lot of trouble.   I remember one specific incident when a friend had asked me to go along on a particular activity.  I didn’t want to go, but I said I would ask my mother, trusting that she would say, “No.”  To my chagrin, she said it was okay for me to participate in the outing.  (I can’t recall what it was that I had no desire to do.)

I was glad to arrive back home after enduring the dreaded event.  When Mom questioned how things went, I told her that it was hard for me to believe that she said, “Yes” for me to go, as I really didn’t want to attend.  That’s when Mom came up with the idea that worked during the rest of my high school years.  When I asked if I could do something, and Mom didn’t care one way or the other, she would reply, “Yes if you want to, and no if you don’t.”  That way, if I didn’t want to be involved, I could truthfully say, “My mother said ‘No.’”

One Mother’s Day custom from my childhood was the flower corsages people wore.  If your mother was living, you wore a red or pink one.  If she were deceased, the flowers in your corsage would be white, or perhaps yellow.  Dad would make our floral ornaments the night before we were to wear them, using roses from the bushes in our yard.  He even made a boutonniere for himself.  Everyone’s but Mom’s was red, and I loved mine since red has always been my favorite color.

Nowadays, I would have to wear a white corsage (made of artificial flowers due to allergies).  I miss my mother and her quirky personality.  I miss her prayers for me.  I miss the love she had for her eldest daughter, the one she said was too smart for her to know how to deal with.  Funny, but that “too smart” daughter relied heavily on her mother’s wisdom until it was no longer available.

Now for the recipes.  I put together a menu for a light lunch or perhaps an afternoon tea.  None of the dishes are difficult, and I enjoyed my evening meal after a busy day in my kitchen preparing them.  I will say that the punch is not overly sweet, but quite refreshing, and

the chicken spread is excellent on croissants!  I dipped fresh veggies in the vegetable spread, in addition to spreading some on crackers.  If you don’t care for lemon, try using orange or lime instead as a topping on the bread.  Lemon is a favorite with me, so I was very pleased with the results.

Raspberry Sparkle Punch

1 (10-ounce) package frozen raspberries, thawed

1 (6-ounce) can frozen lemonade concentrate, thawed and undiluted

2 cups water

1 (32-ounce) bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

Process raspberries in food processor or container of electric blender; strain, discarding seeds.

Combine raspberry pulp, lemonade concentrate, and water; chill.

To serve, combine raspberry mixture and lemon-lime beverage; stir well.  Serve over ice.  Yield: about 7 cups.

Tasty Chicken Spread

2 cups minced cooked chicken breast

1/4 cup minced dill pickle

3 hard-cooked eggs, finely chopped

1/2 cup minced celery

1/2 cup minced apple

1 (4-ounce) jar diced pimientos, drained

3/4 cup mayonnaise or salad dressing

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Combine all ingredients; cover and chill at least 1 hour.  Use as sandwich filling or to stuff celery.  Yield: 3-1/2 cups.

Vegetable Party Spread

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

2/3 cup finely grated carrots

1/4 cup minced onion (or 1 teaspoon onion powder)

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper

1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber (optional)

2 teaspoons lemon juice

2 teaspoons mayonnaise

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

Beat cream cheese with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.  Stir in remaining ingredients.  Serve on party rye bread, with crackers, or as a dip with vegetables.

Lemon-Cream Tea Loaf

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1/2 cup butter, softened

1-1/4 cups sugar

2 eggs

2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup milk

2/3 cup chopped pecans

1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

2 to 3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/3 cup sifted powdered sugar

Combine cream cheese and butter, creaming well. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating mixture well after each addition.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.  Mix well after each addition.  Stir in pecans.

Pout batter into 2 greased and floured 8-12-by-4-1/2-by-3-inch loaf pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.  Combine lemon rind, lemon juice, and powdered sugar, mixing until smooth;  pour over hot loaves.  Cool in pans 10 minutes; remove to wire rack; cool completely.  Yield: 2 loaves.