Happy Mother’s Day to all, especially to you mothers out there. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone else who had a mother to give birth to them and are no longer on speaking terms, and I mean no offense to any of you who were spawned through parthenogenesis.
I know this is stretching the boundaries of “Celebrity” and “Matinee” but I often think of First Ladies around Mother’s Day. I also often think that “First Lady” is kind of an odd title for a woman in the 21st century, but, whatever.
George Washington was famously called The Father of Our Country, but Martha was never considered its Mother. In the modern era (these are based on my political proclivities) I thought of Rosalynn Carter as a sweet, Southern, Christian, motherly/grandmotherly type (even though her youngest child, Amy, was only 10 when she and her cat Misty Malarky Ying Yang moved into the White House.)
Nancy Reagan I thought of as more of an evil step-mother to the nation, and her fervid belief in astrology only reinforced my sense that there was something of the uncanny about her.
Barbara Bush was like one of my real-life grandmothers, snobbish, high standards, uber-WASP, good background, but the whole facade could be punctured with a well-planned retort. To Barb I would have said, “Oh, I’m sure Houston is lovely, you’re so very right, but I’ve never been to Houston, and I don’t know anyone who has.” This would have gotten under Barbara Pierce’s skin, Manhattan-born, Rye (NY)-bred, distant relative of President Franklin Pierce and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
Hillary Clinton—I know she has a daughter but I place her as a not particularly maternal tough-but-fair boss from which much might be learned. For better or worse.
Laura Bush (I’m getting older now) is the wild-child librarian older sister; it takes a lot to beat a vehicular manslaughter charge but she did it without even needing to adjust her sorority pin.
Michelle Obama is the cool Mom and I petitioned the White House more than once to be adopted by her (she is slightly younger than I am) but my pleas fell on deaf ears.
Melania Trump=Cruella deVille but she seems to love Barron and hold the rest of the Trump clown-car offspring in complete contempt, so her instincts are correct there.
As for Dr. Jill, I don’t know, I guess if I were a mother I would know her as a fellow mother from the upscale Delaware suburb we live in, maybe bumping into her at the local Whole Foods and biting my tongue about how expensive food has gotten lately.
Um, Cousin Matthew, it’s getting late and—
Rosalynn Carter’s Cheese Ring
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
6 turns freshly ground black pepper
dash of cayenne pepper
12 ounce jar strawberry preserves
Combine cheese with mayonnaise, chopped nuts and onion. Mix in black pepper and cayenne, and blend thoroughly.
Press into 3-cup ring mold. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
To serve, dip mold into a pan of hot water for 15-20 seconds before turning out on to a serving platter.
Fill center with strawberry preserves and serve at once with Ritz crackers.
I would totally make this, especially on a chilly afternoon or evening, and say a little blessing over it. While incanting, I would ask my higher power to provide me with a 3-cup ring mold because this is the second recipe I’ve passed along that uses one and I only have my Bundt pans.
Jill Biden’s Chicken Parmesan
When Dr. Jill is not busy promoting President Biden’s policies and educating the youth of America (and a fat lot of good that’s gonna do/kids these days/get off my lawn) she apparently likes to whip up chicken parmesan. At least that’s what she told “Parade” Magazine. This may or may not be a family tradition. Her maiden name is Jacobs, but that’s an Anglicized form of Giacoppo, the name her Sicilian-born grandfather showed up with but changed upon arrival.
This recipe serves 12, and unlike most recipes, yes, I think it really would, accompanied by lots of spaghetti. I made something last week (it didn’t turn out great so I won’t pass along the deets) and one of its great flaws was that it said it served six. It barely served two, and we weren’t exactly clamoring for second helpings. A lot of recipes are like this nowadays I find. I think they’re produced by elves and meant for an elven repast.
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more as needed
1 onion, finely chopped
6 cloves garlic (whole)
6 (14-oz) cans cherry tomatoes, divided
1 bunch fresh basil, roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper, to taste
3 large eggs
¼ cup milk
3 cups seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
1½ cups grated Parmesan cheese, divided
4 cups grated mozzarella cheese, divided
5 lb skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, pounded or cut ¼-inch thick
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In a large pot over medium, heat 2 Tbsp oil. Add onion and garlic; cook 5 minutes. Add 2 cans tomatoes. Strain remaining 4 cans; add to pot, using a wooden spoon to break up some of tomatoes. Simmer 20 minutes. Turn off heat, discard garlic and stir in basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a shallow bowl, whisk eggs and milk. In a large, shallow dish, combine breadcrumbs with ½ cup each Parmesan and mozzarella. Coat chicken in egg mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat.
In a large nonstick skillet over medium, heat 2 Tbsp oil over medium heat. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding pan, cook chicken 2½ minutes per side or until golden. Transfer to a paper-towel-lined sheet pan. (Wipe out skillet and add more oil as needed.)
In a 13½-by-10-inch (4-quart) baking dish, layer sauce, chicken and remaining 3½ cups mozzarella, finishing with a layer of sauce. Top evenly with remaining 1 cup Parmesan. Bake 20–25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted.
Now, doesn’t that sound delicious? First Lady Dr. Mrs. Jill Biden, if you ever need to fill a seat during a casual weekend in Delaware (Faux News tells me you both practically live there while doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to GET AMERICA ON THE RIGHT TRACK) I’m available, but you’ll have to pick me up at the Wilmington train station.