By Lyndsey Hafer-Williams
May 8, 2021,
I opened my eyes this morning and the first thought that popped into my head was that I wanted to eat this week’s blog recipe, Savory Bread Pudding, ASAP!
My next thought was:
“Where is she?”
I shuffled into the kitchen for a cup of coffee and wondered:
“Is she well?”
I looked out the window and asked:
“Does she ever think about me?”
It’s that time of year again. That weekend in May when many people celebrate mom.
This is a tough day for me. It’s one day every year when I am especially reminded that my mother didn’t want a gay daughter. This day has always been a blunt and hurtful reminder that who I am wasn’t acceptable to the woman who gave birth to me.
But hang on.
This is not a story of tragedy and heartache.
This is a story of love.
Fifteen years ago, my wife took me home to meet her mama.
To say that I was not exactly what she had in mind for her daughter would be a monumental understatement.
But, you know what?
This dyed-in-the-wool-church-going-Jesus-praising-southern-belle-of-a-mama loved her child so much that (after a while) she was able to put aside her misgivings, worries, and questions to kindly welcome me into her life.
My wife’s family was, and still is, a tight-knit, unemotional, pragmatic, and undeniably stable family unit full of quiet engineers, calm pharmacists, reasonable scientists, and mild-mannered educators.
Their family motto? “Shh, we’re all calm here…”
And then I showed up on their doorstep.
I was, and still am, unlike anything that her mama had ever seen. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of me.
I was full of noise, plans, dreams, words, opinions, and ideas. Bursting with emotions, laughter, and tears, I was always full of affection, doling out hugs and kisses like candy!
Looking back now, I’m surprised they didn’t all go running off and hide from the outrageous blonde inserting herself into their quiet lives.
What actually happened is a much better story.
This mama and I discovered that we had much in common and thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.
Through all of our differences, we grew to love each other unconditionally.
I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation, as this devout woman of faith tried to reconcile her beliefs and generational norms with acceptance of her daughter’s partner:
“I just can’t help myself. I just can’t help but love her!”
Throughout the years, we’ve laughed and cried our way through all of life’s bumps in the road. She’s taught me countless card games, given me tons of advice, and showered me with mama-bear-hugs. Today, whenever I walk into her house, she knows immediately if something has me worried or upset. She’ll open up her arms wide and say:
“Come tell mama all about it, shug…”
She taught me what a mother’s love looks like.
She is mine. And I am hers.
This woman loves me, prays for me, laughs with me, worries over me, cries with me, supports me, encourages me, acts the fool with me, forgives me, puts up with me, holds me, tells it to me straight, tries all my Dirty food, and treats me the same as she does the two daughters that she brought into this world.
She loves me and accepts me, warts and all.
And THIS is what it’s all about, right? Loving one another just as we are.
No matter the size, shape, ability, faith, gender, skin color, beliefs, sexual orientation, or origin.
Can you dream of a world where nothing but love for one another is OUR human motto?
How glorious that would be!
This Mother’s Day weekend, I’m going to do something different:
I’m going to go to my kitchen and delight in the heady aroma of warm-from-the-oven plant based Savory Bread Pudding.
I’ll remember the women who have gone before me.
I’ll lift up the women who are still here with me.
I’ll hold hope for the futures of my niece and my friend’s young daughters who are watching me.
I’ll acknowledge my grief for the woman who gave life to me.
I’ll give thanks for the mama that couldn’t help but love me.
Not all of us get to be loved by the women who gave birth to us. And maybe that’s okay. Maybe motherly love isn’t dependent on a biological connection. When I opened myself up to receiving love from my wife’s mom, that motherly love came rushing in.
Here’s to the beauty of a mother’s love, in all the ways it shows up in our life.
Now go make this plant based savory bread pudding below.
- 6 cups sprouted-grain or 100% whole wheat bread, cut into 1" cubes (270 g)
- ¼ cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 10 minutes (35 g)
- 1½ cups unsweetened, non-dairy milk (355 ml)
- 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 1 tablespoon arrowroot flour (AKA arrowroot starch)
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper (about 20 turns)
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- pinch cayenne powder
- 2 cups leeks, sliced (use bottom white portion) (175 g)
- 2 cups spinach, chopped (75 g)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 14-oz. can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (396 g)
- ½ cup frozen peas (75 g)
- 2 tablespoons basil, chopped
- 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line an 8"x8"x2" baking dish with parchment paper and set it aside.
- Place the bread cubes on an unlined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large mixing bowl, set aside for now.
- Drain the cashews and place them in your blender (discard the soaking water), along with the non-dairy milk, nutritional yeast, arrowroot flour, salt, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, and cayenne. Blend until perfectly smooth then set aside for now.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add the leeks and saute for 5 minutes, adding a splash of water if they stick. Stir in the spinach and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, until the spinach has wilted. Stir in the chopped artichoke hearts, peas, basil and dill, then remove the skillet from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.
- Transfer the vegetables to the mixing bowl with the bread cubes and toss together. Give the non-dairy milk mixture a quick blend, about 3 seconds, then pour it over everything in the bowl and toss to coat. Transfer the mixture to the parchment-lined baking dish and let it rest for 10 minutes.
- Place the dish, uncovered, into the oven and bake for 45 minutes.
- We suggest serving with a cheesy sauce (recipe below) and a side of fruit.
Wishing you a happy week. May it be filled with love.