Mothers’ Day is the day to celebrate and honor our own moms, as well as the profound influence mothers have had on society. The stationary stores and gift shops are overflowing with cards bursting with loving sentiments. “You’re the Best Mom Ever”, “You’ve always listened, loved, and let me lean on you”, or “I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without you.”
Nope, nope, I don’t think so. What happens to those of us who have/had challenging relationships with our mothers? When you don’t get on with your mother, it is often accompanied with a little cloud of guilt and all the Mothers’ Day hoopla can rub salt in that maternal wound.
How do we shake off the guilt and the dark clouds? This year my sister and I chose to focus on good memories of our mother. When I was a little girl, my mother would make a lemon jelly roll. I was fascinated by the process. You bake a large, shallow flat cake, fill it with lemon curd, roll it up and voilà, you have an exotic, delectable dessert. We would bake a jelly roll in her honor!
There exist different adaptations of this dessert with various names and in a different era (not mine!), the fine art of preparing a jelly roll was often taught in Home Economics class. You bake a cake in a long shallow sheet pan, turn it out onto a towel dusted with confectioner’s sugar, and while it is still warm you start from a short side and roll the cake and the towel into a log shape. After it is cooled, unroll your cake keeping it on the towel and spread your filling over the cake. Roll the filled cake tightly and keep your fingers crossed it doesn’t crack.
My sister can’t eat sugar, so instead of using our mom’s 60-year-old recipe (which as NOT very detailed), I scoured the internet for a sugarless version of this whimsical and fun dessert. We started with making the lemon curd. I love it when something does exactly what the recipe says it should. We masterfully whisked the egg yolks until they were a lemony, smooth consistency. This was combined with the melted butter and other ingredients for a very tasty, successful concoction which included lots of fresh lemon juice. Time to move on to the cake part.
Ah, the cake. All was going well until we went to pour it into the pan for baking. There was no way it was right! I am well aware that many recipes you find on the internet or in magazines have errors in them – ingredients omitted or portions incorrect. I’m choosing to believe I chose a bum recipe and not that we were lacking in talent. But that said, I was very disappointed when our efforts were dropped into the trash.
But, if we are anything, we are indeed our mothers’ daughters. She had plenty of backbone and was not easily defeated. So, we searched for another recipe and tried again. Success! It did crack slightly during the rolling process. Also, I tried a short cut I read in one recipe and used paper towels instead of a cloth towel for the process. I would not do that again.
One of the best things about getting older for me has been gaining perspective. I have come to believe that many of the differences between my mother and me weren’t about me but were her own personal struggles that as a child I could not understand.
I have also come to believe that it is true that I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without my mother and her example of perseverance. And without her I wouldn’t be feasting on lemon jelly roll tonight!
Happy Mother’s Day!
C’est la vie.