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      Mother knows best, but she doesn't have all the answers

      "Practice what you preach." What an annoying cliche; annoying, because it really is good advice that's terribly hard to follow.

      In that vein, I attempted to practice what I preach after I wrote my last column about Rita Jo's Cooking School. The gist of the article is that the cooks you'd like to emulate often do not follow recipes. When you try to pin them down on an ingredient amount, they say, "Oh, I don't know..."

      My mother died years ago and took her cooking secrets with her to the grave. In the years immediately following her death, my sisters would call with "Mom questions." Sometimes it was about a baby's rash, sometimes about making gravy; you know, mom questions. I felt totally unequipped to answer their queries. I think in each instance, I started the response with, "Oh, I don't know...I know..."

      On occasion, my daughters like to prepare for my untimely death by asking those kinds of mom questions. "Mom, in case you die, can you show me how you fold the towels like that?" This week, we had an instruction course on meatloaf.

      Now meatloaf is a curious thing. I would never make it for company, because there are so many variations of it, and people tend to like it their own way. For instance, I don't want any kind of vegetable in my meatloaf. I don't remember remember Mom's meatloaf. Maybe it wasn't memorable, but more likely it's because she didn't make it very often. That's given me free reign to come up with my own version that my husband and kids really dig.

      My daughter Grace titled an index card, Mom's Meatloaf and waited for instructions.

      "OK, you start with hamburger, like maybe a pound and a half, maybe two," I started.

      "So which is it?" she asked.

      "Oh, I dont know..."

      In the end, her recipe had phrases like, "2/3-ish cups of bread crumbs or cracker crumbs, whichever you have" and "three squeezes of ketchup or so."

      Like my mother, I wasn't good at translating into weights and measures. I just eyeball it. Hopefully, what I got across to my daughter is that it really doesn't matter. You don't have to do it your mother's way. You can make it on your own, and be just fine.

      Take care~Sarah D.