Sometimes it’s cold, I’m stressed, I’m sleepy, I’m sore, and I’m hungry – and all I want is a little comfort from my mom.
Luckily for me, I have the best mother in the world – one who recognizes that sometimes comfort comes in the form of food in small, frozen packages.
I call them Estee Meals, but I might as well call them “a taste of home.”
When my brother and I moved into our own apartments, my mom, Estee, found herself cooking for only herself and my dad. She began freezing the leftovers in small plastic food containers – and so as not to cause any surprises, my mom labeled each container with the date and the contents. “8/2/13: Chicken, broccoli, couscous.” If my dad came home late from a synagogue board meeting and wanted to heat up a quick dinner, his so-called “Estee Meals” were there waiting for him to microwave.
I love to bake, but my cooking skills have yet to be fully developed. My mom recognized this, together with my hectic schedule and long commute to work, and decided to set aside a few of my favorite meals and put my name on them. I can keep these ready-to-go kosher meals in my freezer and heat up one of these meals wherever I am.
These meals save me time: I can go to the grocery store one less time, or I can run out the door without having to throw together a sandwich. They save me the stress of trying to figure out how I’m going to get protein into my stomach this week. They save me from some major headaches.
Living on my own, having a big-girl job, and being a real “adult” is nice – but we all have those days where all we want is a hot meal from our mother. These Estee Meals remind me that even though I am an independent person in a swanky high-rise apartment, I am still somebody’s daughter. Somebody still cares for me and worries about me when I cross the street or cross the country. Even at age 26, I am still my mother’s baby.
Should I “grow up” and start making my own meals of broccoli, turkey, and orzo? I will. I promise. Soon. But I’m not totally ready to give up the comfort of a frozen lunch from my mom.
My mom always says that the reason her cooking is so good is that it’s “made with love.” Of course – every parent cooks with love for their children. But now, as a young adult trying to make it on her own, I find myself warmed up on the inside every time I heat up a lunch that originated in my mom’s kitchen.
As Rosh Hashanah approaches, many of us 20-somethings turn our thoughts to family, homemade meals, and tradition – and I look forward to sharing High Holiday meals with my family. But weeks after the holidays, when my mom’s “Friday Night Chicken” and matzah ball soup become a distant memory, I am sure that I will have several plastic containers of leftovers in my apartment freezer that I can open and re-heat, and I’ll be comforted by my mom’s cooking.