Did you know that 2014 marks the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day in America?
Mother’s Day is next Sunday, May 11 and what better time to take a look at the origins of this special day. Mother’s Day is observed in different countries around the world. The day is most often recognized on the second Sunday in May and has traditionally involved giving mothers flowers, cards and other gifts.
Recognition and celebrations of mothers and motherhood can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Festivals were held to honor the mother goddesses, Rhea and Cybele. The modern precedent for Mother’s Day is found in the early Christian festival known as “Mothering Sunday.” In the United Kingdom and parts of Europe, the occasion fell on the fourth Sunday in Lent and was seen as a time when the faithful would return to their mother (local) church for a special service. Over time,” Mothering Sunday” changed to a more secular holiday and children presented their mothers with flowers and other gifts of appreciation. The custom faded in popularity, then merged with the American Mother’s Day in the 1930s and 1940s.
The beginnings of the American Mother’s Day date back to the 19th century. Before the Civil War, Ann Reeves Jarvis of West Virginia helped start “Mother’s Day Work Clubs,” to teach women how to properly care for their children. In 1868, she organized “Mother’s Friendship Day” for the purpose of mothers gathering with former Union and Confederate soldiers to promote reconciliation. Julia Ward Howe, an abolitionist and suffragist, wrote the “Mother’s Day Proclamation,” in 1870 as a call to action for mothers to unite in promoting world peace. In 1873 Howe campaigned for a “Mother’s Peace Day” to be celebrated every June 2. Other early Mother’s Day pioneers include Juliet Calhoun Blakely, a temperance activist who inspired a local Mother’s Day in Albion, Michigan in the 1870s. The duo of Mary Towles Sasseen and Frank Hering also worked to organize a Mother’s Day in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
The daughter of Ann Reeves Jarvis, Anna Jarvis, promoted the concept of a national Mother’s Day, as a way to honor mothers for the sacrifices they made for their children. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
According to the US Census Bureau, there are 83 million mothers in the United States. More mothers now work out of the home and the number of single-mother households has tripled to more than 10 million since 1970. The National Retail Federation estimates that Americans will spend $15 billion this year honoring their mothers. Dining out is expected to be the No. 1 expense. Make Mother’s Day even more special. Instead of dining out, why not make dinner for your mother.
Mother’s Day Menu
Crab Avocado Toasts
Serve with a Sauvignon Blanc wine.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
- 8 large slices packaged thin white bread
- 2 Hass avocados
- Salt and cayenne pepper
- 4 ounces lump crabmeat, picked over
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
- 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
Preheat the oven to 350°F and lightly brush a large baking sheet with olive oil. Using a 2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut 4 rounds out of each slice of bread and transfer to the baking sheet.
Lightly brush the rounds with olive oil and toast for about 15 minutes, until they are lightly golden and slightly crisp.
In a small bowl, mash the avocados with a pinch each of salt and cayenne pepper. In another small bowl, gently stir the crabmeat with the mint and lime juice and season with salt.
Spread the mashed avocado on the toasts, top with the crab mixture and serve.
Spinach and Pork Cannelloni
- 8 (6-by 4-inch) homemade fresh pasta rectangles (recipe below) or 8 dried manicotti pasta shells
- 1/2 cup (packed) dried porcini, soaked 20 minutes in 1/2 cup hot water
- 1 to 1 1/4 pounds pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and cubed
- 10 oz fresh baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- A small onion, minced
- A medium carrot, minced
- A 6-inch stalk celery, minced
- A small bunch parsley, minced
- 1/2 cup dry Marsala (or sherry if you do not have Marsala)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano
- Salt & pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg to taste (about 1/4 teaspoon)
- Olive Oil Béchamel Sauce, recipe below
Heat butter in a saute pan and add carrot, celery and onion and brown them lightly. Add the pork and continue cooking until it is browned, then stir in the soaked mushrooms. Add in the Marsala and the diluted tomato paste, season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg, reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for an hour, until thickened. Stir in the spinach and cook until completely wilted. Remove from heat and add the grated cheese and parsley.
While the sauce is simmering, boil pasta 2 pieces at a time in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring to separate, until just tender, about 2 minutes for fresh pasta or about 6 minutes for packaged noodles. Gently transfer with a slotted spoon to a large bowl of cold water to stop the cooking, then remove from bowl, shaking off water, and lay flat on kitchen towels (not terry cloth). Pat dry with paper towels.
Place two or three rounded tablespoons of filling mixture down the center of each pasta sheet and carefully roll pasta tightly around the filling. If using the manicotti shells, use a small spoon and fill the shells from the sides or use a pastry bag.
Place the rolled cannelloni, side by side, into a greased ovenproof shallow baking dish.
Pour the bechamel sauce over the cannelloni covering completely.
Sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese over the top of the sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 350°F for approximately 20 minutes. Remove the foil and continue to bake for an additional 20 minutes.
Olive Oil Bechamel Sauce
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 4 tablespoons flour
- 4 cups low-fat cold milk
- Salt to taste
- Freshly ground white or black pepper
Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. The mixture should have the texture of wet sand.
Whisk in the milk all at once and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper.
Homemade Pasta Rectangles
- 1 1/2 cups of all-purpose or Italian (00) flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of water
- Dash of salt
Mix the flour, egg, salt and water together in the large bowl of a processor. Process until the dough forms a ball. Coat lightly with olive oil and allow it to rest covered for 30 minutes at room temperature.
After the pasta dough has rested, roll out sheets with a pasta roller to a thickness you can just about see your hand through, about the 5th or 6th setting on the roller for thickness.
Place the sheets on a pastry board and cut into 4″ x 6″ rectangles. Cook and fill as directed above.
Roasted Broccoli with Lemon and Pine Nuts
- 1 large head of broccoli (1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1 1/2-inch florets, stems peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons pine nuts
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon minced shallot
Preheat the oven to 400°F. On a large baking sheet, toss the broccoli florets and stems with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast the broccoli in the oven for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through, until browned and tender.
Meanwhile, in a small skillet, toast the pine nuts over moderate heat until light golden all over, about 4 minutes.
In a small bowl, whisk the lemon juice with the shallot and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil; season the dressing with salt and pepper. Place the broccoli into a serving bowl. Add the dressing and toasted pine nuts, toss well and serve.
Italian Almond Cake with Pears
- 1 1/2 cups almond flour
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 large whole eggs, beaten
- 6 large egg whites
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 4 ripe but firm Bartlett pears—peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
- Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 10-inch springform pan.
In a large bowl, whisk the almond flour with the all-purpose flour, grated orange zest, a pinch of salt and 1/2 cup of the sugar. Add the beaten whole eggs and whisk well.
In a separate large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/2 cup of sugar and beat until the egg whites are firm and glossy, about 2 minutes.
Fold one-third of the beaten egg whites into the almond-flour mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites until just incorporated.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until the cake is puffed and golden brown on top and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs still attached. Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
In a large skillet, melt the butter with the sugar over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Arrange the pear wedges in the skillet in an even layer. Cover the pears and cook them over low heat until the pears are tender and a syrupy sauce forms, about 7 minutes.
Using a large serrated knife, cut the cake into two layers. Spoon the pears and their sauce over the bottom layer of cake and cover the pears with the top layer of cake. Lightly dust the cake with confectioners’ sugar and serve.
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