Julie and mother “Johnnie” Friedman
I recently asked you to let me know which of my posts on the blog have been your favorites so far. The vast majority of responses were the stories about pregnancy and motherhood. Why? It is where our lives intersect, a common denominator we can all relate to. We wouldn’t be here if it were not for our mothers, and if we are lucky… we get to experience being a mother too. I know Tatjana has been the greatest joy in my life!

Julie Anne Rhodes and mother “Johnnie” Friedman

My mother and I have had a more tumultuous path through the years. I was a head strong, rebellious daughter to put it mildly. I took all the unconditional love for granted, and perceived her protective lioness instincts as a malicious will to deprive me, rather than to protect me.
Life takes on a whole new meaning when you have a child. “Mother” becomes an inextricable part of your identity. Sometimes the other hats you wear (daughter, wife, friend, career, etc.) come into direct conflict with that role. The differences in our generations didn’t help either. Mom’s generation were brought up to rely upon a man to provide for them… something my generation, the first to grow up with women’s lib, perceived as weakness.

Julie Anne and Tatjana Rhodes
It wasn’t until Tatjana was born that I started developing a much deeper respect and appreciation for my own mom, and what it means to be a mother. With the onset of the first contraction I remember thinking “wow… did she really have me with NO pain killers?” By my second contraction I was begging for an epidural!

Julie Anne Rhodes and sister Patty Halfon

You must have been doing something right, mom. Against many odds, you managed to raise two happy, healthy, well-adjusted (no snickers allowed) girls that love and adore you!

Julie Anne Rhodes and mother “Johnnie” Friedman
Mom is indeed a much wiser, stronger woman than I ever gave her credit for.I may be a grown woman now, but there are still times “I want my mommy”, and this year has been definitely been one of them. I needed her, and thankfully she was there to see me through the surgery.
Mom is the first person I run to with news, good or bad, because no one will ever care quite as much as she does (I know, because that is how I feel about Tatjana). Mom’s had my back all these years… even when I was too stubborn to appreciate it. Thank you mom for never giving up on me, and for always being there for me when I’ve needed you. Happy Mother’s Day, I love you!
How will you celebrate your mother this Sunday? Click “comment” at the end of the post to leave your replies.

Crispy-Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps

This is one of mom’s favorite things to order when we go out for lunch. The combination of textures, warm meat against the cool lettuce leaf, and the fun of wrapping the lettuce around it to eat with your fingers make it a kid-friendly, family favorite as well.

Servings: 4

  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil, divided
  • 1 1/4 lb. lean ground chicken
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 1/2 cup carrots, shredded
  • 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 can water chestnuts, (8-ounce) drained and chopped
  • 1/3 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 3 tablespoons crunchy peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 head romaine or iceberg lettuce, separated into leaves
  • Hoisin sauce (optional)

1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat for 1 minute. Add 1 teaspoon of peanut oil to the pan. Add ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently and breaking up into crumbles, about 6-8 minutes or until no longer pink inside and beginning to brown on the outside. Remove from pan to a plate, and tent with foil to keep warm.

2). Add remaining oil to the pan, then the garlic, ginger, and chili flakes. Cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant.

3). Add carrots, mushrooms, and next 7 ingredients. Increase heat to medium-high, and cook, stirring constantly, for 3-4 minutes. Add cooked chicken and green onions, and cook, stirring constantly, 1 additional minute.

4). Everyone makes their own lettuce wraps by spooning a little hoisin sauce onto a lettuce leaf (if desired), then a spoonful of the chicken mixture; roll up and eat immediately.

Serving Suggestions: I usually serve this either as an appetizer, or with a little lemon Jasmine rice on the side to round out as a meal.

Variations: you can substitute the chicken with ground turkey or pork, and use different vegetables of your choice.
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