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The Kitchen Witch | Taco Baked Potatoes | On Becoming My Mother

By Lyndsay Wells

There’s an interesting adage known to most women that if we live long enough, we will eventually turn into our mothers. And this, whether we like it or not, strikes sharp tendrils of icy fear into the hearts of most of us.

I’m like my mother?

Good God, no!!!

Never!!!!

But here’s the thing…

I grew up in the 70’s. And I don’t know when the whole trend toward building self esteem and emotional health in children became popular, but I’m going to hazard a guess that it wasn’t anytime close to 1976, because in 1976 our parents weren’t all that concerned about our self esteem.

Or our health.

This was the era when going for a car ride required a gas mask because as soon as the last door slammed, every adult in the car lit up. They smoked in the car, they smoked in the house, they smoked on the bus and they smoked at the grocery store. Pretty much, people were smoking everywhere and we kids were put into hazardous situations daily.

We didn’t wear seatbelts, bike helmets, or sunscreen; and our parents didn’t tell us a thing.

We were an entire generation who didn’t know how much money our parents made, what a mortgage was, or why the family had to hide the vanilla from Auntie Katie at the end of the month when the booze money ran out. Adults were referred to as Mr. or Mrs. and kids didn’t talk back.

Whereas nowadays kids are reasoned with, cajoled, and even congratulated for a healthy sense of self esteem.

“When Tanner says Fuck he’s asserting his right to express himself…”

Back in the day, the only expressing we ever did was “I didn’t do it!” as Dad charged down the hall after us. And back then, when Dad got involved you knew you were in for it.

Our parents also never apologized.

As a mother who has raised a child in this kinder and gentler era of self expression, I am amazed when I think back at the complete lack of concern my parents had for the things that they did – whether that was to spank us, wash our mouths out with soap, or show up on parent day as my mother, Aurora, once did wearing a full on ash blonde frosted afro wig and six inch platform shoes.

I, on the other hand, agonized over every single decision I ever made as a mother – whether that was when to introduce solid foods, or what to wear on parent teacher night.

And every single decision I ever made came after painstaking deliberation followed by waves of guilt.

“I’ve damaged him.”

“I’m a bad mother.”

“He’s going to be traumatized for life.”

People, I once got a spanking that lasted three minutes long for lying about breaking a tea pot.

And I don’t think anybody gave it much thought afterward.

They all just lit up and went back to reading the paper.

***

But what does all this have to do with becoming our mothers?

After spending a lifetime immersed in the complex co-dependency of the relationship I share with mine, I have come to realize the inalienable truth that we have morphed – for better or worse – into that one soul in two bodies all the philosophers talk about.

Bringing with it a whole other eventual tragedy that I choose not to think of.

To really know me, though, you have to know my mother – and because I plan to hang out here for awhile, I thought it was important that I share a recent experience that will hopefully bring all this yadda yadda into one congruent piece that makes sense.

And that experience took place in a nail salon.

We went to get our nails done at a new boutique and had the unfortunate experience of an overly familiar manicurist who insisted I would be better off with short purple nails, and in the next breath went on to refer to my mother as a senior.

People, my mother’s age is one of the most closely guarded secrets of the 21st century and better people than me have tried to guess it – so when the whole “senior” thing came up, I was silently shitting bricks because I KNEW the extent to which my mother was offended.

How did I know this?

Despite the cigarette smoking and hiding of the vanilla as listed above, my family is a close knit clan with a codependency that borders on the paranormal. We also ascribe to an unspoken/unwritten set of rules that everyone just seems to mysteriously know – for example, my mother and I can carry on an entire conversation using subtle hand gesture and eye flickers – so that even though the woman who gave me life became extra friendly with the offending manicurist, family law dictated the following three things were about to occur:

1. The manicurist would not be getting a tip.

2. There would be an embargo on any future business given to this salon by myself and Aurora.

3. We would leave with the manicurist thinking we were two of the nicest people she had ever met.

***

Despite living in today’s world of evolved emotional and physical health, I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I grew up. Yes, it was smoky, and Christmas certainly lost some of its luster when grandpa got drunk – but at the same time, it taught me to be resilient. It taught me how to read people and situations with an accuracy that is almost always right on the money. Most of all, though, it taught me how to forgive. How to accept. And how to love people in spite of their flaws and the mistakes they might have made. I look toward the future with a sense of hope and on the days when I look backward, I do so with a smile.

***

In honor of my mother, I had to share the dish she always requests when coming to dinner. Although I would be more than happy to cook her something a little more elaborate, when it comes to food she loves easy simplicity.

Taco Baked Potatoes

And today’s featured recipe for Taco Baked Potatoes is as quick and easy to make as it is delicious.

Please enjoy my easy to follow step by step video and let me know if you try this recipe yourself.


In the end, whether it be a comforting meal, or a comfortable relationship, it really is a fabulously good life! Thanks for reading and see you in a couple of weeks!

Visit the printable recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup each diced red and green pepper
  • 1 tbsp finely diced jalapeno pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lb extra lean ground beef
  • 1 pkg taco seasoning mix
  • 2 cups tinned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup Chive and Onion Philadelphia Cream Cheese – light or regular
  • 4 large baking potatoes
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup crushed taco chips in the “taco” flavor

Directions

  1. Saute the onion, diced red and green pepper, and the diced jalapeno pepper over medium high heat in the olive oil just until the onions are beginning to grow soft.
  2. Add the ground beef. Continue to saute until the beef is cooked through and add the taco seasoning, the tomatoes, and the cream cheese.
  3. Bring that to a simmer and stir as the cream cheese melts into the sauce. Continue to simmer for about ten minutes.
  4. Bake the potatoes in the oven or the microwave. Split them in halves and “fluff up” or mash the insides. up a little. Spoon even amounts of the taco/cheese mixture over each potato.
  5. Top with grated cheddar cheese and crushed taco chips.

 

 

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1 Comment on The Kitchen Witch | Taco Baked Potatoes | On Becoming My Mother

  1. My mother has long passed from this world and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss her or (still) reach for the phone to ask yet another stupid question.

    Not only do I look exactly like my mother but, yep, I have turned into her too, to a degree! I say things that she said (oh no!!) and even cook like her (not a bad thing!). The one thing that I don’t share with her (but I’m working on it) was her ability for being one of the most fun, loving, forgiving, caring, generous, warm, humble people on this earth. She had a certain knack for drawing in even the most “unlovable” people and making everyone see they were only human too. A friend recently told me that my mom was “very cool, ahead of her time”. That she was!

    Oh, don’t get me wrong, she was also a very strong, formidable, not easily intimidate woman who stood her ground and fought admirably for what she believed in (all traits I inherited!). She ruled the household with an iron glove and one glance from her was enough to send me and my sisters into hiding. The only woman she’d back down to was HER mother! She also used the very Italian assault weapon on us – the dreaded wooden spoon – “because I’m not going to hurt my hands on you” when it was necessary! None of us had a death wish, so we usually cooperated! As the youngest, I was the one who gave her a run for her money!

    My mother was 22 until the day she died. She had all her grandchildren convinced of this too! I think I was 30 before I realized exactly how old she was. For her 75th birthday, the cake read “Happy 22nd Birthday”!! And it was always a source of amusement in our house. My oldest sister is now teaching her grandchildren that she’s 21!!

    Like you, I wouldn’t change a thing about the way I grew up. My memories make me sad sure, but in a good way! I’m going to keep practicing on becoming more like my mom so maybe some day someone will say I was cool too! Ahead of my time!!

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