“Mom, what are we having for dinner?” is probably the thing I hear most in my house. It’s just me and the two kids, which means the question is always directed at mom. Back when we were living busy lives and the kids were in daycare or school or at a playdate, it wasn’t all that important. But when lockdown struck and we were inside for what felt like a decade, dinner was the hot topic, and the kitchen was the hottest place in town. So the question became THE question, the one I dreaded most - because I was out of ideas!!
I did the one thing any other single mother would do in my shoes… ask her own mom. I checked in with the family group chat, and I told them I wanted recipes: family traditions, easy hotpots, quick meals, filling dishes, anything to keep two kids under ten fed and happy and to even slightly lengthen the time between the question and its encore. And boy, did they rise to the challenge. It became a fun segment of our regular chats, and I started to really rely on the fresh foodspiration they were sending right to my phone. Plus, it was like having a chef on call, because if I had any questions, the recipe’s creator was just a text away.
The kids and I got creative. We started making the recipes and shared the results with our family - via text. It was like having a chat show segment, and my kids lapped it up! We even did a late-night Amazon order for a chef hat, because we couldn’t resist. It injected so much fun into what was an otherwise mundane task - and isn't that what got us all through lockdown? It turned out my youngest was kind of a prodigy. His favorite Disney movie has always been Ratatouille, so I shouldn’t have been surprised.
Wearing his chef's hat with a swagger, my son became the host of our cook-alongs. Watching him joyfully knead bread, show his older sister how to properly stir the sauce was a tonic for a really hard time in our lives. Now, with normality resuming in many ways, and busier days creeping in, we’ve tried to hold onto our special kitchen moments. My son has already asked if he can be in charge of Thanksgiving this year, only if the hat stays on!
Cooking up the perfect gift
That got me thinking about the holiday season and all of the ways we want to remember the past 18 months. I started to brainstorm Christmas gift ideas. I thought about how much our family helped a single mom make dinner, and make dinner fun! I was searching for a way to create a book, and then it struck me that I could use Keepster, because it was as if our family had crafted a cookbook that was already living in text chains.
Keepster made creating this ‘cookbook’ an easy feat. I organized the entire year’s texts and photos, searched by keyword to find specific recipes, when necessary, and in relatively no time ‘baked up’ a cookbook for everyone who had sent me recipes. The process was easy, even my tech-savvy eldest couldn’t believe that this mom was making it happen on a computer of all things!
Creating the book meant looking through our old messages, and being reminded of how close our kitchen routine made us feel to our loved ones. I loved how I felt how I was able to inject every bit of our little chef’s character into the pages and include so many (wonderfully over the top) family reactions to our culinary achievements. When I was designing the books, I made sure to add a dedication to our family at the beginning. One that sums up just how invaluable their messages had been, and how this book, really, was all theirs.
A crowded shopping mall is something I’m still not totally comfortable in, so I was thrilled to discover that our Keepster books were going to be shipped right to my door. I ordered copies for every member of our family, and have them with me, ready to be sent off in time for the holiday season. When the books arrived at our house, I could have cried. Reading through it allowed me to relive a sweet bonding experience with my kids, one that changed my perspective of a really hard time in our lives - not to mention cracking up over several of the disasters, such as the summer pie that wound up more like a summer soup.
The past year or two has been incredibly difficult, and lonely for so many people, our family too. Yet I hope my Keepster gift to my family will show each and every one of them how much of a lifeline their messages and recipes were. Every time our little chef posed next to a finished dish, every “Wow! Someone get that house a Michelin star!”, and every 👍 meant so much. Now, thanks to Keepster, I’m certain they’ll be reminded of what their love meant to us every time someone in their own home asks “Mom, what are we having for dinner?”
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