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Mother’s Day (Happily) Spent in the Kitchen

By Paula Deen

Over the years, Mother’s Day celebrations with my boys have taken many forms. There were breakfasts in bed, flowers handpicked from the garden and countless cards that managed to say “I Love You, Mom” in a hundred different ways. Every Mother’s Day has been special, ya’ll, but not for the reasons you might think. It was never about the presents I received as much as it was about delighting in the little hearts that did the giving.

I got an unexpected Mother’s Day surprise one year when my grandson Jack announced that he wanted to open a restaurant in my home. He’s been talking about starting up the “Rooster’s Café” for some time now. Whenever we cook together, we pretend we’re in his café, preparing meals for hungry patrons.

Not someone to deny a child his dream—especially when it comes to openin’ up a successful restaurant, I willingly obliged. Jack showed up to my house in a darling chef’s coat and hat, and that lil’ stinker remained in character the whole darn time. As usual, my house was bustling with friends and family, and he welcomed each guest like a perfect gentleman. “Let me show you to your seat,” I overheard him say. “Okay, may I have your order?”

Once he got their order, Jack would run back into the kitchen to tell me, his “assistant,” “Order up! Hurry! Hurry! We gotta keep these customers happy!”

Luckily, the menu wasn’t complicated. Rooster’s Café, as it turned out, had one signature dish: burgers, fries and frosted sugar cookies.

I learned right away that you never challenge a chef in his own kitchen. I was told in no uncertain terms that our burgers would not have tomatoes and that we must offer cookies in a rainbow of colors. Jack tasted the orange frosting and he was surprised that while the color had changed, the taste stayed the same. “It tastes just like real icing,” he said, “but just dyed orange!”

“That’s right, it looks like a dreamsicle,” I said. “You know you’re my little dreamsicle, right?”

Jack smiled that dimpled, toothless smile that melts my heart, and then he grabbed my hand and escorted me outside to the porch where he had a special table reserved just for us.

Before we dug into our beautiful burgers—without tomatoes—I asked Jack if I could propose a toast. Jack shot up and said, “Toast? You want some toast? Hold on, I’ll go get some!” And off he ran.

Jack and I shared a wonderful day together. It was unexpected, playful, messy and absolutely perfect. I’ve never had a bad Mother’s Day, but I’ve never had one better than this.

You can get Jack’s recipes from his Rooster Cafe in Jamie’s book, Good Food.

Paula Deen - As a young girl growing up in Albany, Georgia, Paula Deen never dreamed she would become an American icon. As a young mother, Paula was living the American dream — married to her high school sweetheart and raising two adorable boys — when tragedy struck. Her parents died, her marriage failed and she began a prolonged battle with agoraphobia. With her boys in their teens and her family near homelessness, Paula took her last $200, reached deep inside her soul and started The Bag Lady, a home-based catering company that marked the start of Deen's professional cooking career. With sons Jamie and Bobby delivering lunch-and-love-in-a-bag, beginning in June 1989, Paula turned her life around by sharing what she knew best, traditional Southern cooking.

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