Stephanie Pearce: Comfort food

Turning 40 last week wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.

Somehow, a cake showed up at work, and I shared pieces with those who weren’t dieting. My family was taken to dinner by my sweet son.

My husband was so sweet and made me feel amazingly loved and appreciated with a gift and a card that made me cry.

But there was one gift I got that made me feel young again. It took me back to every happy event in my life.

It was just what I needed for my birthday.

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Stephanie Pearce

My dear mother makes everyone their favorite dessert for their birthday.

Mine and my kids’ favorite dessert that she makes is her frog eye salad. It is this creamy, sweet fruit salad that has acini di pepe macaroni — small round pasta that when cooked looks like tiny eyes, thus the name, frog eye salad — pineapple chunks, mandarin oranges and whipped cream.

I have tasted others' versions of this salad, and it doesn’t compare. I have even received the recipe from my mother and made it myself, but it never tastes as good as when my mom makes it.

This salad, like I said before, takes me back to every happy event in my life. My mother would make this for church potlucks. She made it for Christmas, Thanksgiving, Fourth of July and any other happy event that we celebrated.

She made it for my surprise 18th birthday party. My family wasn’t much for birthday parties, really, so I was pretty surprised when, after going for a workout with my friend, Pam, she said we had to stop by our church for something.

We got there, and almost all my friends were there. She had really gone out of her way to make that birthday special because I had gone through so much that year.

I know I didn’t deserve the effort she put into that party, but I never will forget that she did that for me. I also won’t forget that my favorite dessert was there.

At my baby showers for both kids, the salad was on the table. I don’t remember a whole lot about either of the baby showers.

A few things stick out, like the quilts that were hand made for each of my children. Clayton’s was made by my friend, Ella, Samantha’s was made by my friend, Glenda.

Both the kids and I cherished those quilts, but I always remember the salad that made the party.

At my wedding reception, we had some amazing food.

My brother smoked brisket, and it was delicious. We had other sides, the wedding cake and some kegs, but Mom made her salad, and that was my favorite thing there.

You see, it doesn’t have to be a big, grand gift that makes someone’s day. Sometimes it’s the consistent and sweet memory of home.

Sometimes, it’s knowing that you received something that only that one special person can do for you. So, turning 40 wasn’t something I was dealing with very well, but having that one special thing from my mom made me feel comforted.

Thanks, Mom, for bringing back all those memories on my birthday.

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