The Reason I’m Buying 2 of the Same Cookbooks for Mother’s Day

published May 7, 2023
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Organized white kitchen with wooden shelving and decor.

When we were little, my sisters and I learned from some well-meaning craft book that you can approximate a wearable perfume using baby oil and natural scents. Armed with that knowledge and the fact that our mom’s favorite flower has always been lilacs, we would perform what we considered to be alchemy, spinning vials of Chanel-grade perfume out of baby oil, fresh lilac petals, and vanilla extract from the kitchen cabinet. Then, we would present the greasy glass bottles (yes, plural) to her on Mother’s Day morning and suspiciously ask her most days for the next several months if she was wearing her new perfume. 

These days, we try to keep it simple with Mother’s Day presents. Quality time is her most important love language, so we’ll throw her a leisurely picnic, go for a walk around some lilac bushes at a local arboretum, or somehow spend the day together. But this year, I’m thinking of gifting something tangible once again — and it’s not perfume. It’s a cookbook!

Credit: Lana Kenney

It’s not a groundbreaking gift idea, I know. But the cookbook is only the first part of the present. The second is cooking the recipes together, spending quality time while making a delicious byproduct. I stumbled across the idea a couple of years ago, while I was living at home for a few months during the early days of the pandemic. I can’t quite recall which occasion I bought it for, but I gave my mom a beautiful hardcover of “Indianish”, a cookbook by food writer Priya Krishna detailing the recipes her own mom made when she was growing up. 

During the many mealtimes stuck inside, my mom and I toasted spices and made notes in the margins, served up hot plates and ate together. Although it’s been a few years since I last lived at home, my mom will still sometimes tell me if she’s made one of the recipes and it reminds me of those special suppers. 

While I won’t be home all the time to cook through a new book with her, my idea to jazz up the traditional gift of a cookbook is to get the same one for myself so that we can cook together, apart. Hardcovers can get expensive, so an alternative would be to have the cookbook recipient snap a photo of the recipe they’re making and send it to you so you can make it at the same time. It’s a lovely way to share a meal with a loved one from a distance, plus it’s wonderful encouragement to try something new and maybe even find a new favorite recipe. Although I’m so lucky to get to be with my mom on Mother’s Day, this long-distance option is a meaningful way to amp up a typical gift and spend time with your mom, mother figure, or anyone important in your life from afar.