Jan 112011

I am approaching Monday with some anxiety and apprehension. Father, College Kritter, and I are getting on a plane to San Francisco at dawn. Nina will stay in Berkeley, of course, and Father and I are coming back on Wednesday. If only the rain gods would look upon us mercifully and refrain from the showers for a couple of days, I would be eternally grateful.

I do not like the look of suitcases lying open on my living room floor. It most likely means that someone I love is leaving. To accommodate my schedule, I will say another Good-Bye to my daughter five days before school starts. How many times in those five days will I miss her jumping on my bed and inviting me to see a movie with her? How many times will I pretend to hear her drawn-out “Maaah-maaah” coming from the kitchen, where she is looking for an ingredient that usually stares her in the face? I will not count.

In the two weeks we spent together, I got used to having her around. She is often a child herself, taunting her younger sisters and chasing them around the apartment, leaving her clothes everywhere but in the hamper, making a mess with her “morning” banana-strawberry yogurt smoothie around 1 p.m., and organizing the “Star Wars” or “Harry Potter” marathons. She makes me watch the seven episodes of “Jeopardy!” that I missed, and convinces me to take her shopping for boots after work, when all I want to do is curl up on the couch and stay motionless. She lies next to me in bed at night and starts a philosophical conversation, and all I can do is stare at her cross-eyed and say “Wha?”

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Nina in Prague, summer 2010

I look at her when she sleeps and in the face of this young woman I see the many faces of my little girl: The mischievous toddler who poured a jar of honey on Father’s head while he was taking a nap; A kindergartener who refused to eat “the weird ground meat in a weird kind of bread” (she adores tacos now!), while beating her daycare teacher in the game of Mancala; a curly-haired girl dancing an Irish jig in the middle of the class for Lee, the little boy she liked in first grade, while her teacher stared unbelieving; a fourth grader working on a patent for a portable, computerized dry-erase board in her gifted and talented class; a teen obsessively playing the Math 24 game and helping her team win in seventh grade; a proud eighth grader attending her first formal dance, completely oblivious of her beauty, dressed as Eowyn from Lord of the Rings in a white silk-satin dress I made, as she requested; a high schooler crying at the dining room table after getting an F in Honors Chemistry (her first tears since watching The Titanic and realizing that the captain who so resembled Santa Claus, would die with the ship); an excited sixteen year old getting in the car with her first boyfriend and learning to parallel park; And then a daughter ready to conquer the world, reading to me the acceptance e-mail from UC Berkeley.

All those Ninas, small and big, still live within her. And each one is a part of me. I had to work the evening before our flight and she took over the kitchen with the confidence and creativity that have come to be her hallmark. She prepared a delicious chicken curry and the flavor of it was unlike anything because it tasted like 19 years of smiles and tears and laughter and wonder.

Who is this woman child who has become my best friend? What wonders wait within her as her potential staggers and boggles my mind? I don’t know. But I am so enjoying finding out.


I made the rice to accompany Nina’s curry, and it was perfect, with raisins adding just enough sweetness to counterbalance the spice in curry.


  • several strands of saffron
  • 2 Tbso olive oil
  • ½ large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots shredded or julienned
  • 1 ½ cups basmati  rice
  • 3 cups water, vegetable stock or chicken stock
  • salt, pepper
  • ½ cup golden raisins


Soak the saffron in a small amount of hot water. In the meantime, sauté onions and garlic until soft, 4-5 minutes. Add the carrots and rice and stir for a couple of minutes. Pour in the water or chicken stock and add the raisins. Heat to boil, turn the temperature to low, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until done. Fluff with the fork and serve.

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Imoz screenshot 1 Nina am sending this dish to Making It with….Mondays hosted by Sue of Couscous and Consciousness, Hearth and Soul, hosted by Heather of Girliechef, and Full PlateThursday, hosted by Miz Helen from Miz Helen’s Country Cottage.

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10 Responses to “Nina”

  1. Your Saffron Rice and Carrots looks so good. I would like to invite you to bring it to my Full Plate Thursday. Thank you for sharing and you have a great week!

  2. What wonderful memories! I don’t have children of my own, but I do have two baby nieces! I look forward to all times we’ll get to share, and know that, even when they’re in college, I’ll still be referring to them as “my babies”! Great post!

  3. Oh Lana! You made me cry so hard! My daughter sam and your nina could be twins! she is getting ready to go to college in the fall and I am also bereft. I find myself looking at her and remembering the dress ups and the constant questions and all the hugs! What a lucky momma you are to share life with this whorlwind of a woman! The saffron rice looks delicious and it is one of my favorite recipes! Thanks so much for sharing with us on the hearth and soul hop this week! I always look forward to reading your wonderful stories! HUGS! Alex

  4. Your rice looks delicious, your memories however are sweeter! Thanks for sharing.

  5. it’s so true, i look at my little girls all grown up and wonder where the time went. they are young and beautiful, with their whole life ahead… augh! beautiful color on the rice, i love the flavor of saffron…
    happy tuesday lana,
    chef louise

  6. Lovely post, Lana. So full of pride and love.

  7. Lana, I love reading all of your posts, but especially when you write about your wonderful daughters whose wonder is no accident – they have you for their mother, and they cannot fail to grow into wonderful, talented confident women, but I know also that they will in some way forever be your little girls. I think it is always that way for parents – my father still calls me “little one”, and that is at nearly 55 years of age (me, that is, not him)! Your saffron rice looks beautiful and would be a beautiful accompaniment to a chicken curry, especially one made with a daughter’s love – thank you so very much for sharing it with “Make it with … Mondays” challenge saffron. I do hope you’ll join in again :-)
    Sue xo

  8. Hi Nina,
    I was so happy that you brought your beautiful Saffron Rice to Full Plate Thursday. It will sure be a big hit here. Thank you so much for coming and hope to see you again next week!

  9. @Thanks, Miz Helen! Done!

    @Chunklet, my sister feels the same about my kids. And they adore her. Mothers cannot compete with Aunts:)

    @Alex, I know how you feel. But I also know that you will enjoy the new, independent Sam, who will be your friend for life. We gave them strong wings, but they can always fly back home:)

    @Melynda, thanks so much:)

    @Louise, you have adult daughters? I am going to go and hide! We’ll have to talk, girl!

    @Unja, thank you, my friend:) It is bitter-sweet…

    @Sue, when can I sign up for your yoga class? You are 55??? No way! And yes, my dad has a special nickname for all of us, but they do not translate well into English (mine is something like “a little whiner”:)


  10. YUM! Saffron rice! Yours looks simply delicious!!! I host a new food linky called, Fun w/ Food Friday. I would LOVE for you to come by and link up some of your DELICIOUS recipes if you have time.


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