Mother's Day brings back memories of homemade gifts.

Mother's Day was always very simple in my childhood home. My mother was a single parent and we had limited financial resources. My traditional gift to my mother was a hand-written note complete with bright flowers and the words, "Happy Mother's Day." Sometimes I would add a drawing of a bunny of a frog, features of my limited artistic ability.

As I grew older, the original card was often accompanied with a homemade treat. By the time I was 12 years old, I would attempt to make cookies and cakes without supervision. Sometimes the results were edible, other times not. And that's when you discover the true meaning of motherly love!

Mothers are the best at encouraging their children to explore their culinary interests. They are also the best taste testers, always careful with their words in an effort to encourage a child no matter how bad the cooking adventure. I remember a time when I decided to make fried chicken but we did not have any corn oil. The clever 14-year-old that I was, I opted to substitute with olive oil. I filled the frying pan half full of olive oil, depleting my mother's supply, and proceeded with making the crispy fried chicken.

I will never forget the intense, overpowering flavor of the olive oil. My first bite was shocking as I did not expect the strong, tangy flavor. I look over at my mother to watch her reaction. My beautiful mother remained perfectly poised and ate her entire piece without hesitation. But even for my Italian mother, the intensity of the olive oil had to have been overwhelming.

Looking back, I laugh at the amount of olive oil I used. I also regret depleting her supply knowing now that olive oil was a luxury in our home. But mom never got angry about my wasteful cooking venture. She just encouraged me to make another meal.