The Tiny Dutch Oven I’m Getting My Mom After a Very Terrible Year

published Apr 20, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

I’ve been looking at this blinking cursor for a while now. I decided I wanted to write this story for Kitchn, but then found myself unsure of where to start. I’ve just been sitting here, watching the cursor fade in and out. Blink. Blink. Blink. As I write this, it’s five days before the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. He passed away suddenly when we were all still fairly early in our lockdowns. (We actually don’t know if COVID killed my dad — we didn’t think to have him tested at the time — and we’ll never know.) It was tragic and terrible, and the months afterward remain a total blur.

The first would-be happy occasion after his death was Mother’s Day. I remember wanting to make it special for my mom … somehow. I can’t tell you what I did for her, and sadly, I can tell you it probably wasn’t great. I wasn’t really thinking straight.

This year, the pain is still real and raw, but I have pinpointed the perfect gift for my mom. I know that material things don’t replace people, nor do they cure sadness, but hear me out: I’m planning on getting her a 2.75-quart Dutch oven because I know it will serve her well and make her nights just a little bit better.

Even when she was cooking for herself and my dad, she’d opine that her 5.5-quart Dutch oven was too big. And now that she’s just cooking for one, she doesn’t even bother pulling it out. Which says a lot because my mother is a fan of any and all roasts. She mentioned, randomly in passing, that she’d probably make smaller roasts for herself if she had a smaller pot. So I’m going to make that happen for her.

I want to get her a piece of cookware that can help her make the meals she made, night after night, for my dad — just on a smaller scale. I want to help her remember him through her food. I want to help her enjoy cooking again. I want to get her something that will make her nights easier and maybe a bit more enjoyable. Can it bring him back? No. Will it help her feel a little less alone at the dinner table? It seems worth a shot.

I’m writing this now for two reasons: It’s helping me cope, and I know people lost so much this year. Maybe you’re also shopping for someone who is grieving. Maybe the loss was a decade ago. Maybe you’re just shopping for someone who lives alone. Life is hard and so is finding the perfect gift. So I figure, if I have a good idea, it’s worth sharing.

Note: I realize this is a very heavy post — just to talk about a small Dutch oven. But if my dad were alive, he’d make some terrible joke about how Dutch ovens are heavy, too!