One of my earliest and fondest memories of my mother with my sisters and me involved baking. In particular, her carrot cake. Its spicy, nutty rich flavor was always perfectly complemented by the vanilla cream cheese frosting on top. It is so delectable that my husband claims it is one of the reasons he married me.
You see, mom’s carrot cake in and of itself is a family legacy. Perfected by my grandmother in the 1950’s, my mother continued the tradition by teaching my sisters and me how to make it – from scratch. One tedious shred of carrot at a time, and not with some fancy veggie spiralizer. A good old grater is the preferred weapon of choice. You see the prepackaged shredded carrots don’t work for the recipe. Each ingredient must be prepared by hand. It is truly a wonderful labor of love – from the first cracked egg to the final swipe of the spatula for the icing.
My children have reached the ages where baking with mom has become fun, and my anxiety about having them help me has changed. They know we wash and dry our carrots before we grate them. They know raw eggs must be handled with care. They understand that, like raw eggs, raw flour can be just as concerning. And by no means do we ever taste the raw batter – lest we end up with a sore tummy and a potential trip to the hospital later. They understand that baking is an art, but also a responsibility. We want to feed the people we love, not get them sick.
My son is our safety policeman. He is the human alarm to wash our hands often. He keeps the foamy soap near our kitchen sink and, with the pride of a champion, will push a chair so he can reach the faucet. He is quick to grab a paper towel to dry off a washed carrot or toss the wooden spoon into the sink.
My daughter is my sous chef. She is the measurer of ingredients and the grater of the carrots. As she is also an avid reader and math lover, she is learning to decipher grandma’s lengthy script on the recipe card.
My children have become a baking team. And it warms my heart more than just the 350 degrees needed to bake our cake.
So, as my daughter and son grow, I know that they are taking the same care of making something wonderful for the ones they love. They will gently remove the toothpick from the middle of the pan with the knowledge that their masterpiece is not just ready to ice. They will know it is safe to eat for them and for the next generation.
By: Candess Zona-Mendola of MakeFoodSafe.com
Candess’ passion is helping people. Like all mothers, Candess wears many hats. Candess is the Senior Trial Paralegal at The Lange Law Firm. With 15 years of paralegal experience, she has worked on many different types of litigation. Candess began her career helping people in family law, civil rights, and employment cases. She went on to work on national mass tort cases, with a particular emphasis on helping women who have been harmed by defective medical products and pharmaceuticals. Candess has worked on trial teams from the West Coast to the South to MidWest, in both state and federal courts. She has been invited to speak at national seminars on the behind the scenes work that goes into taking massive bellwether cases to trial in federal court.
Candess became a paralegal in order to help people. When Candess learned that millions of Americans each year were becoming sick from food contaminated with pathogens, she wanted to do something about it. Ever the problem solver, Candess began by finding ways to get more helpful information about food safety concerns and solutions to families (especially other mothers) in a timely fashion.
MakeFoodSafe.com is Candess’ third food safety blog. Her first food safety blog, UnsafeFoods.com, has won multiple awards and has been recognized as a: Top 30 Food Safety Blog; Top Mommy Approved Blog; Top 10 Blog Posts by Texas Bar Today; and the Blogger Recognition Award.
Candess works closely with Jory and the food safety team to develop and cultivate the firm’s food safety cases. From intake to trial, Candess ensures everyone gets what they need when they need it, even the most challenging matters.
To Candess, clients are family. She is never too busy to take time to explain a complicated issue, answer a question, or give a supportive ear. For our clients who have never found themselves in a legal proceeding before, Candess makes it a point to help them understand the process. The phrase, “no question is a silly question” is routine in her vocabulary.
A mother of two, Candess lives in a suburb of Houston with her husband, Tim. When she is not saving the world one deadline at a time, Candess can be found channeling her inner chef or with coffee and a book.