The holidays always remind me of the hours and hours I’ve spent in the kitchen with truly great cooks- my grandmothers, my aunts, my cousins, my friends, my father-in-law, my daughters, my son, my mom. Each taught me something that added to my culinary skills. And though I no longer cook, I am confident that given the right circumstances and motivation, I could cook because of all the wonderful women, and a few men, who took the time to teach me!
My children can stop laughing right now! I choose not to cook anymore, but someone certainly kept YOU from starving, and even managed to teach you a thing or two. And no, it wasn’t just your Grandma Bea or Grandpa Dutch. There were years when I baked something wonderful every single week and I sure didn’t get any complaints. Lol
Of course my mom was the one who began my basic training in the kitchen. She taught me all the safety skills so that I knew how to keep things clean, handle a knife, and turn on the stove. She also taught me a host of things that girls no longer know how to do- skin a rabbit, pluck a chicken, singe a duck, and fry a squirrel. Plus the bonus skills- getting water from the well, chipping a block of ice with an ice pick, and heating water on a wood stove. The worst one was the lesson on “lighting the oven with a match”. I failed miserably and had the singed bangs to prove it. To this day I am cautious around gas ovens. And though I peeled thousands of potatoes there were a few stubborn ones that resulted in nicks and cuts. I never missed my target with the ice pick, but I had numerous small burns and scars from cookie sheets and pan handles.
My aunt Juanita taught me how to follow a recipe and how to separate an egg. Funny how I remember those two things. My grandmother and mom had always cooked from memory and used the “pinch of this” method that was so difficult to follow. I was amazed the first time I saw my aunt read a recipe. “You mean there are instructions???” Reading was my best subject- I could do that!! And I guess my mom had never cooked anything requiring an egg white. I just thought that separating an egg was one of the coolest tricks ever. Lol
My Grandma Bea taught me how to bake. That woman loved bread! And she made the best cookies in the world. She made cakes from scratch, and pies that melted in your mouth. Her mother made the best pecan pie I have ever tasted.
Mama Della taught me how to make breakfast. She made her own butter and fried perfect bacon. She gathered eggs from her own hens. She made pancakes from scratch. She cooked sausage that Papa had ground and seasoned by hand.
I could go on and on. My Aunt Molly was a school cook. Gary’s cousin Sandy is an amazing cook and caterer. I have friends who are whizzes with pastry and candies. I have been to church potlucks where the food is so good it might be a sin. My daughters have very different styles, but each is a terrific cook. My son knows his way around a stove. All great cooks.
And now I’m the dropout. I “assemble meals” from a few basic ingredients. I manage to keep us from starving- my photo is evidence of that! But I no longer bake. I don’t try new recipes or make up my own. Sad, but true. However, I’m a great “taster” and I’m available at all hours. Happy to help you test your recipes!
I hope you have trained or are training a great cook in your kitchen. The next generation needs to know how to make a few things. Maybe not a tasty fried squirrel, but at least a good oatmeal cookie.
Hope you have a great day!