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Old 03-16-2015, 06:41 PM   #1
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Childhood Memories of Cooking with Mom (or whoever got you started)

Discussion in the meatloaf thread set my mind to thinking back to my childhood, and getting my first introduction to the kitchen during an era when men (at least the men in my family) didn't usually set foot in the kitchen to do anything constructive. This is my initial thought on the subject:

I think that anyone who first learned the basics of cooking in their mother's kitchen, even if all they did was add the milk and butter to the Kraft Mac 'n Cheese, has a lifetime emotional connection, even after the parent has physically departed. I still think of Mom when I make meatloaf, when I make chili - even though I've slightly modified her recipes, the inspiration and the beginnings were there.

But it's most especially when I make a chocolate cake. Licking the beaters and using the spatula to squeegee out the last drop of batter from the mixing bowl - and sometimes having to mock fight with her over the privilege. Ending up with a chocolate smile smeared from ear to ear. Boy that was a long time ago, but I can still see it like it was yesterday. I can see the kitchen in my mind, even though we only lived there for about 3 years - it was an important 3 years in my childhood.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:08 PM   #2
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I remember baking with my mother when I was very small - around three or four years old. While she made the pies I'd have a little piece of pastry and some jam to make a tiny jam tart. which she'd bake for me. I learned a lot of things while learning about cooking - washing hands before food handling, measuring and even how to tell the time. She'd send me to look at the clock when she put the dish in the oven. I'd come back and tell her that the big hand was on 5 and the little hand was on 3 and she'd tell me that it meant the time was five past three. By the time I was nine or ten I could put a two course hot meal on the table all on my own.

It only went pear-shaped when I got into the clutches of the Domestic Science teachers at the age of eleven. Fortunately, Mother made me drop the subject as soon as I could and saved my future as a cook!

My father was a very good cook, having been taught by his mother and grandmother. He always cooked meals from scratch and there were no packets of this, that and another. When he retired and mother was still working he took over the running of the house. He cooked the meals (and washed up!), did laundry and ironing and cleaned house. Mum never asked him to do it, he just took over.

I had the good fortune, as a child and teenager, to be surrounded by good cooks. Not just mum and dad who were good at it but my maternal grandmother could feed a family well on very little money and my paternal grandmother cooked meals as a necessity but without enthusiasm but was very good at baking.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:14 PM   #3
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I did not cook with my mother per se, but the place we lived in was so small that the only place to do home work was kitchen. I was always there when my my cooked. I was also very lucky to have good cooks in my family, especially my grandmother, she was absolutely amazing.
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Old 03-16-2015, 07:58 PM   #4
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My introduction to cooking came from my paternal grandmother. When I was little we lived in my grandmother's big old farmhouse that had morphed into sort of a two family home. My grandmother took care of me and my sister after my mother returned to work, just before Christmas in 1954. My mother was only going to work long enough to buy some presents and a new sofa. She worked for over 25 years and did not end up getting the new sofa until just before she retired, lol!

In the late 50's I remember standing/kneeling in a chair at my grandmother's kitchen table and helping make various things. At this time of year I think about making jack wax, stirred maple candy and doughnuts. The doughnuts were awesome when they were still warm and were real sinkers on day two. Everything was done at the kitchen table, the work island of its day, lol! My grandmother was always a good sport about taking on various projects to amuse us. We made butter, tried boiling sap for maple syrup, foraged for mushrooms, made jams, jellies, pickles etc...

Cooking out in the yard on a brick fireplace that my uncle built when he was a teenager was another big hit with us. We never grilled or barbequed, we cooked outdoors. We used branches that fell from the old maple trees on the front lawn for fuel. We would drag out the various pots, pans, dishes, ingredients and cook dinner. After dinner we would drag everything back into the house. I think all of these things were designed to keep us busy and tire us out!
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Old 03-17-2015, 01:55 AM   #5
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If I close my eyes, I can clearly see our first kitchen where I lumped potatoes (they never came close to mashed when I first started) and mixed scrambled eggs. I could see into the back yard when I stood on the little footstool my Dad made for me (and Mom, so she could reach things in the top of the cupboards) helping Mom at the stove, as there was a window over the stove. We moved from that house when I was seven.

I really got busy with learning in our next kitchen. By the time I was 11 I could do dinner from start to finish...if you don't count the coffee. I didn't drink coffee, so I could never remember to start it on time. My aunt always complained, so I ended up putting her in charge of it...learning at an early age how to delegate. My favorite food memories are the simple foods: fried potatoes, onions and hot dogs; stroganoff; fried cabbage and noodles; stuffed cabbage. And, of course, her famous "roast chicken on the floor". It slid off the platter onto the just-washed-yesterday linoleum. We did a "pick it up-brush it off-don't tell anyone" dinner and no one was any wiser.

I have a number of recipe boxes that were my Mom's, along with an album she used to collect her favorite recipes, and all the cookbooks she owned. I may not use them much for cooking, but they evoke all sorts of wonderful memories. The best memories, though, are the ones that pop up when I make something that smells just like childhood.
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