Learning to Cook

Since many of my friends have teased me about the Saturday recipe blogs, although many of you seem to enjoy them quite a bit, I thought I’d take the time to explain some of the history behind this. (Plus, I couldn’t decide what recipe to post today, so it’s a perfect time for this story!)

Back when I was growing up as a teenager in the 60’s, we had a class called Home Economics. We started taking it in seventh grade, and believe it or not, since I have a reputation among my friends for trying NOT to cook more than trying TO cook, I was actually one of the student assistants for the seventh and eighth graders during both my junior and senior years.

A good reason for that is probably because I used to sew quite well (probably still can if I really tried, but I gave it up years ago), having been taught by my mother who had won a few local awards for her abilities as a seamstress.

cookie makingBut part of Home Ec, as we all called it, involved cooking, which I’d never really had a lot of interest in. I remember my mother introducing me to rolling out biscuit and cookie dough when I was really small. I actually remember being in our pantry and standing on a stool my father had made so I would be tall enough to reach the counter and help cut out the pieces of dough with cookie cutters my mother let me use. I think there’s a picture somewhere, but I haven’t been able to find it.

And yes, I did eat some of the raw dough, just like I’ve always told my own daughter not to do when she helps me. The difference is, I learned early on that not listening to my mother wasn’t the smartest thing I could ever do!

I don’t remember what those first cookies I made looked like, or even tasted like, but I can assume that my mother told me they were the prettiest ones she’d ever seen…the best she’d ever had. After all, that’s what most mothers do! I’m also fairly certain they were NOT the best she’d ever had! And probably not very pretty, either.

Several years later I got some kind of baking set for either Christmas or my birthday. It came complete with little mixing bowls and individual cake mix and icing mixes. This was before those Easy-Bake ovens, because I remember my mom helping put the little bowls in her oven and waiting expectantly for my cakes to cook. I also remember how delicious that chocolate cake mix was after all the ingredients were added, and how sick I got after eating almost a whole package of it.

hot chocolateThat was basically my cooking experience until I found myself in my first Home Ec class. I thought I would do great until I discovered the first unit was cooking…good grief, no! I had no idea what to do! We had to make hot chocolate. From scratch. Using a recipe. No instant packages! Fortunately we were in teams. Unfortunately my teammates knew about as much of what to do as I did. We put the ingredients together, cooked it, and somehow managed to burn the milk, and it tasted awful. In fact, I think most of us in that class had the same “success”.

There were two other dishes we had to prepare. One being corn chowder. How many of you have ever had corn chowder? I hadn’t. But I have to say it was actually fairly decent after we made it. These days I’d add some potatoes and a bunch of clams and some macaroni and tomato, and turn it into clam chowder. Now THAT would be good! The other dish? Good old fashioned green bean casserole…who doesn’t know how to make that? Well, I didn’t at the time, but I excelled in that one! And I actually still make it quite a bit.

And how funny is it that I won the Betty Crocker Homemaker Award when I was a senior! I don’t remember what I had to do, but I can guarantee it was probably from taking a written test, and possibly submitting some of the clothes I’d made. Not for my cooking abilities! And yes, my husband still shakes his head over that one.

2016-02-18 20.34.39Now for the truth….while I like to tell people I don’t cook unless I’m forced to, I actually do cook. Not every night, and nothing near as elaborate as I used to “back in the day” when I had more time. I do fix huge holiday dinners, and love to make cookies and key lime pie! I also have a rather extensive recipe collection, and sometimes even use some of them.

And yes, most of the recipes I’m using on the blog are from our family cookbooks! I have to put them to use for something!

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