Learning To Cook

by Debora Bettis


I guess the earliest memory I have of being in the kitchen is when my brother and I were learning to "doctor" our coffee (in other words, loading it up with sugar) on cold mornings, before school. Later, as we got a little older, we tried our hand at mixing different canned soups together just to see how they tasted. It looked a little funny, but tasted pretty good.

I really felt like I had turned a corner when I reached high school age, and took Home Economics.

I didn't do too well with the sewing classes, but I liked learning how to cook.

I think the first thing I made at home during that time was cinnamon rolls (from scratch). I remember my family was a little dubious about trying my concoction, but they were pleasantly surprised when they didn't all get sick from my creation (lol).

One of my favorite memories (don't know if it would qualify as cooking, though) is visiting my grandmother during the summertime. Her tomatoes were very ripe, so we picked a bunch of them. We put them in an old washtub and set the washtub on one of her old benches. We straddled the bench on either side of the tub, and picked up some paring knives and went to work. We peeled piles of tomatoes for canning, until the juice was dripping off our arms. Every now and then, we would stop and take a "tomato break" What a treat that was!. Even now, all these years later, I remember facing each other over the washtub, laughing and eating the tomatoes. Then it was back to work. Only it didn't seem like work. My, what a sweet memory.

Through the years, I have picked up quite a few techniques and recipes from my favorite TV cooks. When my son gets exasperated at my watching the food network channel, I tell him it is my lesson. I explain to him I watch these programs to help me learn how to prepare foods he and Dad will like (he is definitely a picky eater, so I am continually looking for ways to get him to eat).

I think the person who had the most impact on my learning to cook, though, has been my Mother.

Although she didn't really give me "lessons" in cooking, I absorbed a lot of basic cooking skills by simply watching her. One of my most vivid memories is watching her make biscuits. She wasn't that precise about measuring her ingredients. She seemed to have a "feel" for how much of what ingredients she used. They (the biscuits) always turned out fine. I wish I could say the same for mine!