Have you all read this post that Rose did recently on spending time behind the stove? If not, please go read it because it is awesome. I’ll wait.
I have to say that it is pretty spot on for me and the way I view cooking and baking. Some people love to cook, some love to bake, I like doing both. I do love cooking just a tad more than baking but I still really enjoy baking. I don’t think it’s as rocket science as everyone tries to turn it into.
My love for cooking started as soon as I was able to heat up a can of soup for myself. Which was when I was really young. I made this all by myself! Really does it get any better? It started what is proving to be a lifelong love affair between me and the kitchen.
I have the best memories of food and cooking. My grandmother made the most fantastic things. I might not have been able to sample some of the things from her heyday, like homemade nutrolls and breads, but I did get some really fantastic meals cooked by her. She introduced me to the best combo ever, PB and honey on toast. To me PB&J is about the nastiest combo around. Ew, kids, ew. Gimme me PB with honey any day! Whenever I stayed over, that was my breakfast in the mornings and sometimes I got to have it with some tea!
My mom cooked us tons of meals all the time and her kitchen was small. Really small so I couldn’t really hover too much but I was able to sit at the bar facing the kitchen and watch her make things. I learned a lot just by observing, which created a foundation so that when I attempted things on my own I had a starting point.
In middle school we had to take Home Ec (do they still even have home ec classes in school anymore?) and you would think that I loved the cooking part but you would be wrong. I hated it. It was so restricting! We had to follow the recipe exactly, no room for creativity. How boring. I remember making tuna melts one class and being frustrated because the cheese on top was so small. We had to take a slice of American cheese, fold into quarters and use one quarter per piece of toast.
American cheese doesn’t ooze or melt like a moz or cheddar does. It just sits there and gets warm. Duh teacher! So we ended up with a piece of bread with tuna and a square of warm cheese in the middle. Plus the tuna mixture was just tuna and mayo. Damn teach, can we get some onion and garlic powder up in this bidness at least?!
We also could only use a dime-sized drop of dish soap to wash dishes, anymore and we got docked points. Seriously.
Plus on the snob level, I was way past the tuna melt stage, this was cake walk compared to what I was already doing on my own at home. There was one time I got really frustrated at one of my partners in class because she forgot to turn the oven on. We had to make cookies and we were waiting for them to bake but for some reason ours weren’t cooking. The teacher was positive something wasn’t wrong with the oven but she never left her stool to come check on us. Just told us to “give it time”. After about 15 minutes when I was annoyed our stuff wasn’t baking, I checked the oven. There were two knobs, one for the temp and then one for the action; baking, broiling, and so on. She turned the temp one but never turned the action one to bake. You can see how home ec cooking was not my bag. Do not try to put me in a box, I will bust out!
At home, is when I learned the most and a lot of this has to do with my mom’s lack of cooking joy. She cooks but I don’t think my mom has ever really loved to cook. Sometimes I would ask for something specifically and the answer I got back was, “That takes all day long to make.” Or, “That takes too long.” One time I wanted some chocolate chip cookies and that was the response I got.
Not to be deterred (do not try to tell a Polish girl she can’t do something because you will not come out a winner), I found a recipe and checked to make sure we had all the ingredients. In the time it took my mom to go to the grocery store I had made chocolate chip cookies and had the kitchen cleaned up.
That’s when I sort of realized that cooking didn’t take as long as my mom was trying to lead me to believe. It was at that point I started doing more and more on my own. I started becoming responsible for my own lunches when I wasn’t in school. I would help with dinner. Sometimes on the weekends I would bake stuff.
When I hit college, my mom got a job and was working all day. My dad worked nights so he was asleep during the day. Plus as much as I love my father, you really didn’t want him cooking for you. He tried, god bless him, and it was edible, just not delish. :p Anyway, when I was home from college on break (I went away to school, far far away) I would make dinner so that my mom didn’t have to come home from a long day of work and start dinner. This helped me develop my creative juices.
It helped me build my confidence so that when I left home to live with Scott, I was able to create us some great meals. It was basic, and compared to how we eat now, not the healthiest of things. However, everyone else our age wasn’t even cooking for themselves except for the occasional hotdogs or whatever. I remember one acquaintance poking fun at the fact I actually had real potatoes and onions in the house to use for cooking. She’s lucky that she was buzzed at the time or else I would have ripped her a new one. Making fun of us because we had real food in the house?! Grow up already.
I’ve always cooked for us and my skills have grown a great deal over the years that we have been together. Naturally everything isn’t perfect every time, but thankfully full-on disasters have not really happened. There was one time I was heating up some corn and instead of adding garlic powder I added a ton of garlic salt.
Yeah, that was pretty much a wash. Ew.
I have a really great natural instinct for cooking. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn, just explaining how I feel about it. I can look at a few recipes of something I have not made before and then go in and create my own. I can watch a cooking show and think, “Okay well I would probably use this instead.” Or apply the concept to something totally different.
Cooking is my art. It is how I can show my creativity. I love it very much. Sometimes people ask me if I could ever cook for a living and the truth is I do not think that I could. School would be a little limiting for me, again having to follow rules and instructions the entire way. Making something to the instructor’s tastes, not my own would be really frustrating. Running a business where I might have to make the same thing over and over again would be stressful. My stuff never tastes the same twice. Like Rose mentioned in her post, I can make the same thing and it will taste different each time. It will always be good but sometimes a little something else will stick out just a bit more. Or maybe I was in more of a garlic mood that night. Or maybe not.
I love the way that I can do anything I want in the kitchen. I love how I can turn one thing into an entirely new thing. I like experimenting and trying new things.
I just really like to cook. It soothes my soul and eases my woes. It is a part of who I am.