Friday, April 27, 2012

Cooking as a child and the diner table

Some of my earliest childhood memories are waking up EARLY Saturday mornings while my parents were still sleeping and pretending to cook them breakfast. Of course I was not allowed to use the stove or oven without supervision and I was not tall enough to reach the pantry shelves so I was left with what I could reach on "my shelf" which was gum and zip lock bags. I would use the tea kettle that was on the stove and fill it with water adding my "spices" gum, salt and pepper haha. Stirring it until it was cooked perfectly and ready to eat. Looking back I feel bad for my parents who had to pretend to enjoy my trident cinnamon soup ;) As I got older and was allowed to actually use kitchen utensils my curiosity grew. I remember watching my grandma cook and she would let me sit on a chair in the kitchen next to her island and do the mixing or scraping of the bowls. I remember fondly my eyes tearing up over cut onions (a vegetable that my grandmother believes belongs in large quantity in EVERY recipe), her meatloaf was a victim of this belief often and to do this day I can hear my mom' voice whispering to me "just eat around the onions". I also remember the magic of pouring boiling water in with the JELLO mix and then magically the refrigerator would turn it into a yummy treat. For some odd reason or another my grandmother always had dozens of box's of JELLO mix with the date they were purchased hand written on them on in her bottom kitchen drawer, I would often organize this drawer by flavor as is it was one of the few things within my reach. She would teach me tricks about scraping the bottom of the bowl and the value of using every part of a vegetable so nothing would go to waste. On my birthday in second grade I had a dentist appointment, for some reason my mother forgot it was my birthday and cruelly decided that I needed a teeth cleaning as a proper way to bring in 8 years old - I remember being so bummed that this was how I had to spend my birthday, the dentist felt bad for me so instead of the normal treat of picking a prize from the wicker treasure chest they had a special present for me - a kids cook book. It had a recipe for every letter of the alphabet and to do this day I still make the T "Tuna Wiggle" as a treat on rainy days. Finally I had a real cookbook something that was meant for kids my age, I was so excited! My mom and I set up a system where I was allowed to make dinner once a week using a recipe from my kids cook book. From there my love for cooking grew. As I got older I cooked a lot of meals for my mom and I since she was working long hours and relied on me to be part of the team. In high school I would cook at my friends houses all the time, most of their parents thought it was great to have someone else cook dinner! Once I got to college in San Francisco I was always the roommate baking and cooking. My roommates would often complain that they would be gaining weight because of all the fresh baked goods laying around our kitchen. But no matter what they said I always kept baking and cooking. I love preparing food for other people, I love watching people enjoying something that I made - I love the community feeling that happens when people sit down together at a table and break bread. I think this is why cooking is so much fun to me. Sharing a meal with someone is much more than just sitting and eating, but it is what happens at the table that really matters. So many great conversations and laughter and wonderful memories are shared over food. I am still of belief that the table is where you eat, there is no T.V. watching during a meal, (In my house growing up we only had 1 TV and it was not on during dinner) you share your stories of the day, your thoughts, and laughter. The dinner table is quite possible my favorite place.

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