I’m not sure how closely I’m playing by the rules, but here is my entry for:
First and foremost, I’m talking about recipes, of course. I’ve already featured plenty of the best handed down to me from my mother and/or grandmother (click on the photo to go to the recipe):
Italian Wedding Soup:
The World’s Moistest Chocolate Cake:
Breaded Veal Cutlets:
Ham and Cabbage Soup:
Louise’s Banana Cake:
But as anyone who has ever dabbled in the kitchen knows, cooking and baking are about more than just recipes. I credit my grandmother and mother with teaching me the basics–what heat to use, how often I need to stir, why garlic should be added after onion. These things came from watching the pros at work.
And truth be told, I never really cooked or baked alongside either of them with any regularity; like many masters, they worked best alone, but every now and again, I helped make gnocchi (forked ‘em to make the grooves), mixed meatballs (loved getting my hands gooey), and measured out ingredients for baking (I always was anal).
But what I did most was watch and learn. It may surprise you to know that I never did much cooking or baking at home; I really only started experimenting and getting a feel for the kitchen after I moved out on my own. But when I needed information, experience, and guidance, some things that had been instilled in me from an early age rose to the surface.
And what really sticks with me, each and every time I step into the kitchen, are two major things that I apparently learned by osmosis as they were never stated.
The first is that you need to have confidence in what you’re doing. If you’re constantly second-guessing, you’ll be too nervous to really get into a groove and to let your tastebuds take over, and that lack of confidence will show in the dish.
I learned to cook by trial and error–and many phone calls to my grandmother and mother even with the recipe in hand, but I always had in my mind the mental picture of the women in my life ruling, absolutely commanding, their kitchens. Somehow that seeped in, and gave me confidence as well.
No, things don’t always come out perfectly, but practice definitely helps, and you can’t be afraid to get in the kitchen, get to work, and get comfortable. It gets easier.
And the second lesson? Make it with love. Everything tastes better when you put your passion, your emotions, your love into whatever you’re making, and this transcends food. No matter what you’re doing, if you do it with enthusiasm, it’ll come out better. No going through the motions here–believe me, you’ll taste it.
Both my grandmother and mother always prepared food the same way no matter who was eating the food–whether it was just themselves or upwards of thirty people. And I could always taste the love.
I am so thankful for the lessons I learned in the kitchen from my grandmother and mother as they have most certainly made me the cook and baker I am today–not the best, not the worst, but definitely someone with a sense of confidence, adventure, and joy in my favorite room of the house. And while we’re talking about thankful:
Today I’m thankful for:
The wonderful women in my family, particularly my mother and grandmother, although there are many others. My mother is without a doubt my best friend, and I still go to pick up the phone and call my grandmother every now and again even though she passed away six years ago last month.
The bonds we share with other women are always special, but I’ve been so lucky to have such precious relationships within my own family; I know not everyone has that, and I am extremely thankful that I have been so blessed.
[tags]apples & thyme, mothers, grandmothers, cooking, nablopomo, 30 days of thanks, recipes[/tags]