Thinking Back Thursday ~ Learning How To Cook…

in my parents kitchen, cir. 1970

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about the days when I was a newlywed, trying to learn how to cook!  I suppose the reason for these thoughts stems from recent conversations I’ve had with our soon-to-be DIL, Jennifer.  We’ve been discussing a few “domestic things” in recent weeks, and Jennifer has even scoured a few of my cookbooks looking for simple recipes.  I hear that she’s been sharpening her culinary skills!

Unfortunately, I didn’t feel much need to “sharpen my culinary skills” prior to marriage!  I took a quick “crash course” in cooking from my daddy, as I observed him in the kitchen a few times.  I watched and then wrote down everything he did, in a spiral notebook, which I still have today!  Armed with that little bit of knowledge, I sailed off into marital bliss…without so much as a cookbook!

Fortunately, my husband is very gracious and never complained as I found my way around the kitchen!  I knew how to make spaghetti, cakes, and brownies when we got married.  That was pretty much it!  From my crash course with daddy, I learned how to cook peas, stewed tomatoes, and creamed corn– the fresh kind, not the kind in cans!  Oh, and I could make cornbread!

Two things that intimidated me the most,  were cooking rice, and making gravy!  I don’t know why I ever thought either of these things was so difficult, but for some reason, I was convinced that I couldn’t cook them.  For several years, I bought Minute Rice, which was okay, but not as good as regular rice.  Finally, after years of marriage, I learned how to cook the rice dry, in a pot, on top of the stove!  Such a simple thing, yet it eluded me for years!

I don’t actually remember when I learned how to make decent gravy.  I made a lot of bad gravy before I learned how to make good gravy.  I’d add too much water, not enough flour, or too much flour, and not enough water.  Actually, to this day, my husband makes better gravy than I do!  He got his talent honest, because his daddy was a fantastic cook.  

I always found it quite interesting that my daddy, and my father-in-law, did most of the cooking in their households in their later years!  Both of their wives worked later hours than they did, so both men already had supper cooking when their wives got home from work.  My husband knows how to cook a few things, but I’ve always done the majority of the cooking in our household, while my husband is my assistant.  I wonder if he’d like to take over my kitchen one of these days, after retirement… 

I still remember baking my first hen– what a disaster that turned out to be!  Nobody told me that I needed to boil the old hen before I baked her, and when we tried to eat the baked hen, the meat was so tough that the fork actually bounced off!  My first couple of attempts at stuffing, or “dressing” as we say here in the south, were just as disastrous. 

Another dish that I was late in learning how to prepare is “chicken and dumplings”.  I’ve always liked chicken and dumplings, but I used to consider it “old people food”, because our parents were always cooking it!  Occasionally, I’d try making a pot of dumplings, but they never tasted like mama’s….and rolling those dumplings???  Forget that!  Someone finally told me about frozen dumplings.  These days, I can make chicken and dumplings that even mama would be proud of–and I don’t even have to roll those dumplings! 

I’ve decided I’d like to try and provide Jennifer with a little help in the kitchen, by making her a cookbook.  I’m sharing  favorite recipes from my collection of cookbooks, plus a few favorite family recipes of my own.  Perhaps with the help of a cookbook, Jennifer will never have to experience the trial and error method like I did!  I’d have given a million dollars if someone had done that for me.

I’m joining Thursday’s Friends today.  Hop on over and join us.

Published in: on April 21, 2011 at 8:40 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Gravy can still be hit or miss around here : ) My mother was an excellent cook and I learned by watching. I think my girls have learned the same way and they both enjoy cooking and are adventurous in trying new things. I thinki it helps that there is the food network and so much food programming that inspires.

  2. Great memories! My hubby does most of the cooking around our home. I am usually the salad maker!

  3. What a cute picture. I am always amazed to see how young you were when you took on such a weighty responsibility of being a wife and running a home. At 17 I was no where near that.

    Because my mother worked, it was up to me to get supper on the table, so I was cooking from about 14 on. I enoyed it. Terry is a good breakfast cook, so, on weekends he does that for me. I have always liked the cookbooks that groups put out. Like your local church or school, or workplace. Those are everyone’s favorites.

  4. Hmmmm…. Did you really have a million dollars to give though? 🙂

    It’s funny because my mom and grandma were good cooks but I never really cared to learn. Most of what I learned was from watching and I never cared to follow a book. Most of what I cook is in my head and I just do it my way. Nobody really complains so I guess I do okay. (Notice though I did say most, I still pull a reciped off the internet every now and again)

  5. Your post caused me to think about my trials and errors in the kitchen as a young wife of 20. The pork roast I thought I could put in the oven at the lowest setting for several hours … only to come home and find it had roasted into a cinder. The loaf of bread that had baked into a brick. Thankfully, I’m a decent cook these days … or maybe my hubby is just a sweetie and will eat (without complaint) just about anything I serve up. 😉

  6. To be completely honest…back in my younger years I made gravy that turned out looking close to mashed potatoes and my biscuits turned out to be something that hockey players could’ve used. Thank heavens my skills have improved over the years. LOL I have a NuWave oven and that really takes all the worry out of cooking meat…plus it’s alot healthier than my desired method which is frying. My only defense about wanting everything fried is that I’m from the south. LOL I’m sure that you’re an amazing cook now. Thanks for this story. It’s nice to know that everyone wasn’t the perfect cook from the beginning…I used to think I was the only person in the world that couldn’t cook good. It’s nice to know that we’ve both improved. 😛

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