Country Kitchen: Remembering Early Cooking Experiences

Country Kitchen: Remembering Early Cooking Experiences
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Do you recall some of your earliest cooking experiences? Were they successful or a disaster? Do you look back upon them with nostalgia or humor?
These incidents help create a heritage for your family, giving them insight into your life of earlier years.

Early Cooking Episodes

Cooking appealed to me from my childhood. Fortunately Mother let me help her stir up various dishes in the kitchen and didn't discourage my sister and brothers either.

I recall making my first meal when I was six years old. Mother wasn't feeling well and supper time was nearing.

"What would Father and the hired man eat when they came from the evening milking?" I wondered.

I found cold boiled potatoes in the refrigerator. With Sister's help (she was younger), I cut these into cubes or slices. We browned them in the iron skillet on the wood stove. Then I scrambled eggs because I remembered Mother's instructions from helping her with a previous meal.

These dishes, with bread and butter, fresh milk and canned fruit made the supper meal. I recall only praise for what I'd done, with Sister's help.

Another time we decided to bake a cake. Apparently I hadn't mastered reading yet because we didn't use a cookbook, only trying to remember what ingredients Mother used. We stirred this up and baked it in the woodstove oven.

Mother, Father, and the hired man raved about the cake. Later Mother explained it was a little flat because I must have forgotten to include the baking powder.

4-H Cooking Experiences

Cooking lessons with Miss Laura were an enjoyable experience in 4-H. Recently I came across the booklet of instructions and recipes that we used. What fun to find those recipes and be entertained with memories.

With Mother, we learned cooking by using "a pinch of this or a pinch of that, a tea cup of this and a coffee cup of that."

Miss Laura taught us about measuring cups and spoons and following the recipe the booklet instructed us. I immediately informed Mother that we needed measuring utensils, too.

I don't think one was a better cook than the other. It simply was interesting to learn from both methods of cooking instruction.

Cooking in Home Economics Class

When I attended Junior High (7th and 8th grades) there were home economics classes for the girls and shop classes for the boys. Here we alternated between cooking and sewing.

I leaned from Miss VanAnden that there was a special knife to cut a grapefruit.

"Mother, we need to get a grapefruit knife," I mentioned when I came home after class. We learned the correct way to set a table and prepare breakfast. Then we graduated to making luncheon dishes and finally the art of baking.

I enjoyed this so much that I chose the cooking and nutrition course in high school instead of the physics class my guidance teacher thought a college-bound student should take.

What are the cooking experiences of your childhood? Do you have recipes you still can make for your family or include in a family cookbook?

Here's the recipe for PLAIN MUFFINS I learned from Miss Laura. I made it often for my family.

Sift into a small bowl, 2 cups flour, 1/4 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt. In another bowl, beat 1 egg until slightly with fork or whisk. Add 1 cup milk and 1/4 cup vegetable oil and stir together.

Pour the dry ingredients into the liquid ingredients, all at one time. Stir until just mixed together. Batter will be lumpy. Spoon into greased and floured or paper lined muffin tins.

Bake in preheated 400 degree F. oven for 20 minutes, or until muffins test done.

(Sometimes I sprinkled a cinnamon/sugar mixture over the muffins before baking.)

(C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

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About The Author

Mary Emma Allen researches and writes from her multi-generational NH home. Check out her new site, Tea Time Notes

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