I remember the words and my mom will never forget them. They came out of my mouth without one ounce of hesitation.
I was in 10th grade and clearly had all my favorite meals made for me at the time. Spoiled much? Yes. Thankfully, my mom wasn't about to let one ignorant statement from a bratty teenager keep her from sharing what she knew about cooking. Even though she worked full-time, well, really all the time on our family business, she still managed to be in the kitchen constantly. From the easy stuff like bagel sandwiches to complex beef stews or carnitas she'd tend to throughout the day, she was always passing along tips and tricks. Now, cooking pizzas and other meals from scratch is our favorite thing to do together. Whenever she visits we head straight to the grocery store to get ingredients for old favorites and recipes we've wanted to try. There's something about a parent's cooking that's so comforting. While she has a really difficult time not dissecting the meals she makes -- "That could have used a few more minutes...maybe more _______ next time?", she's always encouraged me to just go for it! One of my mom's favorite things about cooking is hearing anyone, but mainly my brother because...momma's boy...say "mmm..." when he takes his first bite. Now, that I cook quite a bit, I'm always looking for Jake to do the same thing, I'm more forceful though and if he doesn't give me an instant reaction I badger him with about 20 questions. I probably watch too much chopped, because I prefer a full review of practically everything I make. After all that hard work, who doesn't want a hip hip hooray, you're the best cook in the world! Hip Hip Hoorays were a staple in our house at dinner, my dad would lead us in a cheer for our mom. Now that I look back, we should have said it every night and with more enthusiasm than I'm sure we mustered up as kids.
I'm not sure when I started to be interested in cooking, it probably wasn't until I was out of college, but now it's something I look forward to. If I had an endless supply of money, I'd spend it on fancy ingredients to try out new recipes. Just like anyone else, I have my go-tos, but my mom has helped me realize I can make my own sauces etc. from scratch to help elevate what would be an average meal. Plus, once you have a few key ingredients, making sauce for pizza, pasta etc. is so much cheaper and more flavorful than buying pre-made sauces packed full of preservatives. Wow. I just realized I sound exactly like my mom. I guess all those years of show and tell paid off! While she's taught me so much about cooking, I knew my mom had more to share, so I did a quick Q/A with her recently. Here's how it went.
Who did you learn to cook from?
I learned a little cooking from my Mom and Grandma Morgan. Of course, when you look back, you wish you would have paid more attention and asked to be taught more.
Did you always have meals as planned out as it seemed?
The most difficult part of a family is the fact that you are in charge of feeding everyone 24/7. To survive, you need to be proactive rather than reactive. Waiting an hour before dinner to think about what you are having is stressful. I tried to decide what meals we would be having for the week. Then I wrote out the ingredients needed for each meal, checked the cupboard for what was in stock and made a list, by department, of the items I needed.
Top tips for saving $ on groceries?
I never really bought from the bulk bins when you kids were little, but now I do. They are handy for getting just the right amount. I tried coupons from time to time, but before the Internet, most of the coupons were for expensive items that I really didn't use. I think the freezer is your best friend in cutting down on the time you spend in the kitchen and money you spend on meals. Cook once and freeze half for another meal later that month.
You love to garden, how does that change your view on food?
Growing some of your own food, which I do on a small scale, makes you realize how much goes into getting that food from the garden to your plate. The fresh taste is the real bonus along with knowing how the plant was fed/fertilized and the absolute pleasure one gets spending time in the garden. I think kids can get excited about food if they are part of watching and helping it grow in the garden. It makes me more aware of what it took -- all that care, watering, and time -- I don't want to just throw it down the disposal.
We always had snacks on hand, how did you keep them stocked?
Snacks were a necessity. There was a lot of time between the school bus and dinner. Not all my snack choices were healthy, but it always made me feel good when they were. It had to be planned though, if not it meant more trips to the store.
We loved the food you made, did you see yourself as a good cook?
I didn't really start to bloom with cooking until the Internet came alive. To be able to look up recipes of items you want to learn how to make and getting to read reviews of people who have actually made it and rated it was and is so helpful. It made me realize I could substitute items and put my own twist on a recipe, using what I had on hand.
Do you feel like as a mom you got creative in the kitchen because you had to?
A big YES to that question. You can do amazing things when you feel your back is against the wall and it's for your family. You are a way better cook right now then I was as a Mom with young children.
What do you still want to learn how to cook?
More things that make my family happy. There's no better sound than having someone come through the door and say "mmmm...it smells so good in here!". I would like to learn how to make good soups, bread and veggie dishes.