I've been cooking for as long as I can remember. When my dad died my mom left the home to work for other people. She cleaned their houses. And we were left to take care of things at our house. My sister and I learned to cook. We had a an old gas stove that I can remember being just tall enough to see the burners when I stood in front of it. It didn't light automatically when the handle was turned. We turned on the gas and struck a match and held it to the burner....whoosh, it lit. The flame was a blueish-orange color. And the gas smelled, well, like gas!
I remember some of the catastrophes of our cooking at home without a mother present. My uncle was of the Jewish faith. He made a burger that he called a Jew Burger. My sister and I once tried to duplicate that burger. We must have left something out of the mixture because our burgers didn't hold their shape. We weren't girls who took well to defeat. So we turned those burgers into gravy and called it "Jew Burger Gravy" which we ate on bread. Pretty tasty too, as I recall.
There was a long narrow closet in the apartment we lived in. Mom called it her pantry. This is where she stored canned food. Store bought, as well as, home-canned food. And this is where we kids liked to go with a hand-held can opener and a spoon. After we opened the can and devoured the food we would put the can back on the shelf. Mom would find it empty when she went to open the can for a meal. Believe me when I tell you this would cause some sparks to fly in that apartment. She usually started by saying "Who did this?" And of course, like most kids, we never knew who it was. So usually all of us would get a paddling (or whatever the punishment of the day was).
Another fond memory I have that involves cooking had to do with making cookies. Mom was gone! We were following a recipe. We came upon an ingredient called "cream of tarter". None of knew what that was. My brother said, "we don't have any cream". My sister said, "I don't even know what tarter is." So we substituted milk. The cookies of course turned out to be somewhat thin. Couldn't drop them from a spoon. That didn't stop us. We fried them. Fried cookies. Pretty tasty.
I still like to cook. But I am not an imaginative cook. I follow the recipe. I am not much good at making substitutes. I am getting better. And I like to 'doctor' up box things to have more substance. Like Hamburger Helper with a twist!
Did you learn to cook as a child? I'm sure you have stories to tell. What are some of yours?