Sunday, April 3, 2016

Cooking Defensively

The A to Z Challenge takes us on a journey through the month of April. We write Monday through Saturday and take Sunday off. Hence, 26 days and 26 letters of the alphabet. Come in and see what snippet I'm sharing with you today.


Cooking

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?  


52 comments:

  1. I didn't cook much as a child. Mostly egg things. Learned more as I got older. My father taught me quite a lot. And I picked up a bit in my 7th grade home ec. class.

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    1. I have tried to teach my grandchildren the basics. At one time Darian wanted to be a chef. He of course changed his mind. Harley is enjoying cooking for now!

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  2. Never cooked as a child...even now , I cook only if I have to ,otherwise outsourcing is the best option ! Since I do it only occasionally ,it turns out to be a stress buster !

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    1. Yes, cooking to relieve stress can be a great start!!

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  3. I had to smile when I read what your C was about. I guess I could say C is also for cruise, and our kids (both in college, mind you) actually called us one day because they were having an argument over which one of them should clean the over because the other one spilled something in it while cooking. There we were standing in the middle of Quebec City mediating a squabble! One of the highlights of our trip? LOL You're so lucky that you had that time to fiddle around and learn how to cook. The three of us didn't know squat about cooking. I smiled thinking it was fortunate for you when you were that height that you didn't singe your eyebrows! Lovely memories. Great post.

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    1. Yes, C is also for cruises. Richard and I loved to cruise! I can't imagine having to solve an argument while I was gone from home!! I think it is sad when parents don't let their kids figure this out while they are still young. But some just aren't into it!

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  4. What great memories you have of your cooking experiences :) Surprisingly nothing burned down :) My mom was always fearful with us around the stove so we couldn't make anything unless she was around to supervise us. When she worked and we were home alone, we had to resort to sandwiches.

    I am not a creative cook, that is hubby and son, but I can follow a recipe. I personally would prefer not to cook, LOL, and let hubby do as much as he wants :)

    betty

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    1. Yes, we were lucky that nothing burned down. Or we didn't kill each other. There were a few close calls. I am getting more creative the more I experiment. Richard loved to cook too. I miss that!

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  5. Lovely :) Actually trying to imagine how fried cookies taste!

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    1. Well, we thought they were good. But then we were kids who were always hungry!

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  6. Thanks for sharing your "interesting " food. I didn't do much cooking as a child and I'm definitely not a creative cook but I can follow a recipe and it's all usually edible lol

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    1. I follow the recipe mostly. But sometimes I will improvise. Or add to it!

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  7. have always loved to cook, and make up my own recipes.

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  8. I come from a family of bakers and caterers. No one had a recipe and I hated cooking. It was years before all that changed and I started taking culinary classes at night. Now I love cooking and baking, but I've had my share of flops.

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    1. I have often wanted to take culinary classes. I don't think we have anything like that around here. I have had my share of flops too!

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  9. I absolutely love to cook,but only when i'm feeling the inspiration.I read a recipe ,make notes on what should go in there and....Then I improvise.Recipe is just a canvas for me.Sometimes it ends up in a rubbish bin :-)

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    1. I know of people who use the recipe as a canvas as well. Not me, my mind doesn't work that way!

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  10. Lovely, Cooking was also on my mind while i was writing for C but not in positive sense. My cooking idea is more related to cooking phobia :). I do cook occasionally and i have always enjoyed it. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    @niharikard from
    Just From Right Brain

    Niharika

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    1. A cooking phobia. That would be interesting to write about!

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  11. My mother was a terrible cook. She taught me what I know. I took my sister in when she was 18, and she taught my girls to cook. One eventually owned a restaurant.

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    1. My mom wasn't the greatest cook either. But she did have some specialties that she did well.

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  12. Great post. It reminded me of my childhood when my mother would buy cans without labels from a local milk factory. They were cheaper this way! I can remember how exciting it was waiting to see what was in the can although, being a milk factory, it was always rice pudding or some kind of flavoured custard! Around My Kitchen Table

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    1. I remember the cans without labels. And I remember when Richard and I got married our friends removed all the labels from the cans in our cabinets. Not fun!!

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  13. Todd and I were just talking about those gas stoves this weekend when I found my vintage match holder. My granny used to have one near the stove so she could light it. I hate cooking!! Its a long story but 2 different men in my life have ruined cooking for me. I am so lucky that todd likes to cook.

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    1. Yes, you are lucky! I wasn't so crazy about cooking back when I worked full-time. I was glad to let Richard do it for me! For us! And the kids preferred his meals to mine.

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  14. Ha! I don't cook, but I bake. Like you, I'm good at following a recipe. My mother prefers my cookies to her own. However, I married a crock-pot master, so we always eat well! Enjoyed this. (found you through AtoZ)

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    1. Crock-pot cooking is one of my favorite ways to cook. Even though I am home all the time. It just takes so much less time. More time for me to read. Or surf the net!!

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  15. Your post is hilarious! I can just see you guys eating up the canned goods and replacing the empty can on the shelf. That is priceless! I've never heard of such a thing!!! Lol!
    So good that nothing stood in your way when you wanted to cook something. Winging it can sometimes turn into a disaster but other times it can turn out pretty darn good.

    I HATE cooking. I don't even like cooking eggs. Hate everything about cooking. If I could, I'd eat out every day. I don't cook very often. When I do, I do a pretty decent job --- but I find that I cuss the whole time I'm in the kitchen. Hate it! :)

    Michele at Angels Bark

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    1. I can think about eating out everyday too. Except that I am too cheap! And eating out has become so expensive. We can't even go to McDonald's without spending half the grocery allowance! I love cooking eggs.....I am getting so good at not breaking the yolks

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  16. One of the things about coming from a large family (24 yrs between eldest and youngest) is that the parents that raised me weren't the same as raised my brothers and they changed even more while raising my sister. My brothers remember lots of home cooking and Mom was a great cook but by the time I came around she was over it and eagerly turned to convenience foods and restaurants. When I showed an interest in cooking she was happy to turn over the reins

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    1. I'll bet she was. And luckily you turned out to be a great cook!

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  17. I was a terrible cook as a child - I could lick the spoon but that was about all and even today I need to follow a recipe to make sure it tastes right! My super friend at school used to help me in cookery class as well as do her own but she was often in trouble with the teacher as she helped me first and then of course would be slow finishing off her own cooking!
    Pempi
    A Stormy’s Sidekick
    Special Teaching at Pempi’s Palace

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    1. I hated cooking classes at school. Yuck. I still remember 'creamed eggs on toast'.

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  18. This is SO funny, Paula! Jew Burger Gravy had me in stitches.

    The kitchen in my parents' house was no bigger than that of your average cabin cruiser .... so aside from holiday baking, my mother didn't encourage my presence.

    Thankfully, both my former hubby and Tom love to cook and I'm more than happy to stand aside!

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    1. Many men love to cook. And many of us women just let them. Maybe if you get tired of his cooking you can send him my way!! LOL!

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  19. Slow Cooker/Crockpot is my favourite way to cook. Perfecto every time.
    @CazsBooks
    http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com #a-z

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    1. I agree with you. Slow cooker is the best!

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  20. What humorous tales you have to tell! Had my first laugh for the day! Thank you. Carolyn @ Pastimes-Passions-Paraphernalia.org

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    1. Thank you Carolyn. My kids used to call them "mom's war stories".

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  21. I never follow recipes. Oh sure sometimes I find one and mean to follow it to the letter and then get bored part way through and chuck in something else and something else. It's a little dangerous but hey ho, it's off to the cooker we go.

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    1. I have a friend that cooks like that. Me, I stick pretty close to the recipe!

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  22. Your stories of making the best of cooking mishaps reminds me of a story my mother-in-law told me about my husband. When he was a teenager, he was at a friend's house and in the middle of the night they got hungry but the friend didn't want to make noise in the kitchen and risk waking his parents so they took a pot and a box of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese out to the gas barbecue grill. The result was a mushy mess, my husband's friend refused to eat it, so my husband ate all of it on his own.

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    1. EWWW...I remember once when our power was out for a week due to ice storm. We had to cook whatever thawed in the freezer and everything was cooked on the gas grill in the freezing weather. And adventure in the beginning. Pissed me off by day 7!!

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  23. I learned most of the cooking stuff from my gramma. Mom worked, and I would go to gramma's house after school. We baked, made casseroles, that sort of thing. In high school, due to a faulty electric stove and a horrible fire thing with french fries, I totally lost my interest in cooking. I'm still crazy afraid of frying things. I cannot tell you how happy I am that Joe loves and prefers to do all the cooking. I'm more than happy to clean as long as I don't have to fry anything. I occasionally cook, following the recipe very carefully. He never uses a recipe and it's delicious. Best. Husband. Ever.

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    1. I remember from your blog how much Joe loved to cook. You do have a good husband. Of that I am sure!!!

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  24. My mother was a wonderful cook and baker and I learned to cook as a child, especially baking. I didn't cook as much when I worked -- home late a lot -- but I've taken up cooking and baking again. I try to eat low carbohydrate, so if I want to eat sweets I have to make them. I do enjoy it and love looking at recipes.

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    1. I like reading recipes too. I am getting ready to do Whole 30 so that will involve a whole 'nother way of looking at things.

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  25. Chuckling here at your improvisational cuisine.

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    1. Thanks. It has brought us years of laughter!

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  26. Fried cookies sound amazing. I wonder what would happen if I tried that with a regular cookie dough. Hmm...

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    1. I would imagine that it would work. Let me know if you try it!

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