Monday, October 8, 2012

Cooking and food

   This weekend I made a pineapple upside down cake.  It's not something I make normally but I had part of a fresh pineapple, some almond meal and the desire to use things we buy.  We get great ideas in my house... I always have something odd stuck on the shelf - either I've bought or he has "found" that sounds really good.  He teaches chess for a living and has a great many Asian and Indian students.  They are generous to their "coach" and often send home jars of sauce, or if he stops in at a small Asian market he picks up something they have at home he's liked.  If I'm making something and ask for him to pick up a random ingredient he will likely bring home two kinds unless I'm very specific.  Saturdays we usually have dinner with my best friend and his partner so I thought it would be perfect to make something for dessert.  Hence the pineapple upside down cake.  It turned out well and we all enjoyed it.

But it got me thinking about how I learned to cook...What was your first step in figuring out how to make stuff.  My family cooked - well back them processed food was more or less a luxury.  My mom and her sisters had grown up in the Depression so they made do quite a bit.  My favorite foods from my grandmother were what I now call depression foods or World War II food.  She served us corn dodgers (her version of hush puppies), spam and had mountains of canned goods.  I played build a fort with those but have a strong memory of tinned peaches.

My mom was a member of the Eastern Star and every month would help cook up the monthly dinner held by the Masonic lodge with whom her group was partnered.  She would always bring home some leftovers.  But I have no memory of her teaching me cook.  I watched her some and when I needed to earn the cooking badge for my girl scout troop she showed me how to make a variety of eggs - scrambled, fried, soft-boiled and hard-boiled. I still have her cookbook given to her by a friend when she was married in 1946.  The favorite part is eating for the war and how to save for the troops, including growing a victory garden.   Dad, coming from new Orleans would sometimes cook something like gumbo and he once made a killer orange juice cook cake that I still haven't found a recipe anywhere although a friend said his grandmother made a similar cake,

Even as a teen and living with my aunt, I didn't cook much.  It wasn't until I was on my own I started figuring out how to make things.  It started out with beans and rice since that was pretty much all I could afford, I slowly branched out and tried new things.  I joined a food co-op and bought grains and such in bulk with them.  I worked at eating places and slowly drifted into cooking.  I joined a re enactment group and learned to do a lot of major cooking for large groups. 

I just fell in love with cooking, the whole journey from raw ingredients to finished product.  I enjoy the sharing of it.  I found I love reading cookbooks and learning about cultures through their food.  Mostly I just love watching people eat when I've created. 

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