Wednesday, September 16, 2015
Never too young to start
I don't know why but lately I've been into these cooking shows featuring kids. Last night we watched a Chopped Teen Tournament and I think the night before we watched Rachel Ray's Kids Cook Off where they have these kids that are like 8-12 years old on there! I see them and I think of how young they are but when I think back, I was that young as well when I started cooking.
My step grandmother was a fancy lady. She would make this chicken cordon bleu that everyone loved and it was where I got my flair for presentation. So many of you say how my meals look so pretty, well, she was my inspiration for that. I couldn't wait until I was old enough to cook like that. I remember when my dad left when I was eight, my mom wasn't eating much. My grandma (her mom- the one with dementia) was going to come over one night and I asked mom if I could make us all a nice dinner and she agreed. I made pork chops and I can't remember what went with it but I was nervous to see if they'd like it. My grandma raved over it and I remembered thinking it was really good too. My mom was too distraught to eat it. I think she took a bite and told me it was good but that she wasn't feeling well and went to her room. So grandma and I sat in the kitchen and ate together. I wasn't mad at mom for not eating my first big dinner but I kind of wish I didn't remember that part. But I do remember grandma being super supportive and telling me that I was an excellent cook. That nudged me in the direction to keep on cooking. I remember a few meals my dad cooked and he was an experimenter in the kitchen so I think that's where I got that. The holidays were a time when special things like beef roast or grandma's noodles were coveted by all and I really latched on to that food is love concept. I know...that's something that makes people fat but I can't help it, I've got an old Italian grandma for a soul.
When we were at our heaviest, I was used to hearing the Mr tell company "come over more often, I only get this when company comes." It used to really hurt my feelings, not because he was insulting me but because he was right. I was fine with pouring a meal from a bag in a skillet and slopping it on a plate or heating up a pizza pocket. Cooking uninspiring meals left us uninspired. When it was time to lose weight, it stoked a fire in me to take on the challenge of making food that not only fit into our new calorie ranges but looked and tasted good.
Even in bad lighting situations, most of that still looks pretty dang good and yes, those are typical meals for us for lunch or dinner any night of the week. I don't just break it out only for company anymore because I want to cook with the love I would put into a special occasion every day. My cousin always gives the Mr "the look" when I tell him what we eat but I told him they are super small tweaks to ordinary things that he could easily do. Like see that sweet potato just above this? When I told him I made that, he got all huffy and said "I just microwave my sweet potatoes." I told him that is how I make them too. I microwave a goodly size tater for 6 minutes in the microwave and the only thing I do extra is score the potato, sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice on it and give a skillet (which I'm likely already using for dinner) a squirt of coconut cooking spray. I grill it slightly and then drizzle 1 tsp of cinnamon or regular honey on it. It tastes amazing, looks gourmet but is one of the easiest things you could make.
I'm so excited for these kids to have always had access to Food Network or the Cooking Channel because they get inspired to cook for their families. I wish I had those things when I was their age but I'm glad that I had family that inspired or supported me in cooking. My cousin always asks what I bring at holidays and gets himself a big ol' helping of it or two because as he says "if Anele makes it...you EAT it."
What age did you start cooking? Did someone inspire your cooking style?
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