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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13 comments:

  1. As the biggest benefactor of your amazing talents with food I am glad you have such a knack for it. You found something at a young age that you enjoy doing and that is awesome. All I can say is thank you thank you thank you!!

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  2. When I was 17, I made an "I'm sorry" cake for my grandmother. I followed the recipe to a T which included almond extract. Which she doesn't use when she makes it so it didn't taste like hers (she uses vanilla)

    And I kind of started in college when I had access to a kitchen - like more than bowling water for some pasta. But really cooking, came when I moved out on my own and had no choice. I'd call my gram for help on certain items since I wanted to make them like she does and the internet can't tell me that. I'll still call and ask her for help or text my mom for help. I was there this past weekend and my gram was giving directions to my mom on how to make something - which I know my mom has made before lol

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    1. That's wonderful that you have family to turn to that will help you through recipes. It's a bonding experience whether they're in the room with you or not.

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  3. I'm not much of a cook. I can follow a recipe if it's an easy one, I have several "go tos" that I make well enough, a few more complicated things that I make well once in a while, but a gourmet I am not. I was a picky eater as a kid so I had the option to eat what my folks made or fix my own - I ate a lot of sandwiches and pasta growing up, but never really cooked. It wasn't until I was an adult that I started really cooking, and that was from necessity not talent or enjoyment. If I'm ever rich the first thing I'm going to do is hire a live in cook and never so much as boil water again. I do like to bake though.

    The recipes you share are great! Most of them are easy enough for me to follow and hard to mess up. With your recipes I always know I'm getting quality rather that the crap shoot of general internet recipes.

    I am trying to work on teaching my son to cook, but it's slow going. I'd like him to know how to cook when he goes out on his own instead of the trial by fire method so many people face, but he'd rather play than help me cook supper and honestly I'd rather let him play than make him help me. He makes a mean guacamole though.

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    1. I certainly don't think you're alone there and why is it baking just seems so much more fun.

      Aww, thank you so much! I try to keep my stuff relatively easy but still tasty.

      I think the interest in cooking will come with your son. All these cooking shows with kids can be quite inspiring to kids his age.

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  4. I didn't start cooking until I was moved out and on my own. And I never liked it much, still don't. Hubby is the cook in my house. My oldest daughter, however, LOVES to cook. "Santa" brought her a cookbook, apron and her set of knives for Christmas and she cooks one meal a week for the family (with Hubby's supervision, of course). I'm glad she's got an interest because it's one of those skills that everyone should have. Most high schools don't have home economics anymore...I think they need to rename it but at least teach kids how to cook and balance a checkbook.

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    1. Aww, that was nice of Santa and so great that she cooks for the family once a week! That's a shame they don't do traditional home ec anymore. You'd think they would do a culinary class now given how popular cooking shows are with kids now.

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  5. Your food is beautifully photographed and looks so so so yummy! I am lazy with presentation, cooking for 5 for so many years made me lazy in that respect. I just wanted to get it on the tasble. That being sai, I make sure there's plenty of sauces and condiments and toppings available, so that even having a simple burger, can be a process, when you add sliced onions, tomatoes, lettuce, and a slice or two of bacon, as well as toasting the buns! And of course you have to get out the ketchup, mustard, pickles (a couple different varieties), and mayo. And that doesn't even include preparing whatever is on the side. My food tastes good, just doesn't have that flair for "looking" good that yours does. Well done Anele!!! I started cooking AFTER marriage. I could pop popcorn, and make salads (Mom always had me make the salad for meals), and that's about it, before I got married and had to learn to do it all. But after 45 years, I do okay in the kitchen. I love all cooking shows, but they do make me hungry for stuff I should NOT be eating!

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    1. I have been guilty many times of making something that was much more involved and burgers are one of 'em. If I'm making one of the Mr's favorite burger on high cal day it consists of spicing the meat, searing it and finishing it off in the oven, making some baked bacon, caramelized onions (that take an hour) and then all of the things you mentioned. When I'm smart I prep ahead...when I'm not, I pay for it! :-)

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  6. I started cooking at the age of 7 because I was responsible for preparing dinner for my father. My mom taught me a lot about cooking so I learned mostly from her. She was doing more Good Will stuff and came across my first Junior Cook Book (I think Betty Crocker?) I told her I'm keeping it! It was so fun to look through it again and to see which pages were my favorite (English muffin pizzas) because of the grease stains on the page! LOL

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    1. That is sweet! There's nothing like a cookbook that is passed down. I think my mom has one that my great great grandma bought and has been passed down to each generation. (I'll pass it down to my younger cousin after I have my time with it. We all write our names inside) My pages look the same on my Betty Crocker Cut Out Cookie page!

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  7. I started cooking at a very young age. I'm so grateful that my mom is an amazing cook and baker and she took the time to teach me. I'm nowhere near as good as she is but I can make a meal without it all being from a bag/box. I try to pass this on to my nieces. Especially baking from scratch. Your post has inspired me to cook healthier and prettier!

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