Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Generations of Cooking

When your mother calls you from work and tells you, at 13-years-old, that you need to make spaghetti for the first time in your life, and that you've seen her make it so you should know how to make it, panic sets in. That was me so many years ago, I didn't have a clue. She said throw some spices in (which ones?) you know, a little of this and a little of that. How much is a little? I'm sure that when she got home she had to doctor the sauce to make it palatable.

My mother was a very good cook from a long line of good cooks. I think it was a sign of their worth, the women in the family, that they could make something tasty out of seemingly nothing. They would add a bit of this and a bit of that and something warm and yummy would show up at the table.

I'm making veggie spaghetti tonight and it has me thinking of that first time, when I didn't have a clue, when I was terrified I would make a mistake knowing that I would because I didn't know what I was doing. I hated not knowing what I was doing because that usually meant I was going to get into trouble.

All of this comes rushing back as I chop the onions, grate the carrot, slice the mushrooms, and add a handful of tarragon, a tad of garlic, a little basil and a splash of beer.

Stirring slowly around the pan, I think about the women over the years that have taught me to cook, -mother, grandmothers, mother-in-laws- and how I stood beside them, soaking up the knowledge, hoping I would remember.

When my girls became of an age that they could start making dinner and they wanted to know what and how much of this or that, I realized I had to figure it out. I didn't want them to feel the way that I did. So I guesstimated and told them how much of each thing and either they wrote it down or I did. And it turned out pretty good.

My spaghetti has evolved over time, it is very different from what I learned to make when I was a teenager. I've learned to trust my nose, what works well together, the flavors that I prefer and have made it my own.

How did you learn how to cook, if you did? Did someone teach you or did you have to figure it out? Do you measure precisely or add a dash of this and a hint of that?

PageLines- picture20193.jpgMorgan Dragonwillow is a writing rebel, foodie, urban gardener, recovering perfectionist, poet & author that (mostly) doesn't let her fears get in the way of her passion for writing and creating. She is team leader at @StoryDam, creatrix of  #OctPoWriMo You can find her writing and dancing into a wild and juicy life at She lives in Marietta, Ga. with her loving and patient partner, their dog that thinks she's a princess, and the cat that reminds her that she isn't.
You can also find her on Google+

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  1. My warmest memories are of my daughters who sat on the kitchen counter and chattered away as I cooked. They didn't pick up any skills, but they weren't interested either. They remain my biggest kitchen fans and my the eldest married a cook and the middlest tends to date chefs. My son, on the other hand, was interested! By high school, we dubbed him Betty Crocker.

    1. That's awesome Charli, I love that they are all nontraditional and found their own way. They are creating a line of men cook, I love it! I have more warm memories of cooking with my youngest now that she is an adult than when they were young. You couldn't pay my oldest to cook in the same kitchen with me, we're still working out our issues.

  2. Cooking is a way of honoring your mom's memory and reconnecting with her. I mostly learned to cook from books. Luckily I didn't cook any of them. Once tried to make bread without using yeast. Um, it didn't rise! Hopping from StoryDam.

    1. Thanks for stopping by Courtney, by the way, my mom's still among the living but yes, it is a way for some to honor their mother's memory. The women in my family tend to live a long and healthy life, I have been part of five generations three times in my life, my grandmother is still among us and my granddaughters make it five generations once again. I imagine that is how I was able to learn from my Great Grandmother, grandmother, and mother as well as moms-in-law.

      I would love to hear more about how your cook book experiences transpired, I've thought of doing a cookbook series where I experiment with various recipes in cookbooks to expand what I know further.

      Speaking of leaving the yeast out, my daughter called me a bit frantic recently. She was making chicken and dumplings from the recipe that I taught her how to make. She asked what was wrong with the dumplings, they were falling to the bottom like bricks. I asked her if she followed the recipe for biscuits and she said that she just put flour and water together until it seemed right. I chuckled and told her that she made glue and that she needed to pull out a recipe for biscuits. She asked if she should use Bisquick and I said that would make it easier. Of course that worked much better for her.

      Peace to you.


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