Kitchen Stories from the Heart
Some are funny, others shocking and some just plain tear jerkers but they are what makes each one of us better in the kitchen and keep our hearts and minds full of blessings and love as we remember our family and friends.
Please read these stories and join our group if you want to. We would love to have you be a part of "Daughter's of the King".
Blessings to you and yours; hope as you read that you smile or laugh and maybe cry a tear or two. May your memories will be renewed too. :-)
I remember I was at my grandma's house and my cousin and I were playing paper dolls. I think we were 12. We got hungry and ask my grandma if we could make something. Well we decided to make fried chicken and my grandma wanted to help but we said no. I saw my mom do it a thousand times and I just knew I knew how to do it. So we put the chicken legs in flour and proceeded to cook the chicken. We got burnt about 50 times but the best part was when we took it in and set it on the table to sit down and eat. My grandpa took a leg and bit into and spit it out immediately and said you did not cook the middle. I felt so bad...but my grandma and grandpa laughed so hard. My grandma put it in the oven and finished cooking it.
My husband and I spent most of our holidays at his parents’ house since they only lived a couple hours away at the time. His mom is hardly a gourmet but she is an excellent cook and she always put out a nice spread. Then one day his parents announced that they were packing up and moving to Florida to retire. Well, that kind of put a damper on traveling for us since work never allowed me to take time off during major holidays - and from Harrisburg PA to Punta Gorda Fl was about an 18 hour trip... it just wasn't doable.
So thanksgiving was looming upon us and I decided that I would make my first "Holiday Meal". I had never, NEVER made a turkey before. I spent weeks asking my clients what they did, how did they cook it, what did they use in their stuffing (to stuff or not to stuff that is the question) what the timing was ....etc. One thing they all agreed on, fresh turkey was the best. So armed with this knowledge, I decided to go all out.
I cleaned and prepped my bird, made a basic stuffing recipe and stuffed the bird... I basted it, coddled it, roasted it on low heat... and in between I made all the different sides... Mashed Potatoes, Fresh Green beans, Corn, Biscuits, etc... When the turkey came out I made gravy from the pan drippings.... it was picture perfect and beautiful. I was so proud!..... till I went to eat it.
I want to emphasize that I am a good cook, I make good meals.. The only thing new about this experience was the turkey and stuffing. Having said that, when I took the first forkful of potatoes, all I could taste was pure salt. I tasted the veggies - they too were over salted... even the stuffing was over salted. (The cats even turned their noses up at it and they usually ate EVERYTHING)
All in all the only things edible in that meal were the turkey itself, the gravy, and the biscuits. We had a good laugh after... I used the leftover turkey and gravy to make hot turkey sandwiches to serve over the leftover biscuits, and learned to always taste before adding salt.
When my husband and I married, almost 21 years ago, he was a senior in College. He had many guy friends who quickly became like brothers to me. The guys were always at our apartment because as a new bride I was always trying out my cooking skills on them. And as poor college student bachelors they were my all too willing subjects! One night I was making my first batch of banana bread. I did it like I had always seen my Mom do; she froze her bananas and then pureed them when she needed them in the blender. Well, I was pureeing away and mashing the frozen bananas through the blender with my little wooden spoon. Poured the banana puree into my batter bowl mixed it really good and put it in to bake. The smell was killing them by this time and they were in much anticipation to taste my bread. The bread looked beautiful and I cut it in to several slices and everyone passed it around and starting eating. Well, one of the guys got a funny look on his face, then another one did, and then another. When one of them finally said “I have never had banana bread with toothpicks in it "! Everyone broke into laughter! I had pureed the wooden spoon along with the frozen bananas! There were literally little shreds of wooden spoon all through the banana bread! I was mortified but they thought it was hilarious and ribbed me about it every chance they got. Years later after we had all graduated and moved away I mailed them each a banana bread with a WHOLE wooden spoon baked inside! They each called me and thanked me and we laughed about the night I baked them my toothpick banana bread.
When my first daughter was born my mom traveled from Texas and my 3 Aunts and cousin (in-law) came in from Pennsylvania. I made a peach cobbler (a favorite in our house!) It took me a couple hours in the kitchen, away from my guests, but was worth it to make them a nice dessert. As I served the cobbler I had a crumb and it tasted very salty. I dismissed it thinking it just didn't get mixed in properly. Well...everyone started eating and sort of looking at each other. My Aunt finally yells out 'Oh #&*%#, I stopped smoking and my taste buds aren't working right. Everything tastes like salt.' My cousin, being so polite, kept eating till I told her to please stop. Turns out I used pickling salt instead of sugar! We laughed hysterically and 14 years later they still remind me of it! I also threaten to make them a peach cobbler if they don't behave!
Ok, I have another one for you. A couple months ago we were going to have BLTs for dinner. I don't like the smell of fried food so I figured I'd cook the bacon on the grill. I lined it with foil, turned it on high to heat up the grill. When I added the bacon I forgot to turn the grill down, and of course I got busy doing other things. When I went outside there were flames shooting out the back of the grill! I turned it off and when it cooled down enough to open the grill there was no trace of any bacon left. All that was left was foil so burned it fell apart when I lifted it, and flames still burning on the bottom of the grill from the grease. Hilarious! Note to self...cook the bacon in the oven or microwave!
As I read Kim's story it triggered a memory for me that I had long forgotten. As I think about it now, I realize it is my first memory of cooking. As I continued to think about my other experiences with cooking, I realized also how my love for cooking evolved and when my experience with it shifted. I thought I may as well share, so here's my story:
When I was about 7, my mother was making zucchini bread and wanted me to help. She was grating zucchini and decided she would put me to work on the task. This was before the days of food processors and there was a large pile of zucchini to be grated. I wanted to play, I had no interest in cooking, and especially sitting there grating zucchini for what, in my mind, could take all day. Well, she insisted and said I couldn't go out and play until it was done. Somewhere along the way I grated a finger, pretty badly. I remember it bleeding for what seemed an eternity and being completely freaked out, crying, and it hurting something fierce. Eventually the band aid went on and I went back to grating. I don't remember much of the in-between, but in the end, I remember there being an army of loaves, wrapping them, and most of them going into the freezer. All in all, I recall hating the experience, and being anxious for it all just to be over. It wasn't, by any means, a bonding experience, it was just a chore, and in the end a traumatic event.
I don't recall cooking again, or having any interest in it, until I was 9. We moved back to where I was born and down the street from my grandmother. She was always in the kitchen and I'm not sure what she enjoyed more, cooking or watching people enjoy what she had cooked. For her it was a labor of love. There was always something cooking, and I can't remember a time EVER when there wasn't a cake or cobbler or some sort of dessert sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten. She was always coming up with something new and was queen of casseroles. She never measured anything, she just knew how she wanted something to taste and would start throwing things in, and it always turned out amazing. Somehow, I inherited that gift and those taste buds and genes. I would sit and watch her for hours, talking and giggling. Sometimes she would let me help, but mostly I recall it just being bonding time with my grandmother.
Somewhere along the way, I developed a love for cooking. I remember making a cake when I was somewhere around 13 or 14. I wanted to make a carrot cake, but I wanted pineapple in it because I had seen that somewhere. I started tweaking the recipe and next thing I knew I had created a completely different cake like nothing I had seen or heard of. It turned out AMAZING. My dad rarely complimented me on anything, but I remember he raved on and on about that cake and made sure that I wrote down what I had done so I could recreate it. Well, when I went to make that cake again, the paper I had written it on was nowhere to be found. I never saw that paper again, and I've never been able to remember what I did and recreate that cake, but I remember my dad's response to that cake, and it was the first time I realized the power of food, how eating could be an entire experience and evoke such strong emotions. I understood why my grandmother loved it so much. To this day, I love to cook for people and see them enjoy the fruits of my labor, and I'm still a fearless experimenter in the kitchen.
I can thank my father for the reason I love to bake and it all started when I was ten years old. It was a warm July day, Dad and I were home alone, everyone else had gone somewhere else even my mom. Being a child from a large family, eight children, and a rare day alone with my dad was a blessed gift. While I was in the kitchen, he casually mentioned to me that it was his birthday. We didn't celebrate birthdays in our family very much (probably because there were too many birthdays to remember) so, for my dad to mention his birthday to me meant that it was important to him. I thought to myself, “I must do something for daddy on his special day." So I proceeded to find mom's cookbook and attempt to bake my first cake, my first anything. While Dad was taking a nap, I was busy following directions in the cookbook the best that a 10 year old could with no experience at all. I had never even cooked let alone baked before, so I was pretty nervous. I completed baking the cake and when dad walked into the kitchen the aroma of a fresh baked cake caught his attention. He asked, "What did you do?" I said, "Daddy, I baked you a birthday cake." He looked at me and gave me a glorious smile and asked if he could have a taste. I told him that I wanted to make some icing and he said, “no, I want it just as it is." I think daddy knew that I was excited and eager, so I believe he wanted me to get his reaction to my creation right away. He cut himself a slice out of one of the layers and asked me if I really did this all by myself, I just nodded and held my breath as he sampled it. He then told me, “Dolly, this is the best cake I have ever eaten in my life." He kept raving about my cake and when the rest of the family found their way home, he proceeded to tell them to sample his special birthday cake that his Dolly made. Daddy was so proud of me and I was so happy that I made his day so special. To this day, I love to bake and it's all because of that special feeling I got when I baked daddy a birthday cake. My first anything; I felt unique and so special among a big family where sometimes one can feel a little lost.
"You've been gone 12 years now daddy, but I still love and adore you so very much and Daddy, thanks for the memory. Only, God, you and I know how special that day really was."
When I was about 11 or 12 yrs old my Grandma Campbell had me to make my first Zucchini bread. I was to make it all by myself. Well, I followed the directions to the "T" and put it in the oven. Well, after the alloted time my Zucchini bread was still not done and so my Grandma kept eye on it and it had to cook for several hours. Apparently, when it called for medium size Zucchini's I didn't know what "medium" was. Everyone even went to bed and Gram had to stay up and wait for the bread to get done.
I was so embarrased that I would not make Zucchini bread again until I was an adult. :-) Still to this day, I cannot say that I have made a successful Zucchini bread.
(I tried last year to make two loaves and they looked beautiful but were very very dry inside). LOL