How I Learned to Cook: A Family Story
Updated: Sep 6, 2020
I am the middle of three, with an older brother and younger sister. When I was 9, Clayton was 11, and Alice was 5. That was the year we kids started making dinner three times a week. My mom insists this happened because we complained one too many times about what she was serving, but I prefer to think of it as a brilliant parenting choice that I will emulate.
My mom cooked a lot, and she always encouraged us to get into the kitchen with her - giving us a bowl and spoon to mix, bits of pie crust to make our own tarts, peeling potatoes and carrots...she didn't mind the extra little mess we made. That's helpful if you want your kids to join you in the kitchen!
Back to 1990: Each sibling each had a night, and we could serve whatever we wanted - within reason, of course. My brother favored pizza kits. I started off with boxed macaroni & cheese, moved on to pancakes and then using eggs as my base, worked my way through the spice cabinet. My sister, still using my mom as a crutch, relied heavily first on cans of Spaghetti O's before expanding to quesadillas. It wasn't always what my dad (or any of us) wanted to eat, but it gave us a comfort level in the kitchen that has led to a deep love of cooking. By middle school, I was devouring cookbooks like they were novels and planning imaginary dinner parties.
Eventually this led to the creation of "The Gastro Games", a family cook-off where we compete against each other for the ultimate bragging rights. That's a different post.
No one in my family is professionally trained in the kitchen, but we and our families eat well, and now my siblings and their spouses are teaching my niece and nephews how to cook. When I got married to my wonderful husband, Adam, I also got an incredible family of in-laws. My parents-in-law, and Adam's sister, Laura, and her husband are all fabulous cooks who love time in the kitchen. We all have different styles but share an appreciation for a well cooked meal.
Now that the pandemic has caused all of us to be home and in the kitchen more than ever, I encourage you to enlist your own family to participate in the cooking. Everyone can contribute, no matter their age. I mean, baby Tate isn't exactly helping yet, but he can sit in his high chair in the kitchen and entertain himself while watching me cook. He'll absorb a love of cooking from Adam and me because we approach food with gusto.
What are the favorite meals you and your family cook together? How do you divvy up responsibilities?
Baby Tate, learning the culinary ropes!