The meals I remember Mom making were fairly simplified. She even invented a simple 'pizza' with a flour tortilla as the crust. Next came spaghetti sauce from a jar, and in lieu of pepperoni just cut up s slice of baloney, add cheese and pop it in that new invention- the microwave for 45 seconds. Yum! The only dessert she made was a no-bake cheesecake from a box by Jello-brand foods. Jello was also a staple in our home. Jello blended with dream whip powdered whipping cream (yuck!).
I couldn't believe it when on a morning after a sleepover, my friend Gwen taught me the proper way to make scrambled eggs. The part I found fascinating was where she dirtied an extra bowl for scrambling the eggs in instead of stirring it up right there in the pan. These eggs were divine compared to the eggs I had been sifting through at home, avoiding that long white strandy stuff that my torturous older brother had told me was the chick's belly button. So when Gwen introduced me to a perfectionist way of cooking my interest in what else could be done better had been piqued.
My maternal Grandmother had been an excellent cook. Pies being her specialty. One bite of her perfect lemon meringue pie and you could be transported to heaven! I am still trying to figure out how her sealed edges never separated. That seal breaks on me every time. Too bad I can't call her up in heaven and ask her what the trick was. She'd probably be to busy serving up pie to answer my question anyways. If they don't have pie in heaven, they should. My mother used to say that cooking great dishes was Grandma's way of showing her love. Funnily enough her comic husband used to say "There are two types of women, those who are good cooks and those who are good lovers, and BOY can your grandma cook!" As I child I found this statement confusing. I am still scratching my head a bit as to why he would say this in public.
My cooking isn't award winning, but I am not afraid to try new things. Unlike my mother, (or is it because of her) I do bake things from scratch. Maybe it was the same for my mom. She rebelled against the made-from-scratch things by stocking up on Jello-brand cheesecake. Do we try and be what our mother's were not? Possibly...
I like home-made vs the box on most things. But not corn bread. Sometimes faster is better because it means more time spent with your family- and that is a good way to show love. My daughters are always the first to pull up a stool or chair to "help" me cook. Being the impatient perfectionist that I am, we have adopted the phrase "watching is helping!"
Yesterday when we had to bake a cake for the blue and gold banquet I invited my 10 year old boy to stop watching television and join me in the kitchen. After all it was supposed to be made my him. I taught him how to sift flour, and separate eggs. We made my favorite home made yellow cake. He did a great job! It was great to share that time together, just the two of us. However Big Girl's homework did have to wait. Sharing my time is a way to show my love, and even though he complained at first when I tore him away from the boob tube, when I asked him this morning if he liked making a cake with me, he slyly smiled and admitted defeat. Maybe there's a little chef in there somewhere.