Throwback Thursday #22 & JusJoJan – For the Love of Cooking

Welcome back to Throwback Thursday. This week Lauren is taking us to the kitchen to revisit how and when we learned to cook. This should be a great topic because everyone I know cooks to some degree. My husband is a fantastic cook and not just on the grill.

Lauren has some great notes to jog your memories. Pop over to her post to read her suggestions and join in the fun.

This week’s prompt is: Cooking Skills

My post follows.

I chuckled when I read the topic today because my exposure to the idea of cooking came through play. I was quite the master at making mud pies. Now, my sisters would tell you I would buy mud pies from them and eat them, but I question their memory recall just a little. 😂

We had a small grape arbor and we would make a feast of grapes and grape leaves artfully designed on my grandmother’s discarded Guardian Service platter. We would take it up into the barn loft (not a working barn so no hay or animals) and serve it to our friends. There is nothing like the taste of a warm grape just off the vine.

Much of my early life centered around food. My parents and grandparents had a large garden so I was taught early on about rotating crops, what plants benefitted by being planted either close to or far away from another. Of course, the food was also preserved for the winter, so I was also exposed to picking and preparing food for canning.

My paternal grandmother made grape jelly from the concord grapes. The top of the glass jars would be covered with melted paraffin wax to seal it. When my grandmother was not looking, I would dip my fingertip in the hot wax. I loved peeling it off my fingers and seeing the lines my skin made on the wax.

Every adult in my family cooked and as kids, we were always in the kitchen. I remember being amazed at my grandmothers when they made biscuits and cakes from scratch. I remember my maternal grandmother always adding ingredients to boxed cake mixes so they would taste better. Wait! You can add whatever you want?

In high school, I took Home Economics. One of the first meals we prepared was scrambled eggs – something I had been cooking for years. Each kitchen had four or five students and we each had our role. Prep cook, dish washer, cook, etc. I remember the recipe calling for a pat of butter and the girl cooking put the cold butter in the dish with the egg and attempted to whisk them together. (The butter was for the pan, but she wasn’t reading the recipe). I was surprised she did not already know how to make scrambled eggs.

I also recall an assignment to prepare an entire meal, including appetizer and dessert (we never had appetizers in my house) which we would then be asked to prepare. We had access to a number of cookbooks, many with table settings, meal plans, etc. I was enthralled with the idea of cooking something no one else would consider. While looking for what I wanted to cook I stumbled on a recipe and photo of jellied consommé. My teacher tried to talk me out of it but I would not be swayed. Yuck – it was awful. Jellied beef broth, served cold with lemon juice – I remember it well!

When I was a junior in high school, my friend Marilyn and I decided to cook a meal for our boyfriends on New Year’s Eve. We planned a meal of Lamb Kebobs, Wild Rice and a Parfait for dessert. All very fancy. I was living in the suburbs of Akron, Ohio – not the lamb capital of the world. Needless to say we could not find lamb, so in all our wisdom, we selected stew beef. Now if you know meat cuts, you will know that stew beef is tough and needs to be cooked in a particular way. That did not dissuade us. We put together kebobs, skewering the stew beef, alternated with cherry tomatoes and onions. These would be cooked in the oven under the broiler. Yikes. We prepared a parfait with fruit and tapioca, layered beautifully. The only problem was they did not set properly, so we put them in the freezer to hasten it along.

We served that meal proudly. I remember stepping out of the dining room and spitting out my meat – it was awful. I remember Marilyn’s boyfriend saying “this is really good but the meat is a little chewy!” Those poor guys tried to be nice. 😂 Of course to top things off, we had left the parfaits in the freezer and they froze solid.

A few years later I had come home to visit my parents for the holidays. The phone rang and my father said it was for me which surprised me because my parents had moved to Virginia and no one I knew would be calling me. I took the phone and a familiar voice said, “I just wondered if you were having lamb kabobs for dinner.” My high school boyfriend had tracked me down, remembering that horrible meal. We both had a good laugh and agreed it would always be one of our fond high school memories.

When my sister had back surgery, I went to live with her for a time to help care for the household while she recovered. We cooked a lot during those years and we each wore out our respective copies of our Betty Crocker cookbooks.

Today, hubby and I share the cooking. We each have our specialties. We rarely eat out – even before the pandemic, cooking was something we enjoyed doing together. He loves to experiment with new recipes he finds on the internet. I love my cookbooks and we both enjoy watching cooking shows. One of our latest favorites is on Netflix – The Chef Show. No gimmicks – just cooking.

Both of my children are good cooks. Considering how many hamburger helper meals and frozen burritos they ate, I am thankful they found their way to a love of cooking.

As with all these topics, I could go on and on, but this is getting too long so I will close here. I may come back and write another post to share an old family recipe.

Thanks, Lauren. This was a fun walk down memory lane.

Written as part of Linda Hill’s JusJoJan.

Prompt word today (looking) submitted by Di from pensitivity101.