My paternal Grandmother was a great cook. My Dad’s Mom lived next door to us for the first 10 years of my life before we moved to the country. She was someone who spent most of her day in the kitchen. As I look back, I am amazed by how much work she got done in such little space.
I think if she were around today watching HGTV she would marvel at the size of todays’ modern culinary galleys with all the large prep areas and fancy appliances … (and she would probably still tell me to get a haircut and remind me to wash behind my ears too). LOL
I could remember sitting there in her kitchen with a glass of water if it was summer, a glass of hot coco if it was cold outside, or the occasional glass of milk with a cookie (as long as I didn’t tell my mother) watching her cook dinner. She would always let me come and sit and ask her all kinds of questions about food and what she was preparing. I guess Grandma enjoyed the company, and of course I always enjoyed being her taste tester — especially when she was making cookies. Didn’t the wooden spoons seemed bigger back then?
Mom, on the other hand, didn’t appreciate a lot of interruptions when making a meal, especially when every kid was asking her what was for dinner. Her response was civil if you were the first or second person asking — but by the sixth or seventh time you were learning expletives most sailors wouldn’t use. I was always relieved to find she wasn’t serving “Sh**-On-A-Stick”.
The two things I learned from the both of them is that cooking can either be fun or it can be chore.
As I got older, both my grandmother and mother appreciated that I really appreciated their domestic duties in the kitchen. Learning to cook from the both of them padded my survival skills and certainly was an added benefit “in more ways than one”… (wink-wink-knudge-knudge).
The hardest thing to learn about cooking is patience. Try making bread for the first time. The dough doesn’t rise any faster by screaming at it. Some processes require time, genteelness, and a lot of attention … (still talking about cooking here guys).
The easiest thing to learn about cooking is diversity. And God’s gift to diversity in the kitchen: spices! Grandma and Mom were the queens of originality. And the trick I learned from them is that there is more to a meal then just salt and pepper. Both of my culinary masters recognized the art of using spices. It truly is an art. Watch any of todays cooking shows and you’ll see how little changes in spice selection can completely change the outcome of the meal. Even understanding the presence of garnishes on the plate to accentuate the presentation is important (and it was always fun watching the look on my brothers face after convincing him to eat that green leafy thing (parsley) on his plate.)
Speaking of parsley. Did you know parsley as more than just a garnish? This herb is a good source of vitamin C and also provides some potassium, vitamin K, folate, and other nutrients, along with potentially beneficial phytochemicals (maybe that’s why my brothers are taller than me?)
Curly parsley is often used to decorate plates, but flat leaf (or Italian) parsley is generally preferred for cooking since it has a more pronounced flavor. I love to add chopped parsley to soups, salads, sauces, dips, and meat and seafood dishes.
Your spice rack is a potpourri of healthy, beneficial and tasty alternatives. It may take a couple of trial and error moments in the kitchen to get it right. That cool Grandma and Mom technique of measuring the right about spices using the pinch and hand method always amazed me … so much, I do it myself … sometimes.
More about spices in upcoming articles … but in the mean time, cook something! Anything! Take chances in the kitchen; be patient and remember diversity is the key.
Here’s seeing you, in Ohio Country!
The writer is an award-winning veteran broadcaster for more than 30 years.