Thursday, June 12, 2008

How did you learn to cook?

A lot of us learned to cook from Mom (or maybe Dad) and Grandma. Some of us learned in school, or in 4-H. I hit the trifecta -- I was raised by scratch cooks (thanks, Mom & Dad!), went to school at a time when every student was required to take Home Economics, and had a great neighborhood 4-H group, Penbrooke Pots 'n' Pins. Our long-suffering leaders, Mrs. Wokasien and Mrs. Bartol, probably did as much to drill into my brain the basics of cooking, baking, and canning as any other source, and I'm grateful to them to this day.

I love to hear how others learned to cook. Did you learn in school? An organized program like 4-H? Are you self-taught? Did you pick it up at your mother's knee?

15 comments:

Kelly said...

I mostly learned from my mom, I guess. We'd bake cookies together all the time when I was a kid, and when I was a little older, I'd help with making dinner. (My dad cooks as well, but it's mostly grilling or experimenting with leftovers.) When I went to college and got a kitchen of my own, I copied down some of my favorite recipes to make. Now I mostly get recipes and cooking tips online, but I still use those old favorites.

Lisa said...

I started out self-taught. Have taken classes at Scarlet Oaks and Jungle Jims. I've been on two cooking trips to Italy (awsome!)My dream is to go to culinary school and become a personal chef when I retire from P&G.

Quim said...

I can't really cook, but I have managed to get fat, so I must be doing something right.
My mom wasn't a lot of help, she would just direct me to some ancient (Better Homes and Gardens ?) cookbook and I remember wearing out a Girl Scout "Learning to Cook" pamphlet (mom & sisters were all Scouts).
As a Boy Scout, I learned how to glob some Bisquick onto the end of a stick and hold it over a fire.
When I moved out on my own, I tried to copy down some of my mom's personal recipes but she had them written in shorthand so I had to get her to translate.

Jen (Modern Beet) said...

Learning to cook really happened when I was in college -- I was introduced to the website epicurious.com, and I spent many many hours browsing through it, picking out recipes that looked good, then trying them. So... I guess the internet taught me how to cook!

Also, another big turning point in my cooking was when I started receiving a CSA box -- I would receive vegetables I had never heard of, and hence needed to learn to cook them, opening up a whole new world of veggies!

vudutu said...

I first started getting interested when I lived in Colorado in the 70s, one of my house mates was from Lake Charles Louisiana, he was a great cook, he taught me to make a roux and got me going. We would catch trout in the morning and cook them for breakfast, red rice and beans, big pots of jambalaya. Later I was forced to cook more when I had a health problem and figured out how bad processed food was for you. I got real into food in the early 90s and created a cookbook for family and friends of my favorite recipes. Then I worked for a cookbook author and got in deeper. Today we cook from scratch almost exclusively.

Heather said...

My dad taught me - it's one of the few positive things he passed on. I'm glad he did - I'm getting into it more now. I grew up having to weed the garden - oh it was the worst. This year - I actually planted my own tomato plants!!!! And one is getting ripe!!!!! I'm pretty excited!

http://foodhussy.blogspot.com

Queer Cincinnati said...

I thought I was pretty special today when I made spaghetti noodles with chicken and tomato sauce with onions. I was being cool and creative and cooking.

Oh right, it's just Chicken Parmesan with no Parmesan.

*sigh* I still can't cook. My mother tried.

Abbie said...

I guess you could say I'm self-taught. I grew up on a farm, and my mom made really simple meals. I learned classics like macaroni and cheese from her, but I'm more adventurous than that. I actually watched the food network a lot when I first got married (4 years ago) to learn the language and techniques of cooking. Now I apply those to the simple local farm foods we have, and the meals are delicious! I learned how to cook seafood from my mother in law, because they're big fish eaters. I guess you just pick up tricks over time.
Great site by the way!

Julie said...

From my grandmother, from cookbooks, from years of watching The Frugal Gourmet, from trial and error and from eating. :)

Carolyn said...

I learned from my Mom and Grandma. I am relying more and more on those lessons learned as I try to eat unprossed, whole, local foods.

fearlesschef said...

I had to teach myself. When I was 9, my mother's kidneys failed as a result of untreated Lupus. So, I learned how to drag the chair over to the sink and try something new. Oh, and we were vegetarian. I used to watch Frugal Gormet and Martha Stewart and dream of the day that I would be able to do something truely amazing in the kitchen. I starting getting supscriptions to food magazines while I was in college. Living in a dorm with the communal kitchen and a hot pot.

When I moved back home, I cooked several times a week for my family. By this time, my mother couldn't be trusted in the kitchen because she was so weak. The day she had a stroke, I was in the kitchen making her a birthday lasagna with roasted eggplant. And a gluten-free marble cake.

After I got married, my husband didn't see the inside of a restaraunt for 6 months. I made every meal. And from scratch. Then I met convience foods. Bad things happened there.

Now, I spend my spare time experimetning with techniques and new ingredients. I am still teaching myself, but I don't have to pull the chair over to the sink anymore.

Lorna said...

I learned to cook from eating great food while working in Europe. I grew up on fried meat and potatoes, with a focus on quantity over quality. In France, I discovered the possibilities of flavor and texture, and I expanded my understanding of the uses of wine, herbs, butter, garlic, cream, stock, fresh vegetables, and ripe fruit as key elements in a variety of dishes. I also learned to slow down and savor the experience of eating and drinking. I learned to try new things, to be open to new food and flavor combinations, and to relish the whole experience of nourishment--from gardening, to marketing, to preparing recipes using the best ingredients I could find, and then through the long, enjoyable process of serving and eating great food with friends and family. I watched good cooks at work and I read fine food magazines (I especially like Saveur). Even today, whenever I eat a really fine dish, I try to determine what it contains and how it was prepared. The more I learned about food and eating, the better I became at cooking. Today, I'm an exceptional cook--and I love cooking.

Debs said...

I learned to cook from my parents and grandmother, and then built on that knowledge when cooking on my own in a 100-person vegetarian co-op in college. My childhood of being raised on good quality ingredients prepared with simple and delicious cooking techniques paid off, and people came from other co-ops for my meals.

I've never stopped since.

gofrolic.org

Anne said...

I became a vegetarian as a young teenager, so I was forced to learn to cook for myself. Finally my mom took pity on me and helped me learn a little.

Mostly I learned by trial and error; fortunately it's more trial than error these days! I was thrilled to learn that cooking is actually much easier than it looks. A sense of adventure and a willingness to dive in and give anything a shot will take you far!

V said...

I learned mostly from a chemist aunt and a cousin who is a native vermonter and long time organic gardener. How to use different veggies, how to think outside the box of what to do with them, and how to eat seasonally! My own parents weren't too adventurous (though Tuna raisin casserole--ew--was common), so I didnt really learn about good food and cooking until college. Now, I grow my own garden, can jam, jellies, sauces, & chutneys, dry tomatos & beans, and generally try to be as self sufficient as possible! I'd have chickens, but I think my Price Hill neighbors might get aggravated. . .