17 July 2012

Who Taught You To Cook?

The Fredrick Boys Do the Grilling!

The annual Fredrick's Family Reunion was held this past Saturday in Brethren, Michigan.  There is always too much good food.  The Fredrick's family has a lot of good cooks.  Very rarely do you see chips and salsa there.  There are hot and cold dishes made from scratch.  There is Aunt Lola's spaghetti, Cheryl's ranger cookies, Mom's fruit plate, and when Aunt Kate was living-noodles.  Boy did I love her homemade noodles.

It got me thinking about who taught everyone to cook.  My Grandma Fredricks was an excellent cook and she passed that on to her daughters who must have passed it on to their family.  I know that I learned to cook from my mother. 
I took an interest in cooking early in life.  It started out simple with scrambled eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches.  By the time I was in Junior High I was making box pizzas, homemade cookies and brownies.  I had a 7th grade Home Economics class with Mrs. Brobst and one day she brought a bunch of fruit and other ingredients into class.  Our assignment was to create a dish with the ingredients.(Food Network must have copied this for their Chopped program)  I decided to make a fruit salad with a mayonnaise type dressing.  I cut the fruit up quite nice and tossed it with the dressing.  I put a lettuce leaf on the plate and fruit salad on top.  I garnished it with coconut.  When everyone was done we had to describe our dish.  Then we voted on who we thought did the best job and I won!  I think I was hooked on cooking from that point on.

McCalls Great American Recipe Card Collection

I would scour magazines for recipes to try.  I loved to try new recipes.  I ordered a Betty Crocker Cookbook set.  I ordered a McCall's Great American box of recipes.  Two packets came every month.  I completed the set.  I would make dinner one night a week.  This was all in high school.

In the summer, during high school and college, I worked at the Harbor Beach Resort Association as a waitress.  They served the most delicious meals and desserts.  I would copy recipes every chance I had.  Then, I would make them at home.

Moi, as a Home Economics Teacher, 1982

Eventually, I went to college.  I thought I wanted to be a Medical Technologist.  I hated the classes for that.  One night in the dorm room, I thought about changing my major.  I asked myself, "What do you like to do?"  I made a list of all the things I enjoyed doing.  I liked reading, cooking, sewing, working with children, and being organized.  From these thoughts I decided to be a Home Economics teacher.  I loved my classes.  One class that I especially enjoyed was a five credit Food Preparation class.  We had a 2-3 hour lab every week and all we did was cook.  I learned to cook everything you can imagine from appetizers to soup to variety meats (tongue, anyone?) to candy, cakes, pies, and more, all from scratch.  Did I say I loved it?

Travis and Kirk at our Christmas Tree Trimming Party

A few of my most memorable cooking experiences included our wedding rehearsal dinner, my children's birthdays, tree trimming parties, Thanksgiving dinners, Easter dinners, and Kirsten and Travis' graduation parties.  One of the guests couldn't believe that I had made everything myself at Travis' party.  I finally said "I use to be a Home Economics teacher".  She taps the lady next to her and says, "She use to be a Home Economics teacher, that explains it."

Kirsten, age 20 months, helping mom make bread.

How would my daughter and son answer Who Taught You to Cook?  They would say me.  From an early age I would pull a chair up to the counter and let Kirsten and Travis help.  I enjoyed that time with them.  Both of my children are good cooks today.  Kirsten loves to bake.  Travis made us delicious quesadillas when we visited him in Florida, recently.

In a fast food nation, I think we have lost the art of cooking.  I hope we eventually swing back to family dinner times and home made goodies.  I enjoyed learning to cook and teaching others, whether it was a classroom full of high-schoolers or my own children.  Who taught you to cook?

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