Saturday, May 27, 2006

Biscuit Story

Recipe follows. I actually posted that first and then remembered I was supposed to be telling stories about things my mother taught me. Well, my mother taught me how to cook. Her method was simple.

See one. Do one. Teach one.

It started early when I was very young. I watched her cook. She tells me I always wanted to help her stir (stirrl, I said). When she let me stir the oatmeal and I didnt place the spoon all the way to the bottom of the saucepan, and some of it burned, she sighed. I watched our maid cook, too. Before she left for the day, dinner was sitting on the hottray ready to serve at six o'clock sharp. I have fond memories of her, fixing a pot of homemade hot chocolate as an after school snack on a cold winter day. Down the street, I watched my friend's mother (a Yankee!) cook, tasting sweet and sour pork for the first time ever.

I first remember baking brownies at age eight. I think there is a good picture of me and my older brother working together at the kitchen counter. In sixth grade social studies, we studied world geography and had to prepare a report on each country. I always chose *Cooking*. My written report was always accompanied by an authentic dish which I shared with the class. For example, for France: chocolate mouse Russia: it was an iced pastry item with raspberry filling Italy: homemade stuffed manicotti with both red and white sauces. By the time I finished with that meal, I think I was too tired to eat. But you get the point.

By age twelve, I could bake a yellow, three-layer all alone and ice it with chocolate buttercream frosting. This recipe continues to be a favorite birthday cake in our family.

For the next five years came lots of watching and helping. In our family of six children, we rotated kitchen duty which not only included the after-meal cleanup, but also started early in the day with meal prep. If your turn fell on a holiday or Sunday, you could count on devoting the better part of your day to the kitchen.

Long about age 18, I took a cooking class from Nathalie Dupree when she was Director of Rich's Cooking School. When I lived at home for four months after college, I cooked for the family in exchange for room and board.

In short, my mother continues to be an example of an excellent cook and hostess. She was always there to show me what to do next or answer a question about why something didnt turn out right. She read and collected cookbooks. She kept several recipe boxes well organized. She prepared a variety of menus, in fact making a list of vegetables in order to make sure we had tried ALL of them. You never know where you will eat one day, she would say. To this day she states that cooking is not one of her favorite tasks, but because she had a family to feed, she chose to do it well.

Thanks, Moma!

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