How I Taught My Child to Cook

We started early. He learned to eat.

He learned to eat most everything. He was hungry, and when we threw away the baby bottle we ate all kinds of things. My parents taught me to eat what was put on my plate; my child's father had been in the Army during World War II and after serving in the jungles of the South Pacific he ate most everything except fried grasshoppers (which I didn't know how to cook anyhow.)

He had younger siblings and we were busy young parents so he learned to amuse himself. Played with the cook pans. Spilled milk and things from his plate. Fed the cat on the floor. He learned where food was stored and cooked, learned to use spoons, helped stir cookie dough and cake mix.

When Mom started to teach school, the children were old enough to want allowances, so they were hired to work at home. In addition to homework and their own "room work," one would set table, one would cook, one would clean up the kitchen. Everybody had favorite foods, so our diets weren't too varied, but nobody complained about the menus. They knew their turn was coming and everybody wanted to enjoy the good stuff.

"Box mixes" were new, and they could read. Instructions were clear and mom was there to help interpret. Each could cook whatever pleased the appetites; sometimes they'd try new recipes from the cookbooks.

Great fun were the church "homecomings" and frequent covered dish dinners. Son loved the ethnic dishes that were new to me. He asked for recipes, oral and written, and followed them carefully. Vegetables were plentiful in our southern rural location, and again everybody learned their favorites. Stewed tomatoes, raw oysters and fresh fish, veggie casseroles, thing that his dad and I weren't familiar with. Fresh huckleberries, strawberries, stewed tomatoes, fruit cobblers, wow!

So it followed that cooking was not a chore. (Cleaning up was no fun, but that was a chore that was necessary and everybody learned to not mess up ALL the pans in the kitchen.)

So when he moved into his own apartment he was no stranger to the drudge of cooking and had the fun of learning about the microwave and convection oven, and oriental spices and regional dishes.

I didn't teach him to cook.

He learned.

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