Learning to Cook

There are some things in life that I consider essential to know. One of them is cooking. When I was growing up, Jim didn’t know how to cook, my mother didn’t cook much, and I couldn’t figure out how to learn how my grandmother cooked. Grandma could really put together a fine meal, but it was all her. I watched, and may have learned more than I knew. When I did ask I got an answer like “add flour until it’s right.”

Jim's copy of The I Never Cooked Before Cook Book

Jim’s copy of The I Never Cooked Before Cook Book

Since neither Jim nor I knew how to cook, and we were going camping now and then, if we were going to eat well, we had to figure something out. For his birthday in 1966, I bought him the I Never Cooked Before Cookbook. That may have been one of the best gifts I’ve ever given anyone. He used that book for everything. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Everything. That book showed up the other day when I was cleaning out our attic. It was dog eared, well worn, full of notes and clippings, all tied together with a fat rubber band. The last time I looked, it was still available on Amazon! The reviews (from 1999 and 2000) were universally five star positive. I agree.

After I met Judy and we got married we ended up teaching each other how to cook. There were a lot of evenings of tuna noodle hotdish with Kool-Aid. Those days are done. We knew the basics, but there was a lot to learn.

In Rochester we discovered Community Education and took several cooking classes. That really got us into cooking in a big way. We started buying cook books and learning more about fine cooking. That’s when I bought Julia Child’s classic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. One of my favorite recipes in the book was for baguettes. It’s a sixteen page, six hour creation that makes the most incredible bread you have ever had. So good that in a management class on negotiation I traded a copy of the recipe to Bill C for two Susan B Anthony dollars. We were both pretty satisfied with the results of the negotiation, but he got the thing of value. Continue reading