Sunday, March 20, 2016

"My Cooking," from HOME IS WHERE...

         MY COOKING
                  Daddy would have popcorn in a bag on Friday nights. We couldn't have it when we sisters were young, because Grandma said we couldn't digest it. On Saturday mornings, we would take what was left in the bag and go outside by the outhouse and make a small fire and cook the popcorn until it got burned. It was so good. We couldn't have soda either until we got older. Grandma also said oranges give you nightmares. I don't know if this is true, but every time I eat one, I think about this.

         As I mentioned before, our menus hardly ever changed nor did the food that came in the house, but some time around 1962 a home-made pizza kit in a box came on the market. I guess Mommy bought it for us. Now the problem was: who was going to make it? We would argue or pull straws---the shortest was the loser, and for some reason, I always lost.

         Doreen made a chocolate cake one time that you could ball up and bounce a piece of it off the floor; it was pretty funny.  Nancy and I would make ourselves things to eat when we were alone: TV dinners, grilled cheese, spaghetti. We were pretty good cooks, and as we got older, we took over the cooking from Grandma and Dad, just during the week.

         I think my domestic experiences were why I was okay when I married at 16: I pretty much knew how to do everything–cooking, the wash, cleaning, and bed-making.

                   I remember that when I got married one of the first things I cooked for us was spaghetti as I usually made it. I put it on the table, and my new husband said, "What's this, soup?" I was hurt.

                 The next thing was chicken, stuffed and roasted. He said, "I hate chicken." I knew I had to learn cooking all over again. It took me a while to learn his likes and dislikes. I think after 50 years I have made it.

                  When I get up North to my daughter’s, home my grandsons have things they want me to make for them: spaghetti and meatballs, sloppy Joe's, macaroni salad, baked beans, potato salad, ravioli, and steak ‘ums. Of course, I enjoy every part of this. I get to make things my husband doesn't eat and things from yesteryear.

                   When I want special memories, all it takes is the smell of a Christmas tree outside the local store or seeing some dyed Easter eggs or the aroma of an old family recipe cooked up. One such recipe is soup, Mom’s soup: soup meat bones, vegetables cooked all day, served with rice noodles or Klukski, a kind of Polish dumpling. I still fix this for myself today, as do Doreen and Nancy.


         We are serializing Kathleen Blake Shields's recently published book, Home Is Where the Story Begins: Memoir of a Happy Childhood, available through on-line booksellers such as and and from its publisher, Outskirts Press.

         I am proud to have coached Kathy and edited her charming memoir.

         My writing - coaching - editing site is Please visit.

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