Mama's Cooking Lessons

Daddy’s eyebrows jumped all the way up to the double deep inverted V of his hairline when I said, “Mama did a good job of teaching me to cook.” To understand his surprise, you have to know a bit about Mama’s relationship with the kitchen. Things she cooked well were:
•    Cobbler – with any kind of fresh fruit
•    Chicken and dumplings
•    Chocolate covered cherries (only at Christmas)
•    Cookies
•    Biscuits

That’s about it, and I’ve used only one hand to count. Now she was adamant that meals were balanced and healthy to the point that when I needed to remember one more of the seven basic food groups for a home economics test, I only had to go through our menu for the previous day to find it. The food just wasn’t what my brother-in-law would call “tasty.”

When I was nine, I suggested that I might learn to cook. Even then, I favored “tasty.” Mama jumped on the idea like a duck on a June bug and handed me a cookbook. I knew where everything was in the kitchen from years of dishwashing duty. She told me where she would be working if I needed her and left me with the run of the kitchen.

I didn’t need an advanced degree to know I was better off with the cookbook than her advice so she was rarely disturbed. The plan worked to perfection since I was happy in the kitchen and she was happy out of it. Waiting for pots to boil and sauce to thicken, I even found a new source of reading material – cookbooks!

As I’ve thought about Mama on this Mother’s Day weekend, it has occurred to me that Mama taught me many other things in the same way she taught me to cook. She gave basic information, pointed out resources to use, offered her availability if needed, and then trusted me to figure out the process and add my own stamp to it. It’s not a bad parenting model.