Experimenting in the kitchen began around nine for me. One summer day I was craving peanut butter cookies, and after rifling through the pantry, there wasn’t a single, delectable morsel to be found. So, I flipped through the pages my mother’s orange Betty Crocker cookbook and spied a doable recipe. After a carefully reading, I threw all the ingredients in a bowl, mashed them around, and glopped spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet and popped the whole mess into the oven. I then picked up Little House On the Prairie and whipped through the pages, pausing at the pictures. A short while later I glanced up at the oven. Eek, the oven timer still read 8:00 minutes. I hadn’t quite got it set, and I noticed a “funny” smell emanating from the oven.
Meanwhile, Grandma Ramona walked up the drive and was chatting with my dad. I peeked out the window and saw them, and skipped up to them.
“You want to taste my first batch of cookies, Grandma?” I asked with all the innocence I could muster.
“Why, yes,” Grandma smiled.
I had tasted the little lumps of charcoal just minutes before and it seemed I put in a quarter cup of baking soda, rather than a quarter teaspoon. I was giggling as I made my way back to where my Dad and Grandma were still chatting. Standing in the gravel drive, I presented the treasure to my grandma; a little black soda ball perched on a napkin. My face beamed with mock pride.
She confidently bit into the black cookie, then promptly turned and spat in the driveway. I laughed until tears were streaming down my face.
“I think I put in too much baking soda.” Wiping her mouth with the napkin and patting the corners of her eyes, she nodded in agreement.
Immediately, I went back into the kitchen, fashioned a palatable batch and ran down the driveway to Grandma’s house. I sprinted through her garage, skipped up the back stairs and rapped on the wooden door. When it swung open, I extended to her my crumbly cookie offering. She surveyed the golden brown peanut butter morsel on the oil spotted napkin. Her blue eyes met my brown eyes. I nodded my reassurance. She sighed and nibbled at the side of the cookie and a slow smile formed on her lips. She hugged me.
“You’ll be a good little baker some day, Kathy.”
That day, I knew I was a cook. I made food, because I couldn’t not cook. If a dish turned out poorly, which of course it often did, I would fix it or toss it. I would start again. Food became my medium of choice: my art.
Wishing you soulful, happy moments in the kitchen.