For a lot of people, probably the vast majority world-wide, food holds a special place in our memories. It can be a time machine that, after one smell or taste, transports us back to the people and places and special times of our lives.
Some of my earliest, and fondest, memories are from hog slaughtering time when I, as a 4 or 5-year-old, got to work the hand-crank meat grinder and help make real sausage in real pig intestines. I loved every second of it.
Baking pies or the smell of fresh biscuits always makes me think of my great-grandmother, who was an amazing baker. As a child, I spent so many days with her, collecting eggs from the chickens, picking veggies from the garden, and always being covered in flour from whatever we were baking that afternoon.
Potato soup instantly makes me think back fondly on days I came home from school sick. If I was lucky, my maternal grandmother picked me up and took me to her house, where I spent all day eating homemade potato soup and watching cable. (Cable was an unknown luxury in the boonies where we lived, but my grandparents lived in town.)
Pot roast makes me think of my paternal grandmother, who is one of the best “self-taught” home cooks I’ve ever known. Her pot roast is so fantastically melt-in-your-mouth that it’s been known to make vegetarians weak in the knees. (I used to be a vegetarian, so I know first hand.)
Pork BBQ brings up memories of 2 men: my father and his father. For as long I can remember, my father and grandfather have been making bbq on our GIGANTIC smoker, complete with homemade, secret recipe bbq sauce to go with it.
What you’ll probably notice is that none of these foods items were bought at a store or restaurant, none of them came from the frozen food section. And they are all real foods, lovingly made by the hands of people who I love. It’s corny, but love really is the most important ingredient in food. People who love what they make and love feeding people will always be my favorite cooks.
I want to be one of those cooks. I like cooking and I’m pretty decent at it. But I’m not very creative or adventurous. So I’m setting myself a goal: learn how to cook new things more often. I’ll be starting out simply and with lots of assistance from cookbooks, but the goal is to eventually be much more fearless in the kitchen. I’ll also be delving into the history of the dishes that I’m cooking and their significance in my life.
So, watch for my kitchen experiments in the future which will be labeled “What’s Cooking.”