Sometimes we learn what to do, by learning what not to do….

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Please let me explain. My mother never cooked. She didn’t want to, and she never did anything she didn’t want to do. My dad wanted to cook, but my mother thought the kitchen should be seen, and not used…and so dad was not permitted to cook. We didn’t even have a set of dishes. Paper plates were the serving platters of choice. I was a fat kid, and I hated being fat. I was the last one to be chosen when it came to play sports – because the fat kid without sports ability is never a first string draft pick. I remember going shopping for my Brownie uniform, and I had to buy a “chubby” size. Yes, “chubby” was the real name given to clothes for people of “size”. For a six year old girl – it was a very sad time. Besides being fat, I had frizzy hair – and eye glasses. What a combination! I would look at the other girls in school – with shinny straight hair, and beautiful clothes…and I so wanted to be like them. Ironically, my mother was thin. She lived on cigarettes and instant coffee. I thought all vegetables came from a can. We’d have corn niblets, peas and carrots – and sometimes baked beans. The Green Giant was a familiar face on our kitchen table. Mom would open the can, and place the can on the table. The vegetables were never heated. Sandwiches were bologna with ketchup on white bread. Swanson “TV” dinners were a main stay in our home. The TV dinner would consist of powdered mashed potatoes, peas with carrots and “fried” chicken – it was horrible. A real treat was frozen Macaroni and Cheese. It was much better than the TV dinners. Because we lived close to the elementary school – I was not allowed to eat at school. I remember sitting in class in the morning and the school dietician would come in and take the lunch order – it all sounded so good! I would have killed for Sheppard’s pie! Boy did I want to eat at school!

It wasn’t until I started eating at friends houses, did I realize people ate differently. To this day I can remember one friend whose mom would pan fry salami and serve it on toasted rye bread with lettuce – I loved eating at her house! Of course I never had friends sleep over – how could I? My mom didn’t cook for us – she certainly wouldn’t cook for my friends. In seventh grade girls (not boys) were required to take home economics. Home ec (as it was called) was half a term of food prep, and half a term of sewing. The boys took wood shop and metal class. The food prep class required students to go home and prepare meals. My mom wouldn’t allow it. Friday was the day my Mom would go to the beauty salon for her weekly “wash and set”. I would get home from school at 3pm, and she wouldn’t be home until 5pm. Truth be told – I would cook up a storm in those two hours! I hid pots and pans in my bedroom, and would cook whatever I could, only to throw everything out before my mom came home. She never knew. Well as I said in the title, sometimes we learn what to do, by learning what not to do….My house has always had an open door policy. I take great joy in cooking for others. My daughter, son and husband are all wonderful cooks. I wish things had been different growing up…but all in all, it made me who I am today.

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