And... sorry to disappoint you but this story is not about cooking worms.... the worms were to simply explain my issues with misspelling and such... not grammar, though... because everyone knows I speak my own language.
So, in case you didn't know.... I HAVE AN OBSESSION WITH COOKING.... AND BAKING... BUT MOSTLY COOKING! You know how your parents are always searching for your talent and you can't sit at the adult table until it is discovered? Well, it was a long process with me... They tried everything to figure me out.... ballet, tap, scouts, piano, helping to raise millions of kids, cleaning, singing, basketball, cow tipping, and finally playing the jug in my high school band. (you country folk and A.J. will know what that means). I probably have one hundred hilarious stories to tell you about every one of those activities... but not right now. The only thing I will say is that after all that time and money.... I have super fast hands and can type and run register like NO other! That must have come from piano and not that I walked on all fours until I turned sixteen. Walking on all fours makes your fingers strong and agile... by the way. So, the talent I ended up figuring out that I had came later in life... and did not have to be paid for. Here is how it all began....
My experiences in the kitchen came at a very early age! I have a vivid memory (and picture to prove it) of me helping my Mom bake a cake. She asked me to get an egg out of the fridge... which I dropped and it made a huge mess .. and by HUGE I mean it's ONE egg- it couldn't have made that big of a mess... but I was devastated and I cried and cried. My Mom took a pic because she thought it was funny that I was so upset... Little did she know I would continue to become more and more dramatic over time. By the way, I drop eggs all the time now... and I LAUGH - I am an extremely messy cook... I just am and there is nothing I can do about it.
My Mom would always let me help her in the kitchen. She was so patient with me and would talk me through every recipe. I learned that the way to a man's heart was with food.... so, If I was going to ever get married... I better learn to cook. In Alabama, if you are not being "courted" by 10 yrs old and married by 12... then you are an old maid. And for the record, it does not even matter if you marry your brother or cousin. It is preferred! My Mom would sit down with me and help me plan a week of menus ..... she really did this - I am not joking! We would plan a meat, starch, vege, fruit, and bread. Now I was probably 10... so my meals were like.... hotdogs, Kraft mac n cheese, can of green beans, can of pears, and a roll. Sometimes I would cut up the hotdogs and mix them in to the mac n cheese.... Very gourmet! My parents were desperate to get me married....usually for your first born you get a cow or rooster as a trade. Do you realize what that would have meant? Cow and rooster meat for a month ( or a day if you are in my family)!
Cooking was a way of "providing". It was just something that the lady of the house did to take care of her family (for the record... I HATE being called a "lady" - because I am not and never will be!) You had to plan in advance, be thrifty, somewhat nutritious and on time. When I was learning this priceless information..... there were two things that I didn't plan for:
1. That I would become totally obsessed with cooking ... so much so that it has become a challenge, a thrill, and a hobby.
2. That I would only know how to cook in large quantities! I was always cooking for a family of eight..... it is impossible for me to cook for less than that. IMPOSSIBLE! So, thank goodness that Kev LOVES his leftovers.
When I was dating Kev, I would cook these big meals and take them over to his apartment. I strictly did this to "wow" him and let him know I could cook. I was desperate... I was 20 years old with no ring on my finger. I was running out of time! Now let me make something clear.... my food does NOT always turn out.... and it has definitely come a LONG way since I met Kev. I only knew how to make very basic recipes... there was no trying new spices, looking up new recipes, eating fancy foods such as salmon, mahi mahi, or canned tuna fish packed in water. My food was sometimes burned... ok.. mostly burned. But do you know the one ingredient that my food ALWAYS had in it..... LOVE! It sounds cheesy... but making something with love makes it tastes so much better.
And that takes me to what I learned about cooking from my Dad.... to be appreciative and eat what you are served! He had a rule that if you said you didn't like something that had been served.... then the joke is on you because you would get a second HUGE helping and by HUGE I mean HUGE! So, maybe I didn't like lima beans.... I would eat it anyway and say "thank you very much for my delicious lima beans". Sometimes you will be surprised and realize that you do really like something... you have just never given it a chance... like sweet potatoes! Every time my Mom would clean our ears ( every Tuesday since I was born... I got them cleaned last night)she would show me what came out and say that I had ears full of sweet potatoes. Well... that is just plain gross! I mean.... I know I was born in a garden... but still. Fast forward to 1992 and I am eating dinner at Kev's parents house. And I see sweet potatoes on the table! I had NEVER eaten a sweet potato strictly because I never had the urge to taste something pulled out of some one's ear. Thinking of my Dad's rule and not wanting to have to eat two.... I tried it... AND I LOVED IT! It is now one of my favorite foods! YUM! See sometimes my Dad knows what he is talking about.... sometimes.
Once when I was little, I had been playing outside and decided to come in for a while. I opened up the front door to this HORRIFIC smell ... and by HORRIFIC I mean worst smell on the planet I almost puked! My Mom comes around the corner with a gas mask on and hazmat gloves and happily states that she is cooking liver and onions for my Dad because it is his favorite. I thought I was about to die. Is my Dad Hannibal Lecter? Who would eat liver and onions when it smelled so unbelievably horrible? Now it turns out that that day was the last time my Mom made that dish for the safety of her children.... but the point of my story is that she made it with LOVE.... well, except that love didn't make it taste better... so forget this story.
What is the point of this post? Oh... my "kooking" show. I'll fast forward a little for you.... so, I get Kev to marry me with my delicious basic cooking skills. AWESOME! But it takes years and years for me to discover how much I love it and get creative. If you know me... you will probably find this hard to believe... but I made many Hamburger Helper dinners in my marriage. I cooked because it was something I was supposed to do. I was very shy about my cooking.... I would only cook for Kev and my family.... they are seriously happy with anything! I could serve a muddy boot for dinner and they would all clap and stomp their feet... unless of course, it has meat on it and then the vegetarians would get upset and create a picket line. Little by little, I started trying new things...... and we liked them... and it started getting to be fun. And then I met Melissa aka May May, Steve, and G ( If you have ever been lucky enough to have her cook for you... you are in for a real treat! She is VERY talented and is the reason that Northeast Columbia smells so good all of the time). She got me hooked on Paula Deen and I have never been the same again. That plus getting my dream kitchen has caused a cooking frenzy in my house! ( who knew how important it would be to have two ovens.... what did I ever do without them? I mean sometimes you have to cook something on 325 degrees and something on 350 degrees AT THE SAME TIME!).
I TRULY get so much happiness out of cooking for Kevin! I LOVE to recreate our favorites from restaurants, I LOVE to try new things to surprise him, I LOVE planning a week's worth of meals.. even down to what he will be taking for lunch each day. And he is the BEST taste tester! He is always so appreciative and excited about what is for dinner. It is music to my ears to hear "This is definitely a do again". He even watches cooking shows.. and gives me suggestions to try. Now don't get me wrong.... I still make a TON of mistakes. Most of the time if I am making something new... I have to show the picture of what it was supposed to look like before I show him what it does look like. AND I can't do anything like what they do on Top Chef. I have to have a recipe. But if I could leave work tomorrow... I would go to culinary school. That is what I want to do when I grow up..... and have a cooking show called Kooking With Kim. I practice my "cooking and acting at the same time" techniques every night that I cook. Basically I am teaching the woodland creatures in our back yard to cook... because they are always sitting on our deck looking through the window at me. (now that I think about it.... I did see a "Nuthin' but Nuts Bakery" sign hanging on my parent's old camper in the backyard with a line of turkeys waiting to get in... I guess they are paying attention.) I tell jokes, wink at the "camera", and go through the meal step by step. I REALLY do this.... in my head.
I just need to work on my "keeping the kitchen clean while cooking" skills. I find it impossible. I use EVERY single inch of counter space and then some. I was watching a cooking show the other night where they were being graded on how clean they kept their kitchen while cooking. I would have lost hands down... even if I had cooked the best meal. We run the dishwasher EVERY night..... for TWO people.... RIDICULOUS!
Well, my plan of typing shorter posts never seems to work... So, I will go ahead and "wrap this one up". I hope you got the point of the post.... #1 That I LOVE to cook #2 I LOVE collecting recipes .. so if you have some good ones.. please share. #3 I look forward to sharing some recipes/pics/taste tests with you. #4 Teach your children to cook at a young age #5 I hate liver and onions!