After the birth of my ninth child, I managed to cook old standard meals like roasted chicken and mashed potatoes, chicken stir fry and rice, homemade chicken soup and spaghetti. Good, homemade meals but boring. Homemade pickles were the only garnish.
My daughter, Ruth, was a natural in the kitchen from the time she was small. As a preschooler, she always begged to help stir, roll , cut or decorate. In fact, she seemed to have an inborn confidence in her abilities that actually intimidated her grandmother. When Ruth was only about seven, she watched her grandmother make a dessert with a frown on her face. Suddenly, she burst out,
“Grandma, that is not the way we do it.”
In other words, my daughter’s method was the best method.
As she grew older, Ruth continued to amaze me. For example, the first time she attempted pastry, from scratch, I gave her directions as I peeled the apples and balanced baby Anthony on my shoulder at the same time. Her pastry was flakier than mine! It was almost unbelievable; she was eleven years old!
Once Ruth started culinary school, she loved to take over the kitchen. I was happy to surrender the chore because my daughter had discovered her passion and was pursuing her dream. Although some of my daughter’s reactions to my cooking did manage to bruise my pride. She had just begun classes when I found a napkin attached to the lid of my boiling chicken bones,
” Mother, NEVER boil chicken soup; it looses all of its clarity and becomes cloudy!
To relax on her days from culinary school or from the restaurant, Ruth cooked and baked.
Ruth watched incredulously, one afternoon, as I threw one of our home-grown 14 lb. chickens in the oven.
“That’s it?”, she asked.
I faltered for a moment,
Her voice rose slightly, “You mean to tell me that You are not adding any rubs, spices..nothing?”
” Mum”, Ruth sighed, “I just can’t handle that..I can’t let you do that. I’ll cook.”
I happily acquiesced because I had so much else to do. However my only regret about encouraging Ruth’s cooking talent is that like all great chefs, she use bowls, sieves, utensils, pots, graters and blenders indiscriminatley, relying on the scullery maid to clean up.