Formally Trained?

sarahsocal

Good morning all. I know that many of you have been posting on the Cooking forum for ages and know each other well. It is obvious that there is a ton of talent and knowledge on here.


As one of the newer to join in, I am curious to know what sort of "training" you all have with respect to cooking. Actually formal training? Learned by doing?


Would love to hear from whoever is willing to share!

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Lars

I learned a lot from my grandmother, but I also took cooking classes in 4-H. I was not allowed to take Home Ec. classes in high school.

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Sooz

I learned from my grandmother and my mom as I was growing up. I didn't cook in high school or college (and no Home Ec), and once I was on my own, I decided that if I could read and comprehend, I could cook ... and so it was.

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bragu_DSM 5

here: home ec was a required class back then, so was shop

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plllog

I had to take Cooking (Home Ec) in junior high school. It was ridiculous. I didn't consider what we were required to make to be "food". I was 12. My mother didn't "teach" me, per se, as in lessons. I just helped her in the kitchen and she demonstrated and explained, and I learned to cook and bake, and by the age of 12 I demonstrably knew more than the teacher. Pfffttt. It didn't inspire me to seek formal training.

I wasn't a cooking prodigy like they show on those "Junior" TV shows. School was just that bad. I had a foundation, however, from what I learned at my mother's side, and by the time I was in college, I didn't need a recipe to turn out good food, could choose good recipes (and know which were bad) and follow or adapt them if I chose, and could shop and make nutritious meals. I think that's what they were supposed to teach, but didn't, in Home Ec.

Since I joined GW CF, post kitchen remodel, I've spent a lot more time learning about theories behind cookery, and any number of tips, tricks and recipes. In that same time, I've also had to deal with many formally trained professional cooks, IRL, who didn't produce particularly good food. I've been overwhelmed by their comprehensive lack of knowledge and know how, and seemingly poor ability to taste and adjust or to read a recipe and know if it would be good.

In the forum, other than a rare visit between members, we have to take each others' word for the quality of our production, but it's not hard to tell from people's reports and pictures, that there's a high standard. I do report sometimes when something goes particularly right, but I'm more likely to talk about that which goes wrong. Others report their daily production, or successes only. Still others of us are less experienced and only post questions (I encourage them to post about their successes and failures anyway--sharing is fun and helps others). A lot of members make and love foods I wouldn't dream of eating. Isn't that great!? It's in our variety that we shine!

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Olychick

My "formal" training came from many, many women who taught me technique and methods of preparing food all throughout my life. Some piqued my interest in new (to me) and less common foods and recipes. I could see the differences from how some approached cooking and especially entertaining that was very different from my mom's more basic, but delicious, down home cooking. I have 3 close friends who have worked in very high end restaurants around the country, who are always great sources of inspiration, new ideas and methods.

I'm a recipe follower, but love finding new and unusual ones to try.

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nancyofnc

My mother wouldn't let me cook but I could bake anything I wanted. At 12 I was making cream puffs and eclairs, real pudding, ganache, pavlovas, angel food cakes. When I got married at 18 I knew simply nothing about cooking a meal. But I bought cookbooks and now have 350 or so. Before the internet my cookbooks were my only source of training. Since the internet I have widened my repertoire considerably and 10 years on the Cooking Forum has been wonderful. My DH likes plain Midwest cooking but can't have red meat so my meals are very different than ever ever before. I taught two of my granddaughters some basics and gave them each 50 small packets of spices and a spice cookbook, pans, spatulas, KA, and pots. The teaching I should have gotten and could have given are still not passed on wholly to my grands as I would have liked, but I hope I have inspired them to be creative and to feed themselves. They have said that none of their friends are even remotely interested in cooking - 17-23 yr olds - since there are so many fast food joints around. If this pandemic continues, they may have to learn (hopefully) how to at least boil water and make soup.

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chloebud

I learned some from my mom. She was a good cook but fairly basic. For the most part, I pretty much learned by doing. I was fascinated with cooking/baking from as far back as I can remember, maybe around 4 or 5. It just never left me. Got my first "grownup" cookbook when I was 9. I was so excited I could hardly stand it. It was a Betty Crocker New Picture Cookbook, and my goal was to cook and bake my way through it. Never quite got there but came pretty darn close. All these years later I still think about cooking my way through each new cookbook. There's just a lot more to get in the way these days, but the desire never left me.

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CA Kate z9

I learned at my grandmother and mother's elbows, helping every chance I could get. By age 14 I was making most of the weekly evening meals, as well as my own lunch and breakfast. I mostly cooked basic mid-western meals until my husband became a world traveler with his work, and would come home wanting some of these more 'exotic' meals. With the help of many magazines and cookbooks I learned to make many new kinds of foods. My youngest daugter loves foods from around the world and has inspired me to try different things.


Still.... I like that American mid-western food best; give me a steak with salk and peppr and a baked potato and I'm happy. Yesterday I made roasted lamb shank.... one of my favorite-most meals... shared with a friend. It doesn't get any better than that! 🥰

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sarahsocal

I realized that I didn't chime in myself.

I learned a lot from my grandmother - mostly American mid-west food like others on here (I still miss her chicken & noodles). My stepmother entered the picture when I was 8 and she is a great cook with an incredibly broad range. I sort of figure if you can read a recipe, you can cook.

I have been fortunate enough to do several cooking programs, all in Italy, one with the chef for a Michelin starred restaurant in Cortona. So even when I go on vacation I find ways to cook.

So happy to have found a group like this!

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Marilyn_Sue

My Grandma, my Mother, Home Ec and trial and error!

Sue

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Lars

I did take a filo class, taught by Oly, and she was a very good teacher. I made videos of it so that I would remember, and I posted one on Youtube, but it only shows me rolling up spanakopita triangles. I did buy the Greek cookbook that she recommended and use it fairly often.

I learned a lot from watching TV cooking shows, starting with Julia Child and the Frugal Gourmet. Julia made French cooking extremely simple and easy, and I liked FG's recipes, which is why I watched him.

I don't like most of the recipes I see on Bon Appetit, but then I seldom watch it, although I like Brad Leone's recipes and have made several of them quite a few times, mostly pickled or fermented. I really do not like anyone else on that show, except for an occasional episode.

I am reluctant to make a recipe that I have not tasted before unless I am impressed with the list of ingredients and know that I will like them.

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shambo

I really didn’t cook on my own until I was in college. I also didn’t help my mother in the kitchen either. I was just always waltzing in and out while she was cooking, so I watched her at work and knew basically what she was doing.

My dad was very particular. He didn’t like “American” food and insisted that my mother cook traditional Greek food. But my mom was more adventurous and loved to read cookbooks. So while we’d watch TV at night, I’d thumb through her cookbooks. I guess I picked up techniques and ideas from all my cookbook browsing. My mom also liked watching some of the cooking shows that were on TV in the 60s. We’d have fun watching them together.

My mom cooked all the Greek dishes without benefit of a recipe. The only recipes she used were for special dishes like baklava and the other Greek desserts. She & her sister watched their mom several times, asking all sorts of questions before they were able to quantify ingredients for those special sweets.

I pretty much cook like my mom. No recipe, just throwing things into a pot knowing what generally needs to be included. In fact, except for baking,I find it difficult to follow a recipe exactly.

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Jim Mat

If you are CA based, do you know about Chowhound? Used to be a SF Bay Area restaurant finder, turned into a CBS owned site. Many of the old day posters are there, but more importantly for you....there are many current and former restaurant cooks, maybe a chef or two.

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Cloud Swift

Learned the basics mostly from my mother. She hadn't been taught as a child and found it difficult being thrust into cooking when she first married so she made sure that I learned. Then she got sick when I was a teenager so I did a lot of the family cooking before going off to college. I did take a semester of HomeEc cooking in junior high school because it was mandatory, but pretty much already knew the things it tried to teach.


My skill set expanded mostly from practice and from seeking out the information (cooking shows, reading and later the internet). This group had been one of the sources. Over time, I've built-up a set of web sites and cook books with recipes that reliably work for me.


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naturegirl_2007 5B SW Michigan

I started baking in grade school after "helping" mom a few times. Mom had 5 kids that kept her busy. I was the oldest. If I wanted to bake it was fine with her and about the only time we had cookies, cakes, pies, etc. Since everyone liked those food, including me, I baked more and more. Mom later taught me by answering questions that I had after reading a recipe in the Better Homes and Garden Cookbook or others we had. Then I was on my own to do what I thought best. I remember being quite proud that I could roll out 4 pie crusts from a recipe that was meant for 2. I realize now that probably wasn't the best thing to do :)

Like others, I was not impressed by Jr High Home Ec. The group next to ours dropped some muffins into their dirty dishwater, and the teacher told them to eat them anyway. I was appalled. I regularly wiped freshly harvested radishes and carrots on my pants and ate them in the garden, but eating food pulled from dishwater - Ew

As a young adult I read cookbooks and followed the recipes. I learned a lot about vegetarian cooking. Also learned to put together soups from whatever was around or needed to be used up.

Later, the internet and YouTube were great learning tools.

Lately, I've taken a few "healthy" cooking classes offered at a senior center to see what they were like. We prepared a recipe or two together at each class. It was fun cooking with others. I can't say I learned much that was new to me about cooking. However, I learned many older people do not have a clue about how to cook or plan nutritious meals. It is not just young people. A few could hardly read which made following even a simple recipe hard or impossible for them unless someone was guiding them through it. Good nutrition is a real challenge when you can't cook even basic foods. Some ended the class feeling confident and ready to try more recipes from the cookbooks we were given. Sadly, not all progressed to that point.

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nancyjane_gardener

I refused to take home ec and typing because my older sisters HAD to take these classes! LOL Such a rebel!

I mostly helped my mom in the kitchen in the late 60s early 70s so most of the stuff were casserole type things lasagna, spaghetti, pot roast in the crock pot.

Moving in with my boyfriend (now hubby of 42 years!) at age 18 was an eye opener! We were both in college with part time jobs, and even ground beef was a luxury! We suddenly had to get creative! Dented can stores, affordable farmers markets and a whopping $100 per month was what we ate on! Plus, our roomie worked at the warm puppy cafe at the Charles Schulz Ice Arena and would bring home leftover soup that we would pour over minute rice to stretch it out!

We started gardening about 19 years ago when we quit smoking and, though we have always loved our vegies, love them home grown even more!

As our income and family expanded, so did our food choices. When we moved a few years ago, we got rid of MANY cookbooks and about a 6" stack of printed out recipes! I now try a recipe before I print it and put it into a folder.

So, basically Mom/self taught.

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sandyslopes z5b n. UT

I learned by following cookbooks and watching PBS cooking shows. In my circle I'm known as quite the chef and baker, just because I cook from scratch a lot. So many people find that amazing these days. ..... But when I read this forum I'm reminded I am more of a novice, lol.

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Islay Corbel

My mum and cook books.

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

I grew up on a farm in Ohio. Dad worked, Mom took care of the housework and 6 kids, we had a large garden, preserved a lot of it and all of our meals were homemade. We didn't eat much meat. Payday Fridays were a big deal. When I left home to go to college, a friend of my (now 42 year marriage) husband's from DC had a cooking club and each month someone would host a dinner featuring a certain cuisine. That was an eye-opener for me. Gourmet magazine also was a big influence. I'm in the middle of Ruth Reichl's book "Save Me the Plums", BTW.


Julia Child's "French Chef" originated on WGBH TV in Boston when we lived there and she was an inspiration for me. I did take a class in Chinese cooking and learned a lot from it. Boston has a large Chinatown. Then we moved to a suburb of Boston and lived close to a store owned by Joyce Chen's daughter-in-law. She & I had a 20 year friendship and she was an incredible mentor to me.

DH started traveling to Europe on business for many years and we lived overseas. So cooking has evolved with our experiences. I've had a long battle with breast cancer and since we've retired, DH has become a very accomplished cook. I still cook some, but very simple basic things now. I don 't have the stamina to put a lot of effort into it anymore and I don't have much of an appetite so it's not worth the time, sadly.

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foodonastump

My enjoyment of cooking started in high school. My mom tutored German after school, so gradually she put me in charge of preparing dinner. Unfortunately I never developed into much of a cook, any “adventurous” cooking tends to be following recipes or at least using them as a base. I still enjoy it though!

Home Ec was a joke back then, and based on what I’m seeing from my kids, still is.

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sheilajoyce_gw

My mother died when I was 12. I had sisters 4 years older and 18 months younger than I. We none of us knew how to cook. Older sister did most of it for 3 years, and then I took over when she married. That first Thanksgiving, we three girls combined our memories of how Mom prepared our holiday meal and were surprised that we could pull it off. Older sister knew how to do pies. I knew how to prepare the stuffing and turkey, and younger sister knew something else. But our patient father had to live through his 3 daughters learning how to cook from scratch and with only one cookbook in the house.

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jill302

Started learning cooking with Grandma when I was young. She was a wonderful Southern cook and made the best cakes. Later on I took Home Ec in high school. Luckily we had a wonderful Home Ec teacher and multiple cooking classes available. Learned a lot and it was so much fun. After high school it was cookbooks for probably 10 years, I did a lot less cooking then. Later as a young mom I found an adult education program program that was being taught by a cook who also taught at William-Sonoma. She taught several themed series of classes as well as a number of specialized classes such as tamales, Christmas tea and so on. I took these classes with a friend for a few years, then the program disappeared. The last few years I really have not been cooking as I used to do, I was just tired of it for some reason, too many years trying to throw together dinner between kids sports and meetings I think. Recently I have been inspired by The British Baking Show and have developed an interest in baking again and hope this will help me revitalize the love that I had for cooking when I was younger.

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Lynda (Zn9b/23 - Central CA Coast)

So interesting to read everyone's stories.

I had older parents who were both British immigrants. They generally ate meat, potatoes & vegetables every night. They grew some of their own vegetables. The emphasis was healthy, whole foods cooked from scratch with virtually no sauce or spices. What I learned from them, was a tradition of coming together for a home cooked meal every night, and to use high quality ingredients. My extended family were all a long way away, so didn't really have an impact on my cooking.

Once I was off on my own, I craved the refined food, sauces and spices that weren't eaten in my childhood home. I ate out, a lot, and I used prepackaged meals. Eventually, the refined food didn't make me feel well and when we had our son, I didn't want to feed him that way. Over time, I have returned to my roots of home cooking. My family of three eats together every night, mostly made from scratch meals. We grow almost all of our own produce.

I learn by finding a recipe and then practicing/tweaking it until I have it fully dialed in. We travel a lot (or at least we did...) and I get inspiration from meals I have while overseas. When I get home, I try to recreate them. I still like spices and sauces, so I try to pair those flavors with the home cooking & whole foods of my childhood.

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TXSkeeter

Kind of learned by myself although with the help and advice of many good cooks along the way. As a soon to be single father with two young boys (now grown), I suddenly figured out that ex was just like her mother, if she couldn't fry it in some kind of grease, she couldn't cook it despite it's native origins (vegetables, meats, breads, etc.) At some point, I began to wonder how this was affecting my children's health and what it was going to do to them as they got older. "Not good said I" and so starting asking questions of whomever I could pidgeon hole when they brought up some favorite or even plain dish that their family liked. Bought a spice or three and it went from there to trying this and that to eventually trying to make dishes from what I had on hand to maybe buying a "known" item and trying an actual recipe. Still have fun putting this and that together and rarely get turned down or told not to do THAT again.


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sheesh

I loved my one semester Home Ec class in 1961! It was about technique and nutrition, something my parents never mentioned.

Mom made dinner for the 7 of us every night, and Dad came home from work and made it delicious! He was a terrific cook, she cooked because we had to eat every day.

I also have read and learned an awful lot reading this forum. This place is full of great info and recipes. It's a necessary part of my life. I love to eat, so I suppose that inspires my desire to cook.

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

We had a required class freshman year in high school called Guys and Dolls. Such clear memories of teen athlete boys behind sewing machines. We all loved it but we had excellent HomeEc and Shop teachers. (in a crap small town public school). We all took homeEc and Shop.

After basics like knife skills, etc, we made International meal like curies, naan, flat breads, even beef tongue. Loved her. I do things to this day she taught.

At home, helping mom, was opening cans with her new electric opener. Previously we had a Swing-a-Way but fumbling 10 year old hands would no doubt drop the can and its juices/contents. Not long after that time Dad went no cans or processed foods. Frozen or fresh garden frozen. Total 360 in my few years before university. But just basic food is fuel.

My grandmother, mothers mom, was an amazing cook. She owned/ran a diner connected to my grandfather's garment factory. Husbands were struggling to find work but the wives were so happy in that job. That factory keep that small town alive in tough times. 40-50 women employed. She cooked for them and their husbands joined for lunch. I bet it was their only main meal those days. Besides breakfast toast/egg and a light evening snack.

She made mile high lemon meringue pies, coconut cream so perfect. Even had the spiraling glass case we see in classic Diners. I was 5-6 years old when they retired. She moved some of the industrial appliances into their home and made the previously eat-in-kitchen into a home kitchen ahead of its time for 1970. My young budding designer eyes thought it was the coolest to have a big stainless center island and a giant industrial double glass door fridge. They had a Chesapeake on-the-water beach home, deep sea fishing boats, my first high school car was a 67 lime green Cadillac. My brother totaled it so my other grands gave me their Bonneville. (no heat, no seat-belts, yikes)

My mother has never had a cuisinart, a blender, or a standing mixer....just boils/steams. To death. Mush. Over cooks everything without a pinch of butter/fat/salt for fear of heart disease. Not even spice. They are 92 and 91 now. Fine, but a boring meal palate not necessary. Spice has no calories and can be dietary helpful. Adds flavor. Ginger/turmeric/garlic/pepper/miso/fermentations....They don't care. But dad read a library book last year and told me in long length all about fermentation and kombucha and sprouted grain bread. LOL. (common for years in our home)

-He does none of it. Just wanted to be 'modern' and updated about healthy foods.


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beesneeds

I learned most of my cooking basics from mom- amazingly good cook, and watched gma bake- she was a terrible cook. Took the home-ec classes in school. Did my formal training in Chicago, it really honed my skills and expanded my abilities. I learn a lot from cookbooks and videos/shows too.

I don't use my formal training for employment. I live out in the boonies now, and I tend to do other home based stuff with my cooking.


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sarahsocal

Beedneeds-

If you don't mind sharing - what was your formal training?

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krystalmoon2009

Watched my nana cook and got a pretty good idea of the basics. Took home ec but don't remember much cooking in that class, seemed to be all sewing which I hated. High school took food service class and learned a lot there. Married right out of high school and PBS cooking shows became my favorite. Never liked baking and still don't but I can whip up a tasty meal. Husband is a plain meat and potato guy but I have a tendency to try different spices so that I like what I cook.

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beesneeds

Culinary Arts. In hindsight I should have gone for Food Science since it is more my forte. But after getting the first degree, I really couldn't afford to go on to a second one. I kind of wish I could have gotten my Master Baker too while in school, but couldn't afford the extra courses.

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skibby (zone 4 Vermont)

Chloebud - Julie and Julia. Do it!

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l pinkmountain

Great thread and wonderful stories. Similar to Sarah's comments, my Mom always told me, "If you can read, you can cook!" (She was a librarian and she was of the philosophy that there is no problem too big that the right book can't solve it . . . !) Her own mother, my grandmother, was not very patient about working with others in the kitchen, and lots of forces conspired against my Mom in the kitchen. Still, I have great memories of us cooking together or me helping her with prep for parties, holidays, etc.

I had to learn how to cook dinner after Mom went back to work, since I had to get it started before she came home. I was a teenager at that point so it was good training, a benefit. Then I decided to become a vegetarian and had to literally teach myself how to cook so I could eat nutritiously. Much, much later I stumbled upon CF when I was trying to learn how to cook meat as more of the family holiday meals fell on me, and now eventually cooking for an elderly meat-eating father and husband. Mom left behind lots of recipe clippings, all filed. I pull one out now and then in honor of her.

I also have memories of my Dad's mom making some basic home made things but by the time I came along, her arthritis made cooking pretty difficult. I still make all the Jewish comfort foods I remember her and her daughters preparing, except home made noodles which are out of this world but I don't have the patience for, even though I can make them, and gefilte fish which is . . . vile IMHO. The noodles were the specific thing Bubbe taught me in person, she could not read or write so no inherited recipe file from her.

I also make some of the family specialties of my Mom's mom, even though I didn't learn to make them directly from her. I was too young to venture into her kitchen, but later my cousin shared some of her classic recipes with me from her recipe file. She really wasn't that great of a cook, more of a provision-er, and great gardener. She did a lot of canning but Mom hated helping on that so never developed any desire to do it. Mom thought it was funny that the canning gene skipped a generation.

My Mom's mom was Dutch and they are not known for their elaborate cuisine, but pretty good on baking. My grandma exemplified that. My fondest memories from her baking was the always full cookie jar sitting on the summer porch just outside the entry to the living room. She only made a few kinds of cookies, mostly molasses and very plain sugar ones. From direct experience with her and my Mom, I developed knowledge and love of farm or garden fresh foods, simply prepared. I grew up on fresh produce, but it was just either eaten raw or lightly cooked and served plain or with very simple methods like a light cream sauce or breaded and fried. Delicious as is. And an incessant itch to garden . . .

I taught myself to can from books, and then practice, and went on to teach canning. That's the only formal schooling I have been around. I'd sure love to take a class on sourdough and artisnal baking techniques. An actual one, not a virtual one. There are gads of online videos. That is one skill that just doesn't seem to translate totally to a virtual training method. Too many variables. I have done fine with other breads, it's just getting that oven spring, crispy crust, chewy interior, holy grail loaf that eludes me. I can come close, so close . . .

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

My mother hated to cook but she had 7 mouths to feed. She was a utilitarian cook. I really didn't learn much from her in the kitchen. And at the end of the summer when the garden was on steroids, my grandmother used to come stay with us and it was such a chore to be in a hot, steamy kitchen on our feet all day prepping vegetables for canning. I hated it and never learned how to do it. Such a marathon, and my brothers got off Scott free. Only the women folks...

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seagrass_gw Somewhere

Even to this day, my 88 year-old mom doesn't like to cook. She has a refrigerator magnet that reads "The only reason I have a kitchen is because it came with the house". !!!

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plllog

LOL! Seagrass, that's funny! It also reminds me of those city apartments that only have vestigial kitchens, more poorly appointed than a decent wetbar, and the overgrown houses have a pretty "family" kitchen, and another one hidden away where the actual cooking happens. :)

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carolb_w_fl_coastal_9b

Good thread - such enjoyable stories!

Seems like I always liked to cook. I always enjoyed cooking classes as a kid. We did cooking projects in Brownies and Girl Scouts and I had Home Ec in Jr. HS, where I remember we made macaroni and cheese from scratch and biscuits too.

I worked in several restaurants as a teen, and even got to be main cook for a short time at a crunchy hippie restaurant. I got some good experience through our church youth group as well, feeding large groups of hungry teens at weekend conferences.

I've learned a lot from TV programs too - Jacques Pepin's especially.

And back in the 80s or 90s I read through the entire Time-Life Foods Of The Worlds cooking series. My parents had belonged to a gourmet dinner group in the 70s and my mom frequently used recipes from those books. We had a lot of Time-Life book series, I recall. I read the Larousse Gastronomique too. I was on a gourmet kick back then, and my parents had a lot of gourmet cookbooks and subscriptions to Gourmet & Bon Appetit magazines.

I also learned a lot from my family.

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Elizabeth

I took Home Ec. in High School but by then I was already cooking for my family. I remember being bored with making biscuits from scratch as "men liked them for breakfast". It was a dull class using outdated recipes and techniques.

My Grandmother was a great cook and I learned from her. Basic meat and potatoes style cooking but well done. I knew all the basics. Our only cookbook was a WWII Victory cookbook. I had to muddle though all the talk of food shortages.

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dcarch7 d c f l a s h 7 @ y a h o o . c o m

As a child, I had always been fascinated by science; chemistry and physics. I became the first "Modernist Cuisine" chef. When my parents were out, I would steal hot dogs, connect two nails each end, wire the nails and plug into an outlet. The hot dogs would be cooked in seconds. Interesting that I am still alive today.

Whether you recognize it or not. You all are scientists. Cooking is all about thermodynamics and chemistry.

When I was in college, I had a crush on a beautiful classmate. So did everyone else. I was disadvantaged. The others were either handsome, popular football stars or owners of fancy sports cars.

Then, I discovered that, females were very impressed by the ability to do fancy cooking, and the kitchen was not very far from the bedroom.


dcarch


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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

I guess I am self-taught :-) I recall taking a home-ec class in middle school (was called junior high back then in the dark ages :-)) but that's it. I took only college prep classes in high school and could opt out of any shop or 'life skills' classes as they were called. Also taught myself to sew, tailor and quilt and made all my clothes and most Christmas gifts through my broke college years and into my early career life.

I'm sure I picked up techniques and certainly recipes, especially traditional ones, from my mom and pretty much took over the cooking while in high school. But I like food and I like to eat and I think that also stimulates skills and creativity. I generally use a recipe when I bake as some precision is called for but otherwise I cook by taste rather than following a recipe....unless it is something very new. Then I try it out but always, always tweak as I go. And I have always watched various cooking shows on TV and no doubt picked up more tips and techniques by osmosis :-)

Sometime after I married, my then DH decided he would no longer eat red meat so had to set my hand at semi vegetarian cooking (he would eat poultry and fish). And we had his growing boys from a previous marriage stay with us over summer and at holidays and boy, could they pack it away! Cheap, filling and tasty to picky teenagers became my cooking watchword!!

Both of my sibs are decent cooks and so are most of their offspring. But somehow I became known as the family chef and chief baker and although I do not entertain much myself any more, I am always asked to contribute family favorites to any gathering.

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sarahsocal

Thank you all for sharing. I am really enjoying reading everyone's histories!

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l pinkmountain

Speaking of sharing Sarah, back in the day we actually had a couple of long weekend get togethers for CF folks who wanted to learn/teach cooking skills. We had "Bread Baking Camp" and "Canning Camp." I think it was Teresa who did the bread baking one, I don't think she posts anymore, my memory is sketchy but she used to post a lot of bread baking information . . . That one I think was in NC?? Anyway Canning Camp was in MI and I visited the gang. I had to work but did spend a lovely evening with one of our former members at her home and backyard where we had a meal and campfire with the group. i was already a big canner but I did see some of their creations! So much fun. Not sure if we'll ever do that again . . . A member hosted the group and organized the instruction.

I would happily attend "Coffee Camp" at John Lui's house if I could afford the air fare and had the time! Just kidding John, I know you would do it but now is probably not the time . . .

Before the pandemic hit I was toying with learning to be a barista, I really liked the idea of working in a local coffee shop. But all bets are off in my area now, even before the pandemic the economy was bad, local coffeehouses struggling. Not necessarily due to pandemic restrictions, they can do takeout, but folks just don't have the money for high end coffee, nor the time to hang out in the coffee shop. Just the retirees, and now they are keeping a low profile.

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annie1992

Yeah, L, Canning Camp! We had people from Louisiana, Florida, Washington DC, California, KatieC came all the way from Idaho to help "teach", it was so much fun!

A million years ago in another life, my ex-husband and I owned a bar and grille. I took all the Health Department safety classes and then took a few culinary classes at the local University, paid for a few more at Williams Sonoma and took a pasta making class at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids. I took the Master Canner's class on line from Michigan State University and one on Charcuterie from Eric Villegas, another one by him centered on cooking with venison. I've attended many presentations, from Ellie Krieger to Taste of Home (where I won a kitchen cabinet, LOL) to a couple more from Eric Villegas, he was my favorite. I've taken a couple of cake decorating classes in person and a couple more on line. Oh, and I took Home Ec in High School too, but I was already far past what they did in that class in cooking, but they did teach me to sew.

The B&B across the street has a Chef. Yeah, one with an actual degree, and she and I have cooked together, we're going to pick back up after the election when I have some free time. She is teaching me German and Polish dishes, which is something I'm not very familiar with.

My real teacher, though, was my Grandmother. She lived with us and I spent my childhood helping her bake bread and can tomatoes and churn butter and whip cream.

Annie

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l pinkmountain

There was a B&B up in my Mom's old home town that offered a commercial kitchen and cooking themed weekends, like bread baking, etc. It was for sale, reasonably priced but I still didn't have the money really to risk on an investment at the time. Someone bought it as a private home. The person who was running the classes still does it at another location I think.

I never realized you had so much training Annie! I seriously would do some kind of bread making training after the pandemic, but by then I hope to be employed full time so probably will not have the time. That's always been the deal with me, when I have the time I have no money and when I have money I have no time . . .

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annie1992

L, what I really wanted to do was go to Zingerman's class on baking in a wood fired oven, but it's several days long and costs nearly $1,000, plus I'd have to get a motel, meals, etc. So, I probably won't do that, since I don't even HAVE a wood fired oven. They have one on bacon too, LOL.

I don't consider any of my background actual "training", it's just picking up bits here and there. I have no degree and the only commercial experience is owning the bar/restaurant. I just get interested in something (like pasta, or wood fired pizza) and go find a class on that or find somone who knows and will show me. A lot more stuff is on line now with the pandemic and I'm a terrible insomniac so when I can't sleep at 3 am. I can watch a YouTube video or something from one of the universities on how to make a mirror glaze or stuff bratwurst!

Annie

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l pinkmountain

I've been trying with the sourdough and artisnal bread stuff, but the videos don't seem to help all that much, my breads don't turn out the same as the video ones, even though I do what they do . . .

I'm taking a break from bread right now, the outdoor yard stuff is piling up, and I have a couple of side gigs competing. Unfortunately I'm not taking ideal advantage of this time off, as usual money concerns are competing . . ..

My grandparents ran a bar and grille for a while and I think my grandma cooked there. I often ponder opening a small diner, if only to have a nice place to go in my hometown . . . the food choices are dismal here but I think that reflects what the market will bear. Not sure one could make money serving awesome food and a price folks can afford. I don't think running a restaurant is all that enjoyable, even cooking in one. Everyone says it is cutthroat and exhausting. Doing commercial kitchen cooking is not the same as cooking at home, I'm sure that is a whole other world. I've never met anyone who enjoyed it oddly. I met a few folks seeking to make a living on food, either in the restaurant business or as dieticians, at MSU which has great programs to train folks in both field. Everyone I know who started out quit and went into another career eventually. I only know one person who had an entire career working as a dietician for the Cooperative Extension. Those folks I know usually really like their jobs, but more and more those positions are on the cutting boards, and by that I mean financially.

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annie1992

No, running a bar/restaurant/diner is not fun. Picture cooking for your Dad, everyone wants their food a specific way, which is fine, it's your living but even something as simple as a burger can get complicated. "I want TWO pieces of cheese, one on the bottom bun, and one between the patties, but none on top. I want the mayo on the bottom, the catsup in the middle, no mustard, exactly THREE slices of pickle on the top. The bun must be toasted to a specific "color", and only spread with butter/margarine/bacon grease/the drippings from the grill. I don't want it well done, but I can't have any pink showing. No vegetable can ever touch my plate. It's too soggy, not soggy enough, the cheese isn't the kind I like, the buns are too big/small/hard/soft." That's before you get to the fries on the side, LOL. The benefit of owning the place is that you get to choose the 100 hours a week you'll work because you are going to fill in for every cook/waitress/dishwasher that gets sick, has a vehicle break down, has a family emergency, needs a day off. If you have enough employees to fill in, you can't give them enough hours. If you give them enough hours, you can't hire enough employees. No one ever wants to work weekends or holidays because they want to be with family, their kids are off school and they have no child care, etc. All valid reasons, but it doesn't help your staffing schedule. After that, do the bookwork, order the supplies, prepare the ever-changing schedule, make sure your permits and safety training is up to date and the place can pass the Health Department inspections. Line up service people that can come immediately if a cooler or dishwasher breaks down. Then re-do the schedule, find out where your supplies are, train your new employees and start again. Nope, I don't miss it!

Annie

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caflowerluver

I am more self taught than any formal training, always curious and learning. I did learn the basics by helping my mom in the kitchen since I was 5 YO. I thought HS Home Ec class was a joke. I already knew what they taught and couldn't believe others didn't. I wanted to take Shop but was forced to take Home Ec. Boys could take Home Ec but girls couldn't take Shop back in the Midwest early 60's.

I really learned a lot when I became a vegetarian for 16 years. Bought many cookbooks on the subject and learned about mixing the right foods together to get a healthy diet. We are still pretty much vegetarians, just not strict about it.

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artemis_ma

I'm not formally trained. I did take two classes in Connecticut, one on making Indian food, and another on making Greek food (The Silo, New Milford, CT). They were fun and I got some good pointers, but I can't consider myself "trained".

Both my parents cooked. This was good as I could watch, but not as good as there was no extra space in the kitchen for me - but at that age I was quite content to watch -- and eat. Dad cooked off the cuff, usually, and Mom cooked via recipes. Usually. I did learn to bake cookies with Mom, especially the two favorites of ours for Christmas, and Toll House Cookies for the rest of the year.

We did cakes, but they were from boxed mixes. (I cannot eat those any more - they hit my stomach and make me do internal flip-flops... It is from scratch or nothing, here these days.)

I watched them cook long enough that there are some of their recipes I've made my own: Dad's eggplant pizzas, Mom's chicken in mushroom soup sauce with sour cream and curry. Some of Dad's seafood/fish dishes. Mom's simmered tongue in pickle juice with pickling spices. ETC. Yes, this was all normal stuff around the house.

I learned more when I went out on my own. Mom gave me a Betty Crocker cookbook, and a friend gave me the "Starving Artists' Cookbook", and I went to town. Early on, I thought I'd be writing two budget cookbooks: "101 Ways to Cook Noodles" and "101 Ways to Cook Hot Dogs". Noodles weren't called Pasta back then.

Since I like food, I kept learning and trying new things. I had a brief housemate when out on my own who introduced me to putting nutmeg into potatoes. That was awesome and all mashed or scalloped potatoes since then have nutmeg in them.

Now that I have a food blog (these past ten years) I use that to challenge myself to create or at the very least, explore, new food ideas. I still don't do much in the way of desserts, but that is because I'm generally satiated before we get to dessert. Sugar is something of an over-rated seasoning, in my book...But I do explore this angle of food on occasion.

****

I would have loved to have taken Shop back in the day. I certainly got enough background in Home Ec at home, in comparison to Shop. But most of the schools I attended offered neither, and in any case they didn't want girls taking Shop, where this was offered. Dad really couldn't teach me any of that - it wasn't his area of interest to begin with. (I did get woodlands skills and fishing skills from him, alongside the observing of how he cooked.)



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annie1992

Artemis, I DID take shop in high school, wood shop. I needed an elective and my Dad thought if I took wood shop it would give us something to do together, he spent much of his life working for furniture companies and building various things. When I tried to sign up, I was told by the counselor that "girls don't take shop classes". That was in 1972. Dad was furious and I think everyone in town heard him yelling at the school. He threatened to sue, he threatened to go to the school board, he threatened to alert the media, LOL. I was accepted into shop class, the first girl ever in my town. I still have the small bench I built sitting in my front room. The next semester SIX girls signed up, and Title 9 came into effect and Dad didn't have to sue anyone. (grin) We had no girls sports at my school either, until a couple of years after I had graduated. Just as well for me, I'm not athletic at all but I still know how to use a band saw and a sander!

Annie.

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wednesday morning

I enjoy cooking and, just as important, if not MORE important is that I love to eat and have an extraordinarily keen sense of smell.

I have been at it for 50+ years since I first married and started a family. We had limited resources and I had to find ways to feed the family that were nutritious and economical.


My husband is a former little fat boy who also places a great deal of spiritual value in the enjoyment of food and eating.

I think that another thing that makes me a good cook is that I can think outside the box and I am, in no way, limited to doing anything one way all the time. I can innovate, create, and substitute. I know so many people who have no idea how to do something differently from the one way that they were taught. I know people who need to slavishly follow a recipe.

By this time, I have so much that I can do that I just got rid of all my cookbooks. I have not followed a recipe for longer than I can remember. Maybe a cake recipe some years ago.

We both love to eat, but we are not gluttons. I have standards for what I cook and what I cook with. I would rather enjoy a small amount of good quality food than a quantity of food from the frozen section of Costco.

By the way, he did not stay a little fat boy. He decided to educate himself as to what a nutritious diet is and he has patterned that into his life. He is extraordinarily fit for his age. Neither of us is obese but I do carry more pounds for my size that he does.

More quality and less quantity!


I enjoy cooking and he enjoys eating. It has often been a joke between us that I owe my cooking skills to him. If not for the fact that he is so appreciative of his meals, I would never have become the skilled cook that I am, according to him. I counter that with the argument that, had we not joined ourselves together in this life, that he may have married a non cook and he would not have been able to maintain that healthy perspective on his own and he may have lived his life over weight. So there!!!!


I know it sounds like I am tooting my own horn. I am. I am proud of my cooking skills and I am not going to be shy about it, since you asked. I don't; cook like my momma or his momma. I say that I am "grandma" now and I can lay claim to the authenticity that comes with that.

As much as I don't use recipes, I have begun to write up some things for the kids. I can legitimately call them "grandma's recipies". My own grown kids can't cook anything like I do.

SIL loves when I cook for him. My DIL if from China and she amazes me at how she can find instructions for doing something and do it surprisingly well!

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sleevendog (5a NY 6aNYC NL CA)

Cool, toot on sister. If you listen and join the cooking forum you will find similar thoughts and methods not so different. Some like traditional and some go outside the box using new ingredients. Some are most comfortable using measures and recipes. Not an issue either way. Some garden, some don't.

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moosemac

I learned from my mother, my uncle (buthcher) and his Mennonite wife, PBS (Julia Child and the Galloping Gourment), Girl Scouts, Gourmet and Bon Appetit magazines. Now with the Food Channel and internet, I am constantly experimenting.

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annie1992

I agree sleevendog, there is no "wrong" way to cook. Some people enjoy the "science", weighing flour and yeast, adding liquid ingredients by the ounce. Others, like me, just add ingredients until it "looks right" and substitute various ingredients for others. As long as we are happy with our efforts, it's all cooking. My large and extended family and "honorary family" have pronounced me "the best cook we know" and happily eat at my home and have survived it. I have various ribbons and awards but I am as happy eating my home grown and canned green beans with some fresh fish caught by the grandkids from the pond as I am with fish En Croute and haricot vert, similar but "fancier".

I admit that a recipe is mostly a "suggestion" to me, but I do try to make it as written the first time and then make adjustments to suit my tastes if I think it's good enough to make again.

I do agree that a little bit of quality makes up for a lot of quantity, I'd rather have a bite of good chocolate than a pound of the cheap stuff, or a single cup of my home roasted and freshly ground coffee than 4 or 5 cups of the pre-ground commercially made stuff. That doesn't mean that my Mother and her Folger's preference is wrong, just that we have different tastes. As I've often said, taste is not objective, it's subjective. We like what we like.

Annie

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