In the beginning, there was The Easy Bake Oven. I can remember stirring up the itty-bitty pouch of brownie mix, sliding the palm sized brownie tin into the oven slot and letting the heat dance on my face until the brownies were done. Wanting to share this creation with my whole family, I sliced that little brownie into seventeen tooth-pick sized portions and carefully transported them to my Uncle’s for Christmas dinner.

Around the same time, my mother bought me a Betty Crocker cookbook for kids. I used those recipes for everything, including snacks for my classmates. But in the end, my mother was the best teacher of all. She cooked every night of the week for seven people. 5 p.m…be at that table, or else!

As the oldest of five, I guess I was most trusted to help with dinner prep. Not yet ready to wield the knife, Mom chopped the carrots, broccoli, and meat while dancing to The Temptations. The younger siblings set the table, but I peeled carrots and potatoes (one to each of Mom’s four). I mixed the meatloaf with bare hands and poured the milk into the potatoes. I watched the cookies to make sure nothing burned. 

It’s knowing the little things in the kitchen that make cooking a more  fluid motion. It’s knowing to salt the water, when your bread is properly risen, when to use the unsalted butter, and not to walk away from the broiler. So, thanks Mom, and Betty Crocker, and Easy Bake. Thanks for sticking it out with me.

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