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Who taught you to cook?
Sat 3-Sep-11
2:12 pm
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Sooliz
Somerset

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Again, like Hattie, I don't know if this is the right place for this topic.....if not, feel free to move it, TA.

 

Following on from Hattie's favourite cookbooks thread......who taught you to cook?  Was it your mother, grandmother, father even?  Or did you go to a cookery school or evening classes?  Or were you self taught?

I don't ever remember my mother teaching me to cook, or even allowing me to help her.  She much preferred to be left alone in the kitchen to get on with things by herself, she said we were a hindrance, or in her way (she was probably right!).  And it's rubbed off on me, I much prefer to cook alone, although don't mind someone chatting to me from the other side of the kitchen counter! whistle

I did take quite an interest in our Domestic Science lessons at school, but never actually did much cooking until I was in my late teens, when I had to cook for myself when Mother and I weren't getting along for various reasons aargh.  Even then though, it was more of the 'something on toast' variety.  When I moved out and into a bedsit with a tiny kitchenette and mini table top oven I began to be slightly more adventurous, but only really got into cooking when I got married.  And it's only since we've been living here for the past 18 months and I am now a 'lady of leisure' (big_laugh) that I actually do real proper home cooking from scratch, rather than quick meals or convenience based ones.  So, to cut a long story short, I'm self taught.

You?

learning to love veg…..except celery :-O

Sat 3-Sep-11
2:51 pm
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Toffeeapple
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I suppose that I am self-taught too.  I was allowed to slice the runner beans and scrape the new potatoes but I wasn't shown how to do things.  My Mother made cakes without measuring anything, the same with pastry.  She never had a recipe unless it was a Bero one that would have come with the flour, probably.  I'm guessing really but don't recall any meal that needed instructions.  Lamb stew was left to simmer on the hob by the fire for days, as did any thing beefy.  Other than that it was roasted or fried food.  And toast, which we did on the toasting fork in front of the open coal fire.  I recall moving to South Harrow, in digs, and making Vesta Chow Mein for my first solitary meal, on the Baby Belling.  But I really took to cooking when married to my second husband as I had all day to experiment and an American Sister-in-Law who was a real home-maker and a constant inspiration to me.

I'll try that again!

Sat 3-Sep-11
3:23 pm
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Hattie
Bucks/Oxon Border

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My grandmother taught me by letting me stand beside her & copying what she did. My mother didn't allow me to help. But once I went to my Grammar School it had a wonderful Domestic Science area with various types of stoves so we would be able to practice on them all, from tiny ones to a great Rayburn & everything inbetween. We would all take turns at them. It also had a kind of miniature apartment so we could learn how to keep things tidy & clean & lay the table properly.  They taught us various basic dishes which we had for our lunch. It was not very exciting food so I guess I really taught myself from books. I was very lucky to travel such a lot while working so I ate out a lot. I made a point to try dishes which I had only read about in books, then when I got home to the UK I would try to reproduce them.  I also worked with a choreographer who loved both eating & cooking so he was a great influence. He was the one who persuaded me to try oysters & raw herrings, Japanese sushi & steak tartare. He had a beautiful house in Italy so I learn't about Italian food from staying there & eating with his Italian friends & neighbours. 

 

"The beautiful is as useful as the useful...perhaps more so."

from Les Miserables

Sat 3-Sep-11
3:56 pm
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typhoo
France - ex Ecosse

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Italian maw-in-law, brilliant cook.  My mum did not a bad pot of soup, but other than that!!!! forget it.  Tripe cooked in milk with potatoes and onions every Thursday for years.  Stank the house out big time - funnily enough my sister didn't have to eat it cos she didn't like it - err neither did I but got a skelp for saying so toffeeapple

Sat 3-Sep-11
4:47 pm
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brightspark
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Just like you, Nadine, the grammar school Domestic Science 'apartment' was where we had to learn to wash clothes, clean ovens, even flower arranging, but it is where I loved the cooking part of it.

As the youngest of five children, my mother would cook everything from scratch, because she couldn't afford anything else - I do remember having lots of pies, as the pastry was a good filling for my very hungry three older brothers, who must have had hollow legs or something, as they seemed to be eating constantly! Although Mum worked full-time, and did the shopping on her bike, she still managed to provide us with hearty meals.

Aged only 12, my brothers used to bring friends home from the motorcycle club once a week, so I started to cook some biscuits for them, and then cakes, and then meals - and suddenly my brothers had lots of friends ....... !!

My ambition was to be a dietician - I love(d) cooking to please, and I thought that I could help people learn how to enjoy food. However, it was not to be, as, I think I've mentioned this before, the school careers advisor told me that to be a dietician required 4 years of peeling potatoes. That isn't something a teenager wants for a career, really eeek ....

I went down the easy route - I worked in a bank in the City instead. Very unfulfilling!

Since then I have enjoyed many evening and day classes, including a Cordon Bleu class in The Netherlands, though due to my hubby's work bringing us back to the UK, I didn't complete the course. Also 2 years of yeast cookery evening classes, taught by a wonderful man of 72, who had worked in the baking industry from the age of 14.

Following this course, I cooked bread every week for the local farm shop, and have made wedding cakes, and nowadays just cook for anyone who wants something cooked !  eeek

brightsparklystuff

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Just make your absence felt"
Sat 3-Sep-11
5:03 pm
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kayerunrig
lincolnshire

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well it wasnt my mother , we never had food in the house because she might be tempted to eat something , she always counted my food out because i was fat, 5 chips, peas and 1 sausage, i third of a meat pie and peas , 3 fish fingers and 5 chips . it sticks in my mind to this day . she spent most of her time with her fingers down her throat .........Granny however could cook for England , being my fathers mum and my aunties were the same .....maybe thats my reason for being the size of a house, it still drives my mother mad and she never misses a chance to remind me that im disgusting

Sat 3-Sep-11
5:23 pm
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paperman
Saxmundham, Suffolk

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Who taught me to cook ? Better to say who is teaching me to cook - you guys, the internet, necessity, interest, a few good books and guess work.

Being a boy my only venture into the kitchen at cooking time was to sneak a finger of cake mix out of the bowl and as I have already said my wife was such a good cook that I was really scullery duty.

But now having got the flavour for it I am loving it and regretting I didn't start earlier.

I have reached an age where my train of thought often leaves the station without me...

Sat 3-Sep-11
6:46 pm
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Michelle from Oregon
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My Mom.

I remember learning how to read from cookbooks. She had me read the recipe to her and she would add the ingredence.

I also learned how to can from her too. My Mom and her cousins would come together and make big batches of things and then divide the results amongst themselves. I still find it a little lonely to can by myself. I remember diging out the spices and going to pick grape leaves when they made pickles....

I should give some credit to my Grandma too. My Mom and Grandma both taught me that cooking good food and presenting a nice spread is a expression of love toward those who come together for a meal. heart

If you can't be a shining example, be a terrible warning!

Sat 3-Sep-11
8:17 pm
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JoannaS
Latvia

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My Mum and Grandmothers used to let me help and we were allowed to cook quite early and in fact had to make a meal every now and again if my Mum was out and wouldn't be back till later.I didn't used to do very adventurous meals, that was my sister's forte.

When I left home I started acquiring cookbooks and we lived on very little money, especially when the kids came along and so I learnt to eke out meals with cheap filling things like lentils. At one time I used to plan my meals around recipes I had chosen from my cookbooks just so I wouldn't get stuck in a rut - mind you they were often more used as guidance than faithfully followed.cheers

Sat 3-Sep-11
10:18 pm
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Terrier
York

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My mum was a great cook as i remember, but she died unfortunately when I was in my early teens and I was left to bring up my brothers and sisters and cater for my dad,so I suppose I taught myself. I did domestic science at school which must have helped....but I can't ever remember not being able to cook. I've always loved cooking but until recent years, it's always been by necessity rather than desire.

Sun 4-Sep-11
12:10 am
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sanshojapan

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My grandmother, from Shetland,  did a domestic science course at a school in Edinburgh (I've forgotten its name, but I believe it is/was famous), in the early 1900s, presumably as a preparation for getting married. She was a very good cook, and did everything 'properly'. I did a lot of assisting in the kitchen, and definitely learned a lot from her. I inherited 2 of the cookbooks published by the school. One of them is called Plain Cooking (Cookery?) and is just that, although perhaps these days, some people might think that making your own stock is not plain cooking. The other one was for French food! Because of her I too always make stock, and because of me, my sons do, too!

When I came to Japan, I had to learn to cook all the things that you just buy in England. Hot Cross Buns was the first thing I did.

I have to thank Elizabeth David, too, for giving me inspiration.   

 

Both my sons cook quite well. I can't say I ever taught them, but Japanese apartments are tiny, so they were always near me when I was cooking!

 

Sansho

Sun 4-Sep-11
12:41 pm
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veronica
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My mother is a good plain cook and made her own bread, but I can't really remember her formally teaching us to cook. We did make kids' stuff like rock cakes, jam tarts, treacle toffee, fairy cakes ... but I can't remember cooking -- or even helping to cook -- any proper meals. During our teens we'd get our evening meals together from stuff my mother prepared earlier, if she had to go out, but when I left home it kind of sank in that I didn't really have a clue about how to prepare a meal from scratch. I ate a lot of baked beans and rubbery scrambled eggs on toast eeek -- until Jocasta Innes's The Pauper's Cookbook came to my aid; I think it's the first cookbook I ever bought. 

After that I was fortunate enough to share flats with a number of people who loved cooking, including a Welsh girl who gave me my first taste of fried squid, laver bread, and home-made Welsh cakes!

Mon 5-Sep-11
7:20 am
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Gottaknit
South Lincolnshire

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Just being around while my Mum was cooking was what got me started - that and being given small jobs - mash the spuds or stir the gravy while it thickened. I began to get priase from my Dad - the only achievements he ever acknowledged - and that spurred me on.

Then I had to take over and do it all for a while when Mum had to go into hospital, and then recover.

I left home regarding my self as a proper cook, and the postal service was so good back then that I could write to Mum for instructions if I could ever see a problem coming up.

An early independant achievement was roast dinner for four (me, flatmate and respective boyfriends) which included a proper pudding, all done on a Baby Belling. I doubt I could do it now!wave

Mon 5-Sep-11
8:23 am
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Hattie
Bucks/Oxon Border

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Oh Jean,

How well I remember cooking huge meals on a Baby Belling & having to keep certain parts of the meal warm over night lights while I cooked the rest. Luckily that happened in what I call my 1st Elizabeth David Period, when I lived not far from Notting Hill Tube Station & it was only a short walk down to Portobello Road with it's wonderful street market & endless antique stalls, both selling treasure trove to lug home. Notting Hill also had a wonderful delicatessen called Panzers in which I could usually find most of the more exotic ingredients I needed. You have to remember at this time olive oil was something bost British people bought at the chemist & poured into their ears......!! Panzers sold it in large, beautifully decorated tins. My whole food world exploded into colour, texture & taste & I was hooked for life. I think it was this experience that made me want to work all over the world, so I could try all the wonderful things I read about.

I know I would always read up about the country I was about to visit so I knew what to look out for. I suppose that is why travel books are another part of my ever expanding collection. I always made a point of learning the names of dishes so I would recognise them on a menu. Mind you I was a bit stumped when I worked in Bulgaria in 1968 because of the Cyrillic alphabet. That was an interesting experience as I was there for 6 weeks working in their main theatre in Sophia & living in a small flat & having to cater for two of us.....not an easy thing to do as the only thing that was readily available at the time seemed to be tomatoes & occasionally eggs. This was until I found the official who had been detailed to accompany us everywhere (!!!) knew a special (illegal ?) market on the outskirts of Sophia where the farmers bought in their excess vegetables & sometimes meat. We used to pay for this in US dollars or UK pounds.  It was a great relief & a huge adventure....but very odd. I was there when they closed the borders (I think it was the time of the Hungarian uprising) & we could not get any news of what was happening). That was very scary but very interesting in retrospect. 

Getting back to the subject of this thread I guess going with the flow & being a bit adventurous taught me to cook.....getting out there & dealing with the food that was around me. I just know I never went hungry for long......!!!  laugh

 

"The beautiful is as useful as the useful...perhaps more so."

from Les Miserables

Mon 5-Sep-11
10:45 am
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shelley
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kayerunrig said:

well it wasnt my mother , we never had food in the house because she might be tempted to eat something , she always counted my food out because i was fat, 5 chips, peas and 1 sausage, i third of a meat pie and peas , 3 fish fingers and 5 chips . it sticks in my mind to this day . she spent most of her time with her fingers down her throat

 

lol GOSH YOU could be describing my Mum to a tee!  My worst memories are of her feeding us boiled fish in a bag, with out the sauce cos that would be too fattening!! When she divorced my Dad and we stayed with him I put on 3 stone in 6 months and have been battling with my weight ever since!  She is less severe now and she knows better than to mention my weight but I know she finds it very upsetting; Still she is the one with the problem I feel as she joined weightwatchers at 8 and a half stone cos she was 'fat'!

 

As to where I learn to cook; it was at school, from a step mother and from my step grandmother who was a cordon bleu chef and excellent cook!

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