Growing up, I often enjoyed being in the kitchen when my mom was cooking. She, like most mothers, had her special dishes we loved. My mom made the best meatloaf and the most delicious roast beef!
One of my earliest memories of my mother in the kitchen is of her preparing her famous meatloaf. To be honest, there weren’t any secret ingredients or special sauces. It was just meatloaf. But it always tasted a certain way when she made it. I guess everyone adds special touches to things we make that make them unique. I make delicious meatloaf, but it doesn’t taste anything like the one my mother made!
Spending that time watching Mom in the kitchen started me on a quest to not only enjoy delicious food, but to learn how to make it. Back then, cooking wasn’t a “boy” thing. Boys were supposed to play sports, but I couldn’t do that because of my hemophilia.
I’ve written before about how my parents always encouraged me to replace something I couldn’t do with something I could do. My mom encouraged me to learn to cook, do laundry and clean. She seemed pleased when I showed an interest and appeared to enjoy teaching me. Soon, I was helping cook dinner.
Mom also made chocolate candy and became quite famous for her chocolate wedding mints. Mom and Dad were very involved with the Lions Club, so word of her mints spread, and she began making mints for weddings. She’d match the chocolates to the wedding colors and produce the most spectacular trays of candies. When I was a teenager, she taught me how to make the chocolates, and we eventually ended up working on this together. It’s one of my fondest memories of growing up.
Refining My Skills
My love of cooking continued into adulthood. I was a good cook and had some of my own signature dishes, like Doritos™ casserole, but I didn’t have refined skills. They say with every end, there’s a new beginning. Last year, when my health and hemophilia-related problems forced me to leave my nursing job, I had a lot of time on my hands. I began watching shows on cooking channels. This piqued my interest in cooking and food greatly. I began experimenting with recipes, spices and more. It turns out I have skills I didn’t know I had in the kitchen!
Most times, I can’t stand for long periods of time in the kitchen because of my bad hip or a bleed. This means I take much longer to make something because I have to stop and rest between steps. Also, I’ve cut myself a few times or had a muscle or soft tissue bleed while cooking. I haven’t let any of this take away from my desire and enjoyment of cooking, though. Some of my favorite chefs are Julia Child (of course!) and Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). I even received vintage copies of Julia Child’s masterpiece, volumes one and two of “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” for Christmas last year.
Spending time in the kitchen brings me such joy and provides a diversion from hemophilia and all of the not-so-great things going on in my life. My fiancé, Jarrod, happens to have a professional culinary background. Cooking and baking gives us something wonderful to share with one another as well. I did gain 13 pounds over the holidays last year, but I’m proud to say I’ve almost gotten rid of it over six months later.