Life Lessons from the Kitchen

I just read an article about Kim Severson and her new book, Spoon-Fed: How Eight Cooks Saved My Life.  Severson is a food reporter for the New York Times, and her book recounts the influences of cooks, both the famous and those from her family, who have helped shape her life.
CNN.com took this premise of life lessons learned in the kitchen, and asked readers to share their stories.  And, so I wondered, what lessons have I learned from the cooks in my life?  What profound truths can be gleaned from the simple act of preparing a meal?
I come from families full of great cooks, so I should be a culinary genius.  However, growing up, I was more inclined to be reading, playing outside, collecting bugs,  pretending, or taking things apart, rather than helping out in the kitchen.  Even though I should have been paying closer attention to the actual food preparation, I did manage to learn a few life lessons from the cooks in my life.
Lesson from Father: Do not leave a skillet-full of bacon grease on the stove while you go outside to work on the boat.
Lesson learned:  Safety.  And, how to extinguish a grease fire.  DO NOT USE BAKING SODA!  The result is just way too exciting.  Smother it with the pan lid.  Thank you.
On second thought, do not cook with bacon grease…period.
Also, do not turn your back on a volatile situation.
And, multi-tasking may not be a good thing.
Stay focused.
The list of lessons learned from this one experience goes on and on.
Lesson from Mother: Do not leave the baby bottle sterilizer on the stove while you go to the grocery store.
Lesson learned:  (see above)
Lesson from Granny (my father’s mother): I remember Granny making whipped cream for me, and she didn’t even require that I put it on anything; not cake or pie or Jell-o.  Unsullied, pure, sweet whipped loveliness.  All for me.
Lesson learned:  Love.  When we do things for the people in our lives that make no sense, the only explanation is love.
Lesson from Momay (my mother’s mother): She had a cram-packed pantry, refrigerator, utility room, screen-in porch, hall closet, cellar, and three freezers FULL OF FOOD.  Most of it homegrown.  The rest acquired with a coupon.  On sale.
Lesson learned:  Self-sufficiency, frugality, gardening, food preservation, shopping savvy and creative storage.  She was the master.  I am still learning.
Lesson from Cousin Terry: A creative and fearless cook, from Terry I learned what a crêpe is, how to make a really great non-alcoholic Tom Collins, and finally, if the deviled-egg filling that you are making doesn’t taste quite right, spit it into the trash or sink…and, not back into the bowl you are mixing it in.
Lesson learned.
O.K., those are my first “life lessons from the kitchen”.
What are yours?

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