I’ve Got a Question For You

A few of them, actually.  Just because I'm curious.  I started wondering about things the other day, and thought it would be fun to put these wonderings out there for anyone to respond to.

Here are my questions.  Answer any or all of them, whatever you choose.  Oh, and you can either answer them here in the comments section or over on the Barefoot Kitchen Witch page on Facebook.  Your choice. 

Here are my questions, in bold.  I've answered them myself, just to kick things off.

What are your earliest food/kitchen memories? 

The kitchen sink and main countertop area stuck out into the middle of the kitchen, sort of dividing the cooking area from the eating area.  I used to stand on a chair on the eating side of that divide and my mother would be on the other side, washing things or cooking or whatever, and I'd watch and we'd talk. 

I remember rows of fruits and vegetables that my mother canned…she'd store them in our "upstairs kitchen" which we never used as a kitchen, but eventually turned partly into a laundry room.  One wall had ceiling-high cupboards with glass doors – just beautiful – and this is where all the jewel-toned jars of peaches and tomatoes and everything else were. 

My mother also blanched and froze a lot of things later on – I think maybe it was easier or quicker than canning…not sure.  But I remember her buying bushels of corn or green beans or peas from a local farm and putting us kids to work shucking the corn or snapping the stems off the beans or shelling the peas. 

It's funny – back then I grumbled about "all that work" we were forced to do, and now – I am following the same path, or making the attempt.

Did you help out in the kitchen when you were little?  Or in the garden?

I guess I've sort of answered some of this in the question above.  I do remember that one of the early ways I could help to get dinner ready was to peel onions.  The onions and potatoes were in a big, open crock pot in the corner of the kitchen – or sometimes in a wire basket – and my job was to peel the dry papery skin off of the onions.

I vaguely remember a time when we shared a huge garden with another family, and I (and probably my sister, too) were "allowed" to plant the radishes.  I didn't like radishes back then, but I figure those were ours because they come up pretty quickly, so there's a sort of slowed down instant gratification element. 

Do your kids (if you have them) help out in the kitchen now?  How old/young are they and what do they do?

Well, if you've been reading here for any great length of time, you already know my kids help out, both in the kitchen and in the gardens.  Alex seems to prefer the gardens, and Julia prefers the kitchen – especially the baking – and more especially, cracking eggs.  It's her thing.  Each of them started helping out with cookies or other baked goods when they were about 2.  I freely admit that sometimes (not so much now, but when they were younger) it has been harder to get things done with them "helping," but in the end it's all worth it. 


Anyway, there are the questions and my own answers…I'd love it if you'd chime in!

5 thoughts on “I’ve Got a Question For You

  1. What are your earliest food/kitchen memories?
    Probably ‘helping’ Mom with homemade pasta. I had to stand on a chair and catch the sheets as they came through the roller. I wasn’t allowed near the feed entrance because I might stick my little fingers in the rollers. I’m also told that I was highly entertained as a toddler with wooden spoons and a circle of Mom’s copper-bottomed pots.

    Did you help out in the kitchen when you were little? Or in the garden?
    ‘Help out’ is a strong word. I was curious, of course. I was the worst about pulling carrots too early and eating them with dirt still on them; we were lucky if we got any full-grown carrots by the end of the season. And I loved to pick peas and snap beans. I still like snapping beans; I hate silking corn.

    Do your kids (if you have them) help out in the kitchen now? How old/young are they and what do they do?
    I don’t have any kids, but I do have a five-year-old half-sister. And no, she doesn’t help out in the kitchen. My stepmother doesn’t allow her to.


  2. I’m not really sure what my earliest food & kitchen memory is. I remember hanging out in my grandmother’s kitchen and watching her cook any time we would go to visit–it was definitely the place to be. I remember helping my grandfather with their garden some, too, things like picking green beans.

    As far as with my mom, I’m sure I hung out with her in the kitchen, but the earliest I can think of actually helping her was when I was about 7, I think. I know I was cooking and baking some stuff with minimal supervision by the time I was about 10. When my mom went back to working part-time when I was in high school, there were nights when I made dinner or at least started it. I did a lot of baking in high school, too.

    My girls both like to help me in the kitchen. Like Julia, both Brianna (7) and Gillian (3 1/2) love to crack eggs. =) G gets to stir dry mixtures; B has graduated to mixing wet stuff. B also got to do stuff like drizzle glaze on muffins or scones from a pretty early age. And I just recently started teaching Brianna some knife skills. She gets to cut vegetables with a paring knife–for example, I cut carrots into quarters length-wise, and she cuts them cross-wise into cubes. Same thing with zucchini. A definite plus is the fact that she’s much more likely to eat the vegetables if she gets to help prep them. =) I should let them help me more often, but I don’t always have the patience for it. It’s much easier when I only have one of them home with me.

  3. I don’t have a single warm and fuzzy memory from my kitchen growing up.
    I do have warm fuzzies from other kitchens–such as my aunt helping me earn my cooking badge for Girl Scouts. We had to invent a recipe, and she used a piece of her saffron. This was when they were eating ramen, my uncle was near death, and their farm was close to being lost. But she had a stamen of saffron in a small jar high up on the shelf and she used it for me.
    Another warm fuzzy was at the home of friend (my co-blogger). I think we were high school freshman at the time. We wanted chocolate syrup for ice cream, and made a green concoction using chocolate flavored extract and who knows what else. It turned out green.
    My daughter (now 13 yo) helps out in the kitchen, and seems quite happy there. She’s been making pancakes on her own, from scratch, since first grade. She loves making crepes, too. The other day we came home and found her making NY crumb cake without the cake part. Just NY crumb. That’s the part she likes best, so that’s what she decided to do. I love that she feels free to play around in the kitchen.
    She couldn’t care less about the garden, though. I can send her out to pick lettuce or broccoli or something specific for dinner, but she doesn’t help with planting or weeding or any of that stuff. Actually, she keeps the hens out of the beds when we let them out for some free range time. That’s a huge help!

  4. My first memory of cooking (or even being) in a kitchen was when I was around 3 years old. My family lived in a little farmhouse next door to my grandparents house in Olean, NY. My mom was pregnant with my younger brother and I used to go and visit my grandmother every afternoon for a little while. Usually I’d either play in the back yard or on the deck. One day we made these enormous sugar cookies and she let me decorate them with different colored sugars and sprinkles. We each ate one and then my grandmother sent me back home, full of sugar to my pregnant mom. Now I know why sometimes my mom couldn’t stand her mother in law.

    We hardly ever had a garden when I was a kid. We lived in West Virginia (which you would think would be great for gardens, but sadly not where we lived) and our property was all hillside with a tiny patch of flat area next to the house to grow a few tomato and green bean plants. As a kid I wasn’t terribly interested in cooking or gardening – but into drawing and playing sports. It took a long time for me to learn how to cook anything without ruining it completely. My first attempt at cooking was Jello and I burnt it. As far as gardening, I never really had a knack for it and I’m still learning. We didn’t end up with a garden this year, but I have one lily plant that grew buds this spring and they’re almost ready to bloom. I consider that pretty successful.

    Garry and I don’t have children (yet) but we plan on having our children help out in the kitchen and in the garden (I’m hoping we’ll have a garden by that time) because there is something very empowering and spiritual about being able to grow and cook your own food. I think having them help with tasks that they’re interested in doing (within reason) and then expanding onto it instead of just telling them to do the dishes (like my family did to me and my brother) is a good idea.

  5. I don’t have a first memory of cooking, but one of my fondest memories is helping my Grandmother cook when we went to visit. They had a huge garden and I loved to shell peas and snap beans. She always cooked tons of food when we were there and I loved the way her kitchen looked and smelled.

    We never had a garden when I was a kid, but I helped in my Grandpa’s garden. When we pulled up to the house, everyone would hug and then Grandpa would grab me and we would go walk through the garden and he’d tell me everything that he was growing. He’d have a small salt shaker in his pocket and we would eat sun-warm tomatoes with salt on them. Yummy!!

    I like for my boys to help in the kitchen. My 4 year old Clayton especially likes to help me cook. He calls me Chef Mama. He puts ingredients in the bowl and stirs for the most part. He also likes to help me come up with what to make, he’s very inventive.

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