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weinoo

First Cooking Attempts

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When I was a kid, my mom spent a bunch of time in the hospital - she had a pretty bad back, and in those days they'd put you in traction for weeks at a time.

So, there was a fair amount of fending for myself when it came to food. If my memory serves me correctly, I used to scramble a pretty mean egg (still do, as a matter of fact!) and I also remember making grilled cheese sandwiches (using Wonder bread and Kraft cheese slices) the old fashioned way - in a heavy pan with lots of butter and pressing the sandwich with a plate - man, those were good.

So, I'm wondering what everyone else's first attempts were - and please keep it to what YOU made on your own - I think we all helped our moms or grandmas bake cookies and (in my case) potato latkes! And if you didn't start cooking till adulthood, well, tell us what you led with in your culinary infancy.

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Good topic.

Grandma and great grandma ruled the kitchen so I didn't try to cook independently until they were out of the house. I became obscessed with my mom's binder version of Betty Crocker's picture cookbook. I remember being about 13 and babysitting a young girl. Fresh out of entertainment ideas I decided that we would make Baked Alaska. I had never had it, but the picture and explanation in the book were cool. It tasted good, but my European immigrant parents thought I was really odd.

That lead me to use my savings to enroll in a cookbook collector's club. They would send a volume out once a month and you could pay or return. The first thing I remember making was taffy. I had been fascinated by the taffy pulling machine in the candy shop on Santa Catalina Island so I understood the concept of pulling taffy. Probably also from Laura Ingalls Wilder books. The cookbook was a reproduction of an 1879 volume called Housekeeping in Old Virgina. My mom made me take the product outside to pull. About 7 of us kids pulled and pulled and pulled on the back lawn. Never got it to a completely opaque stage, but we all chewed and chewed and chewed it with pride.

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I became a latchkey kid when I was nine, and used to kill the three or four hours until my mom got home by trying to bake cakes without a recipe. I'm not sure what I was thinking. I guess we didn't have any cookbooks in the house, because it never occurred to me to try to bake a real cake from a recipe. I knew what ingredients went into a cake and I was determined to divine the correct proportions through trial and error. My best results were on the order of a fruitcake--dense but edible.

After that I went through a phase of making Jell-O after school but I wasn't too keen on the delayed gratification aspects--as soon as it started to thicken I would eat it like a warm gelatin soup. I also made a lot of scrambled eggs, cinnamon toast, and, later, Toll House cookies and cake mixes. My mom tended to discourage my efforts in the kitchen, probably because my enthusiasm for mess making was not equaled by my enthusiasm for clearing up, so I didn't really start to cook seriously until I got my first apartment.

Edit: When I got my first apartment, one of the first things I did was to get a copy of James Beard's Theory and Practice of Good Cooking and cooked my way through that. What a great book for a beginner!


Edited by Dianabanana (log)

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I had never cooked anything until my sophomore year in college when I moved off-campus to an apartment. I remember one morning getting the idea to try to make lasagne for that night, and putting the noodles up to boil, and then just as they were about done, remembering that I had to get to campus for a class. So I turned the flame off, and figured that the noodles would keep in the pot until I got home 8 hours later.

Shortly after that I got the brilliant idea to make a cake from a mix, but I had no cake pans and decided that that was stupid - I'd just bake it all in a large bowl and cut it into layers later. So I filled a giant pyrex bowl to the brim with the batter and put it in to bake.

I guess it was after those that I decided to start taking this thing seriously.

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The first meal I ever made all on my own was a breakfast of cinnamon puffs and hot cocoa from an early version of the Betty Crocker Boys And Girls Cookbook. I burned myself taking the cinnamon puffs out of the oven, the first of many such injuries. I think I was about 8, and I remember that I insisted that my parents drink the hot cocoa with breakfast instead of their usual coffee. I was a child; I had no idea how cruel I was being :biggrin: .

Marcia.

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The first thing I ever cooked myself was kimchi chigae. I had just moved from seoul to live with my grandparents in maryland. My parents were still in Korea working, and my sister and I decided to move back to the states because we had had enough of korea (I would kill to live in korea now).

My grandmother isn't korean so she had no idea how to make kimchi chigae. So she took us to a korean store up in the mountains and my sister and I bought some kimchi and some random scraps of pork. We both (I think I was 13 and she was 10) stir fried the kimchi with the pork, added water and some garlic and ate that with some fresh hot rice. It almost made us cry because we were so happy to eat korean food and it made us miss our parents who were so far away. What a memorable meal

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Melted cheese tasted good on everything, it stood to reason it would taste good melted over a bowl of cheerios and milk... :wacko:

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When I was a kid, my mom spent a bunch of time in the hospital - she had a pretty bad back, and in those days they'd put you in traction for weeks at a time.

So, there was a fair amount of fending for myself when it came to food. If my memory serves me correctly, I used to scramble a pretty mean egg (still do, as a matter of fact!) and I also remember making grilled cheese sandwiches (using Wonder bread and Kraft cheese slices) the old fashioned way - in a heavy pan with lots of butter and pressing the sandwich with a plate - man, those were good.

So, I'm wondering what everyone else's first attempts were - and please keep it to what YOU made on your own - I think we all helped our moms or grandmas bake cookies and (in my case) potato latkes!  And if you didn't start cooking till adulthood, well, tell us what you led with in your culinary infancy.

I learned how to make ramen by the time I was 5. Tthe first thing I learned without a mix or opening up a prepacked thing had to be grilled cheese sandwiches. Then follwed a lot korean food and baked goodies.

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First thing I remember making when I was about 5 was tomato soup. I don't remeber what all I put in it except a can of tomato sauce, some evaporated milk, and some chile powder.

It was too spicy for me to do more than taste it but Dad ate it so I guess it wasn't too awful.

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1976 ... my first year after college in my NYC apartment ...

Tuna Noodle Casserole! with canned cream of mushroom soup ... I was so proud!

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One of the first things I made all by myself was a bowl of oatmeal, I think I must have been about 6.

My parents detested the idea of having porridge for breakfast (or any other meal) especially oatmeal, so I never had it. But kids in my class did and sometimes we got to speak about the food we had at home and what we liked and disliked and there was something in the way they spoke about porridge that always made me feel... intrigued, I guess. Also, we travelled by train a lot and often my father bought himself a cup of coffee on board, from a man that would walk up and down all the compartments with a little vending cart. With the coffee, my father got a neat little package of sugar, powdered milk, a napkin and a plastic spoon, all held toghether in a plastic wrapper. Those packages were for me: he drank his coffee black. I had saved up a whole stash.

So one day the brilliant plan formed in my mind that I would make porridge for myself: I could provide for the sugar and milk from my private collection and oats were always around for baking cookies. I reasoned that since the whole experiment wouldn't cost anything, my parents couldn't have a single argument against it. And they didn't. I think my mum was even nice enough to stay around and make sure I didn't burn myself (or the house down).

Boy, was I proud when I had a bowl full of steaming, grey putty in front of me.

I swear, to this day I cannot stand the smell of porridge or the taste of anything containing powdered milk. (though the latter is probably purely psychological, I'm sure that I couldn't tell in most cases if I didn't know)

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I can remember being home with Dad at age 3 1/2 or 4 while Mum was shopping in a town about an hour away. I decided to get the veges for dinner ready. I cut up and cooked a mix of carrots and onions. I seem to recall that it turned out fine but of course was ready quite a few hours before dinner time :raz: . I have no idea where Dad was, nor can I remember what Mum said when she got home :huh: .

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My mom never let me cook at home. It was her kitchen. When I moved out at age 17, I cooked for a date. I baked chicken breasts in Italian dressing, packaged yellow rice and frozen or canned( can't remember) french cut green beans.

He didnt complain about the food, but the relationship never progressed as we both turned out to be gay. LOL. We're still friends though and we cook together whenever we see each other. Thankfully, I've progressed from that meal.

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The first “meal” I made was a breakfast in bed for my parents when I was three. I got 2 plates and covered them with Triskets, and then as carefully as my little chubby fingers could, placed one Lifesaver on each. This was paired with a tall cold glass of milk. I think that the green flavor worked especially well. Luckily there was no need for forks and knives, just napkins. I like to imagine that there was a bent dandelion in a jelly jar on the trey as well but that is just too whimsical. The kitchen was on the second floor and my parent’s room was on the first. My mother is still wowed that I got the trey down the stairs. This was good training for the years of carrying 6 sizzling fajitas over my head while pushing through a crowd of margarita swilling yahoos.

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This was paired with a tall cold glass of milk.  I think that the green flavor worked especially well. 

I actually think that was your first cocktail, an altogether different topic :laugh: !

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I never really cooked at home, though as I child I tried to help my grandmother make apple pie for Thanksgiving. She was one of the world's best pie bakers, but my crust trimmings, which I sprinkled with cinnamon sugar and turned into cookie twists, came out impossibly tough (overworked dough, no doubt). :sad:

My second attempt -- all on my own -- came in high school when I baked my best friend a birthday cake. On a whim, she requested a blue cake with orange frosting. That's what I produced, in lurid colors. No one wanted to eat it! :raz:

Third attempt was a festive chicken casserole using cubed chicken, a package of frozen peas and carrots, and a can of cream of mushroom soup. :laugh:

Thank goodness my cooking skills have improved vastly since then!!!

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First cooking attempt involved veal cutlets, which I was of a mind to stuff with something called pancetta that had been minced and rendered with shallots. Rolled them up, toothpicked them, threw them into pot with about a stick of sweet butter and a bucket of marsala. Add mushrooms at some point. Cooked until done. Somewhere in neighborhood of 4 or 5 hours. :wacko:

Otherwise known as Stuffed Leather Rollups in marsala butter sauce, served on buttered rice.

Which is why I am now on Crestor.

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second evening in my first apartment (first night parents where around so my mom cooked), pasta with meatballs and what should have been a discreet sauce.

Turned that pasta became a mush when cooked to long and dont taste of anything when salt isnt used.

I believed i didnt like onions, so none was used or anything else to give flavour. Basically i used water, flour and salt. The proteine should have been meatballs, but it felt apart and waaay overcooked. shock:

I was stupified, but later that night i decided i would learn how to cook and do it well, cause a life without good food (my mom is a pretty good cook, though i never listned to her before i move away from home) wasnt an option.

Luckely i improved over the last 18 years or so :laugh::laugh::laugh:

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Yep, grilled cheese, scrambled/over hard eggs were my starts. I was really moving up when I could make an egg over easy :raz: .

I think my first big meal cooking attempt was the Campbell's mushroom soup/chicken/rice casserole. With broccoli spears. I was SO happy that it turned out OK. I think I forgot to salt the chicken, but the canned soup was so salty, I don't think it mattered to my family that much. I was 9.

Coming off of that "success", I begged my father to buy me a Chinese cookbook from the dollar store and cooked an entire meal from it for my immediate family (and an aunt and uncle who were visiting). Egg Foo Young made with canned bean sprouts. "Gravy" that was simply canned beef broth, cornstarch slurry and a dash of soy sauce. I can't believe they ate it without gagging. :blink:

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I think I was about 6 and I used to make things like muffins and banana bread out of a box. Good times.

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From when I was 9ish I was doing a lot of TV dinner, which progressed to cans of soup and ramen, which evolved to boxes of mac and cheese and pasta with canned "sauce".

My first huge cooking adventure was when I was around 12, and my mom invited her date to the house. I insisted on cooking, so they had time to socialize, and I made baked chicken breasts with raspberry glaze, a box of rice-a-roni, and frozen string beans that I tarted up with toasted breadcrumbs and slivered almonds. The raspberry glaze really sealed the deal, it was my grandmother's raspberry preserves, and red wine (because wine is fancy, and this was a fancy meal. That was my reasoning) It was pretty random, but it wound up being passably good.

A few months later, my next "fancy" cooking event was a can of crushed tomatoes, a can of sardines, and some minced green salad olives, sauteed in a pan, with some random "Italian" seasoning, over fettucini. I'd been reading Frugal Gourmet, and he had a recipe with crushed tomatoes, capers, a bit of anchovy, and fancy olives, and it sounded downright amazing...I improvised!!! It was horrendous.

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My first cooking attempt was in 1958 - 1959 spaghetti and meatballs and a salad of iceberg lettuce and tomato. I still remember the recipes. Its probable still good eats today. How far we have come from Del Monte tomato sauce in the small cans with garlic, onion and green pepper sautéed in some olive oil and then the canned sauce added to the pot. As I remember the pot was aluminum (Wearever I think) pitted by the acid but polished to a high sheen with steel wool by my mother like everything else in the house.

Jmahl

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i learned to make rice in a rice cooker as soon as i was tall enough to reach the counter, i think. but that doesn't require any skill. i think the very first thing i made completely on my own, without any processed prepackaged shortcuts, was a fettucine alfredo with mushrooms when i was 12...i think it turned out alright, but my very Chinese parents who loathe creamy things (unless it's pork fat) weren't too fond of it. i've never made it since.

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When I was about ten I took it into my head to make a pie for my parent's anniversary. I made one of those "french silk"-style chocolate pies with the whipped cream topping. Seemed like a good idea at the time: problem was, I made it a day ahead and stored it in the basement refrigerator. Naturally, the whipped cream dissolved and absorbed the nasty basement flavors. I don't think I've eaten that kind of pie since -- basement does not taste good.

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