My first cooking lesson; Five years old

Posted by on August 27, 2010 at 8:21 am.

I have fond memories of preparing meals for my family. I started at a very young age.  I recall being only five years old when I prepared my first meal on a

Bantam Rooster

wood stove. Initially I’d said I was four, the more I thought about it, I realized that we didn’t have a woodstove in the first house we lived. That cookstove was in the second home.

Creative cooking

Anyway I thought cooking was fun, and was cooking long before I cooked for real. The only difference was my cooking was part of my playtime. It’s one of the few “girly activities” I enjoyed doing, and my mother believing that girls should like “girly” things, held onto that.

During my cooking playtime, I got creative and made all sorts of food in the yard. Armed with one of my mother’s castoff mixing bowls, water, dirt, grass, leaves, damaged veggies, I made all sorts of interesting cuisines. Occasionally I would coax my brother into eating some of the imaginative meals I prepared. Of course now, he’d deny ever doing such a thing.

Being a child with an active imagination those meals were transformed from the simple ingredients that were into that bowl to a meal that could be displayed at an elaborate table setting. My mother made everything, and Sundays were an elaborate affair. My mother saw my interest in cooking (part of me thinks she just humored me since I constantly begged her about letting me cook for real) and finally decided that under her watchful eye, I’d be able to prepare my first meal. I still remember that first meal vividly. It was a simple meal. I made it exclusively for my father on our woodstove. I’m a daddy’s girl.

Some people swear up and down that food cooked on a woodstove tastes much better than food cooked on a gas or electric stove. They’re stubborn folks, and nothing you can do will convince them otherwise. I happen to be one of those people. During the winter time, you’ll see me preparing the majority of my our meals on the woodstove we have. It heats the entire house, which cuts the electric bill by more than half thank you very much! The bonus is, I’m able to prepare some amazing meals too.

Getting eggs from the hens…

The eggs had been gathered from our Bantam chickens a few hours earlier.  That’s right we had chickens. I’m very familiar with what goes into putting a meal made out of chicken, turkeys, and even pigs onto the dinner plate. I’ve seen many animals killed to eat as a child. I’m also very familiar with plucking the feathers, gutting, and making them clean for consumption. It’s truly a messy and smelly affair, and something I’m glad I don’t have to do again.

In our house, gathering eggs from our chickens was my responsibility. I didn’t mind, I loved animals and the Bantam rooster didn’t bother me. My brother was another story, as soon as the rooster saw him it went on full frontal attack, screaming and squawking and simply scaring the living daylights out of my brother. It was so funny! Well  for me, not for my brother. Bantams are smaller than your standard chicken, and seeing this teeny chicken fearlessly attack my brother made me laugh. The Bantam rooster looked a lot like the one I’ve posted above. He didn’t bother me though, and he didn’t mind my petting him or his little harem of hens either. My brother often asked me why the rooster didn’t bother me, I smugly told him that Mr. Rooster could smell fear. 😉

Cooking: Turning my fantasy into a reality

Eggs gathered I eagerly went back into our house and my mother showed me how to make scrambled eggs. Naturally it took longer than normal. I learned the most important lesson of washing my hands before I touched food. I learned the fine art of cracking an egg, without getting eggs into the bowl. My mother introduced me to seasons too. It was exciting cooking over that woodstove, and I eagerly thought about my fathers’ reaction once he ate my amazing meal. The fact that he had already eaten a full course dinner which mother made earlier ceased to dampen my spirits. I was his daughter after all, he’d eat anything I prepared. Regardless of how it tasted! Dad was cool like that.

Encouraging creativity

My father didn’t disappoint, and shortly after the eggs were prepared (looking a bit dry I might add) he wolfed them down quickly and declared them the best eggs he’d ever had. I’ve always been perceptive, and even at the age of five, I knew he was just saying that but it didn’t matter. That’s all the encouragement I needed to keep cooking, and learning how I could make improvements too. Initially my mother was my mentor for cooking, but as I got older  (around eight if I remember correctly) I started preparing meals on my own too. I remember making my first cake from scratch at eight years old. A few of my brothers and my school friends were over, and they eagerly wolfed down the food I prepared, declaring it a really good cake. I was so proud. It was probably one of the only girly things they knew I did, being a tomboy. I was always outside playing games with the boys.

Playing it forward, I’m doing the same thing with my daughter. Whatever she’s interested in, I encourage. She prepared her first meal at four years old. Instead of scrambled eggs, we made something I like to call Cali scramble.  Yes, I veganized it, Cali is simply Cauliflower crumbled, marinated, and combined with a few other vegetables, spices, to make a truly delicious meal.  After it’s prepared it does remind me of scrambled eggs, so the name has stuck. This is one of my daughters favorite breakfast dishes, so she asks for it often.

What I remember most about my childhood isn’t the amazing meals that my mother prepared, although they were great. I remember the constant encouragement I received, and even though my interests were different from my parents it didn’t stop them from being my #1 cheerleaders. Knowing the impact of positive encouragement, I do try to do the same with my daughter, and with those I interact with too.

Life’s too short for negativity, we need to quit tearing one another down. It’s easy to get along with those who think like you. How do you treat people who think differently than you politically, religiously, etc., If you can’t have a civil conversation with someone simply because their beliefs differ from yours, perhaps you need to rethink your approach?

What happened to the chickens?

Whatever happened to those Bantam chickens? Fortunately for them, they lived out their lives in peace and never made it to our dinner plate. After about five years, my parents stopped killing the animals they raised. My father was making more money (my mom was a stay at home mom) so we didn’t have to solely depend on the animals for food. I’m sure the pressure of myself and my brother’s unhappiness about killing our friends didn’t help either. I guess you could say those early lessons eventually put me onto the path of Veganism.  Since I viewed poultry as pets too. We refused to eat the food, and I would cry during mealtimes when they landed on our plate. It’s kind of funny; I didn’t cry too much. I’m still like that to this day, but when it came to pets (and people) I have always had a big heart.

That first cooking lesson, stands out in my mind, and I remember as if it was yesterday.

Question: Do you remember any “first lessons” from your childhood? If so share in the comments or blog about it and link to here. I’ll pop by to check it out.

12 Comments

  • Amber says:

    I’ve never had a meal cooked on a woodstove… and I doubt I’ll ever get to try one, which is kind of sad. I’ll have to stick to my good ol’ electric stove I guess. Sounds like you had a pretty cool childhood. There’s something about being able to grow/raise everything you eat that really appeals to me… being entirely self-sufficient like that. Can you do the one-handed egg crack? That’s on my list of cooking skills to master. I can’t believe you made a cake from scratch at age 8. I could barely pop popcorn!… In a microwave. Haha.

    [Reply]

    Moondancer Reply:

    Hi @Amber,
    Being self-sufficient is truly amazing. During the summer months, we’re almost at that point. I still purchase a few items from the store, but for the most part everything comes straight from the garden.

    I have a few farmer pals that are, chicken, cows pigs, are raised and eaten. They get their veggies & fruit straight from the garden too.

    I do a happy dance whenever it rains since the garden thrives. If I’m happy with my little one acre, garden, I know the farmers with much larger crops are rejoicing.

    Yes, I could do the one handed crack. I haven’t cracked an egg in many years though.

    Who knows you might get a meal cooked on a wood stove one day, pop by one of the farmer bed & breakfast that boast cooking on a real woodstove, and give it a try. 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Patricia says:

    Wow We had bantams too plus chickens that here in Australia we call chooks. I have never been a lover of eggs even though they are meant to be nutritious. The first attempt at doing breakfast for the family (I think I was about 6 years old) was scrambled eggs on toast. They had to say they were delicious and over the years on a Saturday morning as I was growing up Mum and I would do baking together in our woodstove. You are right; nothing tastes quite like it 🙂
    The only problem was when Mum insisted on the traditional Christmas dinner and living in Australia it is summertime so the kitchen would be like a hothouse. Mum didn’t mind and years later when I lived and worked in UK I remember writin home and saying I was enjoying my roast dinner only difference was it was snowing outside.
    Great to look back on childhood memories.
    Patricia Perth Australia

    [Reply]

    Moondancer Reply:

    Hi @Patricia, Chooks, that’s a cute name. Yeah I never liked eggs too much. I would always hide the egg in a lot of other ingredients, mainly veggies and spices. Long before I became Vegan I ditched eggs completely. 🙂 Scrambled eggs on toast was something my mother would make for my father on occasion. He really loved that. If I remember she buttered the toast.

    I can remember a hot kitchen. My mother started cooking on the wood stove in the fall season, it was still warm outside, but it surely was hot in that kitchen. With woods surrounding us, economically it made sense, to reduce the amount of electricity used. My father was the only one working at the time, and was at a low paying position. Once he got a raise, well my parents didn’t have to be as frugal, but I learned a lot of great lessons from living through some of those uncomfortable times. /nods

    My daughter enjoys when I talk about childhood memories; she usually manages to get at least three of my childhood stories out of me each week. 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Olusola says:

    Nice lesson here… I never got the opportunity to be tought this at that age. Keep it up..

    [Reply]

    Moondancer Reply:

    Hi @Olusola, It’s amazing how certain lessons learned at a young age, stick with you. There are many occasions I revisit this day, because it was a wonderful experience for myself. Here’s hoping I’m able to pass on some of those memories, and more with my daughter. 🙂

    [Reply]

  • Very inspiring post. I learned to cook at age 9, and at that time I was still afraid of the stove, haha! I have never tried cooking at a woodstove. Speaking of scrambled eggs, especially your cali scramble, it sure makes me hungry now! Thank you for sharing some of your wonderful childhood memories.

    [Reply]

    Healthy Opal Reply:

    Hi @Felicia @ No Deposit Poker, Being afraid of a stove is understandable, it’s hot. Depending on what type was in your home, you might see a flame too. 🙂 I remember placing a kernal of corn on the wood stove, just so I could see it turn into a popcorn. That was fascinating! 😉

    [Reply]

  • Wayne Howard says:

    I truly learned how to cook for myself in College and that was out of need to survive LOL. My favorite meal to cook is still breakfast but every now and then when I am feeling generous I will make my signature Chicken Alfredo for someone lucky enough 🙂

    [Reply]

    Healthy Opal Reply:

    @Wayne Howard, LOL, you sound like my brother. Well he didn’t learn how to cook until after college. I do remember when he visited my parents mom would load him up on food so he wouldn’t have to cook, lol.

    A good breakfast can be a perfect way to start your day! So you only bring out the Chicken Alfredo on special occasions, eh? 😉

    [Reply]

  • ielts says:

    In Asia we name batams as kukri. It has tasty flash and often doctor suggest to take its meat when a patient feel very weakness

    [Reply]

  • Jennifer says:

    What a gorgeous and colorful bird! Just beautiful!!!!
    Jennifer recently posted..Cutting Cafe Projects from a while back…

    [Reply]

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