My first memories are of garden and kitchen with Father and Mother respectively. On the kitchen front, Mother tells me that my favorite thing was sitting on the kitchen floor with a pan and a wooden spoon for musical or culinary reasons. She also said I chattered a lot to myself – or maybe I was chattering to the pan and spoon.
The first real memory in the kitchen was making chocolate chip cookies. I was sitting on the kitchen island with the yellow and black Pyrex bowl my parents had received as a wedding present in 1945. There were ingredients in the bowl and it was my job to use my wooden spoon and stir. Undoubtedly I was making a mess. Every once in awhile Mother would stop what she was doing, come by and say “let Mommy get the feel of it” and she would add the next ingredient and stir it into some semblance of cookie dough. All the while praising me “Oh, what a good job you’re doing!” “You’re going to be a great cook some day, Mandi!” Then she’d hand it back and I’d go on with my “helping”. When Daddy got home from the mill, and there were fresh chocolate chip cookies (he had quite a sweet tooth), Mother would say “Daddy! Look what your little girl made for you today!” With this encouragement, I was making family dinner by the time I was seven. Cooking has been one of the biggest joys of my life.
This photo was taken of my mother when she was 17 years old. She had won a talent contest and the photo shoot was the prize. Alan Ladd gave her a ride home that day in his convertible. This photo has been in every kitchen I’ve had since I left for college at age 17.
For me “Mother” and “kitchen” are synonymous. I leave you with this truism from Mother “If you’re a good cook, you’ll always have friends.” Teaching me to cook has guaranteed that I have been blessed with many, many friends and a wise, loving Mother as well.