An Origin Story

Obviously, my family has always been into food. (l-r, my sister, me, my brother.)

Obviously, my family has always been into food. (l-r, my sister, me, my brother.)

One of my earliest memories is set in my grandma’s kitchen. I stood on a stool so I could reach the counter and helped arrange leftover pie crust dough on a cookie sheet, liberally sprinkling the arrangement with cinnamon and sugar. I was fascinated by the process — one dough, two very distinct results. This simple medium would become a savory shell for a pie as well as sweet, crispy “cookies.” It was chemistry. It was magic.

As I got older, but before the stool was no longer required, I progressed to more complicated baking. Cookies were elementary. Sheet cakes were simple. I won blue ribbons for my double chocolate pound cake each year at the fair, but still I marveled at the seeming miracle that was a wet mass of a handful of ingredients transforming into a fluffy treat.

From baking came meal planning, from full-course dinners came canning and pickling. That’s the thing about the kitchen — there are always things to learn. The education never ends. After enough practice, trials, and experimentation, one can graduate to self-tutelage, but there’s always room for growth. My grandma recently turned 87, and she’s still trying out new recipes, new experiments, in the kitchen. Creating nourishing meals is true alchemy, gilding the dining table in a glorious sheen.

I have my grandma to thank for my food passion. She started it all with the simple act of having me help transform scraps into cinnamon-flavored glory, in the blurry, warm-toned past.

What are your food origin stories? How did you get interested in cooking and baking?

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