Growing up, I was never much interested in cooking. I was always a bit of a tomboy and would much prefer to be outdoors exploring, playing sports in the street with my brother and his friends, riding my bike, or just hanging out. Hard as it may be to believe today, the curriculum in our junior high school compelled all girls to take home economics; one semester of sewing and one semester of cooking, while the boys got to take fun things like wood shop or auto maintenance. Gender roles were much more firmly established. I completed the coursework as required and even came away with an apron I made as a final project. It did not get much use.
My older sister on the other hand reveled in the home arts, mastering both sewing and cooking. I knew I couldn’t compete with her skill in those areas, and to be honest, didn’t have much interest either. I was able to do enough cooking to get by, and my sister, bless her heart, was always willing to sew things for me if the need arose. But what really changed my attitude and aptitude was when I fell in love. His first significant relationship was with a women who not only was a great cook but had a college degree in Home Economics (or maybe it was nutrition). To make matters worse, his mother worked part time in a demonstration kitchen for a local power company. How could I possibly capture the heart and soul (not to mention the stomach) of a man who had become accustomed tasty, well balanced meals?
Like anything else, motivation is often the best teacher. I decided early in our relationship that I would learn how to prepare some of his favorite foods. I checked out recipes, starting with ones that didn’t demand exotic ingredients or tricky techniques and practiced, practiced, practiced. I asked his mother and cousin for suggestions. I started to watch cooking shows on TV, scoured the internet and eventually I became a competent, and even a good cook. A skill that served me well as my children grew up and my husband worked long hours as a firefighter. The kitchen became my domain. All that changed a bit when my husband retired six years ago.