One of my favorite memories of my Granddad, Major Raymond A. Rodgers, was the time he tried (in vain) to teach me how to make a simple roux. It was after the death of my Grandma and he was living with us. He happened to love gravy and he thought it would be a good idea to teach me to make it. In my defense, I was about 22 and the very last thing in the world I had interest in was learning to make gravy. I hated gravy, but I loved my Granddad, so I was up for the challenge.
He started out by demonstrating the proper technique, then told me stories about how he used to make it in the army and finished up with a batch of really silky white gravy. Then it was my turn. After the third attempt resulted in yet a third pile of gluey goo and a thousand giggles later, Granddad retired to his room smiling and laughing in defeat! We laughed about that experience for years following.
I often think of him now when I am making up sauces to go on whatever dish I’ve created. I know he would be so proud that I finally know how to make a decent cream gravy and an even better sauce!
I have been asked a gazillion times where I learned to cook. I didn’t grow up in the kitchen with my mother or my grandmother learning family recipes. In fact, I didn’t even start cooking at home in earnest until around 2009.
I actually credit part of my cooking talent to the old show, “Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood”. I know it sounds very silly, but it’s true. If you ever watched the show as a kid, you will remember that at least once per show, Mr. Rodgers showed us how something is made. Often, the show would visit factories to watch how every day items such as crayons or pencils were made. These were my favorite segments. I think they taught me how to sit back, observe and learn and they are definitely what led me to love watching the early cooking shows such as; Julia Child, The Frugal Gourmet, The Cajun Cook, and the BBC2 series, The Two Fat Ladies. (That last show was a total hoot. My sister and I used to roll around on the floor laughing at those two motorcycling ladies!) Oh and I cannot forget to mention how I used to (and still do) adore Emeril Lagasse! (BAM!)
Long about 2010, Charlie and I moved to a new house that had a wonderful kitchen. It wasn’t fancy; just had a lot of space. One night he was about to make something and out of the blue I declared that I would like to make something new I’d seen on television. I cannot even recall what it was, but I do remember the satisfaction I felt when it turned out beautifully and Charlie scarfed it all down. From that point forward, I did 98% of the dinner cooking in our home. My love of cooking shows grew and “The Food Channel” became the most watched network and explored web site in our home!
Working in a church has afforded me the unique opportunity of spending some time in an industrial kitchen once per week. Although my real job is in the finance office, Charlie and I were Grandfathered into preparing the weekly Fellowship Meal for 100-125 people. It started with someone else deciding the menus and purchasing the food. We would be left with instructions on how to prepare and serve it and eventually, we took over the entire thing. To me, it’s like planning a party each week, and I dearly love it when we pack up to leave, exhausted and sweaty, knowing that we prepared a great meal that left everyone satisfied!
My Mother often asks me how in the world we are able to do meals on such a large scale. She usually says that the mere thought of being responsible for all that food would make her too nervous to do it. This is when I stop and realize that if I sat around thinking about it like that, I wouldn’t be able to do it myself!
Tonight is the last Fellowship Meal for this season. We’ll take off a little over a month and return in July, so we’ve decided to make beef tenderloin. It’s a bit of a daunting task, IF I think about it, so I will just end here with the promise of photos tomorrow.
What are some of your cooking influences? My current favorites are, “The Pioneer Woman”, and “Barefoot Contessa”, but mostly, I just like to explore recipes and then tweak them to make them my own.
I’d love to hear how you got started cooking! Please share!