I got married in 1950 and didn't know how to cook. I came from a big family but my job was to bake bread for 10 people. I baked a pie one day, which turned into a disaster.
When I got married my husband Eddie, thought he was getting a wife that was a good cook, being a farm girl and all. But I came from a large family, and was used to cooking for 10 people, so it was hard to cook for two people. I messed up a lot of meals. Baked Spam was my best dish for two!
I think he had expected me to bake home made bread. But, I was through with baking bread. I always had to bake about 6 or 8 loaves at a time on the farm. I now bought “light bread” at the store! No more baking bread for me! I was a city girl now. Oh he was disappointed. But I didn’t know how to bake just one or two loaves.
But my husband loved to cook, and was an excellent cook, and had in his possession a Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book, which he had bought after getting out of the Navy in 1946. He was really a better cook than I was! He had been the chef for he and his two brothers who were still at home. Eddie didn’t say a word to me about my bad cooking, but I began to see that cookbook often out on the bed, and the table and the kitchen. Was it a hint?
So learned to cook. One day I found a good pumpkin pie recipe in that cookbook and worked all afternoon baking it from scratch, even the crust. That was before the day of readymade crusts in the grocery store. It was luscious looking when it came out of the oven. I set it to cool on top of the little refrigerator.
When Eddie got home from work, and after supper (baked Spam again), I proudly reached up to get it down to show him the pie I was so proud of. Suddenly it slid out of my hands onto the floor, glass pie plate and all, and broke into a hundred pieces, with glass and pumpkin pie splattering all over the walls, the floor, the refrigerator the table and chairs and me and Eddie!
I burst into tears, wailing and crying. My beautiful pie was all over everything.
He tried to console me, saying, “Don’t cry, honey, you can make another one!”
I sobbed, “I’ll never make another pie again as long as I live!”
Nothing he said helped, and as I lay crying, crumpled up in a fetal position on the bed, he cleaned the pumpkin pie up off the floor, the walls, the table, chairs and refrigerator, and his shoes. It was a long time before I attempted to make another pie.
He never was critical about anything I cooked. He was so sweet, and ate anything I served, no matter what it was. But I wanted things to be good or great.
I did finally learn to cook and loved cooking. I tried everything in that cookbook, from pies, cakes, vegetables, main courses, chop-suey, corned beef and cabbage, and became pretty darn good at it. That old Woman’s Home Companion Cook Book became tattered, torn, the pages splattered with spilled food and grease
Through the years I think I became a very good cook. I began a cookbook collection, collecting recipes from our mothers, aunts, friends, and relatives. I have many cookbooks and recipe boxes filled with recipes that I have collected over the last 60 years.
I tell people who don’t know how to cook, if they want to learn, it is very easy. If you can read, you just follow a recipe. You will be an excellent cook. When you have mastered a recipe, you can add your own little tweaks and make it your own.
My pumpkin pie recipe became my oldest son’s favorite, and he opted for years for my pumpkin pie instead of a cake for his birthday. So, I always made him a “Birthday Pumpkin Pie”. I never dropped another pie! I was very careful!