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Patience and Cooking

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At the age of five I knew what I wanted to do in life: Cook. Cooking appealed to me for two reasons, one being that I had the power to create anything I wanted. The second is obvious-I could eat anything and everything I made. Having the appetite of boys twice my size, I knew this would be the job for me.


It officially started Christmas Eve, 1997. I awoke about eight in the morning upon hearing a crashing in the kitchen, located right below my room. I heard some hushed cursing, then more rattling of what sounded like pots and pans. I put on a sweater and went downstairs to see what had awakened me from my slumber. As I got closer to the kitchen, my nose was hit with several different smells. Something sweet, something spicy, something meaty; it was what a string orchestra would smell like, different smells combined to make something fantastic.

I stood in the doorway, silently watching as my mother gracefully poured, cut, and mixed. Mid-pour of what looked like milk into a big orange casserole dish, she sensed my presence. “Want to help?” She asked. I nodded, and came closer to the counter. I sat on a chair as she slid an open cookbook in my direction. “This,” she pointed at a dish of something green, “is what I’m making. It’s a green bean casserole, doesn’t it look good?” I nodded again, mesmerized by all the little measurements displayed on the page. She brought the orange dish over to me and set it next to the cookbook. “This is what we do,” she said, taking my hands in hers. “Pour the green beans out of the cans like this.” The beans fell out of the can and into the dish, making a dull plop with the milk-like mixture. Curious, I asked what it was. “Cream of Mushroom Soup.” My mom replied. “It makes the green beans taste good.” She grabbed a wooden spoon and started stirring the mixture. A minute later she let me try. “Now be careful, don’t let anything out of the bowl.” She said. I cautiously took my time, making sure every single green bean had been touched by the spoon. “Now,” my mom took the spoon away and handed me a little bowl of white, swirly things. “These are onions. Sprinkle them on top, like this.” She demonstrated. I did the same, and for a few moments we just sat in silence, sprinkling onions all over the green beans. When we were done, my mom smiled. “Good girl. You’re going to be a very good cook when you’re older.” She opened the oven and placed the casserole inside. “Now what?” I asked. She smiled again. “Now we’re done. All we have to do is wait.” I didn’t want to wait, I wanted to eat. I said so, and my mom laughed. “Learning to be patient is one of the best things about cooking.” Sure, this was a logical answer, but my five year old stomach didn’t like the sound of that. Reading my mind, my mom pulled a biscuit off the top of the oven and handed it to me. “Eat this to hold you over.” She said. I took the biscuit and sank my teeth into the buttery, flakey texture. I swallowed, then said “Mom, can I make these next year?” My mom nodded, and then said “Of course. From here on out you can help me cook.”

Since then I have, every holiday and the occasional weekend meal. Every time I cook, I remember that day that my mom introduced me to one of the most important aspects of my life. Thank you, Mom.





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