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Yummies for YOU by YOU

April 6, 2012

We want people to enjoy the wonderful fresh products from our local farms here in West Virginia, but we have some issues that have to be overcome:

1. How do I find the fresh local food? and

2. What do I do with it when I get it?

We’ll be addressing the getting the food. I already wrote about CSAs and how you can pick up a box or even, from one farm in the state, receive your box delivered to your door.  I will be writing more about local markets soon.

But the food prep? Everyone should have certain life skills. Cooking is one of them.

You ever watch any of the shows on HGTV where someone is buying their first home? You notice that they want a fully equipped kitchen with stainless steel appliances and a lot of counter space?  You also notice that they usually joke that they never cook?  They only want it to look good.

In my family the dinner prep duties fell to me when I was in 8th grade, about 13 years old. My mom’s work shifted back one hour which meant she was the last one home. So, in order to have supper on the table when she got home around 6pm, I was told to fix the meals.

At first she made it easy….a pan of chicken already prepped and seasoned with written instructions of when to stick it in the oven at what temperature. What to cook with it, all neatly arranged on the kitchen table or in the frig. So I did it.

In a month or two  the instructions were more like…the chicken is defrosted in the refrigerator. Clean it the way I showed you. Remember to season it. Remember to stick it in the oven soon enough so it is ready when I get home.

Then, a few months later mom reminded me on Sunday afternoon to plan the menu for the week…there was plenty of food in the house, and I was left to start the regular task we all do as adults. Or most of us, anyway.

When I met my husband I believed I was a pretty good cook.   About 7 years ago Graham prepared his first meal for me. He lived in a teeny tiny apartment in Huntington. The kitchen had MAYBE 2 feet of counter space so he had purchased a rolling cart that gave him a little more work space.  The meal he made was an amazing lamb dinner with all the trimmings, in his tiny kitchen with his tiny narrow apartment size stove.

So, it is NOT space or flashy top of the line appliances or the latest gadgetry that makes a cook.   It is desire to learn and master a new skill.

The Food  Network used to have cooking shows where various chefs presented recipes. Some were fixable within 20 minutes. Others more involved. But like much else, cooking shows have become spectator sports, with competitions getting the highest ratings.

Okay, I learned to cook without television. So with Youtube videos to supplement, it is amazing what a good cookbook can do to help one learn the basic ropes.

I imagine some of you are scratching your heads by now. You are probably wondering why I am even talking this way. It is because many many people 30 and under and even some of us Baby Boomers prefer to heat up prepared frozen meals in the microwave or buy fast food instead of cooking from scratch.

We were taught to cook by our moms (dad cook????? very very rare in those days) and most of us older women had home ec in school. (Teach boys to cook in those days????  No, they had wood shop!) Mandatory home ec classes were one of the first extras that was dumped with budget cuts but a few progressive schools are now adding it back in with other “life classes”.

I included my kids in the cooking as soon as they could sit on the kitchen counter and they each are perfectly capable of preparing meals for themselves or even for me!  (What a wonderful Mother’s Day present!)

My daughter Lisa watching in a cooking class we took in Paris

So, if you did not have any introduction to cooking before this or wish you had better kitchen skills, do something about it! There are cooking classes available throughout the state! Do a Google search for “cooking classes West Virginia”/ I just did and the first page of results identified classes offered in Morgantown, Huntington, Charleston, Harpers Ferry, Charles Town, Williamson,  at Stonewall Jackson Resort, at Tamarack and at the Greenbrier. I also found several websites where chefs or caterers offer to come teach you to cook in your own kitchen. There are classes at local adult ed programs and at the YMCA.

No excuses. You like to eat?  Get into the kitchen and then REALLY enjoy the wonderful foods West Virginia farms produce!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2012 11:57 am

    It was always an anomally to me, no cooking for boys at school, when some of the world’s best chefs are men. I myself am a chef, albeit not in the aforementioned class.


    • April 6, 2012 3:40 pm

      And since men like to eat….need to eat as human beings…you would think they would at least learn how to feed themselves! Or perhaps care enough about another person to prepare a meal for that special person? hmmmmmmmm I had hoped we had moved beyond “men’s” and “women’s” roles.

  2. Anne Sikes permalink
    April 8, 2012 12:51 pm

    Ha ha…thank you! Loved this. First of all, I love the way your mother did. 🙂 Secondly, I want a kitchen like that first picture!! I might not need one, but I want one nonetheless.

    When I married in 1975, I knew how to bake very well…had been making homemade bread since I was 10 years old. But the only thing I knew how to cook was oven fried chicken…a sort of homemade shake and bake thing I’d learned from Mom. It took me a long time, but I am a very good cook now, at 55. I love to create amazingly wonderful soups and stews in particular.

    I agree, if a person wants to they can learn at any time! And by the way, what I used to do in the younger days, was decide what I wanted to make, as in chicken, or hamburger meat, or pork chops or whatever. Then I’d look through this set of cookbooks my husband had bought me for all the recipes you could make with that, and pick one. I also picked up recipes from friends or family along the way. And as for my spaghetti sauce, it took me a really long time to perfect it, but now when I make it I often get told it’s the best spaghetti a person’s ever eaten. 🙂

    • April 8, 2012 12:55 pm

      You are proof positive that an adult can do it on her own!! As for the tomato sauce….most bottled sauces have a lot of sugar and sodium….so you are doing everyone you feed a big favor with your sauce, in more ways than one!

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