In This Small Kitchen: What Mom Taught Me in the Kitchen

When I was a kid, I would perch on a kitchen chair to help mom cook. On weekend mornings especially, my sisters and I could be found flipping pancakes, scrambling eggs, or ducking out of the way as mom pulled hot popovers from the oven. I don’t remember a lot of direct instruction–more learning by doing. Mom made cooking an end in itself, and baking was an activity to look forward to on snow days or lazy Sundays. Eventually, the desire to experiment in the kitchen became second nature.

Later, in high school, we would help mom plan out meals for the week. With long shopping lists for recipes from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen and Sunday Suppers at Lucques, we headed to the uptown Fairway, then to Whole Foods when the first local branch opened in Englewood. All week, we helped cook.

Our latest cooking project is canning. For the last two years, mom and I have had a date in September to can tomatoes, and this summer we’re aiming to preserve a little fruit, too. She also taught me to love simple things: grilled cheese, chef’s salads, black bean soup. Above is mom pictured making a summertime panzanella one day in the kitchen.

I know I’m a lucky gal to have grown up with a mom like mine, and it made me curious: what did your mom teach you about food, eating, and the kitchen? And, if mom didn’t show you how to cook, was there a mother-like figure who did?

P.S. Mom’s Hot Raisin Bread and Mom’s Chocolate Cake.


  1. Great post, and inspiring. You helped me recall some lovely memories.

    The first thing my mom taught me in the kitchen was what yours taught you: to be fearless. Mine extended that idea, and planted another good kernel that sprouted into a lifetime of culinary explorations. She said that food is the cheapest way to travel; that I can learn a culture through its food. She was right!

    My mothers gone now, and when I miss her, I turn to my kitchen to surround myself with her kitchen’s aromas (and recipes), which in turn feels like her love. The steam and fragrances envelop me as her arms once did. This is one of the true beauties of cooking, to me: her recipes live on, and through them, so does her love and our relationship.

    • This is such a sweet comment, Laura. It’s amazing how tastes and smells can bring us back to family moments, even if our family isn’t around. xx

  2. My parents split the cooking duties, so I learned at least as much from my dad as I did from my mom. But, when I was an exchange student in France my host mom really took me under her wing. I’d say I learned the most from her.
    She used fresh ingredients that we bought together at the market as well as fresh herbs from the garden. She was the one that taught me how to make multi-course dinners, but that a plate of radishes was a perfectly reasonable lunch as well. Her husband taught me it was completely acceptable to wash it all down with a glass of wine, even at mid-day.

  3. My mom was the busy SwissGermanMama prototype in the kitchen. She gave orders! Do it my way or go out of te kitchen!! She also had our kitchen exploding for two times befor having us kids (curtesy of the pressure-cooker). She still let me cook an entire meal on my own for all my family when I asked for it. I made a omelette batter, folded some ham, plunged it in the batter and fryed it. Served with a side of salad. I was seven. She let me do it all by my own, like I asked to.
    It’s difficult to define what She precisely taught me, but I guess being quick, sistematic, and make baalanced meals. Oh and She taught me making pies. Probably the first thing I learned. And then coffee cakes. And the 1cup sugar 2 cups flour 1 cup liquid formula. And my family brownies. Ok She taught me a lot.
    She is now in a wheel chair but still makes her own meals the way She knows..and still gives us orders. 😀 mamma!!

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