For the love of food

I love food and it has a lot to do with my upbringing.

My mom was (and still is) a licensed cook. She would cook and bake at home and some of my earliest memories are of helping my mom in the kitchen. To this day, I still use her recipe for making chocolate chip cookies. And whenever I see brownies I think of my mom; she would whip up a batch after work (from scratch) to satisfy her cravings. I have to admit that I seem to have these urges now as well … must have something to do with being a mom.

Even though my dad wasn’t as present in the kitchen as my mom, I remember his peach-upside-down cake and homemade French fries (sliced as dollars or thick sticks) made in a (very sketchy) deep-frier. I also remember my dad taking me out for strawberry milkshakes and cheeseburgers. Yep, I still love those!

My dad and his wife (my step-mom) planted a garden every summer once they bought their first home. This was my first experience with the hard labour required to produce food. My brother and I were tasked with readying the soil (aka picking rocks — not the most fun chore, mind you). As much as I loathed carting wheelbarrows full of rocks from the garden plot, it was always worth it in August when we could walk out and pick a vegetable and eat it right there on the spot.

It isn’t just my parents with which I have fond food memories. My dad’s dad, my grandfather, as far as I can remember, has had a vegetable garden. (I can even remember visiting his mom and picking peas as a snack from her garden.) One of my favourite memories is of pulling potatoes with my grandfather, washing and slicing them up, sprinkling pepper and salt on top, and then having a nice little snack before supper. (My husband, who absolutely loves potatoes, thinks eating potatoes raw is blasphemy.) The only time I remember my grandfather cooking though was at the BBQ in the backyard. My grandmother (on my dad’s side), on the other hand, is the cook of that family. She has a very distinct way of making dumplings for chicken stew and to accompany blueberries. I’ve never had the same dumplings anywhere.

I always think of my nana, my mom’s mom, when I eat yogurt. That may seem strange, but I remember that whenever I visited her we would eat the cherry kind that you had to stir together. I wonder if she’d be impressed that I can make yogurt in my slow cooker?

My first job was related to food, too. I picked strawberries for three summers, starting when I was 13 years old. Oh, I don’t miss those days. The conditions were terrible! We had to pick rain or shine, there were no bathrooms, and you weren’t really supposed to take a break. So I’d hunker down at 7am in a wet field and pick like mad (because I was paid per box) until noon. I was so traumatized by the experience that I completely avoided u-picks until just this summer!

Then there are my days as a pizza delivery girl (sigh). I learned all the trade secrets of Greco and can easily impress any crowd with garlicfingers.

I could go on and on, but I really just want to thank my family for being food-oriented. They took something ordinary and made it special. Not only do I enjoy cooking and baking (and eating!), but I am (at least) the fourth generation vegetable gardener.

All this to say: I hope my daughter will have fond food memories and become a natural in the kitchen, too!

She already loves food!
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