Friday, April 9, 2021

It's In My DNA

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 5 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

Are you a good cook and what is your specialty?

It was submitted by:

You might as well ask me if I can breathe.

1. I'm from the south. And, 2, We never had much money. 

We start cooking down here from birth, honey. Ok maybe not quite that, but us kids pulled up chairs and helped our granny cook since before we new how to read. And that time spent in the kitchen--very likely being in her way--really helped me make it out of my teens entirely honestly. When I lived with my dad as an early teen, I didn't have much choice. He was gone working from sunup to sundown and high, drunk, and focused on women from sundown to pass out. And when I lived with my mom and her husband I wasn't allowed out to eat with them unless I dressed in a way that didn't make people look at me like a weirdo, so I had to cook for myself then too. No, I could not have changed my clothes or my hair (nor do I think it's a parent's priority to stifle harmless self expression). And no it wasn't a phase. You have seen me, right?

Taking care of myself and being independent is something I've always had to do whether I wanted to or not and having been taught how to make the basic southern fare at the very least helped me learn pretty much anything I wanted to know how to make. 

So, of course I can cook. I don't have much choice if I want to eat anything worth a damn (and most takeout food or easy meal stuff is beyond what I can eat now not that most of it is worth a damn anyway). if I want to spend less time meal planning and shopping, then procuring food every night from even a fast food place is too much work and a use of energy that I just don't have. Cooking just makes sense for this house. And I'm good at it. It's how I express love. If I cook for you, I don't at all have neutral feelings about your existence. It's a tasty "I love you" that gives you all the good neurotransmitters. A hug in a spoon. A "thinking of you" card with a flaky crust instead of a soppy poem. Being poor doesn't necessarily give you the drive or the desire, I suppose, to learn how to make the best of the food you can get your hands on, but I did learn early to take pride in what I make and feeding people, taking care of them is important to me. I want to make sure no one goes to bed hungry and there are always leftovers for lunch or 3 a.m. had a bad dream and need some comfort food sessions. 

I make a lot of treats around holidays and for birthdays--varieties of cheesecakes both traditional and no bake, brownies, cookies, banana bread, specialty pancakes, cakes, candies (even divinity. Yes, divinity), cheese pennies, cupcakes--but while any of those things are good enough for me to claim them as a specialty especially my cheesecakes, I'd have to really say that budget meals are mine. 

Do you have $20 to last all week for you and your kid? I got you. Trying to budget your grocery bill down as much as possible? Hit me up. Need to cut down on how often you're cooking? Man, I am your best friend. I can give you a recipe for taco soup that will last several days' worth of dinners and still leave you with enough to freeze for nachos and taco salad later on. Let's whip up some red sauce for a few nights of spaghetti then freeze so next week we've got the base for french bread pizza, stuffed shells, pizza pasta, and/or stuffed garlic knots. 

I may not have enough money to live large, but my kid always has a hot meal and some leftovers even when I can't eat the food myself, and he gets things he loves--chili, chicken bacon ranch pasta, homemade ramen, stir fry, alfredo... We do it all. And now that we're towards the end of the school year (and a psychology class finishing early), I'm doing a little home ec course with him to give himself those basics of cooking (among other home basics). He's helping make dinner with me every time I cook, and while I prefer being the only one in the kitchen, I do love seeing his face when he takes pride in the food he's making. Passing on the skills I learned from helping in the kitchen is more fun than the cooking itself, and I can't wait to see what he comes up with on his own.

Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

What TF Sarah


  1. I knew you loved making varieties of cheesecakes but I didn't know the rest of this. I am so jealous that your son is cooking with you, both of my boys refused, even to this day, won't even make a grilled cheese or scrambled eggs.

  2. My mom is from the south but was a terrible cook! She never used spices and everything came from a can or box. I think she had like 5 meals and we ate them over and over and over! She never taught me to cook so I am more of a trial and error cook (with more errors). That doesn't mean that I don't like to cook, especially on Sundays, it just means I have to copy others recipes and could never come up with one on my own!