Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Lessons of Cheryl's Kitchen - Introduction.

Welcome to part one of a multi-part series of indeterminate length whose posts will be about my memories that stem from my mother's cooking. I've often said that if it weren't for my mother that I would have never picked up a mixing spoon for the first time. It's this connection of mine to food that I find to be one of the most fascinating. As I lay them out, I'll try my best to document my mother's stories, recipes, and of course my own incoherent ramblings on the subject. 

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't give a little background info on my mother before we began. So, much to her dismay, let me tell you about one Mrs. Cheryl Coalmer...

My mom was born in the same town as I was, East Liverpool, Ohio, the third of five children. Now, although my grandfather has given me a number of stories about her childhood nicknames, family photos, and other stories, not many of them (other than a noted disliking of vegetable soup) are pertinent to this blog. My mom met my dad in high school and they were married a few years after graduation.

Many of my mom's recipes seem to be borne of this time in my mom's life. Between her adapting to married life, a new home, and the influences of friends and neighbors, my mom often mentions this time as the origin of many of the items she frequently makes. Recently, my mother has given me a number of recipes that she's very fond of. Along with these recipes are the stories that she remembers surrounding the various food items. Obviously, this has become one  of my most cherished gifts. Many of these recipes (much like my own repertoire after moving out of my childhood home) are borne of this time of change in her life. From her many recipes made through the miraculous ease of Bisquick, to learning the ropes of using the first grill that she and my dad purchased, to her friendship with our neighbor (Aunt) Virginia and many others, the love of the kitchen that I've now inherited has its roots planted firmly in this place in time. 

Over the years my mothers food has become pretty popular and considerably more complex. I admire her curiosity and her open mind when it comes to food. She always seems to have the ability to impress at picnics, at dinners, at holidays and many more. I think more than a lot of the ink in my mom's pens have been spilled on 3x5 notecards given to others. I think it's from her willingness to share in her love of these items that I saw the social value that food has in enriching so many lives.

It's because of this passion that so many of my great childhood memories are possible. Although I would love to write about the incalculable number of beaters I've licked, plates of cookies for Santa, times I've nearly burned down her kitchen etc., for now I'll focus on the most fond of my memories surrounding cooking with my mother. Be sure to check the comments sections of these posts to see if she's corrected any of the recipes, facts, stories, etc., or just to see if she's vengefully posted any embarrassing stories about me.

Mom's official response:
Well son all I can say is Thank You very much for recognizing my love of cooking and for carrying on the traditions of my love for feeding friends and family. 

It seemed whenever we had company at the house we always ended up sitting at the kitchen counter... I always felt I had to feed people when they stopped by. Almost every weekend of our married life we had friends over for dinner and to play cards. 

Most of my adult life has been spent in the kitchen. Some people may think that is odd, but I do feel the kitchen is the heart of the home. Cooking has always been my vice... when I am happy, sad, depressed or just bored it has always been what comforts me. I still believe in the sanctity of the family dinner. There is nothing like sitting down to a good meal and good conversation. If this is not something you do on a regular basis with your family, then please give it a try. Get out those recipes you've been wanting to try or log onto Brett's blog and try something new!!!! 

Thanks Mom!


Judy said...

Brett, This is a terrific idea and quite a tribute to your mom! I'm glad to see you are doing this! I'm sure she has given you some terrific memories.

Cynthia said...

What a dear son you are! I am teary Brett, as I read your blog for the first time. Actually...I think it's the first blog I have EVER read and certainly the first comment I've ever posted on one! A new, fun experience, especially since "the cook and her son" are dear friends. It's a great idea and I know you will share many wonderful memories and recipes from Cheryl's Kitchen! My visits there have been both warm, comforting and dee-licious!! Looking forward to this new adventure with you! Hugs, Cynthia PS. Move over Julia!! :)

rstoica14888 said...

Oh my gawsh..what a beautiful tribute to a beautiful person, your mom! I have just recently became friends with her, and she talks of her boys with a bright and smiling face. How wonderful this is going to be for you and her alike, and for us to enjoy all the wonders and memories of "Cheryl's Kitchen". What awesome young men you have become, and may God bless you on this new adventure! Renee

Anonymous said...

Hi Bret!!! Your Mom has always loved to bake. When your Mom and Dad were dating in high school, she would make him pies and he would hide them in his bedroom so the rest of the family wouldn't eat them!!! I remember that she won a baking contest in the E.L. Review also. My favorite was her Miami Beach Birthday Cake!!! She always brings the desserts to family parties..Love, Aunt Leslie

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