I learned to cook by watching my dad. He was big into the warm plate thing, cloth napkins, wine and the “cheers” before eating. “Don’t start, not everyone is seated.” “Don’t start, we haven’t clinked glasses.” “Don’t start, the plates aren’t warm enough.” He made five things really well. He made these five things often. Marinated Flank Steak, Creole Chicken Wings, Lemon Chicken (the following morning Poached Eggs with Lemon Butter and English Muffins), Chorizo and Eggs, Pasta Primavera with Grilled Vegetables. Since I became a vegetarian in 1998, he now has one thing he makes me, Pasta Primavera. Every time I see him.
I learned to cook by standing next to my grandma Cobain on a white stool, with an apron and a wooden spoon. I was the stirrer. I stirred the Jello, I stirred the pudding, I stirred the custard, I stirred the Root Beer Floats. I licked the spoon and the beaters.
I learned about cooking captivating breakfasts from my mom. With swiftness and style she set out the ingredients the night before, so when my brother and I stumbled from bed, shivering, we could plop down in front of the preheating oven. A quick whisk of ingredients, a check on the melted butter in the pan, and we sat rapt by both the warmth and drama of the German Pancake bubbling and heaving behind the oven door window.
And while I learned some of the sweet and less healthy meals from my dad and his side of the family. Thanks to my mom’s training at Loma Linda University, we ate like this most of the time: