I absolutely love being in the kitchen, and have for so long, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t! When asked how I got so interested in food, I invariably go back to that early memory of dusting cake pans for my Mom. I was very young, maybe 8 or 9, and I was her wee apprentice in our big farmhouse kitchen. I can still hear her voice, instructing me in half Polish, half English, “be sure all areas are covered well, dearest, so the cakes will come out”.
While farm work was hard work, and yet because of it, we had plenty to eat. Summer and fall were always very busy, but also the times of fresh food. For the winter, we stored: potatoes, onions and carrots… in the cellar. Mom made awesome pickled beets, with the beets coming naturally, from our own gardens. We also had cattle, pigs, chickens and even ducks who blessed us with eggs that had such rich, dark, orange hued yolks – they were reserved for baking.
Summer also meant our farm stand was open. Living on a major road to cottage country meant people stopping by for strawberries, raspberries, green beans, yellow wax beans (still my younger brother’s favourite) corn on the cob…. the produce was plentiful on that picnic table. A tackle box with change posed as a sort of cash register, at the ready. While it didn’t make a lot of money, what it did make went towards back to school supplies for me and my siblings. Also, in the interest of fairness, and wanting, no needing to, have as many hands as possible picking in the field of strawberries & raspberries, we were paid. Yup. If I remember correctly it was 5 cents per box – but hey, that was some years ago! I’d give anything to have one of the ledgers that were kept, showing the dates, how many boxes were picked by whom and their amassing fortunes! Indeed, that farm stand gave us early lessons in math and marketing~
I thank the universe that I grew up in a time when food didn’t come from a box, sytrofoam container or drive thru. While Mom is no longer with us, I am thankful to her each and every day for giving me my love of being in the kitchen, and the gratification that comes with nurturing people with food.