In 8th grade girls took Cooking and boys took Sheet Metal. Our cooking teacher was sweet and patient, unlike our sewing teacher. We began with practical things like equivalent measures: number of teaspoons in a tablespoon, tablespoons in a cup, etc. Then we studied cooking implements and were given a diagram for their placement in the drawer at each station. Finally, after several more weeks of technical instruction, we put on the headbands and aprons sewn the previous year and began the real fun of cooking. For our first session we made applesauce, a practice I continued with every class I ever taught. We then moved on to eggs a la goldenrod and later corn chowder. At holiday time we made taffy and also used a banana, pineapple slice, and cherry to construct a candle-salad. Whatever we made in school, I would soon make at home, sometimes until we were sick of it.
Cooking, or more specifically baking, was not new to me. From age four I recall “helping” my Aunt Dot make gingerbread and hot milk sponge cake. My mother made cookies before anyone was up, so the only help I gave her was as taster.
In our family, we each seemed to have a specialty: Dot, pies, custard, and puddings; my mother cookies and doughnuts; my father bread, cinnamon rolls , and root beer, while I moved on from simple cakes to more complicated ones with frosting. No mixes, mind you.
If that sounds like a lot of sweets, we did have evening meals that were the standard of the time: meat or fish, potato, vegetable, bread and butter. But always we had dessert, even if it were just Jell-O or canned fruit. We all ate heartily with great enjoyment, but no one was ever more than a few pounds overweight (At the time I was still slightly underweight.) though at one point I recall Dot and my mother going on an “I Love Lucy” diet which consisted of eating a lot of stewed lemon rinds.
Ah, for the days when I’d never heard of a calorie, never heard warnings about fat, sugar, and salt, when somebody else cooked my dinner, and all I had to do was enjoy it.
© Dorothy C. Judd
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