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Do you remember the first dish you ever cooked?

I like MFK Fisher's story of the "Hindu Eggs" she cooked for her sister as a young girl, adding curry powder so liberally that her lips blistered. But she was too proud to admit defeat and ate them all.

I used to spend my free periods at school in the library, reading cookbooks. I was 11 years old. Having pored over the creme caramel recipe for weeks, I finally signed it out of the library, went home and made the damn things in a bain marie (I went to a French school so this didn't sound too alien to me!). They turned out perfect and I was hooked for life (in culinary school now).

What was your first culinary milestone, successful or otherwise?

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  1. I've been making omelettes since I was about eight or nine, I believe. They always tasted good to me.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Euonymous

      Oh, similarly, I made scrambled eggs. I was happy with them. Eggs are still my go-to dish!

      1. re: thegolferbitch

        scrambled eggs, too. i once accidnetly dropped bread into the mixture of eggs and splash of milk and figured out the french toast. i have since mastered the two.

          1. re: jenniebnyc

            scrambled eggs here! Imaginary spaghetti when I was 4 doesn't count does it.

        1. re: RGC1982

          scrambled eggs with salsa.... I was so proud of that one! I served them to friends at sleepovers and couldn't resist asking..... "sooo you like them, right?"

      2. I think I was about 10 years old.

        I wanted to make some sort of super elegant creamy hors d'oeuvre-type thing.

        My mom defrosted some of her homemade pastry and I mixed up some leftover roast pork with a bunch of random things and topped with cheese.

        It wasn't quite god-awful, but darn close.

        BUT, I haven't looked back....I was making casseroles in white sauce (included making roux) by my 11th birthday. :)

        1. Cinnamon toast. I think I was seven or so, and saw the recipe in some kid's cookbook. Just your typical toast the bread, butter it, make a cinnamon/sugar mixture and sprinkle it thickly over the bread and then toast in the oven for a few minutes, but boy, it was the greatest thing ever for me for quite a while.

          2 Replies
          1. re: JasmineG

            This was mine too and about the same age. I took out a book from the library called "Cooking for Boys" and made the cinnamon toast and then scrambled eggs shortly thereafter.

            1. re: JasmineG

              Haha, that must have been the first thing I made as well. Boy, to be able to have some sugary thing w/ butter any time I wanted was a miracle. I learned to tell my Mom I was having toast...just not what kind.

            2. I was eight. I had given my Mom a big yellow cookbook for X-mas...hint, hint. She was not a cook. Not at all.

              She never read it. This disturbed me. So I read it. I made flan one night. I was from then on known as the cook in the house.

              1. French toast on a snow day from school. I think I was 8 or 9.

                1. There's photographic evidence of my first cooking experience--I'm 5, standing on a chair at the stove with an apron on and making some recipe that involved ground beef, onions and a lot of cans; I think it was called Hobo Stew. By the time I was 10 I was making dinner for my family every night except for Saturdays (we always went out to dinner) and Sunday when my dad took over. My mother wasn't a horrible cook but she certainly had no interest in it and was happy to turn the "key to the kitchen" over to me. Thank God for Julia Child and the Joy of Cooking...interesting that my brothers are both really good cooks, my younger brother went to cooking school and was a chef for a while.

                  1. A lopsided cake with blue frosting and something called monkey cookies.

                    1. Aside from the usual hot breakfast eats (eggs, sausage, etc), I remember the first time I printed out a recipe and made something in a kitchen.

                      It was Valentine's Day and I wanted to make creme brulee for a girl.

                      1. I was 7 or 8 when I first cooked alone. I made some scrambled eggs. I used much too much milk and they were so white and watery...lol. I ate them anyway so I would not look foolish.

                        1. The first time I opened a cookbook, copied out a recipe, announced to the family I was making dinner, did all the shopping and prep myself etc. was when I was 12. It was stuffed green peppers. It was my own little revolt against my mother's tendency to make some variation of red meat every single night. Sadly, they didn't taste very good. I'm pretty sure I made them properly, I think the recipe just wasn't that great. And now that I think about it, I don't know that I've ever had stuffed green peppers since...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: charmedgirl

                            Mine was also a revolt against red meat at every meal.

                            I made egg foo young out of a vegetarian cook book. The patties themselves came out good, if a little bland. The sauce did not work out -- too thin and salty.

                            I don't think I've tried making it since then; really ought to revisit that one.

                          2. I vaguely remember. I was probably about six or seven, and was a big fan of both Julia Child and Graham Kerr. I tried to make a dish I saw on one of those shows and it was an utter disaster. My parents were so nice by actually eating this abomination, but I finally just said, "this sucks, let's get pizza."

                            They were quite relieved.

                            I'm happy to say that my cooking skills improved fairly rapidly, and I was the primary dinner cook for my family by the time I was ten.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bostonbob3

                              I remember making too much rice. Being a newly wedded housewife, the rice lasted a few days.

                            2. I was 6 when I made what I called "Fresh Bread Chicken Dressing" at home for going over to my grandparents Thanksgiving night.

                              Mom did the pre-knife work and quartered the 3 onions so I could run them through the cone cutter (off branded King Cutter, I was permitted to use) along with a pound of celery. I had a deep roasting pan that was about 18 x 11 x 8 and what I was to make should fill it about 3/4 full. I think it took about 6 maybe 7 loaves of bread if I remember right, and 2 tall cans of chicken broth with 1/2 a can held back.

                              Only one real disappointment... No leftovers! :-(

                              1. A birthday cake for a family member from a cake mix with prepared frosting from a can when I was 9 or 10. It turned out well so I was encouraged. Since there were no other bakers in the family, I had the (fun) task of making birthday cakes for everyone's birthday, including my own!! Then I checked the ingredients on the box after making cakes a couple of times & decided I could make a cake from scratch, which I did, with good results (but I still continued to use prepared frosting).
                                There was also a biscotti recipe I used to make. At around 12 I made an apple pie using a NY Times recipe, it was so good! If I remember correctly, it had only a bottom crust... I also made French toast at around that time too which became a favorite.

                                1. I was 7 or 8 when I decided to make waffles. Mom and I had fun figuring out where I went wrong - those suckers really rose! And boy did they have a funky aftertaste. It was either 1 tbsp baking soda or baking powder (can't remember after all these years!) But that experience didn't dampen the long-term love affair - a waffle iron was the first appliance I bought when I moved out!

                                  1. My first ATTEMPT to cook was in my toddler days. My mom was cooking dinner but must have turned her back. I got up on a chair, picked up the box of Ronzoni spagetti, and put it on the (lit) gas burner. I'm not sure if I had to light it myself, or move something else out of the way. Anyway, after a second the box (still in my hand) caught on fire, I screamed bloody murder, and my mom went back to being the family cook.

                                    My first solo recipe was Bisquick biscuits after school. This would be fourth or fifth grade. The first batch came out alright, so I started to experiment. The final result was one giant, cookie-sheet sized biscuit, "marbled" by carefully incorporating blue and green food coloring.

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: The Engineer

                                        Bisquick biscuits were my first attempt, too. I rolled them out too thin and then cut them with a tiny donut hole cutter. Then I put a chocolate chip on top of each one. They were, of course, not very good. I think my mom surreptitiously threw them out the next day while I was at school.

                                      2. At the ate of 9 I learned from my mother how to make a beautifully perfect, with never a hint of the "green" stuff, hard boiled egg. And from there I invented my version of deviled egg sandwiches on light white bread toast. Lots of mustard and vinegar and black pepper open faced. I still love them to this day, and for breakfast!

                                        1. When I was 9, we had a snow day on my Dad's birthday, so I convinced Mom to let me make the cake. And what a cake it was. Lopsided, too much frosting, lots of sprinkles, etc. But Daddy loved it.

                                          And while we had no idea at the time, it turned out to be his last birthday.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Janet from Richmond

                                            Janet, what a bittersweet memory...thank you for sharing it.

                                          2. No, I do not remember the 1st dish I cooked. I'm 70 years old.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: ChiliDude

                                              Dear ChiliDude..I am sure that is 70 years young:) Sorta off topic.. I would love to know the dish you have made most often?

                                              1. re: tunapet

                                                As my nickname indicates, the dish that I make most often is Texas-style chili. Also, I do like beans, BUT BEANS DO NOT BELONG IN CHILI, refried beans are a nice side dish.

                                                Chicken paprikash and jambalaya are 2 other dishes that I make often. My wife likes the paprikash, and I usually make it at her request.

                                                Thanks for asking...

                                            2. I can't remember if is the 1st dish, but I have memories of being 9ish and seperating a couple of my mom's shiny copper frying pans from the wall on which they hung in a decorative, geometric pattern... slow frying some chorizo, then melting some cheese over it, spooning it on a warm tortilla... then grilling the folded tacos in the other copper pan.

                                              My mom was not amused... and from that day forward polishing the copper became my chore.

                                              1. Home movies prove that at age 5 I was a professional with the Easy Bake Oven. If you look at my expression, it is quite serious about making the cakes. Intense concentration, everything mise en place.

                                                In all seriousness tho, as far as being in the actual kitchen and being allowed to use the stove, cooking breakfast i.e.; scrambled eggs was the first thing I remember cooking on my own - probably around age 10ish.

                                                On the heels of that everything opened up for me - my mom totally allowed me to get involved in everything she was doing. By early teens, I was quite proficient at putting together a dinner on my own.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: sivyaleah

                                                  My sister had an Easy Bake Oven, I still remember those cakes as tasting exceptionally good.

                                                  1. re: steinpilz

                                                    I had forgotten about my easy bake oven. Since it was the 70's, mine was avocado green. It used to take FOREVER for that light bulb to bake that little cake.

                                                2. Easy bake oven cakes probably, if that can really be called baking. I know I made my own cinnamon toast before age 5. I think my first meals that required fire was hot chocolate and grilled cheese.

                                                  1. I was 13. I found a recipe for 'Sophia Loren's Lemon Souffle' in a magazine and asked my mother to make it. She said, "You want it? YOU make it". So I did. It tasted great, although, I made it in a Le Creuset pot, because I didn't know what a souffle dish was, so it didn't rise very well.

                                                    1. My first things cooked were all for breakfast. I can remember cooking french toast, scrambled eggs and corn muffins, when I was between 6 and 10. I know that at about ten, I was the chosen egg scrambler in the family.

                                                      The first dinner I remember cooking by myself from scratch was when I was in high school. My parents went away and I cooked linguini with white clam sauce. After that,some dishes stand out, but basically, I knew I could cook.

                                                      When I went to work on a boat which had no cook on board, I really began cooking a lot, because I wanted to eat. We had diesel fired stoves, grills (not always usuable because you might have petroleum nearby) and an assortment of electric appliances. Ever bake a ziti on a charcoal grill? It's actually fairly easy.

                                                      1. I was an extremely picky eater as a child and didn't have much interest in the kitchen at all. However, my parents went to Europe when I was 12 and left me in the care of my beloved older brother (he would have been 20 at the time). I wanted to make dinner for him and decided on spaghetti with meat sauce. No recipe or anything, just went ahead and made it with ground beef from the freezer, a can of tomatoes, liberal lashings of ketchup and wayyyy too much salt. Not a culinary triumph, but we ate it and I've been cooking ever since.

                                                        1. Kraft American Cheese melted onto a plate was the first thing I was ever allowed to put in the microwave on my own. Oh, the crusting! My mother always made sure I had to wash that dish on my own.

                                                          First thing in the oven was grocery store cake mix.

                                                          First thing on the stove was probably scrambled eggs.

                                                          First dinner entree: spaghetti with meat sauce.

                                                          1. at age 10, i creamed butter, sugar and vanilla extract, and ate it straight from the bowl. my mother discovered me and made me turn it into an apple crisp. hrumph.

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: relizabeth

                                                              hah! i used to do that, too, and i blame my parents (they are both nutritionists, i was deprived!) thank god, i wasn't caught.

                                                            2. I made these wonderfully buttery cupcakes (beehive cupcakes) with frosting stacked about double the height of the cakes when I was 8...
                                                              That and a bowl full of jello that my friend and I didn't allow to set before consuming, which has put me off jello for life!

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: sram

                                                                meatloaf and baked potatos for my girl scout cooking badge! and i still love meatloaf sandwiches!

                                                              2. My first cooking accomplishment was pancakes when I was 7. Mom and Dad were still in bed on a Saturday morning. Dad was a much better cook than Mom. I crept in and asked Dad the ingredients (pre-Bisquick days) and proceeded to mix. When it came time to cook on a really big old Chambers gas stove, Dad got up to "help."
                                                                At 10 I remember making a chocolate cake with chocolate icing from the back of the Hershey's cocoa can for Christmas dinner. The whole family was there. My grandmother made a banana cake (what was she thinking). Everyone flocked to my CC and ignored the BC. Granny was miffed. I've loved baking ever since.

                                                                1. I had a kids' cookbook with a great popover recipe. I made popovers to go with my mom's dinner two nights a week for awhile starting when I was 7. They were so easy and fun. I probably haven't had a popover in 20 years now...

                                                                  1. At eleven I decided to have a birthday party for Lincoln. Maybe I was bored? I invited two other families to our house and did all the cooking. For the main dish, I made Swedish meatballs from my Betty Crocker cookbook. I'm sure the recipe included canned soup, I think rice was involved, and I know there were green peppers because one of the adults at the dinner said she didn't like green peppers because they made her burp. This woman also threw down the chocolate chip cookies I'd made with margarine. (That was all my parents bought.) I ended up in the bathroom in tears. However, that didn't stop me from inflicting more Betty Crocker recipes on family and friends.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Glencora

                                                                      I hope you never cooked for that woman again. When an adult woman complains aboutt eh cooking of a child, she obviously needs some lessons to improve her people skills.

                                                                    2. The first time I actually followed a recepie, versus having my mom stand over my shoulder and walk me through it, was eggs benedict for Mother's day. All in all, it turned out pretty well.

                                                                      1. Toll House Cookies, straight off the back of the chocolate chip package. They were delicious, and I was probably 7 or 8 years old. However, I can remember making scrambled eggs quite frequently and to this day, nobody makes 'em better, cause my great grandmother taught me and she was probably the greatest cook I've ever met.

                                                                        1. When I was 7 we lived near Albany, GA and close to a resort. The chef who was French and his wife and son lived very close to us. The son and I used to play together. Sometimes the Chef would take us over to the resort and into the kitchens. I was fascinated. I always was a foodie and did not get much chance to do much in the way of cooking because my mother was a control freak, weird in a teacher not to want to teach her kids to cook, there were 4 of us and she taught all day you'd think she'd welcome the help. Any time I asked to help with a meal she would say you make the salad. Ask me how i like making salads today.

                                                                          Anyway if I wanted to cook I had to wait until she was not home. I think I was in 4th grade in Savannah and I brought home a cookbook from the school library. I made a boiled custard. It was more like eggnog. It never set up and thickened but one of my friends father gamefully drank a portion down. It really was pretty tasty.

                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                          1. re: Candy

                                                                            Candy, I think you and I were sisters in another lifetime. My mother didn't want to teach in the kitchen. She worked full time and I guess when it came time to getting the dinner she wanted no interuptions and free reigne of the kitchen. I use to get up on the weekends with my dad and he'd teach me how to fix eggs and bacon. We would also make a mean American Chop Suey, only availabIe in New England from what I read on the boards. I love and miss both of them each and every day.

                                                                          2. My first cooked meal was for a Girl Scout(or maybe a Brownie Scout badge). I cooked sloppy joes, served on hamburger buns with potato chips and tossed salad. It was great.

                                                                            1. At 9, I "cooked" a dinner of Franco American spaghetti and Vienna franks. Not the epitome of culinary pleasures, but my family was amazingly polite about it! I soon advanced to tuna noodle casserole, made with Campbell's cream of chicken or mushroom. I think my cooking efforts too were associated with getting a merit reward, for Campfire Girls, in my case.

                                                                              1. Turkey Tetrazzini for the girls who lived next door in college...the sauce was a grainy starch bomb.

                                                                                1. Not sure if this counts as "cooking" but I'll share anyway. When I was little, my mom refused to purchase sweetened breakfast cereals. One morning I decided I must have Honey Nut Cheerios (after having had them at a friend's house). I put a drop of honey and a chopped pecan morsel on individual plain Cheerios one by one until I had bowl full of them. Yummy!

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Lisellini

                                                                                    Amazing. Did you grow up to have a career in some kind of meticulous-bordering-on-compulsive capacity?

                                                                                    1. re: Lisellini

                                                                                      I wasn't allowed to have sugared cereals either! However, I used to go to my dad's work after school and he had Frosted Flakes for me there! Mom still doesn't know!

                                                                                      1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                        I wasn't allowed to have sugared cereal either. When I went away to college, I joyfully started eating sugared cereal every morning. After about a week, I couldn't stand another bowl and went back to Raisin Bran. Apparently I missed the window to develop the taste for such things.

                                                                                    2. When I was 11 I went to an all-girls Catholic school in London, where we got a great education in both science, math, history, literature and the languages...but we also had mandatory classes in the more "traditionally" girl-ish/ladylike pursuits like cookery, needlework and drawing. For my first cookery class I was given a list of ingredients to buy to make real English scones, not like the scones you find in the US which are more like bannocks, but real English ones with a tender crumb and big, fat sultanas. They came out beautifully. My mother and grandmother were both shocked as I'd never shown any proficiency (or interest) in the kitchen.

                                                                                      1 Reply
                                                                                      1. re: ballulah

                                                                                        I also went to an all-girls boarding school outside of London and got the same education together with art/drawing and needlework however the cookery part was skipped. The first dish I ever made was went I went to live in Paris at 18 and decided to make lamb stew but stored the meat in the 'outside' cooler in the kitchen; it was a cupboard with a wire wall to the outside to let the air cool the perishables. However, it must have been too hot during the day and the meat was spoiled before I could cook it.

                                                                                      2. My sister and I used to attempt to make fudge when our parents went out and left us on our own (I guess we were about 11 and 14). We hid it before they returned, and now can't remember why exactly. We both think it was probably because they were sort of health food types (black bread for school lunches, etc.)

                                                                                        The truth is that we only got it right once. The rest of the experiments were gummy and never set up. How were we to know that fudge is quite difficult to master?

                                                                                        My sister once found an old pan of the stuff in a drawer...it had dried out to almost a powder.

                                                                                        We were NEVER found out. We used to listen to scary radio shows and drive ourselves nuts about shadowy figures outside the window...our house was filled with huge windows (modern 50's type).

                                                                                        1. The first meal I cooked was scrambled eggs for my mom. I was 7 or 8, and couldn't see over the stove, so I'd stand on a dining room chair. Little did I know my mom wasn't big on eggs, but she was relieved I didn't burn the house down.

                                                                                          The meal that made me teach myself to cook (beyond scrambled eggs) and spawned my new life as a CH was spaghetti alio e olio. I was 19, it was lent, and for my very proud Calabrian boyfriend Joey was hungry. I didn't know to salt the pasta water. He told his mother. She laughed at me. I was mortified, but promptly went out and bought a box of kosher salt, and dumped Joey for being a mamma's boy!

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                                                                                          1. re: MaspethMaven

                                                                                            That's funny! Congrats for not playing his game!

                                                                                          2. It was either: popcorn, rice krispie and marshmallows, or just adding oil to Jeno's frozen pizzas to make them a bit less like cardboard. All this would have been around 6-7th grade I think.

                                                                                            1. At kindergarten age I was invited to stir the Jello powder into a pyrex bowl of hot water. And to keep stirring. And stir some more... to "Develop the Flavor." Serious business, getting Jello just right. To this day, "Develop the Flavor" is one of my favorite phrases to toss about in the kitchen.

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                                                                                              1. re: atheorist

                                                                                                That is so cute! I remember my mom taught me how to make Jello at around 8; cut up pieces of fruit went in - now that's fine cooking!

                                                                                              2. I never had the opportunity to cook much when I lived at home. My mom is a great cook. But when she and dad went out to eat, she often left us siblings with a box of Hamburger Helper, and we actually thought we were cooking! It was great.

                                                                                                When I was in college, I first attempted a white sauce. It was a smashing success. I have no recollection what it was I creamed that first time, but man - for a few weeks, I creamed everything: peas, chipped beef, mixed veggies, chicken, you name it. My poor husband! He had to endure dish upon dish of creamed something or another. Fortunately, I built upon my first success and have loved cooking ever since!

                                                                                                1. When I was 5, I decided I wanted to cook things for hours at the stove, just like mom did when she got home from work. So on various weekend days my mom would put me in an apron, push the step stool up to the stove, and let me go at it. I wasn't allowed to cut anything difficult, but I was allowed to open cans, rummage through the fridge, and dump items mercilessly into a pot set over a low flame -- with her watching from the corner, working on whatever she was working on. I didn't know there were things like recipes, I just made things up as I went along.

                                                                                                  The absolutely atrocious concoction I best remember from that time was something I think I dubbed Milk Lettuce soup. Yes, it was as bad as it sounds, and I do believe I put some OJ in there too, as well as any other poor helpless food items that looked interesting.

                                                                                                  My mom was so sweet and actually tried it.

                                                                                                  I got better after that, and eventually graduated to making things that were sort of edible. By 10, my specialty was a pucker-worthy take on lemon chicken. ;)

                                                                                                  1. Meringues, because they were the cookie with the shortest ingredient list. And I still love meringues.

                                                                                                    1. This has got to be one of the sweetest threads I've ever read on CH.

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                                                                                                      1. re: Elizzie

                                                                                                        I agree, it is very nice reading.

                                                                                                      2. Chicken au poivre. A disaster of epic proportions! I hastenly read the recipe and mistook the phrase "add a tbsp of butter to a non-stick pan" for "add a stick of butter to a pan." Instead of seasoning the chicken cutlets with ground pepper, I pounded the whole peppercorns into chicken using a meat tenderizer. Not sure how I thought that would turn out well. The end result was an unbelievably buttery, salty sauce with peppercorn studded chicken. I still remember watching as my parents tried to choke it down, while picking peppercorns out of their teeth. It's a wonder they let me back in the kitchen after that. I was 12.

                                                                                                        1. I was 13 a next door neighbor, who was an excellent Norwegian cook, taught me how to make a simple cake. The recipe used a Duncan Hines mix, instant lemon pudding, 1/2 cup of veg oil, and extra eggs. I went home and tried it and I was utterly amazed that it tasted so good.

                                                                                                          1. Age 5....a mini cherry pie. Using the leftover dough from a pie my mother was making. Used a Swanson's Turkey potpie tin for the container. Second dish...chocolate fudge we made in class in Second grade. Still have the recipe.

                                                                                                            1. I did a lot of cooking, but the one my parents will never let me forget if fruit salad with my "secret ingredients": cinnamon and water. To make it juicy. Hey, I was 6!

                                                                                                              1. My great grandmother raised me in California the early 50s. She was one of the Southern women who made two or three pies or cakes from SCRATCH per week. She made biscuits, cobblers, chicken and dumplings all with no help from mixes which did not exist.

                                                                                                                So I began cooking early. Besides the early early experiences of making pancakes, cinnamon toast, cheese toast and the like ... I made Swiss Steak with her standing over me. I loved to cook.

                                                                                                                But when I got into junior high and high school Julia Child was changing the course of American Cooking. I remember the first Julia Child recipe I made in high school was the Lamb Printanier ... Spring Lamb stew. I even used fresh shelled peas in the dish.

                                                                                                                1. Grilled cheese sandwiches made with Kraft slices and white bread

                                                                                                                  My eyeballs were glued to the toaster oven window like it was TV, but better. I must have been five or six years old.

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                                                                                                                  1. re: vicki_vale

                                                                                                                    I reached the height of elegance with the toaster over soon thereafter, helping my mother make pigs-in-a-blanket for a dinner party of grown-ups.

                                                                                                                    They were canned cocktail weenies rolled up in Pillsbury crescent dough.

                                                                                                                  2. Pancakes for my father. I was probably six or seven. Mother cautioned me about overmixing. My father said nothing as his fork cut into pockets of dry flour. Guess the Log Cabin syrup overcame that!

                                                                                                                    1. The first thing I made all by myself from a recipe (once I got beyond cinnamon toast, eggs, grilled cheese, and the like) was Magic Cookie Bars for a family party. I still love them.


                                                                                                                      1. I was about 10 or 11. I was home sick from school. I was watching Graham Kerr (this was the original series in the late 60's?). He made a broiled pork steak. I went to the fridge, and we had everything needed to make it. I made it for lunch, and I couldn't believe how fast and easy it was. I ate the whole thing!

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                                                                                                                        1. re: personalcheffie

                                                                                                                          Yes, I credit Graham Kerr for my beginning interest in cooking. I have his original cookbook now, bought it years later. He was funny and foreign, I used to watch that show at lunch time in 3rd grade (if I'm remembering things correctly, maybe it was after school).

                                                                                                                        2. yes - it was awful! Spinach balls (spinach, bread crumbs, egg) my 6th grade home ec class made. We had dozens in the fridge (for months!) and my poor parents humored me by eating them once in a while!

                                                                                                                          1. Amazing how some people started so young. Besides cimmamon toast at 7 or 8 and Rice Krispy treats at 11, my first real dish was spaghetti around age 14. I remember telling my Mom I thought Ragu out of the bottle tasted really bad. She use to make her own sauce w/ recipe from an Italian neighbor but I imagine 4 teenagers and a 9 y.o. kid stopped that.

                                                                                                                            Any way, Mom tore me a new one and told me if I didn't like it I should make dinner. Being a smartass, I did. Somehow I figured out if I fried onions in the beef and sausage drippings and then added the sauce to that, it would taste better. Sure enough it did. My mom admitted it tasted better then ragu and asked what I did. When I told her she asked, "are you trying to give us a heart attack?" After that I was in charge of spaghetti whether I liked it or not.

                                                                                                                            1. My mom taught me how to make japanese curry (S&B brand) when i was about 9 years old. I still make it the same way to this day and it tastes just as good! :o) There's some weird korean saying that my mom told me was the reason why mine tasted so good - because i put my boogers in it! weird. i swear my hands never go in my nose when i'm cooking! :o)

                                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                                              1. re: soypower

                                                                                                                                eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeoooooooooooooooooooo! Gross!

                                                                                                                                1. re: ChiliDude

                                                                                                                                  It's just another form of protein. :)

                                                                                                                              2. Meatloaf. I was six, and was assigned by my parents to help my mother's aunt, who was housekeeper at the rectory for our parish. She bundled me into an apron and showed me how to use a knife on the onion, mix the three kinds of ground meat thoroughly but gently, form the loaf and monitor the cooking. I remember experiencing profound relief, because my mother was a canned soup and Jello kind of cook, and I knew there was something better out there.

                                                                                                                                1. Beef stew - my mom helped me make it for some Cub Scout project.

                                                                                                                                  1. I'm sure it wasn't the first, but it's the one that stands out in my mind and I still make it sometimes when I need comfort food... it was a beef stew recipe from the Muppet Babies out of a magazine- it might have been called Gonzo's Beef Stew or something like that! (Now if that doesn't tell you my age, I don't know what will! ;-)

                                                                                                                                    1. We had a couple of kids' cookbooks out of which I remember making Space Food Balls (PB, honey, crushed graham crackers, powdered milk, rolled into balls), Banana Milkshakes, and a sugar cookie on which you could PAINT with PAINTBRUSHES (food coloring and egg, I think). I never made dinner as a kid, I felt way more comfortable with the oven than with the stove top, mom taught us how to proof yeast and knead bread by 2nd or 3rd grade. Us kids were in charge of Sunday night dinners, though, melting cheese onto corn chips in the microwave for chips 'n' salsa, cutting up apples and making popcorn. We also often made the pancakes for Saturday night dinner.

                                                                                                                                      My brother used to try to make up coffee cake recipes out of his head. Unfortunately he would "bake" them in the microwave, turning them into a rubbery, gummy mess.

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                                                                                                                                      1. re: JGrey

                                                                                                                                        I made those paintbrush cookies too. My parents only had whole wheat flour, so the effect was somewhat muted.

                                                                                                                                      2. I was about 8 years old when my mother first said to me,
                                                                                                                                        “Go wash your hands, we’re going to make Meatballs."
                                                                                                                                        Making Meatballs with my hands is one of the first memories I
                                                                                                                                        have about cooking. And I've been doing it ever since.
                                                                                                                                        NEAPOLITAN MEATBALLS
                                                                                                                                        Polpette alla Napoletana

                                                                                                                                        1/2-cup milk
                                                                                                                                        2 cups dried bread, crust removed and cubed
                                                                                                                                        2-Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
                                                                                                                                        1 pound, ground beef, 85% lean
                                                                                                                                        2/3 pound, ground pork
                                                                                                                                        2 - 3 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
                                                                                                                                        3 eggs, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water
                                                                                                                                        1-teaspoon sea salt
                                                                                                                                        1/3 cup Asiago cheese, grated
                                                                                                                                        1/3 cup Romano cheese, grated
                                                                                                                                        2 teaspoons dried basil
                                                                                                                                        2 teaspoons dried parsley
                                                                                                                                        1 teaspoon dried oregano
                                                                                                                                        2-teaspoons crushed red chile peppers, or more to taste

                                                                                                                                        - Pour the milk over the cubed bread while you gather the remaining ingredients.
                                                                                                                                        - Get the frying pan ready by putting the olive oil in the bottom, heat to medium.
                                                                                                                                        - Pulverize the bread mixture with your hands, draining any remaining milk; discard the milk.
                                                                                                                                        - Place remainder of ingredients, including the bread, in a large mixing bowl.
                                                                                                                                        - Mix all of the ingredients evenly with your hands until the mixture is extremely well blended.
                                                                                                                                        - Form the meatballs, I prefer them to be about two inches in diameter (make them larger if you like).
                                                                                                                                        - Place the meatballs in the pan with the heated olive leaving enough room to turn each one without breaking them apart. Cook slowly on medium low heat.
                                                                                                                                        - Carefully turn the meatballs cooking the outside thoroughly, leaving the inside slightly rare.
                                                                                                                                        - Remove the cooked meatballs to a covered bowl, keeping them warm while making your tomato sauce.

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                                                                                                                                        1. re: Regina Cowles

                                                                                                                                          I'm glad this thread was resurrected -- I missed it the first time around!

                                                                                                                                          Rolling the meatballs was my job from about age 7 until I left home for college. The first thing I ever cooked entirely on my own was cake from a mix, followed by cookies, brownies, and muffins from a mix. I was surprised to find out how easy those were, and even more surprised when I found that making them from scratch wasn't much harder. By high school I would go grocery shopping and make elaborate dinners, chosen out of cookbooks, with menus that I would print up and leave by each place setting.

                                                                                                                                          I can't wait until my (15-month old) son is old enough to learn how to cook!

                                                                                                                                        2. When I was really young, my Mom would let me make cin. toast or chocolate sprinkles on toast for a real treat. After my dad died and my Mom had to take on boarders, she would have to cook a full meal after coming home from a reg. job to feed them. When I reached 10, she started to let me do the real cooking-until then I was just the prep person. The very first meal I cooked was pork chops, baked potatoes and fresh green beans. In those days you cooked pork to death and I did as I was taught. I remember being so proud of that meal and thought it was wonderful-everyone ate it, so I guess it was passable. I'm sure if I had that meal today, I wouldn't think much of it.
                                                                                                                                          These days, when my Mom comes to visit, she always tells me what a great cook I've become and how wonderful it is to share a meal with us. Food really does bring us all together.

                                                                                                                                          1. My parents worked a lot, so when I hit fourth grade I was in charge of feeding my younger sister during the day, after school. My specialty was hot dogs, broiled and sliced in macaroni and cheese. We loved it.

                                                                                                                                            I have come very far, as I am now 26 and graduating from cooking school...

                                                                                                                                            1. 8 years old, "pour-a-quiche", made special for mom who was working and going to school (single mom). She went to take it out of the oven (beautifully golden brown) and dropped it on the floor! We had pizza :( But it sure hasn't discouraged me! I've had a few flops over the years since then, but love cooking more than just about anything, even now when I can't eat half of what I cook! :)

                                                                                                                                              1. Jello Instant Pudding -- "So easy any kid can make dessert." I think I was 8 or 9.

                                                                                                                                                1. Ah, hot dogs sliced in mac & cheese - what a great comfort food that brings back memories!

                                                                                                                                                  My first REAL meal that I tried to cook was when I was dating my husband and was 18 - he received a turkey from where he was working. My mother told me what to do, I did it, and when the turkey came out (I didn't use a thermometer - told Mom the weight of the turkey and she told me for how long) I cut into it and it was pretty raw....my husband's friend started cracking jokes and I started to cry. My husband found out a few days later upon having the oven looked at that it was off by 50 degrees!

                                                                                                                                                  1. Sunday night was my night to make scones. Made the old fashioned way by making a “well” with the flour on the kitchen counter. I think I was about 9 years old. Oddly enough my parents never put any restrictions on us regarding kitchen use when they went out for the evening. My mother was a very accomplished baker but it still amazes me that we got all of the warnings of not answering the door, etc but were allowed to do ANYTHING in the kitchen we wanted. My brother, sister and I made crepes, candy, whatever we wanted. Wonderful memories

                                                                                                                                                    1. I imagine I must have made a bologna sandwich earlier, but the first thing I actually cooked was zabaglione, in a restaurant kitchen, when I was maybe 8 years old. We had a favorite Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh - Napolitano's, right near Forbes Field. When we dined there, which was a couple of times a month, the owner/chef, Alex, would tell my parents what he thought we'd like for dinner and they'd just tell him to go ahead, so we never really knew what we were going to have. Dessert, though, was the one course that I got to choose for myself and Alex's hot zabaglione was the best thing I'd ever tasted. One evening I asked him what it was made of and how he did it, so he took my hand and led me into the kitchen. He poured some water into a sauce pan and rested another, smaller one, on top of it, and put them on a burner. Then he cracked an egg into his hand and let the white drip between his fingers into a bowl and dropped the yolk into the top saucepan. "Now you," he said, and I did the same with a few more eggs. Then he handed me a whisk and showed me how to use it. I whisked the egg yolks over the hot water while he added sugar and Marsala wine (using one of the empty egg shells as a jigger). The volume slowly increased and finally, there it was - that ephemeral cloud of zabaglione that I loved so much. So I have to thank Alex Napolitano for opening the kitchen doors to me.

                                                                                                                                                      1. That is such a wonderful story! Mine are not so heartwarming...

                                                                                                                                                        When I was 6 or 7, I invented a concoction I called “Martian Sandwiches.” These consisted of white bread spread with butter, then with peanut butter, then sprinkled with dry Shaklee vanilla and chocolate milkshake mixes and folded in half. Tasty!

                                                                                                                                                        When I was 13, I made crème brulees for a party in my French class. They were roundly rejected because no one knew what freaking crème brulee was, and the teacher didn’t even bother to explain.

                                                                                                                                                        In high school, I used to make Rice Krispies Treats and polish off the entire batch in the two hours before my mom got home from work.

                                                                                                                                                        I seriously began cooking in college when I got an off-campus house with an actual (not freakish dorm) kitchen. I recall making a lot of pastas (the fave was black olives with feta and sliced cherry tomatoes) and one disastrous broiled swordfish that caught the oven on fire. My cooking repertoire has come a long way since.

                                                                                                                                                        1. Ugh, yes. I was four years old and made "scrambled eggs" in a plastic yellow margarine container. I can smell it to this day, and vividly remember how pretty it looked melting all over the stove. (gulp)

                                                                                                                                                          I then graduated to some pretty darned awful dry scrambled eggs when I was 7.

                                                                                                                                                          Now that we have a theme... I'm proud to say my perseverance paid off, I make awesome, fluffy but moist eggs these days. (Though my secret trick is to use - gasp! - a slice of american cheese torn into pieces in said eggs. Perhaps I'm closer to coming full circle than I'd like to admit!)

                                                                                                                                                          1. Really unsatisfying 'cakes' and 'cookies' in my EZ Bake Oven! Must have been five or six? I remember using it in my bedroom!

                                                                                                                                                            1. I was four-going-on-five, and my mother was too sick to stand up. So, as directed by Mom's feeble voice from the living room sofa, I made baked pork chops, baked potatoes, and stewed tomatoes (heated up a can, which my mother must have opened for me). I remember being too short to see into the pan of tomatoes as I stirred them.

                                                                                                                                                              I was so proud! And I've been cooking up a storm ever since.

                                                                                                                                                              Now that I'm a grown-up, I'm amazed that my mom let me near the stove at that age. But I was a very self-sufficient child.


                                                                                                                                                              1. Age 7 or 8, asked my Mom to let me make my favorite family meal - Taco Night. She smiled and agreed so I grabbed the Old El Paso Taco Dinner Kit and went to work.

                                                                                                                                                                I recall browning the ground chuck over a higher than recommended heat (because it would take less time, duh) and then worrying about how to navigate carrying the wicked hot frying pan to the sink and successfully pouring the meat into a rather-smaller-than-the-pan strainer to degrease. Easy choice. I skipped this step. I did, however, manage to preheat the shells inverted over oven racks at the "warm" temperature. This was key to my adding a little bit of shredded cheese to melt in the bottom of the warmed shells before spooning in the meat. An extra touch I was convinced that I had invented.

                                                                                                                                                                Grated a very wobbly and rudely breakable whole block of cheddar cheese and the tips of several fingers and knuckles from my right hand. Thankfully Mom took care of the tomato/onion dicing and lettuce shredding (excusing it as helping me to concentrate on cooking, not just prepping).

                                                                                                                                                                Served each person two meat filled (secret-bottom-cheesed) taco shells, precariously balanced on a plate over a slowly expanding pool of magic orange grease and let them adorn as they wished.

                                                                                                                                                                Other than the expected "wows" and "I'm proud of yous" that a first time child cook would expect from supportive parents, I knew I had hit a home run when my Dad ended up eating SEVEN rather than his usual three. Drain the grease my eye Mom!

                                                                                                                                                                An aspiring home "chef" was born that night.

                                                                                                                                                                1. I was 7 and it was the late 60s and vividly remember my mother getting the new Lutheran Church cookbook and she rattled off great German dishes and then she came to potato kugel. Sounded simple enough, so I decided I would make that to go with her Sauerbraten.

                                                                                                                                                                  With absolutely no help from my mother - at my request - I made the dish and it was slightly gray since it took me a good hour to peel and grate the potatoes - lesson learned.

                                                                                                                                                                  Fortunately it was edible and I still make it today though with a much better shade of potato. Lucky for me a great Jewish dish made it into a Midwestern Lutheran cookbook!

                                                                                                                                                                  1. Earliest cooking memory (age 2 or 3)is breaking and mixing eggs to be scrambled by parents; later, I made the tartar sauce for the fish sticks, figured out that I could make my own rice, and eventually moved on to salad dressings and meat balls (when we stayed at a vacation home with a cabinet full of spices that I applied liberally on various occasions). I also remember making breakfast for my parents and my Dad, with a strange look on his face, saying, "Well, you didn't forget the sugar in the scrambled eggs, did you?" and Mom agreeing that they were unusual (but they ate them; come to think of it, a sweet omelette is not unheard of).

                                                                                                                                                                    1. My first memory includes dragging a chair over to the stove top with my very first apron on..stirring the big pot of tomato sauce as my grandmother explained how to prepare it.

                                                                                                                                                                      Sundays with same grandmother learning how to bake chocolate chip cookies with walnuts. It was my job to crack the shells open.

                                                                                                                                                                      Friday nights learning how to roast a chicken with root vegetables.

                                                                                                                                                                      Cold winter afternoons learning all about soup and stock.

                                                                                                                                                                      Now...I teach my kids :)

                                                                                                                                                                      1. The first thing I cooked, some time in elementary school, was lasagna. Not good lasagna. It was from a Betty Crocker cookbook. With cottage cheese. And jarred sauce. And overloaded with dried oregano that was probably from the spice rack my parents received as a wedding present many years before.

                                                                                                                                                                        Just thinking about it makes the food snob in me shudder. hahaha

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                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: HoursInTheKitchen

                                                                                                                                                                          it wasn't a dish but when i was six my mother bought me one of those little ovens and i baked butter cookies. they were delicious! i also had this plastic bear who made ice cream. that was great too! i then moved on to pancakes. i still have my first cookbook from when i was six.

                                                                                                                                                                        2. When I was six or seven, we had a house full of visiting relatives and things were hectic but I decided I just had to have bread spread with butter and toasted in the oven. My grandparents lived with us at the time and that's how toast was done sometimes. Everyone was too busy to make it for me so I decided to do it myself. Only problem was it was a gas stove and the oven had to be lit with a match. I turned the oven on and kept trying to strike a match and was not that adept so it took a while. When I finally went to light it, there was a big explosion, noise, and I was blown back into the dining room. My eyebrows and tips of hair were burned white. That taught me to leave that oven alone. Now, I experiment with new recipes and use only the best ingredients, hate the clean up, tho.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. Well, I certainly remember the first meal I ever made. I was 13 and my mom was in the hospital. Dad asked me if I though I could cook dinner, and I confidently answered, "sure." I decided to make a comfort food dish that my mom's friend made a lot: meatballs browned in a cast iron skillet, potatoes, some veggies, and a tomato sauce. My older brother took me grocery shopping, but then when I was "standing facing the stove," I realized that I didn't really have a clue how to proceed. Called up mom's friend, and she spent 2 HOURS on the phone, walking me through each step. Thanks for conjuring a food memory that makes me smile hugely!

                                                                                                                                                                            1. Aged 8, on Sundays, after Church, I was allowed to "cook".

                                                                                                                                                                              This meant that Mum purchased a product called "One Pan Dinner", which was basically a box of noodles and a flavour sachet.

                                                                                                                                                                              She'd get me a whacking big chunk of frozen minced meat and allow me to "brown" in over the stove, then you add the sachet, some water and the noodles...

                                                                                                                                                                              I thought it was da shizz... and so did my family (remember my mother's legacy to cooking is her infamous Cat's Vomit stew, so the base line I was working on was preeeeeeeety low)

                                                                                                                                                                              My first actual cook from scratch, no flavour sachets was Welsh rarebit, from a kids cooking book. I was probably 1.

                                                                                                                                                                              My mother thought that I was a freak.. being able to cook something without using pre-fab packets of ingredients.

                                                                                                                                                                              I was the cook in the house from that day forward....

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                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: purple goddess

                                                                                                                                                                                umm...keyboard dyslexia.. that should read 11....

                                                                                                                                                                              2. When I was almost five years old I, I made a mix of marachino cherries and green olives and served them to my parents as an "appetizer". Even I remember thinking it was bad...

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                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: LizATL

                                                                                                                                                                                  I made a chili vegetable soup, it takes two family size cans of cambell vegetable
                                                                                                                                                                                  beef soup and a tub of johnstons chili con carne. I still make this today I am 65 yrs.
                                                                                                                                                                                  and I have three grown sons that just loves that soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. I am not certain, but it seems like one of the first things I cooked was spaghetti for my family. It was one of those nights when I was hungry and mom wasn't yet so I offered to cook dinner if it meant we could go ahead and eat already!
                                                                                                                                                                                  A slightly more interesting story of youth cooking occurred when my then toddler brother decided to put a piece of pizza in the toaster. All the smoke alarms went off and for a moment it looked like we were going to lose the house. It's amazing how simple devices can turn volatile when in use by children, haha.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: ArikaDawn

                                                                                                                                                                                    one of the legendary stories in our family was when my older sister probably in her teens at the time put a pizza in the oven before taking it out of the cardboard box! the directions neglected to mention that step! she'll never live that down, not to mention, her putting dill weed in spaghetti sauce as an adult! Whenever I rip her on her cooking she declares that, since she raised 4 kids to adulthood without anyone dying or getting very sick, she can't be that bad of a cook!

                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Aside from helping my mom make cookies, my first real cooking experience came around age 11 or so. I wanted to make dinner for the family. The recipe I chose, after carefully perusing several cookbooks was chicken fried hamburger (hamburger patties dredged in a cfs style batter and pan fried) with gravy, green beans, and baked potatoes. The meal turned out well but I had a lot of trouble understanding the issue of timing (so that everything was done at the same time).

                                                                                                                                                                                    For some reason, I didn't cook much after that though until I moved away to college and had my own kitchen. And, after a little help from my roommate, and remembering watching my mom as a child, plus lots of phone calls home, (I joked that when I first moved in to my apartment I could burn boiling water, and was toast deficient) I quickly taught myself to cook. I still call mom and use some of her old recipes (think very 1950s Betty Crocker all American) but have extended my repetoire and my friends consider me the best cook in the bunch.

                                                                                                                                                                                    1. What fun! It was the Sixties, I was 8 or 9, and I had a recipe for Sloppy Joes served on hamburger buns. Sog City. Sure have come a long way, baby. Very soon after that, a friend gave my mom the delightful Eating in Bed Cookbook (it *was* the Sixties), whereupon I learned to make Elizabeth Barrett's Brownies and Baked Potatoes with Dreams of Glory.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Now that I can whip up a batch of crepes or pancakes with my eyes closed, it's also amusing to recall a series of tearful Sunday brunches when I was 18 and living on my own, continually flubbing the pancakes.
                                                                                                                                                                                      Home Ec class was of no use whatsoever. I remember the year they had us make tea sandwiches. Ecch!

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                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Amanita

                                                                                                                                                                                        I remember learning how to make broiled grapefruit for breakfast in home ec in 7th gr.; never had heard of it before and not since! wierd! and then we made lemon merangue pie for Mother's Day but since I don't like merangue can't even spell it, I made one w/o... just crust and filling!

                                                                                                                                                                                      2. Age 11- boy scout camping trip in the dead of a Connecticut winter. Woefully underequipped- summer weight sleeping bag. "Use snow and ice for insulation? OK, I'll give it a try." Saturday lunch: foil pouch w/ little meatballs, potato chunks, onion, carrots, water. Called "camper's stew". Delicious, and the sun came out. I still have a scar on my hand from the mishap with the axe while building the fire. Maybe a few mental scars, too, 43 years later.

                                                                                                                                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Veggo

                                                                                                                                                                                          Thinking about this, I feel like I've always cooked. As a 4 & 5year old, I made great Easy Bake Oven cookies and cakes. The first real memory that sticks out in my mind is Chicken Parmigiana. When I was about 8, I decided my parents needed to reconcile and Chicken Parm. in a romantic setting would do the trick. I invited my mom to my dad's house for dinner and called grandma to act as the waitress. I set up the dining room to look like a restaurant, made menus on the computer and cooked a meal sure to set the mood. They didn't get back together, but I became a great cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: dream_of_giusti

                                                                                                                                                                                            Being thye eldest of the five, I learned how to cook out of self-defense, as Mom is not much of a cook. The first dish I can recall (*I was probably 10 or 11) is the standard tuna noodle casserole, with a twist. My gram had taught me how to make a white sauce, and she abhorred all canned products, save and except tomatoes in the winter. I made the white sauce base, sauteed mushrooms, celery, onions, etc. and essentially followed the standard recipe, with the addition of just a tad of curry power. I swear, Gram would add curry to anything she thought appropriate. Her thought was it would add "just a little color" to the sauce (gee, Gram, why not use tumeric?) Her little sprinkle in my hands probably wound up being closer to a teaspoon. My unexpecting family still ate it, and I still use curry powder to "just add a little color to the sauce". Thanks, Gram!

                                                                                                                                                                                        2. My first dinner in my first apartment was flank steak marinated in Kraft Italian and stuffed mushroom caps. I don't think we made anything else, but we invited people.

                                                                                                                                                                                          Unfortunately, I bought celery powder instead of celery salt, and didn't realize it until we took our first bite of the mushrooms. Uch. I've never been able to stomach celery-anything as a spice as a result.

                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I was folding empanadas and grinding sausages with my grandmother for as long as I can remember, but I think the first dish she taught me to make on my own from start to finish were scrambled eggs. If we're talking about the first dish I executed originally, it would have to be "Mexican rice," which I invented upon finding a bottle of sofrito in the fridge around age 10. Topped with plenty of shredded cheese and sour cream, it was a little kid's favorite feast.

                                                                                                                                                                                            1. My first failure happened on February 4th, 1946. World War II was recently ended, and my Navy dad was home for his birthday for the first time in nearly five years. He and mother celebrated their birthdays on the same day, so coming that soon after Christmas was a financial burden on a 12 year old kid. But I did a lot of baby sitting and was feeling quite proud of the tortoise shell Parker pen and pencil set I got my dad, and the bottle of straight-from-France Schiaparelli perfume I got for my mom. Both parents worked, so I decided to make them a birthday dinner as well. My dad's favorite menu was chicken fried steak, cottage fries, and succotash with a chopped salad.

                                                                                                                                                                                              I could do all that. But I could NOT bake a cake. And cake mixes weren't invented yet. But my dear old granny-mush had taught me how to make pie dough from scratch. I'd bake a birthday pie! But it had to be festive and worthy of two birthdays. What to put in it? I searched the house and the only thing I could find that was half way reasonable was a big can of peach halves. Okay. I'd heard of peach pie, just never seen or tasted one, but what could be so hard?

                                                                                                                                                                                              So I made pie dough, and died it pink so it would be festive. Did a fantastic job of crimping the edges. Then I poured the can of peaches in the pie shell, turned all of the peach halves domed side up, and topped it off with a gorgeous pink meringue! And got it in the oven to bake just as my parents got home. If we sat down to eat right away, the pie should be done right on cue!

                                                                                                                                                                                              Well, dinner went okay. Not great, but okay. My dad may have had a bad day, but whatever the reason, he wasn't showing the glowing appreciation I had anticipated all day. But Mom was, so that's alright. After dinner, I told them I had baked a birthday pie because I didn't know how to make a cake, but that it was beautiful and they were going to be soooooo amazed! LOL! When I got the pie out of the oven, the meringue was floating around in the hot peach syrup, the pie shell had turned to soggy pink dumplings, and I had baked total disaster all in one glass 10" pie platell! My father got sick from laughing. And I was totally crushed. My first (but not last) culinary disaster. <sigh>

                                                                                                                                                                                              Okay now, all together: "Awwwwwww... Poor BABY...!"

                                                                                                                                                                                              Thanks. I needed that. '-)

                                                                                                                                                                                              1. A pot roast w/ carrots, onions and potatoes when I was in 5th grade (10?). Mom taught and went to night school, I was expected to cook for the rest of the family. Dad worked 2 jobs too. She prepped me well, still loves my cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                  Earlier: Standing on a chair w/ my dad making western scrambled eggs for sandwiches on a Sunday evening.

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                                                                                                                    My three-year old loves to scramble his own eggs (with supervision, of course). He pulls up a stool in front of the stove. I crack the eggs into a bowl and he pours them into the pan, then stirs with a spatula, and gets out the plates when the eggs are almost ready. I think half the reason he likes having eggs for breakfast is that he gets to cook them himself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                2. i tried to make salsa with ketchup and carrots in the cuisinart. i wasn't allowed in the kitchen for a while after that!

                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. An omelet for my father in one of those (now considered antique) flip top omelet pans. Remember those?

                                                                                                                                                                                                    3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: shaebones

                                                                                                                                                                                                      I remember those! I'm really curious how your omlette turned out? My mother bought one, tried an omlette in it one time, then forever after used it as a double saucepan to cook two different veggies on the same burner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                                                                                                        I thought they came out TOO perfect. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. toasted bagel with tomato and cheese melted on top

                                                                                                                                                                                                      hamburger helper

                                                                                                                                                                                                      1st thing from scratch - onion soup

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: thew

                                                                                                                                                                                                        Craig Claiborne's pancake for my parent's anniversary breakfast. I must have been about 11 years old and I was absolutely floored at how it rose. And equally dismayed when it fell after coming out of the oven. It still remains my favorite breakfast and I need to make it again soon! Love this thread!

                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. I can't remember the very first thing, but it was probably out of the Betty Crocker cookbook for girls and boys. I think that's what it was called. And one thing I always made out of there was eggnog. My Dad liked it too, so I would make it and we would share it. Now I don't think I would like it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        And lots of the other things everyone has mentioned. Puddings. Brownies. Eventually I could make a banana cream pie. I loved it then and love it now.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                          I still have my copy of the Betty Crocker Cookbook for Kids (circa 1960?). I made the lettuce/cottage cheese salad with raisin eyes and a carrot sticke grin for my Dad...I don't recall he was knocked out by my effort with that, but he has feasted on my efforts many, many times since and teased me about that book!

                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: LJS

                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yes, I remember that one. I still have my copy of the book and will have to take a look at it again. I know I spent hours going over and over it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I had that book. I used to make the nilla wafers topped with a large marshmallow, baked and then dipped in chocolate. I think I tried the gingerbread house a couple of times, too. Good stuff.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: ccbweb

                                                                                                                                                                                                                I am going to look that up when I get my hands on it again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: karykat

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  OMG- i had that book too and i made that same recipe! i too had a very good dad who ate whatever we cooked no matter how bad it was!

                                                                                                                                                                                                        2. The very first thing I ever made on my own from scratch were English Popovers from The Nancy Drew Cookbook when I was nine. I have no idea why I picked popovers - I don't think I had ever had them before that. I ate them with jam instead of roast beef.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                                                                                                                                            I had that book as well, though I can't remember now what I cooked from it. I do remember coming up with a concoction called "Mellie's Meat Pie", which was sort of a meat filling with bisquick on top!

                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ms. clicquot

                                                                                                                                                                                                              I had that cookbook, too. I remember making soup from the Nancy Drew cookbook- it had peanut butter and celery salt, I think. None of the recipes were that appealing, as I remember them.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            2. I baked a cake from my 4th or 5th grade math textbook. One of those deals where they present the recipe, and then make up problems based on the numbers and fractions and whatever in the recipe; so I decided I'd find out whether it was a real recipe or just something they threw in there for pedagogical purposes. It was a cherry-flavored layer cake, with cherry frosting; my mother looked it over and said it might work, so I went ahead and made it. It was actually pretty good, and for some reason I was glad that the math book had used a 'real' recipe.

                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Years ago, I posted a post on the first dish I ever made -- it was the chicken tarragon recipe from Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. While I had cooked other stuff before then, like scrambled eggs and macaroni & cheese from the box, this was my first venture into "real" cooking:


                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Around 4 years old in nursery school, they let us make a carrot and raisin salad. We all shredded carrots and mixed it up with mayo. I remember that night coming home and making it for my family--I've been cooking for them ever since....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Recipe is really easy for kids: shred 4-5 carrots, mix about 1/2 cup mayo and add some raisins.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. I was 9 years old and made a homemade chocolate cake and frosting from the back of the Hershey's cocoa can. I dirtied up just about every dish in the kitchen! After that, I was hooked. :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. We made butter and granola in daycare, which was fun. But I remember taking a sick day in elementary school and having a grilled cheese craving and making one for myself. I think I burned it, but that's how I like them . . .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. It was "Fillet Steak Chinese Style" from the Women's Weekly cookbook. The folks went nuts for it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I had one of those "Healthy Kids' Cookbooks." One of my favorite things to make (but didn't want to eat) was Monster Toast - decorate bread and make scary faces using food coloring, then toast. There were also Egg Sailboats - deviled eggs with a little sail made from a toothpick and triangle of white paper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          I used to make eggs with my mom on Saturdays, and used to choke them down even though I hated eggs just because I enjoyed making them, especially beating them with the spiral egg beater. I also remember making Cornflake Chicken with mom.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          One of my first ventures on my own was to make up my own cookie recipe when I was at my pen pal's house around age 9. I called them Palmolives, IIRC named after the dishwashing soap. They were a maply sugary chewy cookie... I came home and insisted on making them for my mom and nanny, even though they didn't want them and wouldn't eat them due to their perpetual eternal diets.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I think the first dinner I cooked for the family was for a home ec project: marinated and grilled flank steak (we had a jen-air indoor grill), rice, frozen corn and salad with Celestial Seasonings packet dressing. It was passable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But this question also makes me think of the first time I really tried to "cook." My parents had split, my mom had gone back to work and I was about 14; mom had a catering business my whole childhood to that point and was quite the cook. She also had a large collection of cookbooks. I read through them for a week or so and decided I'd make a home made version of Lemon Chicken, one of our favorite dishes from the local Chinese restaurant (which was a half hour drive at the time) to surprise mom. I picked out a recipe and then applied the one thing I was sure I knew about cooking: "always add enough salt." One evening while she was still at work, I made the dish, adding plenty of salt....of course the dish included soy sauce. At the end it was so salty it was virtually inedible. I'd say inedible except that mom ate a full serving and applauded the effort. And I learned the most important part about cooking: it's what you put into it (in many senses). Oh yeah, and: "taste the blasted food while you go."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Thanks for a great question!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I was nine and a half. I was intrigued by the sound of crepes suzette. My mother insisted that if there was to be flame, she would be doing it. I've been cooking ever since!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I was about 8 or 9 one of my Mom's cookbooks had a kid recipe section and I made brownies on my own. i still remember I thought those were the best brownies.Been cooking ever since!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. At the age of 4, I watched Julia Child prepare a French omelet on a talk show on TV. 10 min later, I imitated her and after one false start, served the omelet my startled mother; presenting it to her as she stepped out of the shower. I have loved cooking ever since and still credit Julia for teaching me all of the basics.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. it was actually Kraft dinner...I was about 6 and lived on a street where all the kids met together on the street and played outside until the streetlights went on.."time for dinner!"
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I remember making Kraft dinner for some of the kids and my version was always the favorite and I was always made to make this again and again by my siblings for years!
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    I just added less milk to make it more cheesier, but I knew early on how to please a palette!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: burlgurl

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      My sister and I used to attempt to make fudge when our parents went out for the evening and left us alone (Our grandparents lived right up the hill in case of emergency). We must have been 12 and 9.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      We never succeeded once in our fudge-making attempts. They were always sort of gluey and never set up into fudge. Of course we had no candy thermometer. I don't think we even knew what one was, but we tried to master the "soft ball" stage stuff and never could.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Many times we thought the fudge would get harder if we let it sit for a few hours. Often our parents came home and we had to hide the fudge. I remember actually finding some in a pan in a dresser drawer several months later.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I don't know why we were afraid of our parents' finding out. Maybe it was just more thrilling to keep it a secret. We did come from a family that ate homemade and usually pretty healthy food, i.e., black bread, liver, etc. My fondest wish in elementary school was that a friend would trade my homemade meatloaf sandwich for her peanut butter and jelly on Wonder Bread. Never happened. Now I look back and see how dumb I was...my mother actually MADE her own bread and we dissed it, longing for bologna sandwiches or hot dogs. What a couple of idiots we were.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. My mother was a horrible cook and I started to cook when I was about 10, in self-defense. What I remember most clearly... my mother used to make crepes and stuff them with turkey or chicken and campbell's soup concoctions. They were not very good! One day when I was about 11, she said she would be home late, was having a couple of friends over, and I had to make the crepes. Using my grandmother's large, heavy cast-iron skillet (which I still have 40 yrs. later) I had to make about a dozen crepes. Swirling the batter around the cast-iron pan using two hands just about killed me. About 20 yrs. ago, I found out that when I was in high school working four nights a week, my mother and sister tended to frequent fast food places on the nights that I worked. LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Add me to the scrambled eggs as a kid, and as a teenager my mom and brother would often ask me to make pizza. (I made a mean pizza).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The best was when my mom was in the hospital when I was 19. I had been out of town and my poor father was worn to a frazzle. So, I came home and made him dinner. He came home to grilled steaks, shrimp salad (a family favorite) green beans and chocolate chip cookies for dessert. He was simply stunned that I could cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Meatloaf! I loved it since I was born and it is a comfort foot now, and it was the very first thing I wanted to make when I was a kid! Thanks for the memories. I am still wanting to make a creme caramel!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. When I was about ten years old, the eleven year old girl in the house in back of ours and I got permission from her mother to make the recipe for apple crisp from "The Betty Crocker Cookbook for Children," a cookbook which is still in print today, after all these years.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            It turned out wonderfully. It was delicious. Our parents raved and I was hooked on cooking.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I used to play "restaurant" for my family on Sunday nights, and take orders for "sandwiches" for supper.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              But by the time I was ten, I decided to make my first meal for my dad's birthday, Duck a L'orange, with wild rice pilaf, and Baked Alaska for dessert. Haven't turned back since!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Bless my mother's heart, it was a chocolate cake, from scratch, out of the Boston Cooking School Cookbook. I was a kid, but it involved several basic processes (breaking eggs, sifting flour, blending ingredients, etc.), was relatively foolproof, and resulted in something highly enjoyable.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I'm pretty sure my guests are still trying to forget it -- 30+ years later! A dreadful meat loaf, and the wonder of it is that I kept making it, since it was the only recipe I could follow then ... just awful, gaggingly awful!! We still laugh about it.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. i started cooking when i was about 10. We just moved to CA and my parents are always out working. At first, my dad cooked. it was awful, we think he did it on purpose to get out of it. Then it was me (i just happen to be). I started with simple things, like frying eggs and making fried rice, sesame noodles, sauteed veggies over a rather large and hot wok. it was fine but it felt like a chore as i was cooking almost everyday (i even quietly cried in the kitchen). except for occasion when my mom or grandma would show me how to make more advanced dishes, pork belly, braised ox tails, eels, dumplings, wontons, beef tendons, jellyfish, steamed whole fish, scallion cakes etc. that kept me going.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    we were not very well off, therefore my parents does not buy packaged baked goods. coincidentally, i am born with a sweet tooth and obsessive curiosity. I fell in love with the oven, a old sears brand that sits lopsided for all 7 year we've lived there. everything was lopsided and leaked on one side. and that old 5 lb cleaver, that's all i had..

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    on day, my father got free subscriptions of food and wine, i made almost everything in the 1st issue.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    it had zuni burgers with focaccia (made the bread too) - this is the best time i've had cooking and feeding my family.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    julia child's sandwich bread (very special article)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    cherry almond crostata (that i still make, my 1st short crust)
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    butterflied chicken roasted in the oven under a sheet pan and a brick.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    french fries
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    milk shakes with real ice cream

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    i wish i have that magazine. i was very special to me... don't even know the issue number =(

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    after that, it was history, i've gotten baking pans every year for Christmas and hubby is one happy man.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: jeniyo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I looked on the Food and Wine website but did not see how to order back issues. However, if you send an e-mail request to them describing what was in the issue, you may be able to get a copy of it. http://www.foodandwine.com/

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I know how you feel - it was the August 1996 issue of Bon Appetit that changed everything for me. I picked it up on a whim because I needed something to read on a long bus ride. It was my first food magazine and I was hooked. Last year I did a huge magazine purge but saved that issue. Even flipping through it today I can still remember that sense of wonder and excitement that a whole new world had opened up to me.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: jeniyo

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am a part of a running group that Ms. Jeniyo and hubby Jon are a part of.....Jeni I am so glad that you picked up that magazine. I have been the grateful recepient of some of the best meals and cakes that I have ever eaten thanks to our darling Jeni. She is so gifted in the klitchen.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I am sorry that you cried in the kitchen....I am so glad that you didn't give up. We all love you Jeniyo, Dani

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      2. As big of a foodie as I am, I did not get into cooking until I lived on my own as I had tons of good cooks around me in my childhood.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The first think I ever heated up was toast around 4 or 5 years old. Later I progressed to buttery rice with hotdogs, as well as frozen waffles and pizza in the oven.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In my teens, I was trusted to fry frozen chicken strips; recollecting, I believe I always ate my own prepared foods. LOL

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Honestly, the first real meal I ever cooked was Thanksgiving dinner in 2005. This was the first time I ever cooked a turkey, made a pie, cooked baby back ribs, made macaroni and cheese, and it was my best meal to date. I was so proud of myself because other people ate it and liked it (LOL). Everything came out good...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I cannot remember exactly how old I was, maybe 6 or 7. My grandparents lived with us in Arlington, Va and there were relatives visiting from Texas, I believe. I REALLY wanted bread (smeared with butter) toasted in the oven -- they made it this way at times. Everyone was too busy to listen to my pleas so I decided to do it myself.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          It was hard to light the oven; you had to strike a wooden match and turn on the pilot light. I kept trying and failing and I guess the gas was turned on too long. There was sudden explosion and I was blown back into the dining room. My eyebrows got burned white; smell of burning hair. It's a wonder I ever went near the kitchen again; I know I never tried to make toast in the oven again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Which came first, Chef Boyardee pizza (from the box) or Rice Krispie treats? Toll House cookies (package recipe) soon followed.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            First "adult" culinary foray: French onion soup.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. When I was in high school, I started borrowing cookbooks from the library and writing down my favorite recipes. The first thing I remember cooking by myself was Orange Chicken, followed by Lemon Chicken and Honey Chicken (it was a chicken cookbook). I didn't have to wash dishes on the nights I made dinner, and I quickly discovered that I much preferred cooking to cleaning up!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. baked bone-in chicken breasts( marinated in bottled italian dressing). packaged yellow rice and frozen french cut green beans. I cooked this when I was 18 for a guy who I was interested in. We never ended up together( we both turned out to be gay), but we're still best friends 25yrs later.!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. Deviled eggs at 8. I loved them, and wanted to make them, so I could eat them all!!!!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. i remember imitating my mother's vegetable soup, added beef and my roommates christened it dynamite stew. use any vegetable mix available, some stew meat or roast, sprinkle of italian seasoning and chicken or beef bouillon cubes, simmer to donenness and voila!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. not perfectly, but i remember that it was from edward espe brown's "Tomato Blessings and Radish Teachings" and involved carrots and ginger. and perhaps red onion? i don't remember the recipe; maybe there was spinach in there, too. anyway, it was delicious and I felt tremendously pleased and actually in awe that I'd made anything at all. I was maybe 15, rather a late start, but I guess I haven't looked back since then :) .

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. wonderful account...and loVELOVELOVE MFK and that story...
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My first attempt was a teenager...I saw a recipe for fortune cookies in Sunset magazine
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        and decided make them....I'd never cooked before and I was surprised they did not "turn-out", they looked like little pancakes...and it did not occur to me to adjust anything to make them do so;...My next inspiration was a recipe for plum ketch-up from Glamour magazine and it was successful! Previously shared:I'm glad to see this recommended...The were wonderful gourmets....
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        thanks! In return, I'll recommend JANE GRIGSONS "GOOD THINGS"... Its a wonderful book with lovely essays and sometimes almost a memoir with recipes and of course, her beautiful writing and research really flesh out your appreciation...it is unique and has great recipes...I love love love the description of the french people out after a rain with their pierced tin pails to carry to snails home in and then the process of purifying the penned up snails...esoteric and uncommon now... a recipe for "Boudoir Biscuits"...what a charming name, conjuring up ruffles of delicate, perfumed associations...I COULD go on and on...every page is a treasure...WHICH LEADS TO LAURIE COLWIN...laurie repeats a recipe JANE also supplies for a very, very unique beef dish that is sumptous and quite UNCOMMON...LAURIE wrote wonderful rood essays for Gourmet magazine and published 2 cookbooks before her untimely death (car accident0, They are personal and interesting as a Jane Austen novel...it to is almost a memoir with recipes...Diana Kennedy, an English lass who later settled in Mexico and wrote best-selling cookbooks still current on the bookshelves has a fascinating memoir with recipes---"Nothing Fancy" , a tour de force of beloved recipes from her english childhood to the current day.... I COULD go on.....

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Cinnamon toast. I was 5 or 6.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: szeglin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Yeah, I am gonna show my 5 year old grand daughter how to cook french toast when she comes up next weekend.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            She helped me bread pork chops last time. She even got to break the eggs. The 1st one didn't work so well but the second was fine.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          2. french onion soup out of my mother's Cosmopolitan magazine! it was one of those recipes designed to feed your man after a tete-a-tete. i am so not a Cosmo girl - but that soup was wonderful!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. I was about 6, i think, and I made 'pies' with blueberries and, for crust, white bread pressed flat into poached egg tins. I made them outside, crouched on the sidewalk.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I grew up cooking with my mom, so don't really remember the first thing I made, but I do remember the first big cooking challenge. I was about middle school age, and had always heard how tricky it was to make a pie crust. I was determined to learn how to make a flaky crust, so every Saturday morning I made a different pie. It was a challenge getting it right, particularly in an unairconditioned house in a humid part of the country. I don't make pies frequently anymore, but since then have known I can turn out a good crust when needed. More importantly, it taught me about trial and error in the kitchen, and has made me less afraid to tackle harder recipes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. I suppose I was 10 or 11, when Daddy and I decided we'd make Mama some Valentine's Day cookies. Pink hearts, with red food coloring. We didn't have any baking powder, so thought we would use baking soda instead! We wound up with mushy pink blobs!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  I wish I could find the recipe for the individual meat loaves we made in muffin tins in eighth grade home ec. Best meat loaf ever.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: zorra

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    If you went back to your junior high you could probably get the recipe. I bet they're still making it the same way! When I was in home ec, they made me make macaroni salad. I had never had it, so I had no idea where the recipe was going.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. Scrambled eggs when I was five. Like others I had to stand on a chair in front of the stove to see into the pan. My mom went back to work full time when I was six and my siblings and I mastered all the various flavors of Rice R Roni and Betty Crocker.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. I remember, because there's a picture of me proudly holding it! It was a composed salad, with a jarred peach half on a bed of lettuce with a scoop of cottage cheese on the side, and raisins artfully scattered here and there. I was very proud!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. What a great thread.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My own addition: first was probably scrambled eggs -- rubbery and dry, around 5 or 6. The first one I remember thinking about though was "talcum powder cake". Probably around 8. My mum was running a restaurant and a catering business and was always baking. I thought I'd like to find out how, too, and asked her what the basic ingredients were. She described, flour, water, eggs and sugar.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I asked, "flour? What's that? Is it like a flower?" to which she briefly but patiently explained that it was a "kind of powder." So I thought, "oh! Like the baby powder we have!" and grabbed the large talcum powder canister and a small spouted plastic jug we used to bathe with.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I added the "powder" to the water and ran to my mum and said, "now what?" and she, harried and rushing to fill an order, told me to stir it until it was a smooth consistency. I obliged, pestered again, "now what?" and received a curt but not unkind response to add sugar and eggs, but to not worry about it. After stirring for a while, I got bored and decided to throw it out. Good thing.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        My mother was never a patient woman, and often not very kind, but she never faulted or discouraged experimentation and learning -- to which I owe my continued love of food.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. hoping to bring this thread back to a little life as it brings up memories.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          my furthest memory and quite possibly what my first original thing i cooked was ramen noodles.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          i recall my mom walking me through the process of putting water on the stove to boil and breaking up the noodles before opening the package and then adding the package into the boiling water but i didn't realize there was a flavor pack inside and it went in too (mom fished that out) and then in 3 minutes she opened up the flavor pack (as it was still a bit warm) and mixing it in, yes all of it. when we were younger we always ate ramen with the whole pack without any thoughts of sodium but it was so good! i was probably 5 or 6.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. Aside from glop from my Easy Bake Oven or my brother's Creepy Critters kit, the first thing I ever cooked were meringues. Although they looked like little tan cow pats, they were quite tasty. I can't believe I started my cooking career with whipped egg whites, though. My best friend started more sensibly, with easy things like macaroni and stewed tomatoes...

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. Rice. In my first apartment, when I was 19. My mother talked me through it over the phone! Pretty sad, lol.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. I was a boy scout. I made bacon and eggs in a paper sack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Yeah, you can do it. Put two strips of bacon in a paper bag and hold it over the camp fire. The grease from the bacon melted and kept the bag from burning.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                When the bacon was about 3/4 cooked, I broke 2 eggs into the bag and continued to hold the bag over the fire.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Another 5-6 minutes the bacon and the eggs were done. I took it to a camp table, ripped open the bag and ate my breakfast and then I rolled up the bag and threw it away.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Our scout master taught it to us so there was probably 8-10 of us all learning how to cook bacon and eggs in a bag. It was magic!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: tonka11_99

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  That's cool! Is it just a regular brown paper bag? How long do you have to hold the bacon over the fire?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                2. I'm not sure it was my first because I used to help my mom in the kitchen since I was pretty young but because both parents worked. I sometimes had the responsibility to put supper on the table; one night I made the mashed potatoes first, put them in a bowl and on the table before anything else was ready; that was the night I learned how important timing and planning is!

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: betsydiver

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Getting everything ready at the right time is, hands down, the most difficult part of learning to cook.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  2. So weird to think about. I think it was from Mom's Betty Crocker cookbook, sugar cookies, but not sure if I just ate the batter before I baked them. I know that's what I did later on. The one think I'm sure of is eggnog, Dad taught me how to make it, and the neighborhood kids would come over and ask me to make a blenderful for us all. Must have been the copious vanilla extract that I added.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Video games destroyed my attention span early on so I never learned how to cook from my mom, who is a great cook. More's the pity.The very first thing I remember cooking was "corn and sausage soup" at age 8; a mix of creamed corn, chopped sausage link, and water boiled in the microwave. I pretended to enjoy the whole bowl because my brother was watching but even as a dumb kid I knew it was pretty gross.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The next step to real cooking was instant noodles cooked with various ingredients like bok choy, frozen meatballs, and sriracha. One time we ran out of sriracha so I used BBQ sauce... not the worst thing I've eaten.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Senior year of college was the first time I ever cooked anything good from a real recipe. Emeril's show inspired me to make a pot of chili, and taught me a lot of the basics like chopping onion, frying aromatics, the importance of browning and simmering, contrasting sweet and savory for depth of flavor, etc. Emeril seems to get a lot of flak nowadays, but he is almost singlehandedly responsible for sparking my interest in cooking so I will brook no criticism of the fat man!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I can remember making beanie weenies for my grandfather @ age 8. He carried on so much about how wonderful they were, that I was sure we should have them the next night for dinner again.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        I used to read cookbooks as a child and @ age 10-11, I made a red devilsfood cake complete with boiled icing. It was not as great as I had imagined.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. I remember when I was in junior high I made my parents invite over some of their Irish friends for a St. Patrick's day dinner. The local newspaper had printed recipes for a whole menu including corned beef and a potato leek soup. I made the whole thing myself and I think our guests were charmed at my culinary adventurousness. I hope the food was good, but for the life of me I can't remember.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I must have been *comfortable* in the kitchen at a much earlier age, because when I finally started cooking complete meals I knew where everything was and what all the equipment was for.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            But my first clear memory of cooking was at 13, when my mom said, "It's time you learned to cook. I want you to make dinner for the family once a week." I do remember most of the first menu: steak and Potatoes Anna, out of a big two-volume cookbook edited by Roy Andries de Groot. There must have been vegetables, but I don't remember what they were, 40-some years later. It was quite successful. A week or two later I served something with hollandaise sauce - from scratch, with mom at my elbow in case something went wrong (which didn't happen).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Within the next year or so, our family went to a little French-bistro style place where I had pepper steak for the first time. I was enchanted and resolved to make it at home. I didn't know enough then about cooking to realize that the sauce would turn out differently from the restaurant version: their sauce started with a roux, and the recipe my mother had was more au jus. I was surprised and disappointed by that fact alone.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Still it was good enough that my dad spontaneously invited a visiting friend to stay for dinner.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. What a fun post! I loved reading all the different entries.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The first thing I ever cooked was a recipe for Chicken Tetrazini in my mom's Best of Bridge cookbook. My best friend and I cooked it for two of our 14 year old "boyfriends" at a first ever dinner party :-)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              We thought it was going to be amazing but it turned out to be just okay.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The memory is better than the meal.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. Hooboy. Ok. I decided to try baking bread when I was 10, and my parents were totally behind me. Everything went well until I put the bread in the oven to let the pilot light do it's thing. About an hour later, I went to check the rise, and.....the things they don't tell you.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I'd put it in a plastic Tupperware bowl. I still can't begin to describe it. And to this day, I can't see a piece of t-word without shuddering.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                1. hmmm.. i believe eggs were my first...but my first MEAL meal...was pasta with peas. i made mini shells put them in a pan with some fried onions..that was of course after i drained them,then added a can of tomato sauce, all the seasonings....i think io even used ketchup for some reason..i was like 10 i believe! then after it was done i drowned it with peccorino cheese and ate up..it was sooo good! lol

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  1. Began with tearing up lettuce for salads.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    As with so many others, the first cooked dish was scrambled eggs.
                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Soon followed by French toast, and omelettes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Then my Mom taught me to make a white sauce, my stepmom taught me to make Alfredo, and I was off and running. Never looked back.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. My first truly memorable meal by my hand, the one that changed me, was a meat and sausage gumbo. I'd been reading a forum and one of the posters was *quite* passionate in his version of gumbo. He was neither from Cajun country nor of that heritage but I was very impressed by the attention to detail in his preparation. Something in his delivery convinced me to give it a shot.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      So I went out and bought the ingredients. First time purchases included file, crab boil, andouille sausage, and Crystal's hot sauce. I made the roux and was hypnotized by the slow dance of oil and flour. I was reassured by the poster's description of the look and smells that the roux would go through as it changed from light to dark. Eventually I judged it ready and added the holy trinity and instantly fell in love with a smell. When I die I will know if I am in heaven because somewhere it will smell like hot roux sauteing onions, carrots, and bell peppers.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      From there it was adding the water, a few herbs, the meat, and letting it all meld together. Oh, his version had seafood from the Gulf but I can't stand cooked seafood so I made do with chicken and pork and sausage. I made some rice and prepped grocery store French bread in an oven. When ready, I ladled a few spoonfuls over the rice, splashed on some Crystal's hot sauce, some extra file, then dug in.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I burned my mouth. Didn't care. Gumbo has never been that good since... I'm sure it will never be. I don't even bother ordering it at restaurants. This was an experience I could never duplicate or exceed. I'm stuck on Crystal's hot sauce too... for a while it was hard to get after Katrina but it seems to be showing up again.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      I'm sitting here in my kitchen filled with a decades worth of upgraded kitchen equipment and ingredients that reflect my economic rise. I've just finished baking a half-dozen varieties of tasty cookies, cooked some food for the week ahead, have beef cheeks thawing in the fridge, a half-dozen recipes I want to try written down on note cards are strewn around the dining table, and I have some mochi boiling away in ginger syrup. I made my gumbo on a decades old GE electric range, with crappy thin pots, dull knives, stale herbs, regular table salt. Cooking is far more than the sum of the parts. I wish everyone got to experience a truly great food moment.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. I was in 4-H and took both cooking and baking. For baking, it was a stuffed Swedish tea ring with cherries as the filling. It had a cream cheese frosting. It was braided and gorgeous. I think I got first place. I'd watched Mom make it over and over, so it was easy.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        For cooking, it was probably a meatloaf with a gajillion things thrown in and bacon and piquant sauce on top. Ironically, I started making more complicated things in baking first before I switched over to cooking. Kind of strange now that I think of it, because I really do not have a sweet tooth.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        1. Must have been 7th grade. Made Steak Ums which were super thin slices of frozen steak. You throw them in a skillet and in 3-4 min they are done. Had them at least 4 times a week.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          1. I have no idea. I would have been about 5 or 6. I do remember my first Thanksgiving dinner though. That was at 6 or 7. I had to wrestle the turkey out of the freezer into the sink (back then we thought soaking in cold water was the best way to thaw frozen bird) and I had to pull it out of the freezer onto the kitchen stool, skooch that over to the sink, kind of push it up the side of the sink and over the top into the sink basin. Then when it was thawed I had to wrestle it onto the roasting rack, push the roaster off the sink counter onto the kitchen stool (again, involved a scary scary drop) then drop-carry it onto a lower stool, then a lower one, then skooch that over to the oven (roughly level with the oven rack, may have been a chair by this point), push it off the stool or whatever onto the rack.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Now I couldn't push the rack back into the oven because there was 30 lbs of stuffed bird sitting on it. So again I got the kitchen stool, shoved it up against the sink, braced myself against it and (using a thick towel) pushed the rack into the oven with my feet. BARE feet.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Every time I pulled it out (a few inches because that was as far as I could move it) to baste it I had to push it back in the same way. This is how I burned a toe at one point.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Oh, for the good old days!


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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: ZenSojourner

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Why on earth were you cooking a Thanksgiving turkey at such a young age? -- because you wanted to, or because no one else was doing it?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: Glencora

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Because I was the oldest girl at home. I had an older brother but of course boys do not pollute themselves with kitchen work, LOL!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                I did virtually all of the cooking for our family of 7 from about the age of 6 (after my older sister left when she was 17) until I left home at 17. This included canning and jelly making, gallons and gallons of produce. I processed a lot for freezing as well. Basically once my sister left home, it was (according to my mother) my duty as the oldest girl to take over the cooking and cleaning. And most of the laundry as well. My dad did try to help with that when he came home at night. Nobody else lifted a hand.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Since I learned to read at 3, it was simple for my mother to hand me a cookbook and turn me loose in the kitchen. If you can read and follow directions it doesn't take that much to turn out a passable meal. I was a bit awkward with the knife for a long time, though. I did finally learn to cut things up without parts of me being at risk, LOL!