Childhood Kitchen Memories

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The kitchen is often one of the most under-appreciated areas of the house. If we actually look back and think about it, many of our fondest childhood memories happened in the kitchen. More and more families recognize the kitchen as the heart and soul of their home.

The kitchen is where families gather. Even when both parents are busy with their respective work, they often find a way to be together during meals. Here in the South, one of the first things we say when company arrives is, “Have you eaten yet?” Then we go to the kitchen to prepare them something to eat.  Often the guests end up joining us and the entire party ends up in the kitchen.

No home is complete without a kitchen. So we asked some of the people we work with to share their childhood memories of their kitchens when they were growing up.

“When I was around 7 years old, I became increasingly eager to help my mom cook but she thought I was too young. So she set me up at the kitchen table with food-colored play dough for me to “make dinner” while she cooked. It was the best!”

~Whitney

“Sitting on the counter with my legs hanging off and talking to my grandmother while she was cooking.

Plus there was a great hiding place in the kitchen cabinet she left just for me. Now that I think about it, Grandma sure taught me a lot. I learned about being nice to girls, understanding why parents argue and getting a hug when I was hurt. All of that happened in the kitchen. I’m tearing up just remembering it.”

~Martin

“My grandfather used to say that the uglier the cake, the better it tasted.  I’m sure there’s some life lessons mixed in there about not judging a book by its cover…or a cake by its icing falling off or lopsidedness.  About the importance of the thought, effort, and love, that went into the project rather than the perfection of the outcome.”

~Amy

“My favorite childhood memory was watching my great grandmother make biscuits and chicken and dumplings completely from scratch.  She’d start with flour and buttermilk (bleh on the buttermilk until it actually became a biscuit) and make her own dough.  As a kid, I loved the dough making part (rolling the buttermilk into the flour with my hands until a dough ball formed) and then taking the roller and rolling out the dough to a flat pancake and cutting out the biscuits and dumplings.  Cooking the dumplings was also fun because we had to lay them out into the pot of broth in a flat layer and push them down.  They would bob up like fishing bobs and we would put in another layer and keep pushing them back into the broth.

The best part of everything was being the first to taste everything because you were the cook.”

~Nicole

“I loved helping my mom make biscuits from scratch. I could barely see over the counter, so I would stand in a chair and roll out the dough and then cut the biscuits. Then we would make “Stickies” from the leftover dough bits. We would roll it out really thin, cover it with butter, sugar and cinnamon, and roll it up and bake it along with the biscuits.

And back when I was about 9 years old, I remember vividly the night at the dinner table when my dad pronounced, ‘Mom, you work hard to cook dinner for us, and it’s time these kids start taking turns cleaning up the kitchen for you.’ And thus it began, my brothers and I took turns every night, until all of us were grown and out on our own. It taught us to appreciate the work our Mom did, and responsibility to do our part. As adults, whenever we returned for family gatherings, us kids always pitched in to help clean up.”

~Mamie

“When I was 11, my dad taught me how to make popcorn on the stove in a big old cast aluminum pot, and I can remember how proud I was of being allowed to do such a grown up thing. Then there was the anticipation of hearing those first kernels pop, followed by just the right amount of shaking, and then tossing in the melted butter. It tasted so much better than the air popped stuff!

Every year we would harvest the garden and the kitchen became a hub with all the family gathered together shucking corn and shelling peas and canning things for the winter. I was a little bit terrified and a lot fascinated with the whistling thing on top of the pressure cooker when we canned them all up, but the sight of all those glass jars on the shelves in the basement was the best. All that hard work lined up in shiny rows.

My mom made wedding cakes as a side venture, and I would wait anxiously for her to carve and level the cakes so I could eat the leftovers. And I loved when she made mistakes with the frosting flowers because I got to eat them!”

~Marcy

“My brothers and I set out to make cookies (slice and bake chocolate chip) when my parents were out of the house.  Instead of baking them we ended up in a huge cookie dough slinging food fight.  We thought we got away with it until mom found a tiny chunk at the top of a cabinet in our 12ft ceiling home.

Dinner was also a family production.  Mom directed, I prepped food, my brothers set the table, dad cooked the meat on the grill, mom did the baking and we all cleaned up.

Sunday nights were smorgasbord night.  We all would fend for ourselves pulling leftovers and extra ingredients. 5 people cooking different things at the same time made for some interesting inventions.”

~Kelly

How about you? What are your most treasured kitchen memories? For us, that’s what kitchens are really all about: creating wonderful places to make – and break – bread, and in so doing, weave rich memories with our families.