When I was young I used to try make toffee or fudge, whichever would work from my intuitive ideas. No recipe at all, just a hit and miss affair.
As I entered teenage years we took cooking classes in school, which was interesting. As a result of that I 'practised' some of the recipes at home, which became popular and my mother - I think saw the advantage of giving herself a break from cooking for a large family - encouraged me. This led to full-scale meals and eventually cooking for the family for Xmas and other occasions, though my mother didn't give up her cook's hat that freely. She would still lead the 'big' party event and make all the decisions, but I would get a choice and be allowed to pick and choose what I thought interesting.
She always had interesting cookbooks, which were good enough to read as a stand alone.
My grandmother was a typical 'plain' cook, but produced delicious food with fresh ingredients from her well tended garden. She was far more hesitant to let me alone at her cooker or oven and I would have to plead to be allowed to join in, even past teenage years. Nonetheless, from an early age I watched what she did and kept her company with my chat as she baked her daily brown soda bread, her apple pies or her big fry-ups on a Sunday.
When I was married I had the privileged advantage of having an American mother-in-law, who was a fantastic cook and could take on any task in the cooking world. I so admired her recipes - some quite complex to my mind . She would give me a puzzle of figuring out some of the more 'subtle' and hidden ingredients in her cooked items. What fun that was and very exciting!
I'm not sure if my then husband ever recovered from moving to Ireland - I think he missed his Mom's great cooking. He did endure my culinary adventures without too much complaint!
Now all this talk of food makes me hungry - I'd better go cook and eat!