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How to Cook Your Life 1

Updated on May 7, 2020
Ericdierker profile image

I like to come at things from a different angle. Usually if we take some words and apply them to ourselves we can then apply to the world.

Sleeping In The Kitchen

Somewhere on a hike.
Somewhere on a hike. | Source

Oops, No Recipe

You need to be a cook. You can cook food. I was a cook. My buddies went construction and I went cook. What the heck is a cook anyway? Not a chef and not a server. Just a cook. Alright I admit as a cook I also pearl dived. (That is the fun term in a kitchen for a chief pot and bottle washer = a dishwasher and scrubber of all things)

I started out working quite young. I was born in ’57 and I made my 7 look like a 1. I ended up getting emancipated just before my 17th birthday. My brothers laughed that I was not raised up but jerked up. Should we start at the beginning or begin with the end?

Beginning. I really love(d) my mom. I was her favorite of 6 in my mind. Of course the other 5 felt the same way. I am quite sure that I have a favorite out of the four of my children. I just can’t decide which one. Mom was a master chef. One time she served some princes and princesses that I recall but am told she once served a king. We would labor for a couple of hours. We were old school and my mom had an antique store. So….

My job was simple. Keep the floors clean, set and light a fire, shovel if needed the sidewalks, otherwise sweep. Take out garbage, a lot, so smells did not mingle. Help put table clothes on and be a taster. Be looking good to walk elders into the house and ask them about their day. An elbow was polite for man or woman over 70. Otherwise just mind your manners and walk slow. Sir and Mrs. Or mam would do and be quick with a prayer and grace.

My sisters did the silverware polishing and napkin and tablecloth ironing. Someone would do flower arrangements and the candelabras had to be in good order. Never let wax drip onto linen. Do not mess up drinking from the water goblet first, know your forks, one hand in the lap except for passing dishes and using the knife properly with your right hand, all utensils held like a fine ink pen and that napkin that was a Fleur-de-lis, is strictly for wiping your lips or assisting a lady to her place at the table. Do not speak unless spoken to directly.

No One Said It Was Going to Be Easy

Where I Learned to Cook

Cold outside but a big fire inside.
Cold outside but a big fire inside. | Source

Understanding

By about now you are asking about cooking. You did not get to cook until you mastered the presentation including which side to serve from and how hot bread should be served with a warm almost damp napkin for just that purpose.

I will mess this up as it has been a good bit of time; 3 forks, appetizer, salad and dinner. 3 knives, butter, dinner and steak. 3 spoons, tea, dinner and soup. Serve from the left and clear from the right. No noise in the kitchen. Pretend an old lady fart did not happen. (oops did I just write that ;-) Salad dressings are not by choice but rather in a gravy like boat carefully made with me as taster.

And again you are scratching your head and saying, nobody dines like that and we have not gotten to a single dish. Well you should have seen grandpa teaching me how to sharpen a steak knife that you could shave with. “Never give a man a dull knife or bad things happen.”

We were not rich in the money sense. But mom made due. All the fancy stuff was antique as she had an antique store and I reckon she surely did sell some of it right from the table. Not my job to mind as I tried to get rid of the peas but our dog was having none of that.

There is a good place to start on food. My mom made peas to eat. She did not eat them. She did not like them. But peas go with mash potatoes I hear so we had them. Therefor they were the only thing mom stunk at cooking and sitting next to her you better act like you love them. Flash forward 40 years. “Mom why did you make peas you did not eat and made us eat?” “In order to see who had manners.” “What in the heck mom?” “A polite person does three things: One; they eat some and wash it down with wine, two, they spread them around and never use a spoon, and then you can tell how smart they are.” “what mom?” The smart ones know just how great the gravy is and that the pepper is fresh ground and the butter fresh churned. Do it right and you don’t taste the peas. “Mom I am glad I am older so I can tell you that that is a rationalization that carries no water. “Eric how can you have children, beautiful wives and still not understand a lady cook? Cooking and eating are social.”

Just a Tad

Later on it was Southeast Asian.
Later on it was Southeast Asian. | Source

How About some Gumbo

Flowing With The Current

Well by golly jingles mom did not like the peas so they tasted bad. But she offered up a fare that could make even peas taste good. I remember old Doc. Fronske (96 in ’71 the last time I sat at his feet as he waxed eloquently next to the fire he taught me to build) I missed him the last time he came, off to play a state basketball game. My priorities stunk and so back to cooking. After all he taught me the lay up.

So I was good at garbage. A friend of a friend got me a gig rounding up garbage for Hank. Hank was the garbage man back when they lifted and tossed in garbage from cans and honked to make sure you did not miss him. So I got to empty the garbage for a full small city block and have it ready for Hank. Two restaurants on the block. They fed me out back as I hauled their garbage. Well for an extra 50 cents I could do dishes for the cooks. Short order diners. I would think I was about 12 because I still had my mowing and sidewalk clearing jobs. Old Ms. Tinsley the spinster and all of our kindergarten teacher who never missed a large dinner at mom’s made me wash her garbage cans with soap and water. Too crazy but the pie and pay was good at over a quarter.

Well you see where this led me back a bit around 14 years old. Dishwasher to fully paid prep cook and egg and hash brown cooker dude. Yes I could toast bread and tear a mean salad and make a patty and cook a burger. Real close to getting started the short order cook passed out drunk, hit his head on the stove and killed himself. They dragged him out and told me “Next order up and don’t overcook the burger”. The story got out in our small town, and on returning home mom tossed me an apron and said to make the Chili her way. And a cook was born and before day break I was soaking tates and slopping around with a new dish mom said would be a killer at the diner. A Tamale casserole.

I did not stay long there. Doc. Fronske had taught me to use white pepper and vinegar real quick to make meat tender. I know barf me up. The key was to let it sit for only five minutes then wash it off toot sweety with scalding hot water. It will bust down shoe leather and make it edible. So word got out. Get yourself a breakfast steak on your way to the construction site.

From there I was recruited by a steak house ranch. Oh well too much for now.

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    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      KC we are headed to four months in Europe next, I will make the Paella on tues.

    • profile image

      KC McGee 

      14 months ago from Where I belong

      Hi Eric, If you keep up this subjuct in future articles maybe I can get my wife to collet them as Cooking 101....................but as long as it doesn't cause ME a lot of work :)

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for such a wonderful comment Cristine. Folks like you make this world a better place.

    • cristina327 profile image

      Cristina Santander 

      14 months ago from Manila

      I realized five years ago that cooking is one of the life skills everyone must master, it is really one of the most essential skills in life. Cooking indeed is a good avocation and could be a good remedy for loneliness. Nice hub.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you much for reading and commenting. Wait until #3

    • Sowrabha Mahesh profile image

      sowspeaks 

      14 months ago from Bengaluru

      Hi Eric, you had a pretty good spirit and made a wonderful story out of the mundane even as a lad. Good fun. Thanks for the tales.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks Devika for your support. They really were fun times.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      14 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Your life is interesting and adventurous thank you for sharing that

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Dora I really liked dish washing. Go figure.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 

      14 months ago from The Caribbean

      "And a cook was born." Seems like a good title for the drama on how you started all the way from dishwasher. You've had a fun life Eric. The fun was and is still always in you.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Denise I thank you for ppointing that out. Today the saga continues. And in fact most my gigs ended quick. How about a fire burning down a restaurant?

    • PAINTDRIPS profile image

      Denise McGill 

      14 months ago from Fresno CA

      Wow, that was an abrupt ending. What an interesting relationship with food you had. Must have been fun.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Pamela thank you and happy to have you up and at them on Mother's day. Be well. This story is as real to life as I can remember.

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      14 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I grew up in a home where we all had our chores and i guess we lean from that. As to peas, I like them. I like what your mother said about ood manners also. This is a very interesting article, Eric.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      We sure are lucky the times we have lived in. At least have. I would say we were about a decade behind in my little slice of heaven.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      14 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      '57 was a very good year. It's something we share. Huey Lewis and The New Riders - wow! Haven't thought about them in years. Thanks for the memories, Buddy.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Nithya. We are trying to carry on the traditions during strange times. Actually I think we are giving up quite a bit of tradition for just plain fun.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      14 months ago from Dubai

      You have learned to cook at a very young age, it must have been a whole new experience. You became a super good cook pretty soon! Sitting at the table and eating with family is the best way to have a meal. Thank you for sharing this.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Flourish I am guessing you are being quite humble. Often I can't remember what was said in biz meeting but I probably will remember the fare.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Hey John thank you for the heads up on nature boy. I emailed him and sent my phone number. I have people there that know people there -- that is D.C..

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      14 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you Carrie, I do have a great week most of the time ;-)

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      14 months ago from USA

      This was an interesting approach to tell your life’s story. Since we all eat and must somehow acquire food we could do the same. Some of us are not as self-sufficient or talented at cooking though. I do pretty well for myself, better than I need to get by and then some.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      14 months ago from Gondwana Land

      Eric, received an email from our friend Elijah (natureboy.) He advised me that the Government has suppressed his access to the Internet and that is the reason for his absence from HubPages. He says he’ll be back as soon as he can. Take from that what you will.

    • carrie Lee Night profile image

      Carrie Lee Night 

      14 months ago from Northeast United States

      Interesting :) Thank u for sharing.

      Have a wonderful week :)

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Episode 2 is being worked on Mitara. Forest fires and Cowboys and France are on the way. But I am afraid not so many recipes.

    • MitaraN profile image

      Mitara N 

      15 months ago from South Africa

      Its great that you learnt how to cook from a young age, so you have worked the levels up from "Cook", I am sure we can title you the "Chef" by now with your own list of interesting recipes.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thank you for sharing your story Venkatachari. That is sad about your mother. But what great experiences with your father. You just reminded me that my mom always had me go shopping with her. She said it was so I could carry the groceries for her. But now I know better. My wife takes my son every time also.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      15 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      Very interesting things mentioned here. I see that you have been as busy as I since from early childhood.

      My mother passed away sometime like 1964 or 65 when I was 13 years old. She was sick also for sometime before that. That's when I learned cooking. My father used to cook and I assisted him. I used to prepare some dishes my self. I had to go to marketing etc. taking my siblings also with, all three. My father wanted to teach them also to live on their own after growing. That's why I had to take them also with me always. It was only a two-year gap in our age amongst each of us. That's how I mastered cooking and all household work.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Mary last night and this afternoon we ended up sitting around the table for over an hour. We all looked at each other and exclaimed "where did the time go?" Yes it is a treat to have that time.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Vidya my wife never was really welcome in her childhood. At 18 years of marriage now she is kicking butt. We are just getting (with quarantine) to the point of sharing the kitchen. And of boy is it fun. That love ingredient makes the whole world taste better. thank you for coming by and leaving a note.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Linda mom wrote my wonderful previous wife and I some ingredients for 15 dozen tamales and said on the phone to just flatten them out for a casserole. And that would be in the '80s But it went like this; 4 shoulder roasts, 2 mild and one hot Chilies, She does it per package but I am thinking about 16 cups of masa with lard mixed in and enough husks. Missing-- black and green olives, tomato, salt amount of water....

      But we have our ways, my elder sister will have it tucked away. Garlic? Oregano and cilantro??

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Liz we just got back from a long drive to find our perfect Vietnamese soup or Pho'. We are having too much fun and food is a huge part of it. And the other fun part is that my wife needs to gain weight and I need to lose it. So I have to go off, hiking in nature. Oh well.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      15 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      Eating these days is so different. It's probably a treat for kids to be on the table and not in front of the computer or game box. You made me look into how I learned how to cook. Very interesting.

    • vidsagster profile image

      VIDYA D SAGAR 

      15 months ago

      A very interesting biography Eric, waiting to read the next instalment. I learned to cook very young too and it came in handy later. Now it is a hobby, trying out new recipes that I come across and the family likes it which is good for me.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 

      15 months ago from Washington State, USA

      Eric, you've peeled away another layer of the onion, given us another glimpse into what makes you you. I love it. Can't wait for the next installment. (By the way, I want that tamale casserole recipe).

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      15 months ago from UK

      This is an interesting angle on a biography I like the technique of seeing life through cooking activities, starting at the bottom with the basics.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Ruby I can combine an almost french toast with that American Cheese and you would love it. Do not tell anyone but I really like Velveeta melted cheese with a creamy tomato soup. Hold the salt and abundant on the black pepper or maybe white pepper.

      When a lovely bride is learning to cook -- just have a lot of different mustards, vinegars, hot sauce and ketchup handy. hihihihi

      Today is Lumpia day oh boy.

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Bill already having a great one. Sunrise hike set a great tempo.

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Richert 

      15 months ago from Southern Illinois

      I'll have a grilled cheese sandwich and American fries. My mother wouldn't let me near the kitchen so I knew nothing about cooking when I got married. My first ( lunch ) was French toast and a chocolate pie. When I poured the chocolate into the store bough crust one side of the crust fell down so I put knives under the plate to keep it from running out. When my husband came home to eat he attempted to be kind by telling me that he liked potatoes, meat and veggies. I thought if I had French toast he would think I was skilled in French cooking, and I loved chocolate. lol Those were the days!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      15 months ago from Olympia, WA

      Make mine medium rare. I want some blood showing, please, just like my life. :) Have a super cool Thursday, buddy!

    • Ericdierker profile imageAUTHOR

      Eric Dierker 

      15 months ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Thanks John. My wife with the extra time has replaced me in the kitchen. When I married her she could not cook a PB&J sandwich. Oh and my boy is cooking up a storm.

      I guess I just assumed many would have cooking accidents, learning the ropes. And an extra bummer would be not knowing how to home treat things like burns. And then no doctors yikes.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      15 months ago from Gondwana Land

      Thank you for sharing this Eric. I have that some people are having great difficulty during the lockdown because they can’t eat out so have to try to cook for themselves. Statistics show there have been a record number of burn injuries with people trying to use the stove or o for time. I too grew up being able to cook for myself. Good read.

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