I am often asked, “why?”
Why do you like to cook food for people? I find that I like to make people happy. I can’t always do that with words or presents, but I know that if I make them something that tastes good it will help them to feel good. And I can usually get a smile from someone who has been warmed up with good food.
I started out as a young girl learning how to cook eggs for my brother. (This is just a random memory) I remember that my brother loved to eat sunny-side-up eggs. My mom needed help one morning, way back in the day when I was like 7 or 8. She decided it was time for me to begin my learning about the kitchen. I got pretty good at making those eggs, and my brother seemed to enjoy them. At about that same time I decided I didn’t like eggs, at all. I wouldn’t eat them myself. But I would make them for others.
Skip forward a few years and I am making cookies now. I really like making cookies after school. And some of the kids in my neighborhood liked my cookies too. I find that when I cook, people (outside of my family) like to eat what I am making. Now, I have no idea if those first batches of cookies where actually as good as I remember them being, but I do know that I still have that original recipe for cookies. It is my go-to recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I have tweaked it a bit from time to time just to change things up. But I use the same basic recipe that I began using nearly 25 yrs ago.
Skip forward, I learned to make bread. For a short time we sell that bread around the neighborhood, until it killed my mom’s oven. It was such a fun and yummy thing to do to earn a little cash as a teen.
Moving forward a bit more, I got into college and started dating. I realized, then, that guys who are looking for a wife find it awesome to find a girl who actually can make home-made bread and treats.
I got married, and yes, he likes my baking skills. However, at that point I was mostly just comfortable with baking. My actual culinary skills were still a little lacking, but I am not scared of the kitchen so, I am beginning to start actually tackling meals. It’s taken me a while but I think I am mostly there.
My parents and also my grandparents owned and worked at their own candy stores. My Grandpa started working in a candy store in Michigan 1961, he later bought it from the original owner in 1974. He ran stores in a several different states. He operated those candy stores until just after my Thing 2 was born in 2009. Now I, having always been near to one of those store locations, had gotten used to being able to get my candy fix from my Grandpa. A few years after he closed down his store in Utah I decided that I needed to get some of his fudge but the only open store that sold his fudge was back in Michigan – owned by one of my uncles. Now, I couldn’t just run out and grab some fudge in the afternoon. I would either have to order it and have it shipped or beg a family member to bring some back to me after a trip home -Or- I could teach myself how to make it!
Back to when I was a baby, my Dad and Mom opened up their own candy store, making and selling the same candy that my Grandpa made and sold. Fudge, Brittle, Caramels, etc. They ran that store, in Nauvoo, Illinois, until I was 5 years old. They sold that store, and my dad went on to work in other areas but needless to say, I grew up from an infant until I was five years old in that store surrounded by all this yummy candy. Every time we went to visit my Mom’s family we were around the candy store also. I learned young how to wrap caramels and other odd jobs around the store. I spent summers helping run a store in Park City, Utah for my Grandpa when he was back at his home store in Michigan running the summer season there. I knew basics on how to make chocolates, and definitely learning to stir the candy in the kettle. I spent hours watching various male members of my family actually making the fudge.
I asked my Grandpa to teach me how to make this main staple of his shop but he always said it was the mans job. The females had other jobs; dipping the chocolates, cutting and wrapping caramels, selling the candy, cleaning up, etc. But I was mesmerized by, and in love with, the process of making the fudge. It was always one of my favorite things about the store.
With that background, and the encouragement of my husband, I began my journey of teaching myself to make the candy. My Grandma Howse had given all of her grandchildren the basic recipe in a family recipe book when we got married. I figured I would give it a shot and teach myself how to make fudge .
Three years ago I entered my fudge into the State Fair. I received a blue ribbon with my 1st entry! I was encouraged. I entered more candies the next year. I got a few more blue ribbons and the Champion Candy Maker title! I entered again the next year and received another couple of ribbons! (you can only be the Champion every other year) Now a dream that I have had since I was younger and never really thought I could make a reality is coming true. I had always wanted to be a Candy Maker like my Dad and my Grandpa.
However, my love for cooking extends far beyond candy. I like to make good meals that make friends happy. I like to see my kids trying new foods. I love when my husband actually likes the new recipe that I have tried. I really like to experiment with making new things. I like the challenge of using new spices. I like the science that happens in the kitchen. In baking, in stewing, in preparing food. I enjoy learning how to make jellies and processing other foods to make my own tomato sauces and apple sauces. And I love to share. I love to share fresh foods with people and I love to share recipes (that are shareable).
That, my friends, is why I do what I do. I enjoy showing my love for others with food that I have prepared with the intent of sharing love, joy, and friendship. I figure this is a new and fun way to share my love with everyone!