I grew up in a family filled with cooks, some of whom did so professionally, some just because it’s in our blood. It became evident to me at an early age that the way to get respect in the house was to settle in on the range and put out a meal for the family.

I was 6.

I don’t recall having to beg or cajole my mom to let me have a go at it. She probably realized it would allow her the opportunity to rear back on the couch every once in a while to catch up on her “stories” on the tv and not have to worry about the family meal. She gave me a Betty Crocker cook book. What could be a better gift for a young man than that? I took to it with aplomb and read the whole thing from cover to cover. Of course some of my early work was disastrous. I remember an early breakfast where I scrambled the eggs, set them to the side, then cooked the bacon, then began rolling out the biscuits.

To this day I consider timing to be the most crucial element of cooking.

I wish I still had that ancient dog-eared cookbook with my childish writing all in the margins. It’s lost to the sands of time but I will always have fond memories of time spent in the kitchen with Betty Crocker when I was a country kid growing up in rural Appalachia.

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