What’s the 1st thing you learned to cook?

One of my sisters was here the other day and she gave a big gasping sigh when she asked what I was working on.  I told her I was working on my post for pickled beets.

Why do you always have cooking? She asked.  I hate cooking.  You shouldn’t have so much cooking stuff.  And then she pranced off.

This criticism by the way, coming from a woman who didn’t know garlic came in any form other than powdered  up until 2 years ago.  She also only eats because she has to and doesn’t really care what fills her up as long as it does the job. I once saw her eat a box of pipe cleaners and a handful of dog hair for dinner.  True story.

She doesn’t enjoy eating.  She doesn’t loveeee eating.  So therefore, she doesn’t like cooking.  Makes sense.

I, on the other hand, have always loved both cooking and eating.  It makes me happy.  I love that there’s a balance between creativity and science behind pretty much everything you make to eat.

I can remember the first 2 things I learned to cook. And I was fairly young.  Probably too young to be using a deep fryer actually.   Oh.  If you hadn’t guessed, the first food I  learned to cook was French Fries.  Of course, they weren’t the Perfect French Fries I make now but they were good.




The second thing I learned to make was pizza.  I started making pizza in about grade 7 with frozen balls of dough, pepperoni my dad brought home from the butcher and green olives.  It’s still my favourite pizza combination.

If I were to ask my sister what the first thing she learned to cook was, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t remember.    Ask her what the first home accessory she bought?  She’d be all over that, probably right down to where she bought it, how much it cost and which garage sale she sold it at years later.

My other sister …. she’d probably remember the first thing she cooked.   Vaguely.  But ask her to name 8 Jimmy Stewart movies in which he wore short sleeved shirts and kissed a woman in the final scene … and she’d be recalling movies in alphabetical order.  And possibly acting them out.

All of this got me to thinking.  Am I the only one who remembers the first thing I cooked?

Do you remember what the first thing you learned to cook was?

Lemme know.  More specifically, let us know.  ‘Cause I’ve come to learn after a couple of years of doing this, that apparently, the comment section is more entertaining than my actual posts.  Which is fine.  Takes the pressure off of me.  And leaves me more time to cook.


Have a good weekend!



  1. Dava says:

    My first culinary adventure was Shit on a Shingle. Made with the dried beef that comes in a jar. I used to love that stuff. Other than that it was probably opening a can of spaghetti-o’s.

  2. Cindy Marlow says:

    Does it have to be cooked to count? I spent a lot of time hangin’ with my cousin who was 10 years older than me. I thought she was so…what was the word for ‘cool’ back in the 60s, groovy?…anyway, she was so groovy. She taught me to take cake mix and mix it with water to make a pudding-like substance. No cooking…we just ate the goop raw. Yummy! Oh yeah, we did cook cheese. Slice some colby cheddar, put it in a pan and cook it until the edges are crunchy. Yep, we were definitely groovy!

  3. Amy Schmucker says:

    Eggrolls. Ate them everyday for a snack after school, so mom had me make a huge batch. took me all day with chopping and rolling them. Never made them again. Just buy them now

  4. Bedalia says:

    The very first thing I remember “cooking” was, at age 4, a salad dressing made of flour and water to serve with dinner at my grandparents house. I thought it looked like a dressing my grandma made. I remember very confidently whipping it up and telling my grandma about my recipe as if I was on a cooking show. My dear grandma encouraged me at every step, quietly mixed up the actual dressing, and substituted it for mine on the salad that was served. I was so proud of how tasty my salad turned out! It was years before I learned what she had done, and I loved how she nurtured me in that moment.

    The other early cooking adventure that stands out was the lasagne dinner I decided to make my family. My mother wisely advised me to start earlier than she would as it might take me a bit longer because it was my first time tackling such a big cooking project. Good advise – in my memory it took me aaaaaall afternoon, and we still ate late!

  5. Laurie says:

    Chocolate chip cookies or Rice Krispie Treats. The kind made with peanut butter and a “frosting” of melted chocolate and butterscotch chips. Still making both 45 years later.

  6. Olivia says:

    I cooked water and made tea. Most likely peppermint tea. I have a picture of that event in my photo album. I remember how exciting it was to wait for the water to boil. Then later i learned to make spaghetti with tomato sauce.

  7. Beckie says:

    grilled cheese for me as well!

  8. Kathy W says:

    Dont know what it was called but a combination of ground beef cooked in a fry pan with onions and adding a CAN of spaghetti. I think it was Franco-American spaghetti. Yum. Maybe I was 14…..50 years ago. Yikes

  9. Natalie says:

    Cooking, no. Probably some breakfast food (eggs?) since we were taught to make our own breakfast pretty early in life.
    However, chocolate chip cookies were an early, early, recipe for me… for some reason, when my sister was old enough to not need a babysitter for the two of us, we were allowed to bake a batch of cookies while my parents were gone. I think they encouraged it because 1) it made us look forward (in a way) to them going out for awhile, and 2) we all got to eat some delicious cookies.

  10. Susan says:

    Ha! autocorrect!! My 2nd daughter’s Kraft dinner was delish not selfish!!!! Freudian slip perhaps….;-)

  11. Susan Whelan says:

    Hermit cookies as a newlywed. They turned out like little lumpy hockeypucks. We were going to the African Lion Safari with his sister and her husband and they decided to take the cookies to (illegally!) feel the monkeys. I’m sure it was a planted actor monkey that swung down and sat cross-legged on the hood of our car and looked quite delighted at finding a cookie, took one bite, made an incredibly disgusted face, spit it out and left. I never made another hermit cookie. Never heard the end of it, either.

  12. Susan says:

    I know I have already given you my life history but I want to add this little story. My 4 kids all can cook and are very good at it I might add. This is how I describe them …. Box of Kraft dinner… My olest daughter became an engineer. She took that box from the cupboard with all the ingredients , utensils etc perfectly lined up and her Kraft dinner always came out perfectly. My second daughter is a well organized busy Mom of 4 active kids. She flys by the seat of her pants all the time just to keep up. She took that box from the cupboard with the ingredients and thru it all together and it was selfish. My son became a chef and now owns 2 very successful restaurants. He took that same box down searched the cupboards for some exciting ingredients and made a gourmet meal for a large gathering!! My youngest daughter became a landscape artist, lives to cook but loves it even better when her husband does it. She used to sit at the kitchen table and pray somebody would come and make her Kraft dinner!! I love them all! ;-)

    • Karen says:

      Hah! I like that story. Now I’m going to have to think of what kind of Kraft Dinner person I am. ~ karen

  13. Deborah says:

    Hmmmm…how about attempted? My first attempt at baking actually was brownies…. Instead of 1/2 tsp salt, I put in a 1/2 cup…horrible, yes, but it was fun seeing my brothers face when he ate one ;). I think I was around 12 or so. Mother did all the cooking and wouldn’t let us help. Today I am a rabid chef, can’t get enough of being in the kitchen….

  14. Susan says:

    Haha! It’s so long ago I had to really go back into my Rolodex of a mind and think about it! But my Nana looked after me a lot after school and she taught me to make t-biscuits or scones. You need a light hand for light fluffy biscuits. One of our signature treats in the bakery is t-biscuits!! My aunt was a fabulous cook!! She taught me how to make pastry and apple pie!! I can whip up a pie now with my eyes closed and make over 500 of the wonderful little suckers every thanksgiving!! My Mom loves to read recipes but isn’t the most innovative cook. She taught me how to do the dishes cause she also doesn’t like to clean up!! Funny I never thought about this before… Maybe that’s why I own a bakery today… You thunk? :-)

  15. Mary Werner says:

    Hot chocolate from scratch with buttered toast for dipping – Wisconsin girl raised on butter and cheese. Shortly after came peanut butter cookies then Bisquick biscuits. That was it until I married. First meal – my pan lid sucked down tight on the pan fried meat loaf (made up recipe) and my husband couldn’t get it open even with a hammer. Frozen, it finally came off and the burned smell filled the house for days. Next meal I made up using a sale item – chicken heart tomato sauce over noodles – they popped in your mouth when you ate them – then got dumped in the garbage also. He came home next day with a cook book!

  16. Con says:

    First thing I remember cooking: Leftover shortcrust pastry cooked in milk.

    First edible thing I remember cooking: Vegetable soup.

  17. Carol-Anne says:

    Besides toast and scrambled eggs, when I was young, I remember being about 10 and learning how to make egg drop soup at Girl Guides. My Mom was in bed sick so I made it and brought it up to her. She still talks about that and it was decades ago.

    I love cooking as much as you do Karen and am always making or perfecting something!

  18. Mary says:

    Porridge. A requirement for the Brownie cooking badge.

    • Karen says:

      Mary – I quit Brownies after one visit. My mother tried to force me but there was no WAY I was going back. I did that with a LOT of things. :) ~ karen

  19. Sabrina says:

    Scrambled eggs. And ramen. But mostly scrambled eggs.

  20. farquist says:

    Fudge. Stovetop in an old beat up pan, drop a bit in cold water to see if it was done. Sometimes it was taffy. Fudge.

  21. Barbara says:

    My mom worked every summer in tobacco (that dates me!)so when I was about 9, I took over the family cooking. I remember making my first yellow cake from scratch. I couldn’t find any butter, so for the icing I used the goose grease (which we ate at sandwiches)that I found in the fridge. Wow, did that taste bad! So I remember my mom taking the cake and throwing it in the chicken yard! WILL THEY EAT IT? Damn right—I can still see all the banty chickens walking over it and pecking away at it like crazy!

  22. Elle says:

    An omelette and a chocolate cake (the kind where you mix all the ingredients in one bowl with one wooden spoon).

  23. Suzan says:

    “Aunt Cora’s Chocolate Cake” is the first thing I remember learning to make. It’s one of those family recipes that has been handed down for a couple of generations. It is dark, moist and tastes incredibly good with peanut butter frosting. I think I was about 8 when I made it for the first time. I started cooking with my mother in order to have some time alone with her as I come from a large family. I was the only one (at that time) interested in the kitchen. Now every one of my siblings is a fantastic cook!

  24. Eleanor says:

    I don’t remember the first full meal I learnt to cook, but whenever my Mum made anything with a white sauce base (mostly it was cheese sauce) it was always my job. She always thought it was funny to call me a stirrer, I didn’t get the stirring up shit reference until many years later…

  25. Amanda says:

    It was probably grill cheese and tomato soup which is one of my 2 comfort foods… the other is the one I actually remember learning which is my moms sweet spaghetti. Its a unique dish that I’ve never seen a recipe for outside of my family. Which made spaghetti my favorite dish that I could never order at a restaurant LOL. I also had the BH & G Junior cookbook and I loved making mini-meatloafs in the muffin pan. My mom was a working mom and she hated being the only one to cook… so as soon as I was old enough we had a cooking schedule… Everyone in our family had a night to cook dinner for everyone (my mom cooked twice) 1 night to eat out and 1 night where we had to “fend for ourselves”. Thanks to that I left our home with a great cooking knowledge.

  26. Kailee says:

    I was a big fan of breakfast foods. Mainly french toast or waffles. As a kid I would write out little menus of all the breakfast foods I knew how to make and have the family sit down at the table and order something off their menu. They then each had wait while I went and made it. Thinking back I wonder if anyone actually enjoyed my service or if they were just patiently humoring me…

  27. marion says:

    I dont even remember what I cooked, no I still remember the day I first cooked – my mom was at work and I wanted to surprise her with homemade – FRENCH FRIES ! The cutting of the potatoes went well and than I thought I must bring the oil to cooking, so when I threw in the potatoes, the oil must have had approx. 1.000 degrees – so all went up in flames and I nearly burnt down the house – nice surprise for mom coming come! That cured me a while for cooking and I wasn’t allowed to ever try again as I was living under the same roof! But as soon as I moved out (aged 17) a gave it a go and never burned down a kitchen again!

  28. meg- grow and resist says:

    Eggs. I took this new discovered talent and went out on my own…creating bologna (and/or hot dog) & velveeta omelets for my brother and parents in the morning. Eeeps. =)

  29. Emily says:

    Unbelievably, I’m stuck on what exactly the definition of “cooking” is here. Does boiling water for spaghetti count? How about making nachos, which is consists of opening various packages, dumping their contents on a plate, and broiling? I did a good solid 4 years of the “opening packages and broiling” style of cooking before I learned to do things like stir-fry, bake, and read recipes.

  30. carey says:

    definitely grilled cheese and mac & cheese. but the first big meal that took some time to prepare i made for a boyfriend was orange chicken. it didn’t work out so well, and neither did he!

  31. Gayla T says:

    It was those never to be forgotten No Bake Cookies. I still have the recipe card in that used to be me handwriting. I was a 4-H kid and that was the project assignment. My mom had my youngest sister when I was 12 and back then you stayed in the hospital for a week after giving birth. My grandma was supposed to come stay but she got really sick and was hospitalized so it was me. I made Spanish Rice from a recipe book and burned it badly. I thought I’d be in trouble for burning the bottom of the pan so I took it out and buried it in my mother’s rose garden. My dad came in with the burned and now muddy pan and asked what happened. Seems the darn dog dug it up. Busted! Dad was not mad but he cracked up laughing. I had tried to chip the burned rice out of the pan where it was at least an inch deep and it was hope less. My dad took it over and put it in the waste basket. I don’t remember anything else I cooked that week but it must have been full meals because I was the oldest of 5 and they liked to eat. Funny I don’t remember the successes but do remember the disaster. My siblings were ages 8,7 and 4 plus the new baby. Can you imagine me caring for them? I would never have trusted my kids but I guess there was no one else available. Crazy, huh?

  32. gabriela says:

    An Ox Eye Egg!! Probably around 9 years old. Who doesn’t like making a hole in a piece of bread, and then, drum roll, cracking an egg it it! Practice made perfect. I still love them 37 years later.

  33. Vicki says:

    The comments ARE pretty amusing. But I’m more than happy to read your posts to get to em.

  34. Kris says:

    I remember being too little to reach the stove so I would sit on the counter next to it and make grilled cheese when I was 3. No way would I let my kids do that now! ~You know, things were safer back then! ;) My whole family would ask me to make grilled cheese for them because I was the only one in the family who didn’t burn it.

  35. Emily Rae says:

    Grilled cheese and tomato soup. Or oatmeal. Or cake. I hated oatmeal too, hated it so much, so making and stirring it filled my soul with vile hatred.

  36. Debbie says:

    I’m pretty sure it was oatmeal (boiled on the stove top, NOT mIcrowave, this was the early 80s) and I’m pretty sure I remember cooking it alone in grade 5.

    • Sherri says:

      Same for me, Debbie. I can’t remember what grade I was in when Mom finally allowed me access to the stove, but grade 5 sounds about right. I still make my oatmeal the old-fashioned way after a brief stint of trying the instant variety in the microwave. That did not last long!

    • Anna says:

      Me too! My first vivid cooking memory (age 7-ish?) is of reading the instructions wrong, thinking that 1/2 cup of water meant 1 OR 2 cups… and how runny and gross the oatmeal turned out. My cooking has improved immensely, but I’m not sure I’ve gotten much further with math :)

  37. Belinda says:

    Scrambled eggs – my grandma’s way, with chopped parsley, and not too much stirring in the pan, or else they go watery

  38. Christie says:

    Oh I hate cooking too, but I how I LOVE EATING!!!!!!!!!!

  39. karenagain says:

    My Mom was always home. My bff’s parents were never home. We could cook at her place. Many times we would cook chocolate pudding. It took much practice not to cook the eggs before we learned about tempering. Then she taught me how to make chocolate chip pancakes, covered in peanut butter, drizzled with syrup. OMG! I swear to God, I have saved two lives with my chocolate chip/peanut butter pancakes.

  40. jan says:

    Fried fish because dad took me fishing. I could bait the hook but wouldn’t cut open or scale the fish. But breading and frying fish? Easy. Fish and morel mushrooms. Don’t know which I learned to cook first. Mom showed us how to find and cook the mushrooms. Still love morels and fresh caught fish. finding morels each year is always a pleasure. sometimes we luck out and find them appear in our woodland garden.

  41. Leena says:

    Cooking has never been my favorite thing and my mom did not show much example, not to even mention my dad. I think the first things I’ve made are frying fish sticks and then I learned to make a minced meat sauce with cream and pasta. That’s about all I ate until I turned fifteen.

  42. Laura says:

    It was a recipe from the Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book for Children. It took me all bloody day to figure out which recipe to make, write the shopping list, buy the ingredients and then actually cook it. I can’t remember what it was but I do remember it was awful and I never made it again. Tuna casserole became my specialty after that. Tuna, golden mushroom soup, cubed bread baked for an hour. I don’t know why I never learned about the potato chip topping. That would have been waaay better. I made it for my high school boyfriend after which he dumped me. I never made it again. Shoulda used potato chips on top.

  43. Eva says:

    Chocolate chip cookies…probably. I guess it depends on what you mean when you say “learned to cook” I learned to follow a recipe and I made stuff like crazy at quite a young age but maybe it doesn’t count as really learning to make it until you make it well? I remember my first loaf of bread and my first pie but the first recipe I really worked with and perfected was brownies.
    My Best friend and I spent a whole glorious summer experimenting, tweaking and adjusting ingredients until we got it right.

  44. Niki says:

    My mother always had to work, so she would call me up and give directions to start dinner. I remember cooking Swiss steak, cutting up all the vegetables and putting on top of the meat. I also remember chicken fried steak, including the milk gravy. She was a “from scratch” cook and so am I. I haven’t eaten beef for years, so now it’s fish and chicken.

    I’m going to have to try your pizza dough recipe soon!

  45. Raquel says:

    Grilled cheese! Still one of my favorites!!

    • Julie says:

      Same here. Except now instead of white bread with kraft singles I use whole wheat and real cheddar or jalapeño havarti or mozzarella……

  46. Bri says:

    I think I was about 4 when I decided that I needed to be in charge of my own breakfast and learned to make scrambled eggs (in the microwave, blech!). I was always helping mom in the kitchen and I used to make all kinds of crazy stuff from my BH&G Junior cookbook. Man I miss that thing.

  47. Carly Mae says:

    Does Kraft macaroni and cheese count? Because I’m pretty sure that’s the only thing I remember “cooking” until well into my teens…but now I’m a great experimenter in the kitchen!

  48. Nikki Kelly says:

    Kraft Mac and Cheese! I could have eaten that stuff by the gallon. My dad would always tell me that I would outgrow my love of Mac and cheese someday….. I’m 29 and that day has yet to come!

    Nikki Kelly @ the ambitious procrastinator

    • Me too! I’m almost 50 and I still love the original Kraft Mac and Cheese…I remember (back in my day…omg!) biking to the store to grab a box for 19 cents and having it before I went to bed for a snack! It’s definitely the first thing I learned to cook on a stove. wendy

    • Denise says:

      Me too! and I just turned 58. Something about it just can’t be beat. :-)

      • Nikki Kelly says:

        I always loved putting a macaroni on each fork tine when I was little. I guess you could say I’ve outgrown that part of eating Mac and cheese, it takes way to long to eat it like that.

        • Patti says:

          Haha. Me too! Kraft dinner, and then, because I’d learned how to boil noodles, I would make spaghetti (with my parents’ supervision, of course). This spaghetti consisted of ground beef and Ragu. Fancy schmancy.

  49. stargazyrr says:

    My mom was not the cooking kind, so my childhood was filled with microwave meals like chili dogs and simple stovetop meals like Tuna Helper. In high school my best friend made a delicious pasta with pesto, feta cheese and pine bus… that was the first thing I learned to properly cook. Various stir-frys followed. My first meal I learned to cook as an adult were turkey burgers with Israeli spice that I saw on 30 Minute Meals!

  50. Meg says:

    Chili. Or maybe meatloaf. My mom always had me helping out in the kitchen, so I learned to make all of her recipes before I hit high school.

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