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I grew up in a household where food was plentiful and tasty.  Chicken was almost always fried, potatoes were served with gravy and I had to beg my mom to buy me rice-a-roni.  She couldn’t figure out why in the world I would want to eat that packaged junk.  When I became an adult and started cooking for myself I had a lot of food related realizations.  I’ll share some with you today.

Chicken doesn’t have to be tough as leather in order for it to be safe to eat.   My mother had a fear of salmonella or something.  I remember her putting chicken in the frying pan and leaving it there for a REALLY long time.  When we sat down to eat it, we would wear our jaws out chewing it up.  I don’t remember it tasting bad at all, it was good.  It was just so TOUGH.  You can be sure it was cooked thru, though.   The first few times I made chicken for myself I was shocked at how little time the recipes would say to cook it.  Shockingly, it was always done and even moist and tender!

Baking is not that difficult of an undertaking.  In our house, almost everything was home-made.  The exceptions were most baked goods and bread. (especially cakes, some cookies and pie crusts)  The closest to home-made bread my mom got was using the refrigerated bread dough rolls.  For some reason, my mom just did not have the patience or desire to try whipping up a yeast dough.  Honestly, I don’t even know if she ever attempted it.  In the past year I have made several yeast dough projects and they have always turned out at least decent.   As far as baked goods go, she always bought the mixes for cakes and cookies, too.  I’ve come to really not like boxed cake mixes.  I don’t like the chemically taste.  As far as cookies go, I LOVE to make home-made chocolate chip cookies and find that even the cookie logs you can buy are gross to me now.

There is such a thing as “too sweet.”  My mom’s claim to fame was her sweet tooth.  This woman would start the day with a Diet Coke and Hostess Snow Balls.  No joke.  I don’t think she put salt in anything.  She would double the amount of sugar in recipes!  I found this out by helping her make a pie one time.  That explained why her pies never set up properly.   I’m not saying that I don’t have an affinity for sweets because I will be the first to stuff a Twinkie in my face but I have learned that good flavors are all about balance.  I don’t like cheesecake unless it’s served with a side of tart cherry topping.  Sweet is good, but sweet and salty or sweet and tart is tens times better.

Not everyone is raised in a household where the food is delicious and home-made.  I vividly remember my mom saying “most people don’t know what good food is.”  I found that to be a cryptic statement.  Good food is good food, right?  I get it now.  Now, that I have been around different families, co-workers and friends. It’s all relative.   It seems that some folks are totally happy with the orange mac and cheese and cookies made from a log.  I know a lot of it is how we are raised.  If orange mac and cheese is what your mom made you when you were sick, then that will be your comfort food when you are in your twenties and thirties.  I feel so very lucky that I know the taste of home-made sausage gravy and pudding made the old-fashioned way with eggs and flour.

What food epiphanies have you had in your life?

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