Monday, April 20, 2015

Cooking up Some Memories

This post is helping to pay the bills - it's sponsored by GE appliances, but all commentary is my own.

GE is sponsoring blog posts and videos with the theme #MyAmericanKitchen, where everyday people are talking about kitchen memories. This is my contribution.

Growing up in a very small apartment, I was never very far from the kitchen. Most of the time, I was right there at the kitchen table coloring in a book or doing crafts or doing homework or reading a book. And the living room was the next room. There really was no way to escape the sights, sounds, and smells of the kitchen.

While I sat at the kitchen table, my mother would be a few steps away (did I mention that it was a tiny kitchen in a tiny apartment?) and she would be stirring a sauce or chopping vegetables or wiggling the leg of a chicken in the oven to see if it was done.

While she was cooking, she'd ask me to taste things - a tiny nip of tomato sauce, or a spoon full of soup. And she'd ask me if it tasted okay, or if it needed something. I'm sure that at the beginning I wasn't much help, but as I got older I'd suggest more salt or oregano or that it needed to be more tart or sweet.

My very first actual "cooking" memory is of me standing on a chair in front of the stove, melting butter in a tiny pot for popcorn. It was serious work.

As I got older, I became involved in more hands-on tasks. Soon, I was allowed to monitor the counter-top grill (I'm pretty sure it was a vintage GE appliance) that was used for steaks, and I was set to work ripping lettuce and making salad dressings. I became an expert at making deviled eggs. And when we got our first blender, I had fun making milkshakes and pancake batter.

Eventually, I got tall enough to stir things on the stove without needing a chair to stand on, which also meant I was tall enough to stand on a chair to change a ceiling-fixture light bulb - which oddly also had the same decorative GE logo.

After all these years, I can't say for sure which of mom's big appliances and countertop electrics were GE appliances, but I know that quite a few of them were, because. I remember the logo from when I was very very young.

It was years before I knew that scrollwork inside the circle were actually letters - to me, it was just a pretty design on a badge that I could trace with my finger.

After a whole lot of years hanging around in the kitchen, when I left home I had learned how to cook without recipes. I could throw together a pot of soup or stew, or grill a steak, or roast a chicken or make a salad dressing, or cook an entire Thanksgiving meal without looking at a recipe.

I guess there were some advantages to living in a tiny apartment. I never had cooking lessons, but I couldn't help but learn when it was right there in front of me all of the time.

A few years ago, my husband and I needed to replace the hood over the stove that came with the house we bought. After some careful consideration, I decided we needed more than a hood - we needed a GE Profile oven. It's a microwave and a convection oven, and it also functions as a stove hood with a light and vent. It even has a nightlight.

The funny thing is that my first cooking memory is about popcorn, and one of my favorite uses for that GE Profile oven is to microwave popcorn - it's consistent and it's easy and I can cook with little or no oil - or more oil. Or butter. Whatever mood strikes me.

But it's not just for convenient snacking. I use it every single day for something.

More than once this dual-purpose appliance has saved my bacon ... like the time when some parts of a dinner were done wayyyyy too soon, and I was able to put the finished items in the oven on a "warm" setting while I waited for the stragglers. And the company we were feeding never knew that I hadn't planned it that way all along.

Want more GE in your life? You can follow GE Appliances on Twitter (and find them on other social media) at @GEAppliances. Look for the hashtag #MyAmericanKitchen for more kitchen stories, nostalgia, and how folks are creating new memories every day.

Check out the Richards family story about their adopted children and learning about culture through food.

There will be more videos to come.

Watch the videos at

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of GE Appliances. The opinions and text are all mine.