Some of my fondest memories in the kitchen are with my father. Mine was not like every other father on the block. Sure, he wore a jacket and tie to work every day like the rest of them, but when he got home, they came off, the shiny black shoes were unlaced, then he rolled up the shirt sleeves and began dinner. Some evenings I sat at the kitchen table while he worked away and he would help me with my spelling words, or with memorization of the county seats, but many times I found myself right there beside him at the counter, acting as his sous chef.

He taught me the proper way to use a knife, how to curl one’s fingers under and use the knuckles to hold the item being sliced or diced. He showed me how to sauté, using the wild mushrooms that we had foraged the previous day. He taught me how to keep a clean workspace, to clear the counter tops as you go along, making room for the next item to be prepped. As we cooked, we talked. I learned a lot about cooking from dad. And I learned a lot about life cooking with dad.

 My Stepfather is also a master in the kitchen. He is from Germany and cooks the most wonderfully tasty German meals; sauerbraten, schnitzel, goulash. He gave me a personal cooking lesson on how to make rouladen, and what a wonderful gift that was. It’s one my half-German husband’s favorite dishes. I will have to share that recipe with you sometime. Maybe for Oktoberfest?

Like me, my husband also has a blended family with two sets of parents – oh what lucky children we have – four sets of grandparents!

When my Stepfather-in-law visits Seattle, we usually go to the Pike Place Market where he always indulges in a humbow – I don’t think he can get anything like it in New Hampshire… He loves to cook, and he loves to talk about food. I love to do both with him. Then there’s my Father-in-law who, like me, loves a fine restaurant, but I will never forget the major bonding we did one time, over a simple burger, shake, and fries at a local hamburger joint.

My husband’s kitchen is outdoors – he is most at home with a spatula in his hand in front of his grill. As the Master of the Grill, he now is teaching our boys to cook, in his own way. He doesn’t wear a tie to work, but when he gets home the sleeves of his dress shirt get rolled up, and as I watch, I am amazed and delighted at the complexities of the father-child relationship. And I am thankful for all the fathers I have in my life and all they have taught me, in, and out, of the kitchen.

 

Happy Father’s Day.

This was one of my favorites growing up:

Dad’s Sloppy Joe’s

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 8oz can tomato sauce
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • 2 ½  Tbs. worcestershire sauce
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tbs. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • Dash salt

Saute the onion then add the ground beef to brown. Drain. Add rest of ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes. Serve on fresh hamburger rolls (add cheese if you like.) I like this recipe best warmed up the next day, after all the flavors have a chance to combine.

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