I've been eating all my life, well, I guess you already knew that. And I've been cooking since I was young. In my house, growing up, we didn't get homemade goodies (well, once in a blue moon Mom made chocolate chip cookies) but unless I baked, it was graham crackers dipped in milk or those oatmeal cookies with the jam filling. Early on (gradeschool) I started hanging with Mary Ellen, who lived behind me on "C" Street. She taught me to bake bread and cinnamon rolls, sticky buns and other sweet treats. So I became the baker in the family.
As a young wife, I'm afraid to admit my experiments included hamburger soup that my brother-in-law said tasted like dirty dishwater and boiled bacon--seemed like a solution to too much fat. Mother was such a stickler about removing every bit of fat from a steak or roast and the beef she bought was always the leanest, even pulled every last inch of skin from a chicken before baking it in butter. Go figure.
The cooking skills I developed at home took me to Hill's Resort at Priest Lake, Idaho where I cooked lunch and dinner for 16 crew members working on building condos along the lake front. I got teased about everything: hockey puck biscuits, leftovers that looked like dog food, and baked goods that didn't rise. The main thing that happened to me during that learning experience is I finally got over my panic and learned to be a fast and efficient cook without burning everything or turning it to mush. I could whip something up for lunch or dinner faster than a greasy spoon short-order cook, and mostly, I made it all up.
For years I had a husband who hated everything I cooked. I'd set it in front of him and he'd say, "My mother never cooked it this way." So I'd remove his plate and eat my own dinner in the bedroom. During those years I was cooking wholesome baked goods, having a epiphany when I discovered stone-ground whole wheat flour in a health-food store. It was during the Viet Nam era and I worked in a computer center in Boone, North Carolina. I also learned how to cook grits and greens.
My next husband was in ecstasy every time I sat a plate of food in front of him. He was even happy with a baked potato stuffed with canned chili. Not a hard man to please in the eating department. I won't go into the rest of the story. I pretty much cooked most of the meals, although occasionally he cooked stir-fry. The first husband didn't think he should have to do anything for me. Only on occasion he cooked ribs, scrambled eggs, and made beef jerky (which was pretty good.)
Now I mostly cook for one. On occasion I have guests, but my place is small--really too small to entertain. But we have sat around the coffee table with plates in our laps, eating tender roast beef just like Mama's.