Friday, May 26, 2017

Clay's Kitchen - How to Make Your Kitchen All About Food, Family, Friends and Fun

When I was a little girl, I used to sit on the counter in the kitchen and watch my mother cook. I liked to be there with her because even though she was very busy preparing meals for all of the family, we would spend time together talking, laughing, sharing stories and that's where I learned to cook.

By the age of seven I was already making simple meals on my own and using the family to taste test everything. Most things were good, but others not so much. The more I cooked the better I got, and mom didn't mind me using her kitchen as long as I cleaned up afterwards and left it like I found it. I learned to entertain guests in our kitchen. Our family always ate dinner together in the kitchen. My brothers and I learned to cook in that kitchen and we learned what family was about and how wonderful it was to be together even just doing simple things like sharing a meal.

Over the years I learned to cook most of my favorites things mom made for us growing up. Although I still can't make her meatloaf, or her Sunday after Church Roast Dinner. I miss those meals, but mom always cooked by sight and taste, nothing was ever measured so those dishes were lost forever when she passed away. To my favor, I did manage to learn to cook what my mom called Shellroni which is in the picture above. It seams like every family has a version of this dish. Some call it Goulash and the ingredients are always close but slightly different. All I know is my husband loves it still to this day and everyone in the family knows how to cook it my mom's way and that's a good thing to leave your kids. I always think of her and my childhood when I make this dish, and for a very short moment I remember it all.

When I got married and especially after our sons were born, my own kitchen, Clay's Kitchen, took on a life of its own. My kids grew up cooking with me. When they were little, they would play in and around the kitchen where they were safe, but I could also keep an eye on them. Sometimes they would get a snack of whatever I was preparing or a slice of cheese or fruit to tie them over until dinner was ready. Many a hand made Birthday Cake and special meals have come from my kitchen with love, and I have stayed up a lot of nights to make sure they each could enjoy their favorites.

My kids grew up eating dinner at the table with the whole family just like my husband and I did. At first its lots of spills and learning table manners, but you manage to get through those years. Before you know it you are laughing and sharing stories. Everyone gets to have a good meal together. Sometimes its just the family, sometimes we have guests and at other times we have shared our table with friends that were without families of their own to share with. This was never a problem in our home. Everyone shares a little and you add a little more soup to the pot, and before you know it there is plenty for everyone.

We've died Easter Eggs and made candy for school projects. We've played games together and cooked up a storm. We've fed a whole house full of hungry teenagers and raided the refrigerator in the middle of the night on more than one occasion. We've fixed snacks for family movie night. Made meals to take to sick friends. Our whole family cooks together now days and we have a lot of fun doing it. Somehow everything tastes a little better when we do and everyone helps clean up when we are done so no one person is stuck with it.

Your kitchen is what you make it. Ours still has the marks on the wall where we measured the boys growing up. We've laughed, we've cried, we have lived life in our kitchen and those are happy memories I hope none of us ever forget. Everyone is different, so make your kitchen the kind your family and friends love and will remember. By doing so they will always remember you.