I sat on Mom's bed with the green book in front of me. It was the Junior Cadet Girl Scout manual. I flipped through the pages, looking specifically to badges to be earned. I read the requirements of each one, and I found the one I wanted next.
That little circle with the green background, and a little saucepan emblem on it stood out to me. It was achievable. After all, on my mother's side of the family my great-great grandmother taught my grandmother (who was orphaned) to cook. My grandmother taught my mother and at 10 years old, I was ready to begin cooking.
I can still remember planning and cooking that first meal--round steak, with mashed potatoes, corn and green beans; a simple but filling meal. I can't remember now if I fixed a desert. I can still remember that square kitchen in the Castle Air Force Base family housing suburb. The outside door was on the outside wall led to the breeze-way/carport. Across the small room was the doorway to the dining area and rest of the house. The window on the other outside wall faced the fenced-in back yard. During the summer we had four-o'clock vines growing on wires and this shaded the kitchen and filled the air with a pungent, sweet perfume when the flowers swirled open their fragile blooms. The stove sat next to the door way, with other cabinets across the room from the sink. There was a work counter-top beneath cupboards on the wall.
And it was here that my love with the creative art of cooking was started. Mom taught me to beat the steak with a meat knife to tenderize it. I poured on garlic salt and black ground pepper. Next was a dip into the flour. It was ready for the grease.
"Mom, how many potatoes?"
"How many people are you cooking for?" she asked.
"Five--you know, you, me, Dad, Bubby and Monkey Girl."
"Peel six potatoes--one per person and one for the pot."
That is the guideline I've used throughout my life, no matter what I'm cooking. If I'm preparing mashed potatoes, potato salad or boiled potatoes for a meal, it's one per person and one 'for the pot'. This extra potato allows for second helping--especially in the case of growing teen-age boys. It also covers you if an unexpected guest shows up. Left over potatoes become potato bread, potato cakes or potato soup.
The corn of that first meal was out of the can. So were the green beans. But Mom taught me to put in some bacon and onion.
I did achieve the scout badge, and I still have my sash and the badge--someplace.