In honor of Mother’s Day, the staff in the Test Kitchen is paying homage to the special women in our lives by sharing tips and memories we have learned from them.
Becky, Test Kitchen & Consumer Affairs Director
My grandmother, who all her grandchildren called PawMaw (my sister started this as a toddler because she overheard my dad saying things like “let’s go see Paw and Maw” which were the names he used for his parents — she just put it together into PawMaw), was a wonderful cook and baker. She loved all kinds of food and would really try making just about anything. My grandparents traveled all over the United States and she would return with recipes for the various regional dishes they had tasted on their trips. From ètouffèe and beignets to authentic Chinese dishes, she shared her love of food with me. My fondest memory was standing at her side making a rich, buttery shortbread slice and bake cookie she simply called “French Cookies.” The advice she shared not only through her words but, more importantly, through her cooking and baking, was to not be afraid to try new recipes, ingredients and foods. I have tried to live by this advice and have enjoyed sharing my love of cooking and baking all kinds of food with my children.
Mallory, Product Specialist
I come from a group of Midwestern women who all love cooking and baking. All of our family get-togethers revolved (and still do!) around eating.
One of my earliest memories of baking was making holiday sugar cookies with my Grandma Millie and my mom, Mary. Grandma had a delicious recipe that we still use for every holiday celebration — and the sugar cookies wouldn’t be complete without a cup of coffee to dip them in. Grandma would always make the cookies “extra crispy” so they soaked up the coffee better!
The first time I ventured into the kitchen to prepare a “real” meal was on Mother’s Day, 1998. My sister, Ellyn, and I decided to make mom a “fancy” meal (spaghetti, garlic bread and salad). We were so proud of ourselves!
Shelley, Sr. Customer Concerns Lead
This is the BEST tip ever! I use it often. My mom picked it up at a wedding shower. Guests were asked to share their advice for the bride-to-be. The bride’s grandmother provided this:
When you’re in charge of the meal, make sure the table is set. Even if you haven’t started cooking or don’t have a clue what you’ll serve, set the table. When the family comes into the kitchen they’ll see the table is set and be assured that dinner is in the works (even if it isn’t!).
Amber, Senior Product Specialist
My mom has never really been a fan of cooking. In a lot of ways, that was the motivation for me to learn how to cook. I can remember baking muffins or cookies or coffee cake on the weekends when my mom was out running errands — testing different recipes and methods, finding out what works and what doesn’t. I always liked to pretend I was on a cooking show when I did it. I would carefully premeasure all my ingredients into little bowls and talk to myself while preparing the recipe (good thing no one else was home!). The rest of the family never seemed to mind when there were extra baked goods around the house. During the holidays my mom has always done her part to bring something to the extended family dinner. Sometimes I think she pretends to know less about cooking than she really does just so she doesn’t have to do it, but she would probably disagree.
Jan, Test Kitchens Recipe Assistant
My Mom, a farmer’s wife, was a wonderful baker. She was known for her fudgy brownies. Saturdays were for baking a dozen loaves of delicious yeast bread and a marvelous coffee cake for Sunday morning breakfast.
Deb, Consumer Affairs
My Grandma Grace always made us “lambie” cakes for our birthday. It was a sponge cake made in a lamb mold. She would decorate it with coconut for the wooly coat, black jelly beans for the eyes and a pink jelly bean for the nose. She would tint the coconut green to spread around the lamb to look like it was sitting in the grass. When I was older she showed me how to decorate the cake. We made the frosting together and she showed me how to tint the coconut green by using green food coloring and shaking it up with the coconut in a jar.
My mom taught me how to make yeast bread—how to carefully heat the liquid ingredients, how to add just enough flour to knead the dough, and she also said that kneading the dough is a great way to deal with stress. Plus, you end up with a great loaf of bread.
My Grandma Lela taught me how to bake cakes. She helped me make a butter cake for the county fair, when I got my first blue ribbon. Pretty thrilling for a 7-year-old!