Come Into the Kitchen for a Minute:” Cooking, Eating, Talking with Mom











This guest post was writ­ten by  Vicki Bell. Vicki is Founder and Editor of The Little Paper; a monthly news­pa­per with a weekly newslet­ter and a web­site that pro­vides par­ents with the most com­pre­hen­sive, cre­ative and use­ful list­ings for pro­grams, classes, activ­i­ties, events and resources in the city. Vicki’s post is part of the part of the Apron Strings series, help­ing shine a light on our foremother’s food tra­di­tions. Visit the Apron Strings page to see other posts and the videos.

I’ve always sus­pected that my mom doesn’t like cook­ing very much – this despite the fact that she’s actu­ally a really good cook – but I thought I should check in with her before I went ahead and made it pub­lic. “Oh God, Vicki” she said, “I hate cooking.”

This shouldn’t really sur­prise me. My first kitchen mem­o­ries aren’t, as I believed for many years, of bak­ing cook­ies with my great grand­mother Gammy but with Mary Mills, her silver-haired Scottish house­keeper. My grand­mother had a cook as well and would only occa­sion­ally waft into the kitchen on a cloud of Arpége to look for a vase or a cock­tail or a child. It wasn’t much of a hot­house for orchids of the Cordon Bleu per­sua­sion. But then the story turned sharply to the left and my mom made what her mother would have called “an unfor­tu­nate mar­riage.” Imagine the poor thing, 18 years old, madly in love and utterly adrift in a tiny, (unstaffed) kitchen with only the Joy of Cooking to keep her impend­ing fam­ily afloat.

I remem­ber that book as a flour-dusted, penciled-in, broken-spined kitchen bible. From it emerged chicken baked with Lawry’s sea­son­ing salt and but­ter, French salad dress­ing made with Crisco and Ketchup and Harvard-styled tinned beets, smoth­ered in vine­gar and sugar. What’s more impor­tant than mom’s cook­ing though, is the kitchen itself. It was the cen­tre of the world. Everything of any impor­tance hap­pened there. Everyday after school I found my mom in the kitchen and while she cooked, I ate and talked.

Over time, my mom became more con­fi­dent and more ambi­tious. While I laid out the entire plot of a movie (Silver Streak comes imme­di­ately to mind), she attached a grinder to the kitchen counter and minced steak and onions for shepherd’s pie. As I ago­nized over the more pop­u­lar girls in grade seven, she made lamb curry with lit­tle dishes of raisins and coconut. While I got dumped, fell in love, opened my uni­ver­sity let­ters and planned my first apart­ment, she made scratch crusts for blue­berry pie – and apple, pump­kin and most impor­tantly, rhubarb pie.

The phrase ”Come into the kitchen for a minute” still strikes me as a spine-tingling pre­lude to big news or big secrets.

Not sur­pris­ing then that I love to cook and that I love shar­ing the kitchen with my own girls. We make won­der­ful food and great mem­o­ries together but alas, kind of a lousy pie.

Maybe you can do better…


Pastry (enough for 1 1/2 — 9 inch pies)

This recipe works for me but I have given the recipe to oth­ers who say that I have missed out an ingre­di­ent.  Good luck !

  • 1 cup short­en­ing (Tenderflake) cut up into small pieces and softened
  • Add:
  • 1/2 cup boil­ing water and blend
  • 2 cups of flour(pastry or sifted)
  • 1/2 tsp bak­ing powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • Blend all together with pas­try tool or knife cut­ting through the mix­ture not stir­ring. If too greasy add a lit­tle more flour.
  • Form into a ball and place on a floured piece of tin foil and wrap up and chill before rolling. Best done the day before.


Rhubarb Pie (1 –9 inch pie)

  • 2 cups fresh rhubarb cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • Sprinkle 2 to 3 tblsp flour over rhubarb and toss pieces in flour.
  • Mix together in sep­a­rate bowl:
  • 2 tblsp but­ter softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Add rhubarb to the above mix­ture and coat well. Place in an unbaked pie shell and cover with a pas­try top.
  • Prick the pas­try top with a fork and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 min­utes. Enjoy !



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