I grew up spending many hours in the kitchen with various adults and have lots of happy memories of baking bread, rolling cookies and canning applesauce under their guidance. But one of my strongest childhood cooking memories is the first time I cooked something 'all by myself.'
Actually, I wasn't completely alone. If memory serves, my best friend Amy was the instigator and I'm pretty sure it was at her house and with her recipe. (I still have the recipe card, scrawled in my 11-year-old handwriting, titled Popular Muffins.) What I remember the most was pulling the golden brown, magically puffed-up muffins out of the oven, and the feelings of joy and pride and accomplishment mixed in with a little wonder at the mystery of it all. Oh, and I think they tasted pretty good, too.
I also remember figuring out that a dollop of jam in the middle might be good, or some cinnamon sugar and walnuts. For several months, Popular Muffins became my signature dish and I'm sure my family grew weary of their constant appearance. But they would always disappear and, encouraged, I would leap into the kitchen and whip up another batch. Funny how little we change!
So what's the first thing you ever cooked by yourself ? Was it a success or a disaster? Do you still make it today?