What Our Moms Taught Us About Cooking

published May 7, 2014
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(Image credit: Rachel Joy Barehl)

Instead of finding clever ideas for breakfast in bed or searching for the best tea set to give your mom on Mother’s Day, lets take a second to reflect on what our moms have given us in the kitchen. Sure, there are those nostalgic recipes that remind us of mom that we know by heart, but how did she teach you to navigate your kitchen? What about cooking and eating have you inherited from mom that you’re proud to share?

Here are a few things our moms taught us about cooking. Please add your own memories in the comments!

(Image credit: Anjali Prasertong)


The most important thing my mom taught me was the importance of sitting down around the table as a family to eat dinner every night. Even when it was just a casual meal of leftovers, we never sat in front of the TV and (much to my annoyance) were’t allowed to read books while eating dinner. That meant that even during my most rebellious teenage years, I was forced to spend at least a little time connecting with my family every night — a small thing that had a huge impact. I plan on teaching the same lesson to my own kids.


My mother taught me how to love dessert. Dinner was a purely functional affair, for the most part, and important only in so far as it gave one justification to have “something sweet” later on. She taught me how to make chocolate chip cookies by hand and big batches of caramel popcorn in the microwave. She taught me how to dunk buttered toast in mugs of cocoa so it didn’t get soggy. But most of all, she taught me how to truly love every single sweet bite, all the way to the last.


My mom taught me to trust my stomach. Between ballet practice, soccer, and hockey, there weren’t many nights where my family was home together, so we ate whenever we were hungry. As a result I became an intuitive eater instead of relying on a strict schedule.

She also taught me about the importance of tradition in food: growing up I was expected to eat lutefisk every Christmas, a traditional Norwegian meal. I choked it down every year, but now take pride in this strange dish.

(Image credit: Ariel Knutson)


My mom taught me a lot of things in the kitchen: how to frost a birthday cake, how to brown ground beef, how to make a white sauce, how to bake the best cinnamon rolls you’ve ever had. But I think the most important thing she taught me is the importance of a set table. Not a fussy table or a formal table, but a set table, ready and inviting, with just a touch of something special — a single flower in a vase, creased napkins (even if they’re just paper), or butter in a pretty dish. A little care goes a long way towards gathering together, which in the end is the point of cooking — another thing she taught me.


My mom cooked a made-from-scratch dinner for the family almost every day while I was growing up. I’m sure she didn’t always feel like cooking, and I’m sure at the time we didn’t appreciate her efforts nearly as much as we should have. Now as an adult, I’m so grateful to her for demonstrating that cooking is a labor of love. It’s not always fun, fancy, or romantic — in fact, it’s usually not any of those things. Instead, it’s a daily commitment you make because it’s important, and you want to care for those you love.