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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Mom ditches kitchen to make room for rookie cook

Cheryl-Anne Millsap The Spokesman-Review

Cooking is in. There are television networks, and Web sites devoted to bringing us all things food, all the time. Magazines, with glossy photos of carefully styled meals and products cover the news stand, and pop culture has a whole new breed of celebrity: the kitchen superstar.

And then there’s me. If I had my way, making dinner would mean tossing slices of a crisp, juicy, apple and sharp cheddar cheese on a plate, or chopping hot boiled eggs onto a sandwich of white bread slathered with mayonnaise and sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper to eat while I read. (Actually, that’s not quite true. I would, if I were able to do as I pleased, dine solely on ice cream, particularly fresh strawberry ice cream, until I grew as large, and round, as a quivering Jell-O salad.)

But back to the cooking … It’s not that I don’t appreciate a good meal, I do. I especially adore food that was prepared for me.

I love to go out to dinner, order something delicious and spend the next hour or two savoring good food, rich wine and sparkling conversation. I just don’t particularly care to be the chef. I know on which side of the kitchen door I belong.

Of course, when my babies came along, I knuckled under and fed them well, and regularly. I balanced meals and worried about vitamins, minerals and calcium intake. But it was always a struggle. One problem is that when I’m hungry, I just want to eat. I don’t want to take the time to put together a meal. Another problem is that when I’m not hungry, I don’t want to eat and I don’t want to cook then, either.

A couple of years ago, after writing about a local chef who taught the basics of cooking in her home, I took one of her classes. And I loved it. Each week, she showed a room full of eager students, and me, how to chop, baste, knead and bake. And, at the end of each class she served us the meal we had watched her prepare. With a glass of wine. Yum.

Everyone else came away from the classes inspired to create their own gourmet meals. I came away full and happy.

Now, just to demonstrate that our children will grow up to do exactly the opposite of what we teach them, my oldest daughter has developed an interest in cooking. It makes sense. She is the math whiz (further proof) and cooking is somewhat mathematical. But she is also learning to live on her own, and she wants to be able to prepare the things she likes to eat.

But when she calls to ask questions about recipes, and things like substitutions and oven temperature, it forces me to put down my apple, and whatever I’m reading, to dig through the cupboards looking for my old copy of “The Joy of Cooking.”

So I had an idea. Because I want to foster her culinary interest – I’m no dummy, I may have to live with her when what’s left of my mind finally goes – I signed her up for the chef’s cooking course. That way she can learn from a pro. And, in the interest of a little mother-daughter time, I signed myself up for another round.

I’ll get to spend another five weeks happily perched on a stool watching others, including my bright young daughter, learn to cook. And at the end of each lesson I’ll tuck into the plate of delicious food, sip a little wine and laugh at the jokes and stories that add spice to a meal whenever people gather.

When it’s over my daughter will be a better cook, and me? Well, I’ll continue to do what I have always done best: eat, drink and be merry.

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