Me cook now

If there was a table with food on it Jackie wanted to be in the center of it from birth. Try to hold her or cuddle her and she would turn on you. But strategically place her with the food and you had a happy baby, who grew to be the kid who had to cook.

Jackie learned cooking from both family and friends, especially her mother’s best friend, Edie, a teacher and a great foodie in her day.

“She gave me my first cookbook, The Joy of Cooking. She loved the cheesecake recipe with the sour cream topping and the lemon meringue pie. She made the best lemon meringue pie.”

Jackie spent “gourmet summers” in the country with Edie and friends, growing their own vegetables and picking wild berries. The group planned every meal, poring through cookbooks to prepare nightly feasts of “exotic” dishes like fried zucchini blossoms, Swedish meatballs and fromage Romanesque.

“In those days, I was the low man on the totem pole because I was so young. I hated it! I never got to actually cook. I was like the kitchen hand. I got to wash celery, maybe peel potatoes, never anything good. I remember being so jealous of Crystal, who was just a bit older than me. She got to do the more exciting jobs like rolling the meat balls, and whisking. I used to have those ‘thwarted heroine’ thoughts, the kind you get in trashy novels. Just you wait. One day, I’ll get taller and bigger and I’ll show you all! I’ll scratch my way up to the top of that stove. And then, when I’m up there cooking, wielding my mighty spatula, in charge of that stove, you’ll all kneel before me and my delicious food!”

Jackie’s palate developed through all the experimentation.

“The most unusual meal we ever made was a Rijsttafel, an Indonesian feast with what then seemed like bizarre dishes. Today, I can’t imagine where we even got the ingredients since we were out in the country. It was an amazing meal for the times. We kids were horrified—spinach with peanut butter sauce?!!! It was absolutely delicious.”

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