When I was a kid, I enjoyed watching my mom cook.
The heart of our home was the kitchen.
It was where the women (and the men while stealing a meatball or a taste of something good) gathered. They chatted. They chopped. They cooked.
These women were almost always led by my mother. She would give out directions and ingredients to chop. She would create the menus that we would all feast on afterwards.
I remember being put to work at an early age. Sitting in between my godmother and my grandmother. Enjoying the jokes. Relishing in their company. Knowing that I was sitting amongst really strong women who did not always subscribe to society’s ideals of what a woman “should be.”
But when I started cooking by myself I was probably about eleven years old. Even if we had a helper in the house, my brothers and I would create our own dishes made from simple ingredients that usually were packaged meals in boxes with instructions to guide us.
In the beginning, these could have been instant noodles that we dressed up. As I gained confidence in the kitchen, I moved on to boxed muffin mixes, and then eventually, started baking from scratch.
My mother always paid attention to the three square meals that she would put on the table, but would count on the generosity of her guests to bring dessert to compliment our meals.
She didn’t like baking.
So, my love for being in the kitchen, and my desire to contribute to our family meals, sparked my desire for baking sweet treats.
Even from the birth of my first child, I have been acutely aware that they needed to be present for the preparation of our meals that would grace our table. At an early age, each of my children sat in the swing while I would prepare the dishes that would usually be fast and easy so that I could get everyone fed properly.
Sometimes, to make our meals easier, I cheat. And by cheat, I mean I don’t make everything from scratch. I have used jarred sauces, frozen seafood, and prepackaged side dishes that compliment what we are eating so that I can get all the dishes on the table at the same time.
Sometimes, I also ask my kids to take care of the meals. With teenagers and a preteen, I can obviously do this with confidence because they know their way around the kitchen. They have been taught how to use knives properly. They have been taught how not to cross contaminate cutting boards, and of course, they have been taught how to properly use the oven and the stove. ( I do not own a microwave.)
I thought it would be a great idea to show the novice cook, or even the doubtful momma, that using certain items in our grocery store by trusted brands can get them started in the kitchen.
After all, if Diego (my eleven year old) can put together a merienda of Pancit Palabok with virtually no help at all, then why couldn’t anyone else?
If you would like to pick up your own pack of instant noodles that come complete with sauces and instructions, you can visit your nearest grocery store to pick up any of the different varieties.
Laksa, Chap Chae, Birthday Noodles, Palabok, and Pad Thai variants make it easy for Diego to get cooking in the kitchen again!