There are times when nothing turns out quite right—the cookies burn—the soufflé flops—the soup has no taste—the bread doesn’t raise. The pantry is stocked and you still don’t have the spice or herb ingredient the recipe calls for. But still—I love to be in the kitchen more than any other room in the house.
When I say this to people they typically say one of two things—Either they get a look of distain or a puzzled look—as though to say—“you’re crazy” and then proceed to change the subject quickly. Or they say something wistful like “I wish I could cook but I’m not good at it.” This response makes me feel perplexed. I used to think everyone liked to cook. And I believe that if someone really wants to get good at it-- they can. My mother always said, “If you can read, you can cook.”
Growing up, I remember watching her joyfully preparing foods in the kitchen. I even remember her making homemade potato chips. You would think that having me in tow after raising eleven other children she may have given up or ran out of patience but that was not the case. I remember being allowed to help—it was a messy thing. Mixing-chopping-kneading-peeling-stirring-spreading and pouring. Even when it did not turn out quite right she would praise my efforts. The kitchen is a great place for children to develop life skills; shopping–cooking-cleaning up, all sorely needed for becoming self-sufficient. This is the reason on this website you will see children participating in preparations on some of the tutorials...
I grew up on a farm where we sold fruits and vegetables. It was a roadside produce stand, later to become Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. When I was three years old, my dad died at the young age of 47. He left 11 children. I was the youngest. Our fruit and vegetable farm was how my mother continued to support our family. I had many opportunities to watch my older siblings and learn life’s lessons at an early age. One of those lessons was making our work enjoyable and experiencing the rewards that came from working as a team. There was no distinction between genders. Work was done by boys and girls alike.
To supply the farm store with fruit to sell, my brothers took the truck to purchase the melons. The melons had to be unloaded and stacked in the store. This was accomplished by a relay race strategy. (To the left is my brother Roy catching a very large watermelon.)
In a relay race, you use a baton, we used a watermelon. Four of my siblings would each position themselves about six feet apart beginning with the one on the truck and ending with the one standing at the place where the melons would be stacked. This required careful coordination just in case the watermelons landed on the ground instead of the outstretched arms of the one waiting to receive and pass it on to the next. The object was to keep the melon moving at maximum speed at all times – otherwise we would be working all night. The melon relay was like the relay of life. It’s not a one person event if you want to be successful.
When the pitching and stacking was completed, it was time for the reward - eating watermelon - which for us was our candy. That is how I learned that real food is good - all by itself.
We ate our watermelon by the light of the moon standing along mother’s garden. In those days—all watermelons had big black seeds—not like the hybrids we know of these days. We would have a contest to see who could spit the seed the furthest. As you can imagine, I never won any of the games but I don’t remember caring because it was so much fun. I called that time “watermelon moon” and sometimes I even thought the moon looked like a big round watermelon.
Through the years, this has become one of my favorite childhood memories and lessons—work hard and have fun—and most of the times it involved food—really good—wholesome foods—home grown and eaten immediately. This is probably why I enjoy creating foods to market through Burris Country Kitchen™. It is real food—and very rewarding to work together with a team of people doing something that I love.