“No, you can’t cook,” my mom said.
“But Mom, I know how,” I whined.
We were standing in the kitchen on a warm day. I was nine and I wanted to fry the chicken. All my childhood I’d watched my mom cook. The sizzling of the chicken in the hot frying oil filled the kitchen. I thought it looked fun so on this day I decided to ask if I could help. My mom was cooking fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and the most disgusting thing of all: green beans. I hate those; they taste awful. If I were cooking, we wouldn’t have this problem.
I kept begging my mom to let me cook while she transferred the chicken that was in the flour to the frying pan. The smell of fried chicken went up my nostrils. I begged her one more time. “No!” She yelled. I got angry and went to my room. On my way to my room I almost tripped over my cat because he is always laying in the middle of the hallway.
Now, three years later, I am twelve and my mom still won’t let me cook. All she lets me do is pass her things, stir the cornbread or the cake, and put it in the pan. I don’t want to do that. I want to fry chicken, or fish, or plantains. I want to bake macaroni and cheese and cakes — not just stir the batter. I want to boil spaghetti and make soups. No, my mother says. I’m too young and apparently, I’m going to hurt myself. I just want to cook for my mom one time and then she can say no. I get so angry sometimes because all she tells me to do is put the food away and measure the ingredients for the cakes and other things. Sometimes I want to because it’s kind of a start, but I don’t want to do it all the time. I want to fry stuff — actually cook something. That’s all I want to do. I’m twelve years old. I need to cook. I’m old enough.
But my mom decided I am old enough to bake. The first thing I baked were Peppermint Velvet cookies. I added all the ingredients to a large white bowl and followed the instructions on the back of the box. The dough was red and it looked really sticky. As I was kneading the dough it stuck to my hands. “Did I do this right?” I thought to myself. I continued anyway; my hands were stained blood-red from the dough.
I rolled the dough into little balls and set the balls on a buttered pan and put them in the oven. I washed my hands. After that, I check on the cookies just to make sure I did it right. They were sliding around like when children first learn to ice skate. “Oh my God!” I yelled and quickly took the pan out of the oven. I put of the cookie balls onto a paper plate, put wax paper on the pan, put the cookies back on top, and put the pan back into the oven. I checked on the cookies to make sure they were not sliding. When I saw that they were just sitting in their spots where I put them, I felt happy because they were going to come out amazing. Fourteen minutes later they were done. They looked pretty good — not perfect — but good. And that was my first time baking.
The first time I baked not everything went right. Cooking my first full meal won’t be perfect, but it will be just right. I can’t wait until I’m older so I can cook for everyone.
Recipe for a Close Family
1 family, any size
1 big bowl of smiles
Watch movies together
Get in the car and drive.
Visit family and friends.
Talk over dinner.
1 happy and close family
In this collection of "memoirs remixed," 7th graders from the Boston Teachers Union school explore stories from their lives in forms of all shapes and sizes, from a conversation between the United States and the Dominican Republic to a 7th grade survival guide. Each memoir is accompanied by student artwork.Read more from this book »