One thing is for sure...... I am VERY proud of being raised in a family that loved each other. I am proud of the fact that my parents gave up many conveniences so that I could develop safely in a loving home. In a way, today's blog will deal with some of the things that I am thankful for about being raised as a "Mormon Boy".
As a start, I am thankful for being raised as someone who believes in the innate goodness of people. This is certainly not just a "Mormon" principle, as people I have met throughout my life also feel this quality of life, whether the are "Mormons", Catholics, Jews, Muslim, agnostic or atheist. My Father loved almost everyone he met -- and showed it. He tried to motivate us children (there were 7 of us) to read and live by stories that inspired us to be better.
In this photo of our family, Dad his holding a copy of a book that he read to us on "Family Night" named "The Glory Of The Sun" by Sterling W. Sill (one of my favorite LDS authors). He wrote of how to be successful and always had an optimistic attitude (much like Dad did). To "Mormons", he was like Norman Vincent Peale and his own success was used as a template on how to succeed in life. Some of his quotes are HERE. One of his quotes goes: "Wealth is not only what you have, but it is also what you are." I suspect that many think that, by allowing my mind to think that the facts of LDS history and theology and doctrine are not entirely and completely "true", I am repudiating all that is and was good about my family, friends and religion. I don't think so. I still embrace happily the best qualities that I learned throughout my life.
One of the skills I acquired in my youth was the feeling that I could do ANYTHING. No task was only reserved for women, or men or only for those who received a lot of training. Mom taught me to like cooking -- and I learned early that recipes are never intended to be followed EXACTLY -- a good cook will always add a little more sugar, salt, butter or other ingredient if you want to make food more interesting. I watched (and helped) Mom make my favorite orange rolls many times before I left home. I still make orange rolls occasionally -- particularly on family gatherings. I seldom refer to written recipes -- and the orange rolls often turn out slightly different each time. (I will share with you my orange roll recipe in a coming blog)
When I left home at the age of 20 to go on a mission, I had no hesitation to cook for myself or others. Not all my cooking was completely successful, however. I remember once trying to impress a young woman I dated by making rice for dinner one evening. It was delicious and received a lot of compliments. However, after dinner, while cleaning up, I looked closely at the rice. It had hundreds of rice-colored weevil larvae throughout gave it its texture and taste. No one had noticed.
|rice weevil larvae|
When I arrived on my mission, I quickly became known as an Elder who liked to cook -- and did a pretty good job of it. (Most young missionaries could only cook macaroni and cheese out of a box) and was tasked with special cooking chores -- including occasionally making lemon meringue pie or other pastries. One pet peeve of mine was to allow other elders to cook -- only to find out that they had no idea how to avoid burning food, much less how to make it look and taste good enough to eat.
Yesterday, I got the urge to make homemade mushroom soup -- so I did! It turned out delicious. I still do most of the cooking around the house -- not so much because my wife is not good at cooking -- but because when I want something to eat, I want it done my way. My wife has no problems with that and does not complain when I leave a total mess in the kitchen, so long as she does not have to do BOTH the cooking and the cleanup. [one suggestion, if any others are reading.... immediately after you use some mixing bowls or pans, put water in them to sit. It makes cleanup sooooo much easier]
While I lived in Fairbanks, Alaska between 1988 and 1999, I took 3-4 cooking classes in the evening at the local Community college. Taking cooking classes has numerous benefits, including meeting new and interesting people, learning new things -- and generally leaving the class eating something delicious.