Bonnie Shell's Life Stories

Who are the best cooks in your family?

Coming from a family with a Polish background, there were many good cooks in my family. The only thing was that there was not a great variety of menus. My mom cooked what she learned from her mom, added some other things after she got married, and cooked things that were my dad's favorites.

My late Aunt Estelle was by far the best cook in our family. She was my Uncle Frank's wife (my dad's brother). They had no children, so when it came to family gatherings, Aunt Estelle let out all the stops. I especially remember a cake she made with rum chocolate frosting. Unfortunately, when she passed away, all her recipes got tossed. My uncle (her husband) should have taken the initiative to learn even the basics from her. After she died, he called his sister to ask how to make tea.

I learned to cook when I was twelve years old. My mom went to work, and I had to prepare dinner before my parents got home. As I became older and more confident, I started cooking some things from a cookbook. I still cook the old favorites, which I know by heart, but I like trying new things. I like to bake, which was not one of my mother's favorite things to do. My mother had this sewing circle that met once a month at a different member's house each month. The hostess always provided dessert, and I loved to try a new recipe when it was my mom's turn.

I like to cook and bake. My ex-daughter-in-law once mentioned that she had been coming over for Sunday dinner for a year and had never had the same meal twice.

I love to entertain and have a good time making finger foods. When we have company, I do not want anyone to bring anything because I want to know I have enough for everyone. Being of Polish descent, running out of food would be terribly embarrassing.

I can only remember making some things I would not make again. I have never made anything that was not edible.

Even though my family was not poor, eating out was a luxury. When we didn't get new shoes, my dad would take us out for Sunday dinner with his poker winnings. He didn't play often, but he almost always won.

After my marriage, we couldn't afford to eat out except for birthdays and anniversaries. When I worked outside the home, I learned to make many dinners in the crock pot. Now, in our senior years, we eat out more often, and it is a treat not to cook and especially do the dishes.