I’ve loved to cook, or at least make a mess while attempting to cook, for as long as I remember. My mother is not a wasteful woman, so the fact she occasionally let me make unsupervised messes of flour and milk speaks to the fact that she recognized how important being comfortable and creative in the kitchen is. Or, maybe she was just at her wits end as to how to keep me out of her hair. Either way, I appreciate and remember those allowances. (She let me draw both Janis Joplin and The Cat in the Hat on her basement walls as well. Mom’s pretty cool.)

I watched her cook for years and helped out when she saw fit. By the time I was eleven, Mom was spending half of her weekdays and nights at my grandmother’s home caring for her. Eventually warming up dinner for Dad and I turned into cooking whatever Mom left instructions to make. Soon, she was just giving me vaugue reminders of what needed to be used up.

I missed having a well-stocked kitchen, or any kind of kitchen, while I was in college. I might be the only person to have ever made cookies in a hot pot in a dorm room. When I moved into a duplex with a huge kitchen, I was in heaven. Now I’m settled into my first home. The kitchen is small but functional, and I’ve built up an arsenal of well-loved tools.

Cooking club, aptly named From Scratch, came about a few years ago. I tasted my first tamale and knew I had to recreate it. I approached three good friends who are all talented cooks, and we planned an afternoon of tamale making. That too was an experience that needed to be repeated, and, so, our monthly cooking club was born. Some of us faithfully follow recipes while other wing it. We’ve had successes and flops. Always, we have a wonderful time. The hostess chooses recipes, shops, organizes, and prepares nibbles to enjoy before we cook. We rotate from house to house each month. Usually, when discussing dates, the hostess shares ideas or recipes but sometimes we have a surprise project. This month we celebrated St. Patrick’s Day with Shamrock Milkshake Cupcakes.

I’d encourage anyone who enjoys cooking or who would like to learn more about cooking to start a similar club. Not everyone had the chance to learn from a mother, a grandmother, or other family member the way that I did. There’s something special about preparing and sharing food with friends. I’ve learned over the years that there are many ways to pray. There are also many ways to celebrate communion.

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