After my trip into the baking world at age seven with a failed whoopee pie attempt, I kind of just gravitated to the baking world. I'm sure it was mostly because of my preference for something sweet at that age. I didn't get into cooking right away. But as my parents both worked, we children were called upon to start a meal for supper. There were a few fails. I remember making a chocolate cake for my father – his favorite. And as mother worked till 8 at the bank that night, I thought a pot of coffee would be a nice gesture. I put the cake on the back burner to cool and started the old stove top percolator on the front burner. Unfortunately, I turned on the back burner and burnt the heck out of the cake when I walked away from the kitchen. I wasn't familiar at that time with a rack for cooling baked goods. Live and learn. |
By the time I was 15, I was old enough to work with 'work papers'. The local nursing home was hiring but I was too young to work with patients. Because I could boil water without burning it, they made me the evening cook and weekend fill in. It was intimidating to serve 60 patients a meal that would be palatable, but I worked with a menu. The day cook would prepare some things, or at least get them started. I always was unhappy to see egg salad on the menu. My day cook would boil them up but never chilled them. She would leave them to me to peel. I don't think that much of those eggs made it into the bowl. Large chunks of the white were discarded – stuck on the shell.
One weekend serving as the day cook, hot rolls were on the menu. I'd never seen them on the menu before, and having experienced bread making, I knew I was in trouble. I don't know if I ran home for the recipe, but I found myself making my oatmeal bread into rolls for 60 patients. I figured that if I doubled the batch I could eke out that number. In those days, we had a big Hobart mixer. I knew nothing about a bread hook and used the paddle that was in the machine. Did they have dough hooks back in the '60's? Well, it didn't work. I ended up with a strange mixture much like cake dough. There were no forming rolls out of that. Today, I might have been able to save it, but I slunk with that pan full of dough into the dish-washing room and forced it down the disposal. Then I wandered into the pantry. There was not enough bread to serve with dinner and I was in a pinch. It was then that I spied a 5-pound bag of hot roll mix on the shelf. oh.....
I continued to work there. Once I reached age 16 I graduated to a nurses aide position. I worked as an aide but sometimes as a cook, and stayed on all through high school and more as I went to nursing school. Summers and holidays from training, I was called upon to work in the kitchen. It was a nice change. I was able to provide aides and cooks with their summer vacations.
I learned the value of the clean-up. Called on the carpet only once was more than I wanted to take. It turned out to be from someone's midnight snack not from our evening meal. But I never received an apology from the boss for that calling down. It was another lesson learned. It was about how to treat those that work for you. Yes, live and learn.
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