Sometimes things don’t work out, even when the instructions are in front of you


Being the only daughter of two traditional parents, my mom taught me all the ‘feminine’ household chores from a young age. I used to hate some of them, but one I really loved was cooking. 

The fact that my mom could take a stick of butter, some flour and vegetables and make a meal to feed our whole family astonished me. I wanted to be just like her.

However, learning to cook at the age of six isn’t easy. I got my hair caught in electric egg beaters twice (the first time because I thought it would curl my hair, and the second time because I thought I did it wrong the first time). 

Things were no better as I got older. Although my mom always provided great insight into the craft, she did it in a way that unnerved me. One second I would be cracking an egg, and the next thing I knew, a head would pop over my shoulder with supersonic speed.

“Did you crack it on the side of the bowl? Don’t get any egg shell in it. Did you get an egg shell in it? You can’t get egg shells in it! We’re going to have crunchy cookies! No one likes crunchy cookies! How many eggs did you put in? Three!? The recipe calls for two,” she said.

Her attention to detail and disdain for crunchy cookies pervade through every meal we made together. I paid close attention to what she was doing to emulate it myself. It always bugged me that halfway through my cooking, she would take over, grabbing a spoon here, or throwing in a dash of salt there. 

I discovered I was much better at cooking and baking when my mom wasn’t peering over my shoulder, so I decided to make a batch of snickerdoodle cookies on my own for the first time ever. Since I’m mathematically challenged, I had to pay strict attention to the measurement conversions, lest I end up with salty cookies. Every few minutes, a certain someone would walk into the kitchen. 

“No egg shells! Don’t forget the cinnamon,” she said. 

I was exasperated and irate, but finally got the tray into the oven. I set the timer for 14 minutes, and happily sat with my mother to tell her what a great job I had done. Four minutes passed, then seven, and soon an unpleasant odor began to fill the house. 

I sat there with my eyebrows pulled together for a moment, wondering what it could be. Then, with a start, I ran to my cookies. I yanked the oven door open, peered inside, and saw to my sorrow and shock that all my cookies were melted, dripping off the cooking tray and onto the oven floor. 

The tears began to flow, but my mom acted quickly, shutting off the oven and timer. 

“I don’t know what happened!” I cried. 

My mother put her hand to her head. “Did you remember the salt?” 


“Did you remember the sugar?” 


There was a long pause, in which my mom slowly turned her gaze down to me, crying on the kitchen floor. 

“Brenda,” she said. “Did you remember the flour?”


Fast-forward a couple of years, and I am now a perfect baker. I cook for my family every chance I get. During the holidays, I helped make a feast for my family. Last Thanksgiving, I made about 19 dishes, including four pies, three different types of cookies, caramel turtles, deviled eggs, mashed potatoes and gravy, fudge and more. My baking is better than my cooking, perhaps because it’s what I have worked on the most. 

Now, when my mother sees me cook, her only comment is to say that it’s good. Although her methods sometimes stressed me out, I am thankful to have had such a great teacher all these years.

In many ways, life is like cooking. Sometimes, things are great and you can have a meal fit for a king, and sometimes you forget the flour. But the important thing is to never give up, always try your best and, if all else fails, just call your mom.