For anybody who knows me well, there is absolutely no question of how the name “Cooking and Cussing” came to be. I have always been known for my love of all things food and cooking and my skills when it comes to accenting everyday conversations with colorful language. When my sister, Whitney, recommended the name while we were brainstorming, it just seemed like the perfect embodiment of me.
Honestly, how many kids do you know before hitting puberty who
- win a children’s recipe contest in the local newspaper but then also….
- yell out “f**k!” when accidentally sending a straw through the bottom of a Styrofoam cup while on a road trip?
Both are very much true stories. That was the first time I remember ever using the word f*ck. I’m not even sure where I first heard it or why it was the word that popped into my head at that moment in time, but it came to me more naturally than any other exclamation could have.
As iced tea spilled all over my lap, my sister Whitney was dumbfounded that my dad seemingly wasn’t mad that I had used the word. In fact, his reaction would indicate that it sort of felt natural to him as well. I’m pretty sure he chuckled. And from that point forward I continued to hone my craft of cussing while also starting to spread my baby cooking wings.
While most kids were submitting recipes for decorated sugar cookies, I took the recipe contest in the Corpus Christi Caller Times much more seriously. I prepared a recipe for pan-seared chicken and squash taking cues from my mom’s pan-fried chicken and my mammaw’s sautéed squash. When I won, I thought this is it. I’m totally the next Food Network celebrity in the making.
And so began my love affair with both cooking and cussing. From early childhood, I have so many memories of my loved ones cooking and cussing. I don’t want to imply that my parents or grandparents cussed like sailors around us as children, but there were always those brief unfiltered glimpses of your parents that you caught when they didn’t know you were watching.
Some of my earliest memories of the kitchen are from my mammaw, who everyone called Fritzi. I am the spitting image of her both in personality and appearance. She passed away in 2020 at the age of 98 years young. After my mom, she was easily the most influential woman in my life, and I am privileged to have had her as the matriarch of my family for so long.
Despite what she might have said, Fritz could lay down some serious profanities only to turn around and answer the ringing house phone with the most demure southern, “hellllloooo,” her lips forcefully pursed to ensure she sounded like she was smiling.
My mammaw was a classic southern cook. She made almost everything from scratch, but nothing was overly complicated or fussy. Whitney and I would spend a couple of weeks every summer with Mammaw and Pawpaw in the sticks of far east Texas. Every supper, or what most people would just call a big ass lunch, was served with a side of cornbread baked in a heavily buttered cast iron skillet.
I can vividly remember memories of my Mammaw preparing supper every day as Pawpaw worked outside in the heat of Texas summer taking care of various honey-dos. We knew the food was ready when we could hear Mammaw hollering at Pawpaw to “put your damn shirt on before coming to my dinner table.”
Cussing over cornbread and the belly laughs it always gave Whitney and me are some of my favorite childhood memories.
Cussing in the kitchen was not limited to just my mammaw. She passed her proficiency with profanity down to her son or my dad. My mom was the primary cook in the house, but my dad was the grill master when it came to our barbequing needs.
Being the somewhat difficult child I was, I demanded there not be a fleck of black pepper on any of my food. I know with certainty my dad did some serious cussing as he pulled flecks of pepper from my hamburger patties and barbeque chicken drumsticks.
My mom really hid her pension for more mild cusswords quite well. There would be an occasional “shit” or “damn it” that would slip mostly when she spilled something or burned herself, but what I really got from my mom is my love of cooking.
Now she would tell you that I came by that interest all on my own because in some ways I did take more of an interest in unusual cuisine or the ambiance at a restaurant than a normal kid, but the fact is my passion for cooking would never be what it is today if my mom hadn’t endlessly encouraged me.
While putting herself through both a master and a Ph.D. program, she would often come home to my latest experiment in the kitchen which almost always meant an enormous mess. She never tried to make me stop and instead always pushed me to try new things, even when I attempted to make pasta from scratch and had eggs and flour all over everything that would stand still in her kitchen.
All of these memories are the foundation of what brought me here today. By naming this blog Cooking and Cussing, I am setting the intention to be completely honest about who I am and what I love. I can’t wait to start sharing all the cussworthy recipes that make up the fabric of my life. I hope you enjoy them.
Please be sure to leave your questions or comments in the comments section below. Any feedback on what you’d like to see from Cooking and Cussing in the future would be so valuable! Thanks in advance for sharing your thoughts.