I started feeding my family at age 11. After my father died my mother had to work full-time and then some to keep our house. Once TV dinners, fish sticks, and take out Chinese became our staples, I knew I had to take charge of dinner. I went to my local library and started to check out cookbooks instead of Judy Blume books. Some of my early attempts were awful but my mother was so grateful to be eating something other than frozen Salisbury steak so I kept on trying.
From the beautiful pictures in the cookbooks I knew exactly what dinner was supposed to look like. Each night I set the table using our best linens, filled wine glasses with juice, arranged some type of centerpiece (using flowers, dollhouse furniture, Christmas decorations, or anything shiny), and my mom lit the candles when she came to the table between students. Not having lots of money to spend didn’t mean I couldn’t make our life beautiful.