Tell VT

Tell VT: Dad’s Best Cooking Tips

For our June issue, in honor of Father’s Day, we want to know: What did you learn about cooking from your dad? Plus, be sure to check out VT‘s delicious Father’s Day feast, Dad’s Day Afternoon.

Share your answer below, and see what others have to say too. Our favorite responses will be published in an upcoming issue of the magazine.

June 2011

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Didn't know where to put this. The question you posed in your April issue was what I learned about cooking from my dad. The answer was, cooking did not give him the energy he needed to get over a heart condition. Cooked food is dead food. He needed chi-rich foods that had not been cooked but had been either eaten whole, or used broken down so that it didn't cause gas like sauerkraut. He needed to eat food that had an electrical current to repair his damaged heart and that is raw/living food, blended or juiced for the easiest-to-digest assimilation. If you'ld like recipes that still have the life in them, send me an email at for more of what Dr. Wigmore's recipes did for him.

Dr. Flora Van Orden - 2011-04-20 20:18:56

When it doesn't taste just right, add spices! My dad would literally add garlic and peppers to anything. I have definitely inherited this trait. We have garlic in our potatoes, corn, green beans, you name it! We also share a common bond over spicy food. While my mother finds ketchup to be spicy, we added jalapenos and hot sauce to all of our foods!

Emily Burden - 2011-04-19 19:25:26

"Clean as you go," my dad always says. His zen-like habits of putting things where they belong, washing dishes when he's done with them, and keeping his workspace continually clean taught me to work carefully, cook slowly, and act deliberately. The added bonus? Fewer post-meal dishes allows him to chat-and-charm dinner guests!

Emily W. - 2011-04-18 10:03:03

My dad showed me, by his example, the joy of being in the kitchen, fearlessly cooking meals from the heart. His ABC's: "always be conscious, and don't be afraid to try something new." Sometimes we followed recipes, but mostly we experimented, with often hilarious results. I will always treasure the laughter and the love that came from our escapades. Even today, it pervades my kitchen and my culinary adventures, and makes cooking a joy, every day.

SuzeeK - 2011-04-17 15:45:08

My dad taught me how to perfectly slice a mango!

Kellie - 2011-04-15 02:59:38

While my dad was not a great cook, unless you liked eggs and toast, I feel like he gave me the greatest cooking lesson ever. He REQUIRED that I be present in the kitchen every evening while my mom was preparing dinner. I learned how to substitue and improvise on recipes, cook from scratch and make my own recipes. I am comfortable cooking for any size of group and know it's because of my dad's insistance that I simply be present. Thanks dad!

Joan Carothers - 2011-04-14 13:47:40

My dad was a blue collar worker all his life with no time to spend in the kitchen. His weekends were filled with keeping the house, car, and yard in good shape. But, when my mother's Alzheimer's robbed her of her memory and ability to cook, my dad stepped in and discovered he was a natural at it. Like my mom, he cooked from scratch without written recipes. He experimented with flavors and ingredients to produce delicious meals. I learned from him to never be afraid to try new and different combinations of foods. Oh, and that if you think you've put in enough garlic, add a bit more!

Anonymous - 2011-04-14 08:54:31

Everything! My Dad is the real foodie of the family, but what stands out for me is his ability to look in the fridge and where most people only see leftovers and basic staples, he sees the means to create a wonderful feast. He loves to repeat this observation (so it obviously meant a lot to him!) and I have definitely inherited his 'waste not, want not' philosophy, for which I am hugely thankful!

Natasha Selman - 2011-04-12 01:42:29

I learned that a meal isn't a meal without onions! Dad loved them carmelized, bake, and just plain raw in a sandwich. He was not always tolerable at close range, but he was one happy man with his onions!

Jody Kerr - 2011-04-10 18:13:09

When I think back to our meals while I was growing up, it was definitely my dad who had the heart for cooking. He was a country boy, raised on a farm in the Santa Cruz mountains with his eight siblings, so he was pretty basic about what he liked to cook and eat. His preference would be to eat his meal straight out of the garden. But when it came to cooking, one of his best meals was a pot of good old pinto beans. He’d add a little of this and a little of that; nothing fancy because we didn’t have anything resembling a ‘gourmet’ ingredient in our house, but they were always the best beans ever. A nice big bowl of them, along with a chunk of cornbread, had this way of warming you up, both in a physical and emotional way. My dad also loved to bake cookies, but the thing I remember the most was when he’d make his cinnamon rolls. Oh my gosh, as a little girl of 6, I’d sit there at the table while he’d roll the dough out into this perfect rectangle (oh, did I forget to mention that my dad was blind!). Then he’s mix the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle that evenly over the dough. Next came the raisins, which I could help scatter over the dough. Then he’d carefully roll the whole thing up, nice and tight, and cut it into these beautiful, spirally slices before baking them. If that wasn’t a treat worth waiting for. We lost my dad last year, and I know one of the first things I did (and I wouldn’t doubt my brother and sister did too) was to put on a big pot of pinto beans. The smell of earthy pinto beans simmering on the stove will forever bring my dad back to me.

Angela - 2011-04-07 17:50:55

My dad was in the Army Infantry in Vietnam. During the monsoon season, he would be soaking wet, covered in mud, huddled in his hootch, trying to warm his MRE rations over a small burner. As I was growing up, my dad always had to have his food piping hot; when we sat down to dinner, he would fix his plate of food and then put it in the microwave. I didn't understand this when I was a kid, but as I look back through his war photos, I think I do. Having a hot meal is a blessing many of us take for granted.

Tib - 2011-04-07 17:10:40

My dad taught me patience while cooking. I've always been a "hurry up because I'm hungry" type, but my dad would take his time - searching for the right recipe, buying the ingredients, chopping very carefully (his knife skills are not the greatest, so this was COMPLETELY necessary if he didn't want to lose a fingertip). Then, savoring the final results with family and conversation.

Becky - 2011-04-07 09:56:12

My Dad taught me that ANYTHING can go into the soup pot. We grew up quite poor. Once a week, Dad would make soup using all of the leftovers from the week. I remember one time he even threw in the leftover few tablespoons of orange jello. The soup was still great! Mum would bake fresh buns. Good times. Now that I'm vegan and I don't need to penny-pinch, I still use lots of leftovers in my soups.Wasting food is just plain wrong and the weekend is a great time to fill up the soup pot, let it simmer, serve it with buns and make it family time! Just call it something nice like Frugality Feast and not what Dad always called it....Garbage soup!

Memory - 2011-04-06 11:40:55

The art of making kraft dinner! it was the best Ive ever tasted!

Allison - 2011-04-04 18:41:05

My dad is never afraid to experiment. Recipes are a guide for him, and now for me. Every holiday has a new food experiment from him, usually to great success!

Stacey - 2011-04-03 12:48:38