I come from a very large family which attributed to my mother spending a great deal of her time in the kitchen cooking, cleaning, and preparing. I was fascinated at how she prepared wonderful dishes (especially desserts) without using a cookbook. We grew many of our own fruits and vegetables and my summers were spent washing jars and preparing fruit and vegetables for canning. I dreaded the mountains of green beans, tomatoes, peaches, etc., etc. that had to be picked, washed, peeled, snapped.... More than anything, I hated spending my summer washing jars! But now, I wouldn't trade that kind of upbringing for anything. I'm glad I learned how to do all those things because it's becoming a lost art. It really was a simpler time then and I'm a much better person for knowing how to do all those 'old fashioned' things. In my early years of learning to cook, I watched Julia Child on PBS every chance I got. I was so thrilled when I was about 11, my mother let me prepare Julia's Pastry Tarts. If I remember correctly they didn't turn out so well but it didn't matter. Oddly, today, I enjoy reading cookbooks and recipes even more than actually cooking.