It’s never too late to learn

As a young faculty wife, I helped my husband by hosting many students in our home for meals.
To give them a break from cafeteria fare, I always tried to have a delicious dinner served on a buffet table with lace tablecloth, candles, and flowers.
And students seemed to enjoy the meals.
One time in the early 1970s, a special female student gave me a very much-appreciated compliment. As she entered the buffet line, she said, “I couldn’t wait to come here. Everybody says what a wonderful cook you are!”
Unfortunately, I can’t remember her name or even her face, but I’ll never forget what she said.
After the students left, I proudly told my husband about the compliment. It seemed I finally had arrived!
Before we were married, I had warned my husband-to-be that I didn’t know how to cook. He seemed to take it in stride.
But after a few months of married life, he remarked, “I don’t understand how you can make so many dirty dishes without much food!”
“I told you I didn’t know how to cook,” I said.
“But I didn’t believe you,” he replied.
My complete inexperience came to the fore when we invited three women for a chicken dinner–the first chicken I had ever roasted.
Unfortunately, they came 10 minutes early and I was still in the bedroom dressing. I exclaimed, “They’re early!” not realizing how paper-thin the walls were in our rented house.
After hearing that exclamation, our guests kindly asked if they could help. So all four of us pitched in.
The chicken was in the oven, but not carved. The potatoes were boiled, but not mashed. The gravy wasn’t made and the Jell-O salad was still in the mold.
The cake was baked, but not iced. The table cloth was on the table, but the table was not set.
An hour-and-a-half later, we sat down for an elegant, delicious meal.
It was fun making the meal together. And with such good friends, I wasn’t embarrassed. But clearly my inexperience showed.
The second year of our marriage, my husband and I went back to seminary. Deciding it was time to improve my home-making skills, I enrolled in home economics classes along with my seminary courses.
I especially enjoyed the cooking class taught by Dr. Olive Wyse. In addition to teaching us cooking tricks, she shared recipes with us, many of which I still use.
My favourite is a brownie mix recipe that we make almost every week. We store this mix in an old-fashioned glass gallon-sized mayonnaise jar. Just add eggs, oil, and vanilla; and presto, you have delicious brownies to serve guests.
Over the years I’ve adapted it. Now we use healthy olive oil and add Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips.
And every time I stir up a batch of Dr. Wyse’s brownies, I’m reminded that no matter what age you are, you can always learn new skills.
Marie Snider is an award-winning health care writer and syndicated columnist. Write her at or visit

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