Our Food Editors Share the First Recipes They Learned to Cook or Bake

Plus, the culinary lessons they learned from loved ones.

barley biscuits
Photo: Jonathan Lovekin

Looking for ways to become a more confident cook at home? Our food editors are here to help. Each week, we shine a spotlight on the exciting things happening in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. Our editors share their best cooking tips, favorite products, new ideas, and more in our weekly series, Out of the Kitchen.

Cooking and baking have always been a huge part of our food editors' lives. While they're all experts in the kitchen now, it took many years of home cooking (plus plenty of professional training) for our editors to become the experts that they are today. Looking back, our food editors recall learning how to cook bake at a very young age.

"One of the first things I remember learning how to make is buttermilk biscuits with my mom," says deputy food editor Greg Lofts. "She learned from her mom and I've since taught my niece how to make them. It's become a family tradition to pass down this knowledge, even though the recipe has evolved over time," he says. The beauty of cooking family recipes is that each member will put their own twist on it. "For example, my mom used a pastry cutter to break down the butter into the flour mixture, whereas I prefer doing it by hand to create flatter petals of flour-coated butter, which creates more flaky layers," says Greg. This memory is so special to Greg—and the specific technique is one that he feels is foolproof—that is developed a recipe for the perfect buttermilk biscuits for Martha Stewart Living.

Simple comfort food certainly seems to be a trend. Editorial director of food Sarah Carey says that she taught herself to bake using the recipe for cookies on the back of the chocolate chip bag. "I did everything by hand, and all I remember is that my butter wasn't softened properly. When you were supposed to combine the butter and the sugar, I kept stirring with my wooden spoon and it was slipping around the bowl and wouldn't combine," Sarah recalls. Although she doesn't remember how that particular batch of cookie came out, she says that "chocolate chip cookies are still the only cookie I really care about. I will eat them every day given the access!"

Assistant food editor Riley Wofford remembers helping her grandmother cook and bake in the kitchen from an early age. "She'd just throw me up on the counter and put me to work. I'm pretty sure she put a knife in my hand before any sane person should have but hey, I turned out alright," Riley says. She recalls scooping and rolling cookies or breaking up the butter in biscuit dough, but there is one particular recipe that stands out in her memory: cornbread dressing at Thanksgiving. "She used it as a way to teach me to use all of my senses when cooking, telling me to not only taste it but to make sure it smelled like it was supposed to. We still make that dressing every year and I only know when enough sage and poultry seasoning has been added by smelling it!" says Riley.

Little did our food editors know that that first batch of chocolate chip cookies or buttermilk biscuits would lead to a successful and delicious career in food.

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