Behind every great chef is a formative experience (or two, or three … ), often in the family kitchen. One great recipe can fuel years of culinary creativity; whether it’s something as simple as making chocolate chip cookies all by yourself or watching grandma work her magic over a cauldron of fragrant, hearty soup, it’s these milestones that stick with us through the years. To get the inside scoop on what makes a great cook, we asked Babble’s Top 100 Mom Food Bloggers to share their favorite memories in the kitchen — and we got some great family recipes in the bargain! — Dana Kimmelman
Making Pork Offal Curry in India 1 of 10
When I was growing up in India, my grandparents lived in a small town that had a massive annual church festival. We always went there during the last week of January, and it was the most wonderful three days, just filled with family, food, and so much fun. Every time I make this pork offal curry I remember these memories. Unfortunately it's been awhile since I've been back to India, and I really miss it.
— Michelle Peters Jones, The Tiffin Box
Get the recipe for pork offal curry
Photo Credit: The Tiffin Box
Whipping up Cappellettis with Grandma 2 of 10
My favorite cooking memory is being holed up in my grandmother's tiny kitchen for an afternoon 10 years ago learning how to make Italian cappellettis. The process involves rolling out fresh, homemade pasta and forming little tortellini-like packages filled with ground pork and parmesan cheese. Instead of slathering them in tomato sauce, you serve them in chicken soup. It was only a small group of us in that kitchen learning how to roll out the dough, make the filling, and shape the dumplings, but we represented four generations (including my 7-year-old niece) all learning how to make the same dish that had been handed down for centuries. It's especially significant now that my grandmother has passed on.
— Tammy Donroe, Food on the Food
Get the recipe for Italian cappellettis
Photo Credit: Food on the Food
Helping Prepare Lentil Soup as a Kid 3 of 10
Preparing chacales (dried corn) for my grandmother's soup was my favorite part of the process. My job was to clean and rinse the white pebbled corn — a tough job for an 8-year-old handling and rinsing 20 lbs. of grains in a giant pot full of water. I loved it.
— Ericka Sanchez, Nibbles and Feasts
Get the recipe for grandma's lentil soup
Photo Credit: Nibbles and Feasts
Watching My Grandmother Cook Spinach Pie 4 of 10
Making spinach pie with my yiayia (Greek for "grandmother"). She cooked complicated, slow-cooked meals on a regular, old Monday as readily as she did on the most important holidays. She could also whip up a humble but delicious meal in 15 minutes. The point was never whether a recipe was quick or easy or whether she was making it on a weeknight or weekend. It was all just about good food, feeding her family, and making use of every last bit of the fresh, whole ingredients on hand. Although my yiayia is now gone, she still inspires some of my family's favorite Greek dishes, like my version of her spinach pie: kale "spinach" pie.
— Stacie Billis, One Hungry Mama
Get the recipe for kale "spinach" pie
Photo Credit: One Hungry Mama
Enjoying Mom’s Guinness Beef Stew 5 of 10
Growing up, my mom was the perfect 1950s stay-at-home mommy. When I got home, there'd be crunchy grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch, and warm, bubbling beef stew and biscuits on the stove. My childhood kitchen was filled with comforting smells!
— Louise Mellor, Geez Louise
Get the recipe for Guinness beef stew
Photo Credit: Geez Louise
Baking Chocolate Chip Cookies with Dad 6 of 10
Having Columbian-Inspired Lentils with Friends 7 of 10
I love cooking with friends, and some of my most favorite memories are of making and sharing dishes that friends grew up with, wherever they're from. It tells you so much about a person and a culture, to cook their history together. Last time we traveled, we met some beautiful Polish friends and shared a night of pierogi-making and vodka-drinking that was absolutely unforgettable. And in France, we wandered our host's garden on a daily basis, collecting herbs and veggies and marveling at the currant bushes. One of the most memorable moments in the kitchen was learning how to make Colombian-inspired beans (or lentils) with my MedellÃn-born friend, Antonia.
— Amanda Niehaus, Easy Peasy Organic
Get the recipe for Columbian-inspired lentils
Photo Credit: Easy Peasy Organic
Making Strawberry Empanadas with Grandma 8 of 10
Helping Dad Whip up Mexican Eggs 9 of 10
I'm very fond of cooking with my dad because he is so passionate about food and eating. I was able to capture one of these memories in writing about helping my dad make his version of eggs a la Mexicana, which are always better than mine.
— Patricia Jinich, Pati's Mexican Table
Get the recipe for dad's Mexican eggs
Photo Credit: Pati's Mexican Table
Baking Banana Chocolate Chip Bread as a Child 10 of 10
One of the first recipes I made as a kid was banana chocolate chip bread. It was something I felt successful preparing, and everyone loved eating it. The version I make now of my childhood classic is a bit more healthy.
— Catherine McCord, Weelicious
Get the recipe for banana chocolate chip bread
Photo Credit: Weelicious
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