Book Giveaway: Man with a Pan

Recently I was sent a couple copies of a new book called Man With A Pan.  It is part cookbook, part memoir.  Each chapter is written by a different man, all of whom are either writers or well-known chefs.  The folks featured include: Mario Batali, Steven King, and Mark Bittman.  Each man tells the story of how he learned to cook, and also shares a favorite recipe or two.  (There are 60 recipes in the book.)

I’m only a few chapters into the book, but I am already intrigued, and have been scribbling down ingredients to add to my grocery list so I can try various recipes.  On my list this weekend: authentic southern red rice.  I think this book would appeal to anyone who loves to cook, but it seems especially likely to be a good choice for guys who know their way around the kitchen.  Need a Father’s Day idea, anyone?

I am giving away one copy of this book , and will be choosing the winner on Monday.  All you have to do to enter the drawing is tell me about one of the first things you remember cooking.  I have vivid memories of being allowed by my mother to make a cake with my own ‘recipe’– to my dismay it ended up being a gluey pink mess.  I also remember cooking buttered egg noodles — yum!! — late at night with my best friend when she came to spend the night at our house.

How about you?  How did some of your first cooking attempts work out?  Tell me your story and you may just win a copy of this book.


  1. Mikaila says:

    I was homeschooled and in the second grade my parents both worked on Fridays so I would spend the day with my grandma, who taught me to cook and sew. We would make dinner for my family on Fridays and I made most of my wardrobe that year. To this day I love the memories in the kitchen with my grandma and that I know the “basics” of things, like how to make a white sauce. I still love to cook!

  2. Jello! We made it on the first day of Home Ec. and I thought that if we added more water, we’d get more jello. Nope! We just got liquid jello!

  3. The first 100 times or so of trying to make biscuits like my Mom were a disaster. They were either rocks or fell totally apart and they NEVER rose. The first time I finally made them right I literally screamed. Hubby thought I had lost it!

  4. Melanie says:

    When I was in college I studied abroad and suddenly all of the New Englandy foods I craved (chocolate chip cookies, chicken pot pie, corn chowder, and other foods that do not begin with c) couldn’t be easily found in my grocer’s freezer. My dorm allowed me use of counters, a microwave, and a George Foreman-style countertop sandwich press, as well as a tiny locked compartment in the fridge that I had to rent, but I could use the staff kitchen (with oven!) with permission. I had to buy a lot of cheap pots and pans and baking dishes that year, and my first attempts at desserts were utter disasters because my thick dictionary did not tell me the German word for baking soda (and my guesses were oh, so wrong). Seems they mostly rely on baking powder. Also, yeast doesn’t come in little brown jars, but in foil-wrapped refrigerated cubes. Corn flour was practically nonexistent, and the big bottles of spices I was accustomed to were replaced with small-quantity paper packets. And mayo and mustard came in metal toothpaste-style tubes! It was definitely a bit of culture shock!

    I got many of the recipes I needed online at places like and printed them out. Some of them I still have and use today!

  5. I remember helping with cookies and cakes and other yummy baked good from a very early age. My mom and I would like the bowl/beaters/spoons together (I have perfected my technique over the years!). It’s something I now do with my children.

  6. ginny jolin says:

    My very first experience was pudding for dessert…tried to “cook” instant pudding! Didn’t work.

  7. Beth G. says:

    Sounds like a great book! I remember in 2nd grade making a peanut butter and chocolate drop sandwich from the Snoopy Lunchbox cookbook. 🙂 Loved that book! My mom always let us “cook” & make up our own recipes. Still remember my chocolate prune cupcakes. HAHA!

  8. Emily Nz says:

    I grew up in the kitchen! My mother homeschooled us. And she rightly saw cooking and baking as an important part of what she needed to teach us; yes, even my reluctant brother!

    The first food I was allowed to cook completely unassisted was pancakes. I had helped make them many times. I was so excited to be trusted to make them all by myself. I can still remember standing on the blue kitchen stool so I would be tall enough to see what I was doing!

    I loved to pretend that I had my own cooking show and narrate every step of what I was doing. It was so much fun!

    Now I am enjoying teaching my own kids how to cook and bake. Yes, even my boys! They love it! Could there be a better bonding time?

  9. Sue from Buffalo says:

    I remember cooking chicken and leaving it to go watch a movie in a back room. I had to be younger than 13 at the time. My parents weren’t home yet, my two brothers were outside.

    Well, I was watching this movie on tv (in the early 70’s) and all of a sudden my Dad came tearing into the bedroom, grabbed me and pushed me out into the hall, opened that door and then into the rest of the house. It was full of smoke. He thought the house was on fire and was rescuing me. Thank God it was only the chicken that was smoking and boy, was it smoking!!

    My Dad was a very great man and I’ve learned never to leave stove like that again.

  10. The first thing I remember making is apple pie with my neighbor. I mixed up nutmeg and cinnamon. Yuck! The first bite was so “spicy” we both got headaches…

  11. I learned to cook alongside my mother doing 4-H projects. The first ones I can remember are sloppy joes and French toast. I also remember a few years later having to make pumpkin muffins and gingerbread over and over for the fair because they just weren’t turning out right. Now I love to cook, especially bake. My 3-year-old son likes to cook with me, and I can’t wait for my 1-year-old daughter to be able to help as well.

  12. I learned how to make a simple coffee cake in 7th grade home-ec and treated my family to it with alarming regularity.. 🙂

  13. One of my fondest memories is when my Grandmother said I ‘cooked’ the corn for a family meal. It was corn from a can that she showed me how to season a bit and heat. She had a way of making little things seem special. Now I don’t even consider that cooking, but the way she made me feel special and confident probably shaped my thoughts and attitude about cooking forever.

  14. I remember getting my Better Homes and Gardens cookbook and making the Spanish rice with vegetables. I took pictures of it and put it on the table and my Dad said it would have been quicker to make a bag of Lipton rice. I was so disappointed and I have never made Spanish rice from scratch again.

  15. For me, my love of cooking came after I was married and began to understand what it was like to take care of my home and create in the kitchen. My grandmother has always been an incredible cook, so I guess it was just a matter of time before the love of cooking kicked in for me!
    Thankfully, I was able to pass a few things on to my oldest daughter while home schooling. She’s now studying at the Culinary Institute of America!!

  16. After my parents got divorced, we moved to town and my mom went to work everyday. In the summer I was 8, we had a teenaged babysitter come, but I remember being so proud that I could make myself an egg sandwich for breakfast. I fried the egg and then, since we didn’t have a toaster, I had to broil the toast in the oven (with the door cracked open), both sides. Then a slice of American cheese and a slice of Buddig thin meat and voila! I ate that every morning, all summer long!

    I find it interesting now, as a mom, that as poor as we were, my mom bought American cheese slices and packaged lunch meat! Those items would be pretty low on my list now if my budget were tight!

    Fun giveaway! Thanks!


  17. I remember cooking oatmeal for breakfast every morning. Not the instant stuff- the real deal. Not sure how healthy it ended up being after my sisters and I would pour large quantities of milk and brown sugar over it when my parents weren’t looking…. 🙂

  18. I remember sitting on the kitchen floor to turn the handle of my mother’s bread pail. I could only knead the dough about halfway before it got too tough for my weak little arms!

    I was about 11 The first time I cooked for someone besides our family. I made a coffee cake for my mom and her friend to have when they got together for tea. I was sooo nervous, but it turned out perfectly!

  19. I was never taught to cook while growing up so early in my adult years I pretty much stuck to prepackaged meals – ie. hamburger helper, etc. I feel like I am finally a really confident, competent cook, but mostly I was self taught, I use the internet and cookbooks and bloggers like you to learn new things!

  20. chantel says:

    I remember a friend’s mom letting us make our “own” fried hamburger patties. We also mixed up some popcorn, from an air popper, to go with our burgers. (The only other thing we knew how to cook!) We even got creative with the popcorn and sprinkled on a little parm cheese. I remember the burgers being soo good. Thanks for bringing back such a lovely memory. I hadn’t thought about that day in years.

  21. Ramen noodles.

  22. I remember picking pie cherries from our little tree in the front yard and making a cherry pie–the first of many!

  23. I remember cooking messy cakes and then making a better under the supervision of my friend’s grandma.

  24. I remember making a chutney!!

  25. When I was real little, like 5 or 6, my mom would let me cook “concoctions” which technically were edible but usually something I’d have to “double dog dare” my Dad to try. The “concoctions” consisted of things like mustard, vinegar, pepper, worcestershire, salad dressing, apply juice… basically whatever was in a bottle in the fridge. Ha! Okay, so that wasn’t really my first real cooking. I could do a mean grilled cheese and heat up a can of tomato soup with milk by the age of 8. Also, baking chocolate chip cookies with my Grandma. Oh, and air popped popcorn real young too!

  26. Tessa B says:

    I remember making peanut butter cookies. 🙂

  27. Karen P says:

    My first memory of cooking was making Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies with my mom. I also remember her rolling out leftover pie crust and letting us smother it in butter and sprinkle on cinnamon and sugar for a special treat. Wonderful memories!

  28. I remember in first grade when my whole class got to trek to the school kitchen to make cake for our mother’s day party!

  29. Jennifer says:

    Salad…chopping lettuce and cut my thumb all the way down to the bone. Ouch!

  30. Gosh, cooking memories! I don’t know about my own memories, but when I think of cooking and childhood together, I always see my sister and I hanging around the kitchen while my mom made dinner and then getting really excited when Daddy got home. 🙂

  31. Chrystal says:

    Deviled Eggs.

  32. Kristin says:

    I remember trying to make grilled cheese sandwiches for lunch…only burned my arm a little bit and was hooked on learning to cook. My mom bought lots of children’s cooking books which I LOVED and my kiddos are enjoying now as well.

  33. Jello pudding – using the hand mixer was just so grown up!

    I married a chef so my perspective has changed! This book would be a great gift for him.

  34. I learned to cook by osmosis, I guess, from watching my mom. Generally I’ve done pretty well. I have had a flop or two. I can’t remember what was the first thing that I cooked though I do remember helping my mom make Thanksgiving dinner.

  35. I made skillet fajitas when I was around 16. Looking back they were not very good but my mom was grateful for the help.

  36. When my mom gave birth to my youngest sister, I was 10 and ready to show my family how grown up I was. I decided to wow them with orange jello. (Is anything more amazing?!?!) I thought I could jazz it up with some canned pineapple. When it didn’t set, I stuck it in the freezer. The resulting…dish…was less than appetizing. My siblings love, love, love to tell that story today, especially since I enjoy cooking now.

  37. I made my brother a football shaped meatloaf for his birthday–a recipe from a kid’s cookbook. Many years later I foundout he always hated meatloaf, but appreciated me!

  38. My first memory is cooking pancakes. I remember tweaking the recipe and adding WAY TOO MUCH sugar. At the time it seemed like a wonderful idea, but the sugar did something strange to the consistency of the batter and the pancakes were a little odd. But they were delightfully sweet 🙂

  39. I spent much of the third grade home sick with pneumonia watching cooking shows. I think my first real attempt at cooking was some sort of meringue pancake with berries. It was probably awful, but everyone ate it and enjoyed it!

  40. I remember coming home from school to an empty house when I was 9 and starting supper for my family before my parents came home from work. My specialty was spaghetti!!

  41. I would give this book to my brother who melted my crayons to try to make paints-attempted to melt peanuts to make peanut butter, made the “pancakes” on the wheaties box.

  42. Michaele says:

    Though my own mother had been a wonderful cook, cake decorator and seamstress, I was too young to learn those things before she died. Dad remarried instantly, and my stepmother left when I was approaching sixteen – about 10 years lapse where my only time spent in the kitchen was doing the dishes. The first thing I ever cooked my dad after she left was pork chops from the freezer – I believe they were inedible, but only after I got done with them. After several failed attempts at meals my dad showed me a cookbook in the cupboard (quite old) and told me I should know how to cook already, (women are wired to know intuitively, you know???) but since I didn’t quite make the womanly grade or seem to have a clue, try the cookbook. The cookbook with ingredients we didn’t have and couldn’t purchase . . . I got good at ghoulash. When I went to college my roommate was in awe that I could make anything edible – and she had 2 wonderful parents but ours was the generation who were encouraged to have wonderful careers, not cook! Another of my roommates put her still damp socks in her drawers and wondered why they smelled bad after awhile. There were some advantages to growing up early. I still wish I knew how to sew!

  43. Julee A says:

    I believe the first official recipe that I cooked happened to be a quick, easy fudge recipe. I still have the recipe book and have fond memories every time that I see it. My sisters and I liked to spread the fudge on saltine crackers. It was a great salty/sweet treat!

  44. Melissa says:

    My first memory of cooking is putting together enchiladas with my mom. She taught me to bake from the time I was young, but didn’t put too much time into cooking. I loved making enchiladas with her though. I really learned how to cook with my college roommate in our tiny kitchen… we cooked a lot, and then had our dining room points to spend on ice cream- perfect system!

  45. I know one of my first things to cook was a chocolate pudding pie. I was 4 and I’m sure mom help a LOT! I don’t remember much, but mom took a picture of the finished result and I didn’t like the pie at all! Luckily – Dad did.

  46. My earliest memories of cooking are with my mom. Making cookies and bread especially. My first attempts on my own weren’t wonderful, but I had enough experience before trying on my own that it almost always is edible. My sophomore year of college I moved out of the dorms and made my own bread to save money. It was actually quite delicious. I got very good at it very quickly, and had the recipe memorized after a few weeks.

  47. KristenW says:

    So my mom doesn’t cook. I didn’t glean any wisdom from her in the kitchen. Actually, I thought I hated cooking. Until I met my husband and wanted to do something special for him. I made him dinner to celebrate his new job (pasta with spicy sausage, artichokes and sun dried tomatoes!) and it went over so well that we are still together 6 years later. Also, about 20 lbs heavier… 🙂

  48. My first memories of cooking were following a list of instructions my mom wrote down before she left for work. They usually involved opening a can of something and pouring it over some type of meat and then popping it in the oven. 🙂

  49. Diane B says:

    I remember baking apple pies with my grandmother at a young age. She has been gone since I was 19, and I sure do miss her! I wish she could have known my family and I would love to learn more from her.

  50. My first memory of cooking was a little sad, actually. My first masterpiece was a grilled cheese sandwich, and I was so proud, I immediatly wanted to call my Grandmom and tell her about my accomplishment. My Grandmom is a gruff woman, and her reply to me was “well anyone can make that!”. My little feelings were crushed! I did eventually prevail…I developed a love for cooking in spite of her, and when she was ill some years later, I made her homemade chicken noodle soup. She called me and told me it was the best soup she had ever had-even better than her own!!