When I was younger, I cooked for me. I loved dessert and having something ready from the store was not always an option. My mother suggested I learn to make my own. It was a really basic sugar cookie recipe. It had to be b/c our pantry was limited to staples. She taught me that fancy was nice, but not always practical.
In my late teens, I cooked for myself and my uncle. From him I learned the secret to great fried chicken and steamed cabbage. An older cousin gave me the recipe for rice pudding over the telephone. The simple instructions I receieved from these individual provided a solid foundation for soul food, down home, country cooking.
In my twenties, I cooked for my friends. I was the only college student I knew that always (& I do mean always) had a fully stocked fridge and pantry. My door was always open if you needed a meal, so sugar or even bacon grease (one of the secrets to that fried chicken). I had a hot dinner every night. That was home.
In my late twenties/earlythirties, I found myself cooking for my family. DOD (dear old dad) was a cook for the Navy in the 60s & 70s as well as other places throughout the years. He was my biggest critic. If he ate something I cooked and he complained, that was a good thing. If he didn't like it, he would not have bothered to comment. My mother on the other hand, she ate everything I cooked and let me know if the meal pleased her. I no longer cook for them as they have been seated at the Lord's table.
Now, I cook for myself, MJ and my sister. The great thing about MJ is that he loves whatever I cook. My sister likes most things. It's funny she and I have yet to catch how MJ eats around vegetables. It's comical. You see a bowl or plate filled with pot roast or pot pie and the next minute there's nothing left but the veggie bits. Still, there's something warm about cooking for people you love.