My grandmother was bold and flashy — I don’t think she owned a piece of clothing that didn’t have rhinestones — and her cooking was legendary. People fought over her peach cobbler and yeast rolls at holiday gatherings.

I was eight years old when she first let me work with her in the kitchen. Our project was peanut brittle. We added peanuts to molten toffee, then poured the mixture onto a buttered sheet pan and put it in the oven.

After five minutes Grandma opened the oven and talked to the peanut brittle. “Aww, look at that pretty baby,” she said. “Cooking up all nice and sweet.” She patted the mixture down with a wooden spoon and closed the oven door. Another five minutes went by, and she opened the oven again: “Yes indeed. Look at you, all fine and delicious looking.” As always the peanut brittle came out perfect. Anytime we baked, she opened the oven and talked to the food. She called it “cooking with love.”