My husband and I live on California's Central Coast with our two young children. I am a stay-at-home mom, and I try to use my time to make healthier meals for the family. As often as I can, I buy local and organic, and we maintain a large vegetable garden in the backyard. I love junk food, and as I have become more comfortable in the kitchen, I have mostly transcended Ho-Hos and Quarter Pounders for my own homemade sweets and treats.
My favorite things to cook
My favorite things to cook today will not be the same tomorrow. Right now I am on a tear, cooking everything in sight, constantly inspired by things I see and taste all around me, but I get into deep ruts, too. The items that must always be in stock in my kitchen are boneless skinless chicken breasts, ground turkey, canned tomatoes, tomato paste spices. With those and some creative additions come the majority of my family's daily meals.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother gave me a great base for cooking, creating rich meals that haunted me through my first few years as a hesitant cook. My sister-in-law could easily be a gourmet chef. She has a taste for good food, and unlike me, she will try lots of different things. She has a much more sophisticated palate than I do, but I have learned a lot from eating and cooking with her. Every year, my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law and I rotate houses for the Annual Christmas Cookie Bake. Since we began this we have also added a semi-annual Harvest Bake and an occasional Spring Bake. We eat together at least once a week, and we are always trying out new recipes together.
My cooking triumphs
I don't know that this is triumphant, but I have been pleasantly surprised that so many dishes are much easier than they seem before you start. The first time I made a cheesecake, I bought three times the ingredients necessary and budgeted a whole day thinking that I would have to make the thing multiple times. The first one came out nearly perfect (except for a small crack in the top, later covered with fruit) and I was left wondering of what was I so afraid.
My cooking tragedies
Cooking tragedies are more like cooking comedies in my kitchen. I try to keep a light heart, and I never psyche myself out. In my first year of marriage, I set a pan of oil on the stove to heat for frying chicken parmesan and then sat down at the kitchen table and chatted with my husband until the thing burst into flames right there in front of us! Luckily I remembered exactly where the baking soda was and avoided a catastrophe. It was scary at first, but we laughed so hard after, and it is still one of my favorite kitchen memories.