Cooking is therapy for me, especially baking. I can spend hours fooling around in the kitchen, my laptop sitting on the island counter with a new recipe at the ready. Even though my mom always cooked and we rarely ate out, I never really learned to cook or enjoyed it until my mid-thirties. I suddenly (and unexpectedly) became a mom, put my career on hold, and starting staying home with the babies. I always thought I was inept in the kitchen, so I stayed away from too much cooking, but suddenly I needed to feed those kids! Well, a few messes and mistakes later, and much to my surprise, I discovered I loved cooking and was actually pretty good at it. Now, I not only cook all the time, I cook for family, friends, neighbors, and even occasionally do a little catering when asked. Never say never!
My favorite things to cook
Anything I can bake, from pies and cakes to cookies to breads gets top billing in my kitchen, but I also enjoy making old family favorites, and putting a new spin on them. I like trying to find interesting ways to prepare vegetables to get the kids to eat them. I've discovered that the key is to just keep putting them on the table, without forcing them to eat them, and eventually they come around!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Every Christmas when I was a little girl, my grandmother made sugar cone Christmas trees with all the grandkids. We'd glob bright green icing all over the inverted cones and then decorate them with all the little goodies Grandma had put in bowls for us to use, like red hots and silver dragees. They were too sweet to eat, but such fun to make with all the cousins. Looking back, I have to wonder if Grandma was occupying the little ones so my mom and aunts could prepare the meal! Now, my mom has a special holiday baking time with my kids (and they usually do the Christmas trees, too), and I hope someday to carry on the tradition with their kids.
My cooking triumphs
One that comes to mind right away would be the first time I was asked (allowed?) to cook the Thanksgiving turkey many years after my first fiasco (see below), and it turned out so gorgeous and juicy and flavorful. I totally redeemed myself! Since then, I've been asked to prepare it almost every year.
My cooking tragedies
When I was first married and very young, I tried to cook the Thanksgiving turkey, but didn't know (since I didn't cook, and had never used it) that the oven in our little house didn't get hot enough. After cooking for hours and hours and still not being done, my mother-in-law took pity on me and came to help out. She realized what the problem was right away, and took it to her house to finish it. I have to say, though, my new in-laws were very kind and sweet, and didn't even complain about the late meal. And they ate that dry, tough bird with a smile and a compliment!