I am the cook for my family - I come from an Italian background, and have worked in my relative's restaurants growing up. Recipes are to me a source of ideas and guidelines, not equations to be followed without any variations - unless there is chemistry involved like baking.
My favorite things to cook
I love to improvise from the available ingredients in my kitchen.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Easter "pizza" - which is pizza in the italian sense of being a pie that is not for dessert. Aglio Olio - which we always have at New Years.
My cooking triumphs
After Hurricane Ivan destroyed my father-in-law and brother-in-law's houses, it was my role to feed the 15-20 relatives helping cleanup. I prepared 3 hot meals a day for nearly a month with no electricity or refrigeration, in a makeshift field kitchen on my screen porch, using camp stoves, gas grills, and the burner of a turkey frying setup!
My cooking tragedies
The only truly awful thing I can remember cooking was an attempt at pork curry while I was in flight school - I am not sure to this day what I did wrong, but the sauce was a NASTY green color, and it was so bad, my stick buddy's dog wouldn't eat it.