I'm currently a college student at the University of Northern Iowa. I study Painting in the excellent art program there and I hope to someday be able to make a living off of my artwork. Until then, I'm working as a waitress at Perkins. I get tired of being around fatty, fried foods all day, so when I come home I like to use lots of whole foods in what I make. I'm also a vegetarian, so I use my creativity as an artist to come up with delicious substitutes for meat.
My favorite things to cook
I adore exotic cuisines and I'm anything but a meat and potato kind of girl (even though I'm from Iowa). I love to cook anything Indian, especially curried chickpeas (Chana Masala). I also love Thai, Asian, Italian, and Mediterranean cooking.
I love to broil vegetables (it brings out their deliciousness without soaking them in oils). I also work with lots of different spices, which comes from my experience with Indian cooking. My favorite spices to use are: basil, ginger, cayenne, garlic, curry powder, coriander, cumin, and cinnamon.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My grandmother was renowend for her baking skills and even had an article in the paper calling her the 'doughnut lady.' I'm not quite as proficient in baking, but I would like to be because I do have quite the sweet-tooth. I inherited my mother's spaghetti recipe and I always add carrots to my sauce (which some people find kind of weird.) I must say that being a vegetarian makes it difficult for me to use any of my family's more traditional recipes, so I've paved my own way as far as my cooking style is concerned.
My cooking triumphs
I'm getting quite good at using spices, especially in various Indian dishes I make. I also have a good sense of how to make a recipes taste better if its lacking in flavor...so I mostly use the recipes I find here as a guideline to work from. The meals I get the most compliments on are: Suki's Feta Cheese and Spinach Pasta, Chana Masala, Black Bean Burgers, Enchiladas, Eggplant Paramasan, and I'm good at working with zucchini and squash.
My cooking tragedies
I once made fish pasta (before I became a vegetarian). It was quite disgusting. I also have a bad habit of not putting enough salt in my foods, but I am getting better about that. Also, once I was baking at my mom's house and I didn't know her oven was 50 degrees off its normal calibration. So, needless to say, my cookies were hard as a rock and didn't rise at all...and I was baking them to impress my boyfriend's parents. It was pretty sad, especially since I'm usually really good at making chocolate chip cookies.