I am OBSSESSED with food. I watch the FoodNetwork like sports fanatics watch ESPN. That's actually how I learned many cooking techniques. I observed my favorite chefs on TV and then I would try to mimic what I saw them do.
I am engaged to a wonderful man and we are planning on a wedding in December. He loves it when I cook, too, and that boy loves to eat good food!
My favorite things to cook
It has to taste good, period. I don't like using ingredients that I can't easily find, are too expensive, or out of season. Making sure that the ingredients I use are fresh and whole is really important to me.
My signature dish is this recipe I found in my favorite cooking magazine, Cooking Light. It's farfalle with a creamy wild mushroom sauce. Incredibly delicious. My boyfriend requests that dish often. I also like it because it's very elegant and beautiful, but not expensive at all, and it's incredibly quick to make.
I guess you could say my "style" of cooking is pretty rustic. I don't like to use a lot of fancy techniques or too many gadgets (although I do love a good gadget). I just don't want to break down the food too much. Making things from scratch, as much as possible, is also very fulfilling. I feel like I have really accomplished something.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My paternal great-grandmother Jenny taught my mother how to make her recipe for Baked Ziti. Now, when Jenny taught my mama, she did EVERYTHING from scratch. Using bottled sauce was an absolute crime to this woman.
When my mother taught me, we did all the short-cuts: bottled sauce, no fresh herbs. Mama says it's definitely faster and easier, but that it doesn't taste the same. One day, when I have a good tomato garden going, I want to make the Baked Ziti from scratch!
When my maternal grandmother is in town, I love it when she cooks me breakfast. She's a southern woman, so a typical breakfast is grits, fried eggs, some bacon or sausage, and if she has the time, fresh biscuits with butter. Not good for you. But Oh. My. Gawd.
My cooking triumphs
During the holidays of 2007, I had no money to buy my family presents. So I offered them my skills in the kitchen. I took care of Thanksgiving brunch AND Christmas dinner. Christmas was defenitely a success.
I made a beef barley stew, a crown roast, cranberry-apricot chutney, horseradish mustard, sour cream mashed potatoes, carrots, and sauteed mushrooms. I planned the entire menu, and when I told my family about it, they got a little panicked. No green bean casserole? No lime jello? No TURKEY?! But Christmas came and there was absolutely no conversation at the dinner table, because everyone was stuffing their faces. Hah! I knew it would pay off to try something different and shake things up. Glad I went with my instincts.
My cooking tragedies
I was making a cake for my Mama's birthday this February. When she was a little girl, her Mama would make her a Wacky Cake, and I really wanted to make her something from her childhood that she enjoyed.
I followed the recipe exactly, it cooked up beautifully, and I let it cool. I was ready to turn it onto a pan, and was horrified when I did so. The entire bottom was still attached to the pan and the rest of the cake fell out in a, well, wacky lump on the plate. I didn't really know much about Wacky cakes, and apparently, they are very, very moist. Almost wet. They are supposed to stay in the pan, and you cut it out like a brownie.