I learned to cook from several talented women - my Dad's mom was an excellent cook, and I am thrilled that I have some of her treasured recipes. My mother let me cook in the kitchen from a young age, and I instilled a love of food in my son (who likes to cook as well). I am a cookbook and recipe collector - I have more than 2000 cookbooks, and read them avidly for ideas and new recipes. I started to write down recipes in a binder when I was 15, and there are some excellent recipes included in this resource. Perhaps it was my love of cooking that led me to a Home Economics degree and a career in nutrition.
My favorite things to cook
I like to try new things - and have been recording the new recipes I have made since 1978 (that makes for very interesting reading, especially the comments I made). How my cooking skills have grown is fun to see - and I enjoy cooking, baking (especially traditional recipes) and using new ingredients. One skill I have is the ability to look at a recipe and 'know' how it will turn out just by looking at the ingredients and the method, so I very rarely make anything that doesn't turn out - also, I have several reliable sources, including Canadian Living, Cook's Illustrated and Fine Cooking magazines, and of course allrecipes.com and my cookbook collection :-). My two favourite cookbooks of the moment :-) are by Canadian Authors - 'Bonnie Stern's essentials of home cooking' (2003) and the recently published 'Dish Entertains' by Trish Magwood (2007) who hosts a show on Food TV called Party Dish (check out www.foodtv.ca).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My son will tell you that his favourite smell is the dressing for the holiday turkey - so that has to be a favourite. I enjoy seasonal traditions - making salsa and chow pickles in the fall, making cookies for the Hallowe'en Trick or Treaters, and lots of baking at Christmas. I make holiday baskets up for friends and often make over a dozen recipes for treats to put in them. I enjoy making my Grandmother's recipe for biscuits.
My cooking triumphs
Several dinner parties have been very successful - and I always use new recipes for company (this used to drive my husband nuts, he figured I should go with 'tried and true' - he now likes the idea of new recipes for company). What I am most proud of now is my goal of trying at least 3 to 4 new recipes a week - I am a Director of a University Nutrition and Dietetics Program and work long hours, but food is important to me, so I have just decided to make the time. I now pick out recipes to try at the first of every week, and make my grocery list up from the recipes. A friend of mine noticed that the more stressed I am, the more I make in the kitchen - she calls me a 'kitchen witch.' It's true in some ways, my greatest accomplishments in the kitchen are often when I need to get away from everything else.
My cooking tragedies
My best story is when I was a teenager. My Mom used to make angel food cake with boiled icing. One day I came home from school and there was an angel food cake cooling on the counter. I was starved, so took a chunk out of the side to eat (can you imagine?) - so to cover up my little faux pas, I went looking for my Mom's boiled icing recipe. I followed the recipe precisely, not realizing that beating the ingredients for the seven minutes called for was with an electric mixer, not a hand mixer. I figured the egg white like consistency I was looking at would harden (and turn white) once it went on the cake. Well, needless to say that didn't happen, and the cake with the poor excuse for icing did not get taken to my Mom's meeting (as I recall, she had to make something else). The good news is that I did learn how to make boiled icing :-).