I'm 50 years old. I've been married for 25 years and have two daughters (16 and 20). We've lived in California for the past fifteen years. I fully embrace the warm weather California lifestyle but my midwestern roots are a big part of the way I cook and entertain to this day.
My favorite things to cook
I love to prepare different cuts of meats and fish, all kinds of vegetables, and particularly desserts. I was a big fan of bread baking before I turned 40 and discovered that it wasn't in my best interest to eat bread (even good homemade bread) every day. :( Now I enjoy grilling, and experimenting with ethnic foods like Asian, Mediterranean, and Middle eastern specialties.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Italian food! My mother's family is Italian and some of my fondest food memories involve Italian food - particularly the bread, meats, and pastries. I also remember all the great big family gatherings of my childhood - featuring gargantuan platters of food (pigs in a blanket, green bean casserole, pasta, chicken, etc.) The only Midwest food tradition I avoid completely is that midwestern fondness for Jello salads, Cool Whip, and canned soup casseroles. YUCK!
My cooking triumphs
I remember the ones from my childhood more than current ones: A roast duck with cherries, a spectacular stuffed crown roast of pork, Chicken Kiev. I had a great time making those for my parents. Nowadays, I'm proud of the pastries and tarts I make, as well as some of the better grilled meats that I've learned to do since discovering Brining.
My cooking tragedies
My poor husband has some horrific memories of the dark days - the six years I was an active vegetarian. Occasionally I could fool him with my mock meat efforts but usually his midwestern carnivore sensibilities were highly offended. One particular horror was some kind of Reuben made without the corned beef. The man will eat anything but he drew the line at this soggy, sauerkrauty disaster.