I come from a mixed European background, primarily Italian, Austrian and Belgian. My Belgian grandmom was a professional chef. I am a baby boomer and have loved food and cooking since early childhood. My Norwegian husband didn't have much of a palate until I came along. We are enjoying our retirement by reading cooking and wine magazines and trying all sorts of cuisines. And I'm exercising more to stay slim! My husband is naturally thin, so he gets all the leftovers.
My favorite things to cook
Anything pasta works for me, as long as I keep changing, experimenting, etc. I also challenge favorite recipes with new ingredients. Baked pasta and risotto dishes are my favorites, especially barley risotto. I also love cooking fresh greens - escarole, baby bok choy, chard, broccoli rabe, and beet greens (including the beets, of course).
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mom still makes great eggplant parmesan and home-made lasagna. She also makes her own rice balls (arancini) with mozzarella cubes and prociutto in the centers. Her fettucine alfredo is a rich (and very occasional) indulgence. I also love her chicken cutlet marsala, risotto and polenta (from scratch!). So I guess overall my tradition is Italian but not just the red-sauce side.
My cooking triumphs
A 10-course Chinese new year dinner for 10 people that was perfection. This required days of preparation and lots of last-minute cooking. Another was osso buco for a gourmet dinner club: I took the raw veal shanks off the bones, re-tied them, and put the bones in the pot with the meat. At serving time, I put a bone or two on each plate next to the cooked meat. Served with creamy mushroom risotto-BLISS!
My cooking tragedies
I am not a very good baker of pies. Most of mine come out soupy or sour or too sweet and my homemade crusts are like leather. So I resort to store-bought crusts and doctoring canned fruit pie fillings with fresh fruit and seasonings like cloves and nutmeg. Most of my other baking, including bread, is not so bad. I especially like experimenting with flavors in scones (a few hockey pucks have resulted!).