I’ve ALWAYS loved to cook…my grandpa, a native Filipino who cooked on a Navy ship for many years, is an excellent chef. I grew up amidst the aromas of his kitchen, grabbing whatever “samples” I could off of his coveted butcher block table and watching him cook every chance I got. Everything he made was absolutely mouth-watering and I noticed how much enjoyment he got out of making everyone so happy with his food. In addition, my grandma - an outstanding baker who makes all her own jellies and jams - complements his cooking perfectly. I'm Filipina/Hawaiian/Chinese on my mother's side, Irish/Italian on my biological father's and my dad who raised me is 100% Japanese...needless to say I can eat like a demon in at least 6 languages!!!
My favorite things to cook
My specialties are Italian and comfort foods. Everyone loves my pork ribs (they are fall-off-the-bone tender and have a "finger-lickin-good" homemade sticky bbq sauce) and my kids say my Sinangag (Filipino fried rice) is better than the Japanese fried rice at Benihana! But to me nothing is more satisfying than putting a giant pan of lasagna or pot of spaghetti and meatballs with garlic-cheese bread or a yummy meatloaf and mashed potatoes meal on the table for my family.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I bake up a frenzy at Christmas time and include biscotti, snickerdoodles and the most decadent handmade truffles...about half of it gets handed out to friends and family, the rest straight into my husband's tummy...
My cooking triumphs
My very first attempt at making the entire Thanksgiving dinner was flawless. The turkey was moist and juicy and the homemade cranberry sauce, stuffing, gravy, and sweet potato casserole all turned out perfect. Talk about a confidence booster! Also, when I was still dating my now-husband, I'd made him a stuffed chicken breast using items I found in his (totally bachelor) fridge and cupboard. He tells everyone that that chicken is what made him know I was "the one"!
My cooking tragedies
I'd promised my grandma a Pineapple-Upside-Down cake and when it didn't turn out as "pretty" as I'd liked (it basically fell apart when I tried to turn it upside down) I threw it away...she was SO disappointed and the worst part was that it tasted yummy, I just didn't like that I'd failed at the last step of the process (I've since mellowed, believe me!). However, that experience taught me that I didn't need to be crippled by a by a bad presentation result and I could have easily salvaged it by crumbling it and serving it warm over vanilla ice cream. When it comes to cooking, flexibility and an ability to adapt are key!