My mom taught me to bake when I was 10, and by the time I was in junior high, I was doing all of her baking. When I was in university and still living at home, it was my job to cook dinner twice a week. My biggest cooking challenge has been in moving with my husband from Canada to Mexico. I have had to figure out a) names of familiar foods and ingredients in Spanish, b) what isn't available here that I'm used to having in Canada, and c) how to use some of the local foods that I've never seen before! I haven't yet conquered all of these challenges, but at least we're not eating gorditas at the mall three times a week anymore.
My favorite things to cook
I like short ingredient lists! My husband and I are both teachers, and most days, by the time we get home, we want supper immediately. That means either preparing something the night before, or finding something that is easy to pull together in the afternoon. I am constantly looking for simple, flavorful, and nutritious supper recipes. I also like to do things differently than my mom did, so I'm looking past her old collection of after-school suppers!
My favorite family cooking traditions
When I was growing up, the only time we had pizza was for dinner on Christmas Eve! As we started eating it more often, and weren't children anymore, we decided it was time to choose something a little more special and grown-up for our family Christmas dinner. For the last few years, part of our holiday preparations include selecting gourmet dishes that require a lot more prep than any of us usually have time to put into dinner. Then we spend Christmas Eve afternoon cooking together.
My cooking triumphs
Cream puffs. I first made them in my junior high home ec cooking class, and my group's batch was the only one that didn't collapse. I've never been unsuccessful with them... though it occurs to me now that it's been several years since I tried.
My cooking tragedies
I remember hearing stories as I was growing up about young brides who suddenly had to cook for their husbands, but had no idea how, having never spent any time in the kitchen before. As I was preparing for my marriage, I smirked to myself and expressed some smug gratitude that with all my experience, I wouldn't have that problem. I've probably baked hundreds of batches of chocolate chip cookies since I was 10, so I was looking forward to making a delicious batch for my new husband shortly after we moved into our apartment. Well, the stove was old and unfamiliar, and the first pan came out carrying charred, black rocks! It took three batches of experimenting and adjusting before I figured out how to bake in that oven!