First and foremost, I am a wife of 9 years, and a stay-at-home mom to 3 amazing kids; a 9 year old son, and 6 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old daughters. We live in a beautiful little town on the Oregon coast. My uncle is a professional chef, and I have picked up most of my skills from him, working with, and observing him in the kitchen, since I was 14 or 15. I also always loved cooking along side my mom (still do!), who is also a great cook. My dad always had a garden when I was growing up, and so I was taught the value of fresh, healthy ingredients - really, nothing compares! And of course, getting married at 19 and not wanting to eat the same things all the time was definitely "trial by fire." Just recently I began training as a pastry chef, and am loving it! It can be a challenge, but the ability to combine my passion for food with my overabundance of natural creativity has been exciting.
My favorite things to cook
I like to cook different "regional" foods. Cajun/Creole food intrigues me a lot, as does Greek, but I still haven't really mastered either yet. I have also been trying my hand at French cuisine, since I am now working at a French-Italian restaurant and am surrounded by those ingredients, scents and flavors all the time. And I love seafood! I am fortunate to live in a beach town, so I'm spoiled by having year-round access to fresh fish; Chinook salmon, razor clams, dungeness crab, sturgeon... And fortunately, I have an adventurous husband and kids who will try just about anything I put in front of them. ...And usually nobody complains. (Except the kids about green veggies, but too bad for them!)
My favorite family cooking traditions
Even though I'm not a bit Irish, I have always loved to go all out for St. Patrick's Day. It was my grandfather's favorite holiday, and his enthusiasm, even many years after his death, is still infectious. Every year, I make corned beef and cabbage, potatoes, and Irish soda bread. Its just fun to have that one day a year to make something completely different and remember my grandfather in that way.
My cooking triumphs
I made my sister-in-law's wedding cake. She called and said she was getting married in 3 days and asked if I would make her cake. We settled on a white cake with a lemon filling and amaretto butter cream frosting. It was death by powdered sugar - the frosting alone had 14 1/2 cups! Frosting it was a nightmare - I nearly had a breakdown after fussing with it for well over 2 hours. I barely got it done in time and with my sanity still in tact, but in the end, it looked good and tasted delicious. I am in no hurry to make another wedding cake anytime soon, but at least now I know I can.
My cooking tragedies
For some reason, I have this "thing" with Thanksgiving pies. The first year I was married, I decided to make an apple pie. My kitchen was tiny and we had 1 cookbook between about 6 people. Somehow in all the chaos, I read the recipe wrong and instead of putting 1 Tbs flour in the filling, I put in 1 cup! It was the driest pie ever! Then, another year, I forgot to add the sugar to the pumpkin pie. Talk about salty! At this point, I doubt my family will ever trust me to make a holiday pie again!