I am 24 years old. I live in a small town (I bought the house I grew up in) with my husband and son. Growing up my family didn't cook much as both my parents worked a lot. I was always trying to cook when I was a kid and it was always a disaster. My family still laughs at some of the things I did. When I was 18, I decided that I really wanted to try to learn how to cook, I guess because I couldn't stomach another frozen meal or Hamburger Helper. I began to teach myself mostly by just trying recipes and learning from my mistakes. Now, I'm quite well known for my cooking skills. Most specifically for my cookies and my Italian dishes such as stuffed shells. My family jokingly calls me Betty Sue, meaning Betty Crocker/Suzie Homemaker. Whenever I cook for the family (which is often) someone always says "Can you believe how good of a cook Rachel turned out to be? Remember when she was a kid . . ." Then we all have a good laugh as we share stories of my kitchen disasters from when I was young
My favorite things to cook
I love to bake more than anything; cookies, cakes, quick breads, brownies, pies. I love to make cookies and I am very good at it. Everyone always loves my cookies. I'm very interested in cake-decorating and I'm slowly teaching myself. My family seems to think I'm ready to start my own business. Not quite yet. As far as cooking, I love to make anything with chicken. I also like to use recipes that call for beef and make them with ground turkey instead, like chili. People rave about my turkey chili. I also love vegetables (except peas) and am always trying to incorporate different veggies into things. I also like to cook Italian. Stuffed shells are my specialty along with homemade marinara sauce and turkey meatballs.
My favorite family cooking traditions
We don't have many cooking traditions in my family. I'm trying to start some myself. The only tradition that I can think of is that my stepmom always makes a ham and a turkey for every holiday (God bless her!). She does this because I love turkey and I don't eat pork, and my stepsister loves ham and hates turkey. So she's nice enough to make one of each to keep us both happy.
My cooking triumphs
When I was 18 and first learning how to cook, one of the first things I learned was cooking Italian. So I had my first apartment and decided to invite my family over for dinner. They had never had my cooking before and, given my past misgivings, they were all scared. But they came anyway. I made stuffed shells with homemade marinara, homemade meatballs, salad, and homemade garlic rolls. All through dinner, people kept saying how good it was and how surprised they were at how good I did. And for dessert, I had made a lemon meringue pie and a chocolate layer cake. Everyone loved those as well. For months, my family didn't stop talking about how they couldn't believe that I had made such a good meal.
My cooking tragedies
When I first started doing cakes, I wanted to make this really pretty Christmas cake to take to Christmas dinner. I was nervous, so I made one a couple of weeks before and took my time decorating it just to make sure I could do it. It came out looking great and it tasted great too. So on Christmas Eve, I was making the same cake again. Being somewhat new to it, I put the cake in the oven along with some bread that I was making. And since I had done it only a couple weeks ago and it cooked perfect in only 45 minutes, I assumed the same would be true this time. Well, I didn't realize that having the bread in there too would alter the baking time. I didn't even test the cake when I took it out. I was way over-confident. Then when I turned it upside-down to take it out of the pan, all the uncooked batter from the middle came spilling out all over. It was a mess! I cried and cried.