I'm a writer working as a waitress in my hometown as I work on my first novel. I live in a single-wide trailer up on a hill, and I've dubbed it The Tin Can Castle, which explains my username.
My favorite things to cook
I've been a vegetarian for four and a half years now; actually, it was cutting meat out of my diet that made me start cooking. It's amazing how closing one door can open so many others for you--I know more about food now than ever before. Some of my fav things: mushrooms (yum!), brothy soups, sticky toffee pudding, quiches, eggplant dishes, thai food, I could go on and on...
My favorite family cooking traditions
I grew up in Southwestern Virginia, smack dab in the middle of the Appalachians; I can remember my mom and grandma cooking big pots of brown beans--we ate them with gobs of ketchup and cornbread (not the sweet kind of cornbread--blasphemy!). My dad went fishing a lot and when we didn't have fresh fish we had a freezer full of it; my dad would clean the fish in the backyard and my mom would fry it in a simple bread-crumb-based batter. Also, I can remember my Aunt Shirley serving fried yellow squash from her garden--the one she played the radio in at night to keep the raccoons out. Rhubard cobbler is another thing that showed up as a special treat at holidays and other family gatherings. My mom says she can remember eating scrambled pig brains for breakfast as a child--I gotta say, I'm glad that's one tradition she didn't pass down!
My cooking triumphs
The two Christmases I spent as a graduate student at UVA, I held 5-course dinners at my home for the other students in my MFA program. In 2006 I made a root vegetable terrine that turned out perfectly--once cut, each piece looked like a mosaic, and it tasted wonderful! In 2007 I cooked for ten people and things went splendidly--particularly memorable was the British sticky toffee pudding I served at the end. I lived in the UK for a year as an undergraduate, and my pudding tasted pretty close to what I had in the pubs!
My cooking tragedies
This one time, I was making these risotto balls stuffed with goat cheese, and I was ready to fry them, but I (stupidly) left the room to brush my teeth while the oil was heating, and when I returned there were three-foot flames shooting out of the pan. I had to use the fire extinguisher, and spent the next week cleaning chemical dust off every exposed surface and object in my kitchen! Lesson learned!