I absolutely love meat and potatoes, but I don't consider myself a 'meat and potatoes" type of guy. I am adventurous and enjoy trying out both new ingredients and new techniques. I am at home in the kitchen, and I love to experiment. Normally, I only cook for my wife and myself (we are retired), but I am equally comfortable cooking for 50 or more. I have cooked outside at race tracks for my friends, helped out other friends in their restaurants, cooked for cast parties in my community theater groups, and I also devour several "foodie" blogs. I intend to start my own blog in the near future. I retired with 32 years service from the US Army as a Chief Warrant Officer.
My favorite things to cook
I enjoy cooking ethnic foods the most. If I had to name a favorite, it would be true Mexican, although I also like "Tex-Mex" (there IS a difference). I also like Indian, Caribbean, Thai, and other spicy cuisines...the hotter, the better. That being said, a plain prime rib roast with Yorkshire Pudding and real gravy, or, one of my all-time favorites, medallions of pork in Dijon sauce with Basmati rice and asparagus spears, turns me on just as easily. I also believe it's hard to beat a good cut of steak, simply seasoned with salt and pepper.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My roots are in the South, having been raised in WV. My mother and grandparents on her side were reared on a farm in Putnam County, WV, which is now mostly housing developments. On the farm, they raised cattle, hogs, tobacco, chickens, turkeys, all number of vegetables (corn, green beans, tomatoes, pumpkins and other squash, watermelons, cantelopes, potatoes, etc.). As a pre-school child, I remember going to the "old homestead" with my grandparents on weekends and witnessing the harvesting of the the crops, milking the cows, collecting the eggs and slaughter of the animals. The evening meal consisted of the fruits of that particular day's labor. Everything was cooked on a big wood-fired stove with self contained oven, which had to be stoked. The only seasoning I recall was salt and pepper. My favorite dish back then? A dish called "paddle-soup and biscuits". It was like biscuits and gravy, but thinner...milk added to bacon grease. The biscuits were made with lard and buttermilk! Yummmm
My cooking triumphs
While helping out one of my many friends who had restaurants, having customers come in and asking if I was on duty in the kitchen. If I was, they would order steaks or something that required more work in the kitchen. If I wasn't on duty, they would order one of the typical "Sysco" entrees, which anyone could do. In one particular case, I was asked to do some "from scratch" soups...something they never let the head chef do. By that, I mean they didn't trust him to make anything from scratch, and he was relegated to the standard "Sysco" entrees and sides, as well as the "packaged" gravy, plastic-bag prepared soups, etc. I still consider my greatest triumph, however, is cooking something new for my truly "meat and potatoes" wife and having her enjoy it.
My cooking tragedies
Now that's a great question, and I have no problem answering it. One word...Pasta! When I first started out, I was making a "Blackened Chicken Pasta" for three other friends while on a camping trip. The weather turned cold, it started raining, and I was cooking on a Coleman stove. I could not get the water to come to a rolling boil for the pasta (Angel Hair). I decided to chuck it in there anyway. Big mistake! The pasta turned to total MUSH! I had school glue in first grade that tasted better! (Come on now...admit it...we've all tasted school glue!) Well, at least the chicken tasted great, and we all had a good laugh from it.