I'm a young retiree, happily settling into the Florida lifestyle with my husband, Steve, a retired Naval officer. After 10 years of living on opposite coasts, we're now 2 minutes from our son and his family, including our 4 grandsons, ages 3-11. We love going to their soccer and football games, and they get really cranky if they don't get to see Nana and Papa every week. Bliss!
Since moving here in January 2011, we've really embraced the lighter side of life, from cooking to cleanup. That means grilling, of course, and Steve has taken to it with a vengeance. I've risen to the challenge by thinking of new things to grill (new for us, anyway) and new ways to do it. We're having a ball. In May 2011 I was diagnosed with Gluten Intolerance. Bummer. But I'm making the best of it, cooking so much more from scratch than ever before, and loving the tastes and textures of this fresher way of cooking. Allrecipes is my homepage!
My favorite things to cook
All-day meat sauce for pasta. No, seriously! There's just something so satisfying and visceral about it. Maybe it's the aroma filling my home. Maybe it's the tinkering. You know; taste, add a pinch of this, a dash of that. Have some wine. Repeat. I think it's the purest expression of love from a cook. I like to invite others to taste and make suggestions. Of course, there's no recipe for this at all! It's just a labor of love, and the slow, easy pace is like catnip, enticing guests to come join in and linger in the kitchen. Heaven!
UPDATE: There IS a recipe for this now; Mock Bolognese Sauce, in my Recipe Box. Take a peek.
My favorite family cooking traditions
We used to have many, all centered around Thanksgiving. 2 kinds of cranberry sauce; one homemade, the other slices from a can. Yes, I know, but my mother thinks it's the bomb. Green bean casserole, always from cans. Aunt Shirley's extra-fluffy mashed potatoes.
Sadly, most of my mother's sibs are gone now, but I'm making new traditions with my son, who is one fearless cook! We've finally celebrated a holiday season that doesn't include a plane trip, enjoying our Florida weather so much that we skipped the formal dinner in favor of a pool party, complete with ribs, potato salad and baked beans. We may have started a new tradition of our own.
My cooking triumphs
Chicken Tacos, making it up as I went. Turned out so good, so perfectly seasoned, I had to write it down so I could do it again. Simple? You bet! Lame, for sure, but that's the dish that taught me to just 'go for it!' and helped me shed my fears of working without a net (recipe). I've had many successes since then, but that one dish will always be my reminder that this isn't rocket science, it's cooking!
The worst thing that can happen if I screw up completely is that we go out for dinner, and that's not so bad!
My cooking tragedies
Oh, they are legion. But as with my triumphs, one stands alone. Whipped cream! The very first time I made it I was a young bride, eager to impress my groom. It's cream and sugar, what could go wrong? Plenty, as I found out. First, it's a bad idea to turn your hand mixer to HIGH and plunge it into a bowl of cream. Take my word for it. After I washed down the walls and took a shower, I opened another carton of cream and did better. For a minute or two. Very soon I found myself calling my mother to ask what these little yellow things in my whipped cream were. "Butter," she replied, then explained to me the mechanics of churning butter. We didn't have freshly whipped cream that night, but the next morning we had plenty of sweet butter for our biscuits (from a can!). My mother and I both love to share this tale, as almost every bride has a similar story to tell, of tragedy and mother's love. It's humbling and comforting at the same time.