I am a mid-life career changer who has enjoyed cooking (and eating) good food all her life. My Mom went to work when I was in the 5th grade and most days when I got home from school, she'd have left instructions for me to get dinner started. Cooking never felt like a "chore" back then and it certainly rarely feels like one now.
During my 20 plus year career in IT, I traveled all over the US for work. And for fun, I traveled internationally. I have a fairly broad knowledge of food, but when cooking, I tend to stick to comfort foods and pretty much anything Italian. I don't have a big collection of Asian or eastern foods in my arsenal, but I love their flavors.
When I grow up, I want to run my own "eatery". Not a cafe, or a deli but something where I can make what I feel like making each day with fresh and local ingredients in an atmosphere that people can feel at home...like an extension of their own kitchen.
You can follow all my adventures on twitter @livelovelafcook
My favorite things to cook
Comfort foods, soups, chilies, baked goods, candies at christmas, anything Italian, pizzas, homemade dressing for big salads when good veggies are at their peak, potstickers. Anything I can bake that's bad for you like doughnuts, coconut cakes with whipped cream frosting or fresh artisan breads slathered with butter.
When I cook for clients, I am forced to move out of my comfort zone and I love trying new things. I especially love coming up with streamlined ways to make seemingly complicated food easy and accessible for everyone.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Mom's Potato Doughnuts - she's frying them as she was going into labor with my younger brother and then wasn't home to monitor how many I was eating over the next several days.
I rarely stray from the Thanksgiving basics I grew up with. I do switch up the veggie dishes each year, but the basics remain pretty constant. My own tradition (not one I grew up with) is making Turkey Wild Rice soup from the leftovers. No better way to extend the taste of the holiday for me.
Making Chili on a cold winter weekend, in honor of my Dad who made a batch nearly every weekend in winter as I was growing up. I don't use his recipe (too much Chili Powder and Dark Kidney Beans for my taste), but I do think of him when I make it.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering Gnocchi - so light and puffy, they are like clouds.
A killer Vodka Sauce - never ever have I tasted one better. It took me a lot of tries to get it right.
Artisan Bread in Five Minutes - from the book of the same name. Fresh bread...anytime. I always keep a few batches (Wheat, White, Semolina) in the fridge. Heat up the oven, shape the loaves, bake...yum.
Homemade Caramels at Christmas time. I make both Vanilla and Chocolate Caramels and they are to die for. I give the Vanilla ones away as fast as possible, as I cannot stop myself from eating them.
My cooking tragedies
So many to list, such little space to write in:
1) Strawberry Muffins just yesterday. I am moving soon so I have been working hard to use up items I have on hand. Basic Muffin recipe + frozen strawberries = disaster. I thought I adjusted correctly for the additional liquid, but these never did quite get "done" in the middle, plus, I'm pretty sure I mis-measured the baking soda...yuck.
2) Trying to keep my breads light and fluffy, I held back on the amount of flour in a bread recipe a few months ago. It rose magnificently, but fell quickly afterward in the oven. Not enough gluten to hold the structure. Turned out like a rock...not even a generous slathering of butter could save that one.
3) A few "refrigerator cleanout" dinners. You know...you have a little bit of this and a little bit of that and you hate to waste food by simply tossing it in the trash, so you throw something together. I've had a few misses in this area.