I'm a vegetarian from South Louisiana, living in Southern California and trying to eat a healthier diet. I love to experiment in the kitchen making up new dishes, and I rarely follow even a new recipe exactly. I also consider myself an expert at the "what can I make with what's left in the pantry" game.
My favorite things to cook
I make a lot of quick sautes or pan fries, or roasted vegetables - things that can be served over rice or quinoa or potatoes. I also do a lot of blends and spreads - things to eat on sandwiches, toast, or crackers. I try not to bake as much as I would like, for health reasons, but whenever there's a potluck, I almost always bring a dessert!
My favorite family cooking traditions
I grew up eating a mix of creole and soul food - egg and rice, fried okra, cornbread, ettouffée, jambalaya... On my mom's side, the whole family cooks. The women cook, the men cook, the kids learn to cook before they learn to ride a bike. When we get together, we're planning the next meal before the current one is finished, and nobody ever shows up for a visit without food.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, I and many of my relatives are now quite overweight, and many of them are diabetic. We've had sudden a shift to healthier eating across the board, and every time we get together there are new recipes to share!
We just put out a new edition of the family cookbook, too.
My cooking triumphs
When I was ten, I told my mother I wasn't going to eat meat anymore. She told me that was fine, but I was going to cook for myself from now on, because she wasn't making anything special for me.
This was before wonderful cooking websites like allrecipes, so it was just me and my local library's selection of cookbooks. While I could cook a few simple meals (and bake - I've been baking for as long as I can remember) at that age, I had to teach myself how to to cook a lot of new things, and my family wasn't supportive or helpful at all - in fact, they were down-right discouraging. For the first three years.
That was sixteen years ago. Now my whole family eats healthier, and doesn't have a problem forgoing meat for a meal or two. My mom and sister and I swap recipes on a regular basis. Everyone in the family loves my cooking. :)
My cooking tragedies
The downside of being unafraid to experiment in the kitchen is that you do wind up with a lot of failures. I scorched my curry just last night! That was just carelessness, though, because it was good up until that point.
Don't let kitchen mishaps get you down! Mistakes go in the compost bin and make your radishes grow faster. Keep trying!