When my husband and I first moved to Bucharest, Romania in 2000, I was surprised at how dependent I had become on convenience and prepackaged mixes and foods. Because of that, I had to relearn how to cook because those items were mostly unavailable! Now we are in North Africa, and although I am thrilled to find sweetened condensed milk in the stores, there are other adjustments I've had to make in my cooking.
My favorite things to cook
I love to bake and make desserts of all kinds. But I also enjoy making dinner for my family -- although I do enjoy breaks from that, too!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Since I was young and did this with my mom and aunts, I have enjoyed baking treats to give as gifts, especially at Christmastime.
My cooking triumphs
Most of these come from finding substitutes for the old standbys I used so much in the US. For example, how to alter a recipe so that European cocoa works in it, how to make a substitute for cream of mushroom/chicken/etc. from a can, and how to make my own icing. But the biggest triumph of all (and I think most moms would agree) is simply when I make a meal that everyone (kids and adults and the health-conscious alike) enjoys.
My cooking tragedies
The worst meal I ever made was spaghetti with meat sauce, but the meat was full of gristle, fat, and even a few pieces of bone. We didn't eat ground beef for a looooooong time after that. I have definitely learned that not all ingredients are created equal!