A visit to New Orleans inspired me to learn to recreate some of the amazing food found there. That love extended to the South generally. Prior to that, my idea of cooking was defrosting a pre-made meal. Thanks New Orleans! :-)
My favorite things to cook
Southern food - I can make a wonderful Cajun jambalaya (with chicken and sausage) with my eyes closed. I love American food generally, it's incredibly diverse and there is so much wonderful produce available. Don't take it for granted, I'm from Australia originally and didn't even know what pumpkin pie was until a few years ago! I love the way spices are used in Southern food and just wish Australia was more open and adventurous in it's cooking.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Usually burning or undercooking everything. My grandmama made wonderful pierogi though.
My cooking triumphs
I once made a King Cake in a very tiny camp stove whose temperature controls were 'low -med-hi'. It came out beautifully!
My cooking tragedies
You'd think having a Russian grandmama and Polish father I'd be able to produce decent pierogi. Nope. Unless you call various vague doughy lumps with unidentifiable filling and indeterminate taste a decent pierogi. Also, poached eggs. I get the water boiling, add a tsp of vinegar, stir the water with a wooden spoon, break in the egg and watch as it artfully disintegrates before my eyes. And we won't mention the 'summer pudding'!