I am a married mother of 2, stepmom of 2, and grandmother of 8, who loves to camp, kayak and canoe, cook, knit, crochet, cross-stitch, read, play guitar and sing. I lived in New England for my first 25 yrs and then moved to Florida to beat the rush. :-) One reason I learned to cook was because I was always on a diet of some sort, and the diet food was awful. When I first got married one of my mother's friends gave me a cookbook as a wedding gift because she knew how bad I was in the kitchen and wanted to make sure my husband survived. Once I figured out how to read a recipe and follow the directions, I found that it was fun to try new things and easy to learn.
My favorite things to cook
I love to try new recipes, or new flavor combinations. Some of my favorite long time recipes are a veggie pot pie that tastes so hearty people think there's meat in it, and pumpkin pie made from fresh pumpkins. I love cauliflower and pumpkin soups because they are so easy and yet so rich and flavorful. I love to substitute veggies or low fat yogurt for higher fat items in a recipe and then tweak the flavor so it's even better than the original. I also really enjoy taking leftovers out of the fridge and chopping them up on a pizza crust to make the most interesting homemade pizzas with different combinations.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I always try to make the pumpkin and apple pies for the family get togethers because I make them from scratch and they just taste so much better than the frozen ones. For my Dad who is diabetic, I substitute sweetener for most of the sugar so that he can enjoy it too. Roast chicken with roast potatoes and carrots was always a favorite Sunday dinner, and again, very easy to make.
For the holidays, we get pitted dates, stuff them with peanut butter, and roll them in powdered sugar for a treat, and now we have the grandkids making them too.
My cooking triumphs
I "inherited" my grandmother's mustard recipe (no one else wanted to make it, too much work!) and then I added to it and tweaked the ingredients to make several different kinds of spicy mustard. I don't make it often, because it's labor intensive, but all my family and friends absolutely love it and bring the jars back for refills. I also am happy with the spaghetti sauce recipe I developed which is sweet and full of herbs and spices. My favorite thing to do when we go out to eat is to write down all the flavors I taste and then try to make the recipe at home. That's how I got started trying to make Indian and Asian food, and shopping at the Indian and Oriental markets, where I can buy the spices that make their cuisine unique. Once I learn what the spices taste like and what the best combinations are, then I can revitalize drab tasting dishes with new spice combinations. My husband loves to try my experiments and we critique them together.
My cooking tragedies
I have made some bread that turned out as bricks - as well as brick brownies. I used soy milk in pudding - yuck! I doubled the yeast in bread because it wouldn't rise - awful! (put it in the car instead with the windows closed, that works!)
Growing up I used to burn everything because I had my nose in a book and paid no attention to what was cooking once I put it on the stove. I once boiled all the water out of the teapot and the bottom of the teapot became fused to the gas stove burner! My mother was furious! I used to burn potatoes because I would put them in the pot and then put it on high and leave it. The house would fill with smoke before I would notice they were burning. If there's hope for me to learn to be a good cook, then there's hope for everyone because I was the WORST!