For some people, it's the journey; for some, the destination. For me, it's about what will there be to eat? With my current four-people-on-one-income family, this isn't just a philosophical approach to food, it's also an inexpensive way to take gastronomic vacations. I imagine a corner of the world I'd like to visit, and then make the food I'd eat if I were there.
In everyday life, I'm a mostly stay at home mom of two kids under 6. That means I try to cook simple, cost-effective and delicious meals for my family--at which I sometimes succeed.
I've found my need for dietary variety to be in direct conflict with my husband's preference for the predictable, but we swap cooking duties often enough that we're both pretty happy.
I've learned a lot about cooking since I got married in 2001, and much of that knowledge has been given to me from my mom and mother-in-law. They are both fantastic cooks in their own rights, and it's been a joy to take from their methods to create my own.
My favorite things to cook
I love tweaks and improvements to traditional dishes. If that means making hamburgers with both beef and turkey and then adding Old Bay seasoning and a little BBQ sauce or making Thanksgiving dressing with cornbread and cranberries, I'm all about it. Learning to make exotic foods is also really fun, like homemade pot stickers, or spicy Thai soup. Most of the fare I make can't be too far out or my family won't eat it, so I will also fall back on some favorites like tacos or pizza once a week.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I's a little embarrassing to admit, but my favorite family cooking traditions are more favorite family EATING traditions. My mom knows how much I love Chiceritos, which are a Taste of Home recipe from probably 15 years ago. She will still make them for my birthday if I ask REALLY nicely. My husband and I began our relationship at a small gathering at his parents home on December 31, 1999, so to celebrate New Year's, making it through Y2K, and 9 years of a successful relationship, we go there most years to have seafood and steaks. It's always fun, but since we've had kids it's been a lot harder to stay awake to watch the ball drop!
My cooking triumphs
Proudest achievement: roasting my first ever turkey for dinner with a dozen friends. I (mostly) followed a recipe that rendered a succulent bird. I couldn't believe it turned out well, but that didn't stop me from eating more than my share!
My cooking tragedies
I don't have any specific memories of cooking tragedies, but it's not unusual for me to get excited about some menu I've planned, only to have it utterly derailed by husband or kids. They'll remind me that they HATE tomatoes or curry or whatever, and I have to ditch the whole idea and make something they'll be willing to try. Early in our marriage, I lied to my husband and said I was making baba ganoush for dinner when I was really making taco stir fry. I had already tried to introduce him to taco stir fry, but he thought it sounded entirely too weird to try. Since he didn't know what baba ganoush was, it didn't raise any red flags in his mind. When he'd had the dinner (and liked it,) I told him the truth. He made me promise never to trick him again, and that's sound advice I can pass on to others.