Almost all my cooking experience came from raising (and feeding!) three children on a tight budget. Although my budget isn't as tight as it used to be, and the kids are grown, I still like to make dinner from whatever I have on hand... leftovers, surplus veggies from the garden, mysterious canned items from under the counter!
My favorite things to cook
I guess my favorite things to cook would be Italian-based foods, largely because I like mixing many ingredients, spices and cooking methods - while I'm sauteeing veggies on the stove, there is a sauce cooking slowly on the back burner, and the whole mess might go in the oven!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Big holiday family dinners were always a lot of fun. Creating the menu, shopping, and then preparing the meal were very satisfying. The best tradition, though, was the non-cooking part... the hors d'oevre tray with black and green olives, carrot and celery sticks, cranberry jelly, dill pickle spears and baby sweet pickles. The kids put it together, and we all snacked on that the whole early part of the day!
My cooking triumphs
This last summer, I discovered that the apple tree on my boyfriend's property produces beautiful, flavorful, sweet green apples! He had thought for years that they were too full of bugs and no flavor to bother eating them. I made my first apple pie with them, and it was a great experience and a wonderful surprise to have the recipe turn out as well as it did! I'm not a fan of pie, but I really loved this one!
My cooking tragedies
Really, the only tragedy I can think of was my son's first attempt at making Thanksgiving dinner. He took his turn as the family dinner cook at the age of about 13, and he found that he LOVED cooking! He offered to make the turkey for Thanksgiving when he was about 16. The only 'tragedy' was that the foil pan for the turkey sprung a leak during a check or maybe a basting. He started it about midnight the night before, and we didn't find the damage until about 6am that morning! ALL the juices had leaked out under the stove and all over the kitchen floor! What a mess to clean up congealed turkey fat - but the dog was ecstatic! She only got in a few licks before we stopped her, but the cleanup took a while. He managed to move the bird, replace the lost juices with bouillon, and save the day!