Having been raised by a family of restaurateurs in the Philippines, I have been exposed to cooking for people for the most part of my life. Though cooking was not my part in the business (I was in management), I lorded over my personal kitchen cooking my family's daily meals on top of my career. My brood of five kids have since left the nest while I have retired and left to cooking only for our extended family's holiday meals.
My favorite things to cook
My favorite things to cook are those that take time to prepare. Perhaps it is because I have so much time on my hands now but I remember that even with my hectic schedule then I did not shy away from recipes that required much preparation. I found it therapeutic. It was my downtime. Chopping and preparing the ingredients, no matter how long they took, was a joy to me.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I still live in the Philippines, in Metro Manila, so our food has a rich Spanish tradition. We were a colony of Spain for over 300 years before the Americans came and stayed on for another 50 years. So the food influence is basically western though the Asian influence (from before the Spaniards)is found in a lot of our dishes too. Our holiday tables are filled to the brim with mostly Spanish influenced dishes, the best of which I will share here.
My cooking triumphs
When my family and guests gush over the food I lay out on the table, be it a simple dish or one that took me long hours to prepare.
My cooking tragedies
The only one that sticks in my mind (there were others, I'm sure) was when I was preparing a roux for a party we were having in an hour. I was not as experienced yet with the technique. I must have put in more flour than required for the amount of butter I used. I'm not sure now what I did wrong. It wasn't the first time I tried it. I had no problems before. All I can remember was the thick sweat pouring out of me in my panic. The guests were soon to arrive and I haven't even been able to take a bath. I was reeking of the heavy smell of food from having been in the kitchen all day. The roux simply was not cooperating. It was so lumpy! I used a strainer to try to smoothen it out. When that proved too laborious, I threw the whole batch out and started over. Fortunately I was able to do it right this time. I could here the doorbell ringing when I dashed out of the kitchen to my bathroom. That was such a close call that I now make sure I start my party cooking well ahead of time.