I come from a time and a culture where family recipes were not written out on index cards or even sheets of paper. We didn't have fancy names for the skills we used; our cooking vocabulary was simple, i.e., use only a pinch of this or add little bit more of that. Our traditional recipes and cooking techniques were instilled in us by observing and working with the masters--mom/grandma/aunt. They even taught us how to shop for the ingredients that went into our food. How the ingredients looked, smelled, felt, and, of course, tasted were all taken into account during the process that these skills had become second nature to me by the time I was 11 years old. This is how cooking traditions were passed on from one generation to the next.
Every time I experiment with something I've never tried before I'm excited to pass it on -- even the mistakes!
My favorite things to cook
Whatever's on hand in my pantry, fridge or freezer--and in any combination! Seriously, though, I very much enjoy cooking dishes that require the abundant use of fresh herbs and spices and any kind of sauce or gravy made from scratch.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Even before I was old enough to understand the kind bonding that takes place among a small group of women (and now our men, too)who gather in one kitchen to cook a family meal, I've been fascinated by the spirit of teamwork and kinship. Even the occasional OOPS! and OH NO's! seem to blend perfectly well with the sweet scents of cinnamon and coconut or the robust smells of cilantro and garlic throughout our entire house. The stories that are told for the upteenth time, the old corny jokes, the harmless gossip (no mention of names, of course) and best of all, the retelling of the family history all make up the best of the best traditions around our kitchen. As the family grows or gets smaller, as new traditions are introduced and incorporated into ours, this is the one I hope will continue long after other family traditions are left behind or simply forgotten.