Love the big flavors, never consider using prepared foods. Much prefer to prep things right, par-cook your veggies before adding them to pizzas, brown meats before slow cooking. Start the stems of greens before the greens of the greens. Grind the spices for big aromatic effect (fresh ginger, cumin, coriander, cardamom, nutmeg ... there's nothing like fresh nutmeg). Love my garden, fresh garlic, greens, cukes, peppers, herbs, & more here in Eastern NY State. Friends don't understand that I don't mind, even like to be in a few feet away behind the counter with a beer or wine as I finish & serve apps & dishes while we talk & hang & listen to music in/around the kitchen table. Got to have my music, have a hoppy craft-brew beer, and good food. And good food takes a little effort and some love, doesn't it? It's all good.
My favorite things to cook
Mediterranean, Italian with my own tomato sauce, and rosemary garlic cream sauce. Pizzas & grilled pizzas. Some Provencal-Tuscan. Chipotle Pork Ribs. Killer Deli Sandwiches & Pub Foods. Braised Greens . Sauteed veggies. Fresh salads & doing really well with my own home-made dressings, way easier & far better than I ever imagined.
Also, Asian Veggie, Rice, & Noodle dishes. Spicy cold sesame-peanut noodles. Indian dishes. Some Mexican dishes (enchiladas & sauces). Portuguese Rice.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Son of a head chef (Dad) and a very good home cook (Mom), lucky to grow up in families with appreciation of good food & strong from-scratch cooking traditions (barring a chunk of the 70's where Mom made her share of fast "helper" type dishes). No formal training, just absorbed & learned from dad's excellent French, Portuguese, Steak & Seafood, and "Continental Cuisine" cooking, and mom & Nana's Sicilian & southern Italian everyday simple & elegant cooking. Have GOT to appreciate & thank those that I learned from, and that let me learn from them!
My cooking triumphs
Pan-Mediterranean/Middle Eastern, from falafel dinners, stuffed grape leaves, to Moroccan dishes. Sausage & Sage Fettucini. The BEST lasagna with my own sauce (both meat and Vegetarian/soymeat versions). An awesome Chipotle Chili(again, both meat and vegetarian versions). "Country" boneless Chipotle BBQ Pork Ribs with home-made rub & BBQ sauce (grilled, then slow-cooked). Thanksgiving ... including all from-scratch dishes like Pumpkin Soup, sausage-pecan stuffing, and pomegranate-cranberry sauce. Malaysian & Indonesian Satay & Noodle dishes. Grilled Pizzas. Grilled wings. Killer deli sandwiches (hint: seek out and start with excellent bread, or don't bother). Salad dressings like tahini-lemon-garlic, lemon-feta,
herb-Italian, and now Blue Cheese, and Russian dressings.
My cooking tragedies
Thai: mixed results at best, I need help here. Also, my chili rellenos bombed. My own pizzas are great though my own dough needs work. Wish I could make a serious Afro-Carib Jambalaya. Need to learn how to make "fine" sauces better or at least more consistently ... wine reductions, etc. Desserts are more a matter of time (er, lack of) than lack of interest.