I am a wife and mother of three young adults that works full-time as a Special Education teacher and part-time for the most popular retail chain in the country. (Think, Bullseye) My jobs takes up the largest portion of my life right now, so the time I have in the kitchen seems so much more limited than it was when my kids were younger and I only worked part-time. I have this odd hang up about not wanting to cook unless I can do it from scratch--and as anyone who works full-time knows, that is nearly impossible on weeknights. As a result, I do very little cooking on the weeknights. But on the weekends, I will cook as much as I can! I love to prepare new recipes, although I seldom follow them to the letter. The joke in our house is that if you loved it, too bad, because you may never have it again. I love to work to impress family and friends with my kitchen skills and will never turn down an opportunity to contribute to any event that involves bringing great food.
My favorite things to cook
I go through phases. Currently, I am into Italian foods. And I rarely serve a meal that does not incorporate cheese into it somehow.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Christmas morning breakfast with just my husband and kids is probably my favorite. Despite my need to experiment with recipes, I am tried and true on this day. I make the same breakfast casserole every year and I follow the recipe to the letter. And this is the only time all year that my family is able to enjoy this meal because I reserve it for this day only. It means a lot to them and I often hear "Can't we please have that casserole when it isn't Christmas?" That tells me that it means a lot to them and I am glad I preserve that recipe for only that occasion each year.
I also enjoy preparing requested meals for my husband and kids on their birthdays. I have always served exactly what the birthday person requests--even if it is frozen waffles and corn dogs. (Actually happened!) As the kids have aged their requests have grown to reflect the variety of foods that I have presented to them over the years and I find that really rewarding.
My cooking triumphs
The year that my daughter graduated from high school, I prepared a Mexican fiesta for 200+ people for her party. I made everything from scratch, from the taco meat to the guacamole and the Spanish rice to black bean side dish. Not only was it fantastic, but it was quite a triumph for me personally. I couldn't have done it without the massive help from friends and family but I can take credit for the awesome recipes we prepared! It was quite an event to appreciate and it certainly beat out the many grad parties that we attended where sandwich platters were the centerpiece of the buffet table.
My cooking tragedies
I have served more than my share of meals that have personally disappointed me tremendously. I do not, however, have any stories about tragic results that have lead to ruining a gathering or forcing a last minute replacement with order in pizza or a fast food run. For that, I am very grateful! On the other hand, I have served meals that I thought were wonderful, but not appreciated by my family. But I see that as the benefit of being the chief cook and bottle washer--when I am the one doing all the work, I should be able to pick a home run to my liking every once in awhile! (Not that I don't also prepare things by request that are not my particular favorites.) I do remember one occasion, however, when the tragedy was not in the food I prepared, but in the fact that most of what I made wound up on the floor of my minivan while transporting it to an event. It was embarrassing to show up with enough French Onion Soup to feed about 4 people when I had made enough to feed 12!