I'm a working, married mom with a son who'll be 3 this year! I love to cook; but I seem to be almost incapable of following a recipe--my kitchen is a creative outlet for me, and I'm constantly tweaking, tasting, sprinkling, smelling...I seem to need to add my own touch to everything that comes out of my kitchen. So I guess you could say I have a very intuitive style of cooking.
I've worked in restaurants on and off since I was 16. I'm currently a waitress--I think I enjoy it because I get to learn more and more about different foods, techniques, and flavor combinations.
My other great passion is writing. I'd love to be a novelist "someday"...but it always seems to work out that I cook more often than I write. I'm semi-perfectionist about both.
My favorite things to cook
I was a strict vegetarian for about 5 years from a very young age, and I still do what I can to "avoid" meat--but being married to an avid carnivore, the odd bit of poultry makes its way into my diet on the not-too-rare occasion. And I still haven't lost my "appreciation" for a perfectly pan-seared, medium-rare steak...but my true weakness is seafood, of nearly all types.
My old standbys are all vegetarian comfort food though...cheese enchiladas, vegetable soup, vegetable stuffed peppers, anything Italian (almost nothing is as quick & easy as pasta), portabella burgers, tabouli salad, oh and the best vegan chili you've ever had (though it turns out just a bit different every time). (Hmm...tomatoes also seem to be a common theme.)
My favorite family cooking traditions
I think I got my penchant for good cooking from my dad. He, like me, is a hobbyist, would-be chef. Actually I'm sure he's a COULD-be chef, but he didn't want to lose that amateur passion by making it into a Job. He's probably where I learned my dash-and-sprinkle intuition; and he taught me how to make a good roux at an age when my peers probably wouldn't know what that was for years to come.
I'm not at all picky. I grew up with a mom who'd rather serve questionable leftovers than waste "good" food. But as I get into cooking, I have a harder and harder time paying for a meal I could've made as well or better at home.
My cooking triumphs
One of my mother-in-law's favorite foods used to be Chicken Vino Bianco from Olive Garden (which they took off the menu some time ago when I worked there). An excellent cook herself, she specializes in the traditional, rich, buttery, down-home comfort food that my husband begs me for--a far cry from the eclectic, veggie-laden fare I grew up with. Eager to impress her, I invited her over for a surprise Mother's Day dinner. With no recipe, a limited budget, and only a general recollection of the Vino Bianco sauce, I dashed through Kroger and then set to work. I know Olive Garden isn't real impressive cuisine, but I can safely say I did it one better, and the in-laws were duly and very pleasantly surprised. I love entertaining, and everyone seems to enjoy my cooking quite a lot. My son, naturally, is my toughest critic.
My cooking tragedies
The first time I tried to make a sauce for a roast using its drippings...using flour (probably too much), red wine (definitely too much), and milk (I think it was skim). Ugh, there are no words. Truly unfixable; and one of the rare things I've encountered that was.