I started cooking after my mother died when I was 16. I watched and learned from my grandmother until she died when I was 22. So, most of the foods I grew up loving are a good part of the list of recipes I enjoy making. But I'm now 39 and my tastes have expanded so I'm still learning. I live in the south now with my dad where his family live and I'm learning tons about southern cooking. My family never made asian food but I love it so I've taught myself a bit about Asian cooking, also about Mexican and Italian styles.
My favorite things to cook
I HATE doing dishes and have no dishwasher so my favorite things to cook are one-dish meals; casseroles, slow-cooker meals, skillet meals, soups, stews, chili... But none of that pre-packaged frozen stuff. Has to be fresh! I don't mind the dicing, slicing and chopping.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother's family was mostly German and my dad's family is American Southern. Both of those areas of cooking are definately considered comfort food, so those are huge influences, though very different from each other.
My cooking triumphs
Every Thanksgiving and Christmas my grandmother's sister, Nan, would make this incredibly good chicken and dumplings, but she wouldn't give out the recipe. For years and years my mother and my grandmother would try to duplicate it with no luck. I took over the tradition of searching after they had both died. I cannot say how many versions I've developed over the years and how much money I've spent trying to get it right, but after about 15 years I've finally gotten it right. In fact my dad says it's better than Aunt Nan's. (Hardly a "one-dish" meal, but sooooo worth the time and trouble.) I also have a chili recipe that took me years to get perfect. A great pizza dough, also. Someday, when I'm feeling a little less possesive, I'll post these recipes.
My cooking tragedies
Despite my nick name (Bugsy Baker) I cannot make buttermilk biscuits, yeast dinner rolls or pie crust. Tried, tried and tried! I've made beef wellington, homemade pizzas and calzones, even garlic bread from scratch. My rolls and biscuits turn out as either hocky pucks or bread crumbs. I won't talk about my pie crust. It might take me another ten years but I'll get 'em right.