I've been married for 19 years (it's 2008 now), but we've been friends for 26 years. My family is Italian, as it turns out more so than I once realized. We live in a vineyard now, and I grow many of my own vegetables. I remember thinking, when I was 25, that I was really getting good at cooking - I'm so much better now that I realize there is always more to learn, a way to improve... I don't think I could ever claim "expert" in the cooking category, that would be pretentious.
My favorite things to cook
In the summer I love crazy, flavorful brown rice salads. In the winter, hearty soups, stews, beans... I also make some terrific appetizers. Sometimes we have cocktail parties with just heavy appetizers. Lots of milling about, eating, some drinking, and at the end everyone is surprised that they've actually just had dinner - everyone is full. Mostly we love hearty, rustic, simple dishes.
My favorite family cooking traditions
The only tradition that I can trace back through generations is that we make good pasta, and Thanksgiving and Christmas were never complete until my mother burned herself in the oven and started a kitchen fire.
My cooking triumphs
Being about to make something tasty from nothing. I usually have pantry items that allow me to 'create.' Also, if someone shows up at the house I can usually take whatever we're making for dinner and change it from dinner for two to dinner for six. I love to have people in our home.
My cooking tragedies
Hitting a hot spot in some melted chocolate, (not as tempered as I believed) while making chocolate dessert bowls with partially blown up balloons. One of the balloons, after sitting in bowl form for about 90 seconds, exploded; sending chocolate and balloon shrapnel all over the kitchen. It was in my hair, on the ceiling, on the dog - months later I was finding bits of chocolate covered balloon in my kitchen.