My mother was an extraordinary cook, and my parents together were legendary for their hospitality. In my youth they ran a catering business out of our home, so I really grew up thinking about the planning, preparation and presentation of food and drink. I apply what I learned from them in my homemaking, raising my family, entertaining, and at work.
My favorite things to cook
I am happiest in the kitchen when I take on a big project (such as lobster bisque or cassoulet), and am cooking for people who will appreciate it. This usually means a dinner party for adults, and not so much cooking for my picky kids.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Every 4th of July my family barbecues a whole salmon on the beach over an open fire. This tradition extends back to the 1940s. We still use the racks that my great grandfather fashioned for this purpose.
My cooking triumphs
Of the many dinner parties I've hosted in my life, there are a few that I remember as triumphs. For one of those dinners I prepared a Timpano (labor instensive, but so satisfying to make), and served a panna cotta for dessert. Another was an outdoor bridal shower with a Caribbean theme. My jerk chicken wings turned out particularly well. Oh! and wedding cakes. I've baked a few of those, and they definitely feel triumphant.
My cooking tragedies
The flip side of those successful dinner parties was my nightmare dinner party when my chicken gravy failed miserably. I was attempting a menu which included fried chicken (turns out I'm not good at that), mashed potatoes and gravy. The gravy can be best described as wallpaper paste. My guests cajoled me into serving it anyway. I should not have listened to them when they insisted that it "couldn't be that bad." Because you know what? It was. Luckily they are forgiving, and everyone had a sense of humor about it.