My grandparents and great grandparents came here from Eastern Europe, bringing with them many culinary traditions. My parents were adventurous eaters, with my mother being an avid cook ... I first ate sushi when I was just six. Growing up my friends were mainly Korean, and my sister's best friend was Indian. Before I even knew how to toast bread I had a diverse palate and a strong want to discover new foods. Toss in a husband from the Balkans and what you get is a pantry that looks like an international market and a woman that can cook anything you throw at her ... as long as there is a recipe to follow.
My favorite things to cook
I love cooking ethnic foods and making everything from scratch including spice mixes. There is no specific ethnic cuisine that sends me over the moon more than another, but I am a sucker for soups. Russian, Bulgarian, Italian, French, Asian, Indo-Chinese, African ... it really doesn't matter. If I can slurp it with a spoon it gets my attention.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Gefilte fish is an acquired taste. I grew up with it and love the dish dearly. One of my fondest memories is of my mother clamping the meat grinder onto the kitchen table and grinding up the fish she brought home from the butcher. When that happened I always knew that 24 hours later I would be eating homemade gefilte fish with horseradish.
My cooking triumphs
My mother is a fantastic cook. Some of my fondest memories growing up were of her winter soups and stews, specifically oxtail stew. So when I changed her recipe and added my own twist, it was a major triumph for my father to say, "Don't tell your mother, but this is better than her oxtail stew."
My cooking tragedies
Along with all of the cooking genetics passed down to me, somehow the baking gene got lost. Pie crusts escape me, dough never has the right feel and homemade pastas and pierogis are always just a little to thick and slightly chewy ... sigh, I push onward regardless.