I grew up in my grandmother's kitchen helping her cook and bake. That was back before the days of microwaves and bread machines - when you had to get your hands "dirty", or shall I say sticky. Every thing was made from scratch (& love) and some meals were all day events. Now that my grandmother has long passed, I miss those heavenly scents and dishes that came from her kitchen. No one can cook like her.
However, she has passed down the "cooking gene" to me and I now create delicious meals of my own. I love to experiment by creating new dishes or tweaking existing ones. I can also take a dish that we like at a restaurant and make it at home. I can proudly say my home version is always better than the restaurants. I also try new things and am hooked on allrecipes.com, Food Network, and Everyday Food Magazine.
Most importantly, I find cooking relaxing. Just following a recipe step-by-step can give me a sense of peace. The compliments at dinner time are only an added plus.
My favorite things to cook
I usually have a tendancy to cook things spiced-up. Chicken enchiladas, taco salad, Southwestern chicken salad, and meatloaf all have a hot kick in my kitchen.
On the lighter side, I like making different types of salads with homemade dressings. Dressings are so easy and much better tasting than store bought.
Did anyone say dessert? I am the designated cheesecake maker in the family. I have taken it over from my husband's 96 year old grandmother. I've experimented with all flavors of cheesecake (eggnog, chocolate-peanut butter). All come out delicious but some richer than others.
I've also bought an ice cream maker. Everyone should have one. Nothing beats homemade ice cream. I've made Cinnamon, Mayan Chocolate, and Blueberry Cheesecake but I have to admit the very best was Rocky Road.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My favorite family cooking tradition was making homemade dumplings and Shisky(Vdolky/Czech donuts) with my grandmother. I can't duplicate them but I've attempted and have come close.
I also recall the Big Sunday Meal tradition. Cooking would begin early in the morning and we would eat mid-day. All the family would come to my grandparents house to eat together on that day.
My cooking triumphs
My husband once fell in love with a Mediterranean wrap he had at a restaurant. We went back one day and they changed the menu. He was dissapointed because he couldn't get one of his favorite sandwiches. No one on the staff recalled what was in it and the chef had since changed. I went home and attempted to find a similar recipe on the internet - to no avail. So I put all the ingredients I thought should be in a Mediterranean wrap - feta, olives, cucumbers, spinach, sprouts, etc. - and it came out incredibly tasty.
Now my husband reminds me to make it if we haven't had it in a while.
My cooking tragedies
I once made a hot pumpkin soup from a recipe I received at a pumpkin patch. As I was following the recipe, some ingredients just didn't seem right to be adding. I should have followed my instincts - it came out terrible.
I also made a watermelon margarita from one of the recipes in a magazine. It tasted more like the blender and not like a tasty summer cocktail. It was just awful - and dumped right down the drain. What a waste of tequila!