I live in the dead center of europe. No canned or "cream of E" soups, no dinners in a box, and (sometimes sadly) no shortening. Sure, I used to eat it in the US, but those days are over... no more premature embalming myself or my family. If it ain't from scratch, or able to be, it simply isn't made. I do work in restaurants (yes, plural) approximately 5 days per month, helping figure out lunch specials, "american" items, and for functions. I never went to a proper cooking school, and like all who haven't, I would NEVER consider myself a chef, OR "professional." I consider Bartolomeo Scappi to be a true hero. I still have that "unhealthy version" of Joy of Cooking on my bookshelf, and I often measure out recipes in miles.
My favorite things to cook
Traditional stuff that makes my family happy. Vegetarian dishes when I'm alone. But really, fresh or fresh frozen shrimp.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Meat and potatoes. And potatoes. Oh yeah, some potatoes... from Irish to Lithuanian, and all in the line of fire.
My cooking triumphs
The day my family and friends assured me that I have no legitimate reason to call or visit a pizza place unless I can say I own it. The day I made Chinese food as well as the place in my hometown.
My cooking tragedies
Tragedies? A good cook will always be able to eat his or her mistakes. Knowing what you're doing BEFORE you even start the stove, is as important as knowing your experiment and technique before you go into the laboratory. A lousy cook doesn't, and will admit to throwing something away - people who should not be allowed in the kitchen, OR write reviews.