I am an avid organic gardener. Now that we are retired we spend summers in South Glens Falls, NY and winters in FL with gardens and flowers in both places.
I spent many years in the real estate business and designing my own homes. My last business was owning and operating a flower shop in Vero Beach, FL.
I love to plan, cook and serve meals for guests and family, and have written a family cook book that my two daughters and two daughters-in-law received for Christmas last year.
My husband also likes to cook and has several recipes that he has perfected like his meatloaf pie and an amazing chili.
We enjoy our easy paced, retired life with our two pups, Cadette a Golden Retriever and Lexi a King Charles Cavalier Spaniel. They go everywhere we go in our van that we have dubbed the "dog mobile". Lexi even likes boating with us.
We are looking forward to a holiday in the Keys for the whole family this December with children and grandchildren coming too.
My favorite things to cook
Oh my gosh, that's a hard one! I guess I prefer savory over sweet.
My grandkids say I make a great chocolate chip cookie that calls for 2 ripe bananas. The cookbook that I wrote has over a thousand recipes from appetizers through desserts but I really do prefer making a savory main dish.
Italian dishes like lasagna, manicotti and spaghetti and meatballs are my favorites when I am feeding a crowd because they are easy to make ahead.
I love to play with marinade flavors and sauces for different types of meat and cooking in the slow cooker is another favorite. My French Dip is totally yummy.
When it's just my husband and myself for dinner, we usually grill fish or beef and fix a big garden salad. We grow tomatoes, peppers, cukes, squash and Swiss chard in our garden.
I think that roasting vegetables in the oven gives them a deeper flavor than boiling. I also roast fresh shrimp for an awesome appetizer.
Tweaking recipes is fun!
My favorite family cooking traditions
I grew up in a unique family where my grandparents lived in a house between my cousins family and mine. Grandma was a great cook and baker and loved to have the family over for Sunday meals. It didn't matter if it was a hot, full-blown turkey dinner in November or a cold salad picnic in July, we were at Grandma's table. Now I am the Grandma and the kids and grandkids are at my table.
We spend the summers at our cottage on the Hudson River and everyone comes here for the picnics on the deck. Grilled steaks or burgers, cold salads and fresh veggies from the garden is the fair.
In the winter months we live in Florida and the southern children and grandchildren gather for home cooked meals there too.
When I'm really lucky is when they all travel to one spot to enjoy each other and I get a chance to have all four children with their spouses and the six grandchildren all together at one time.
Family, cooking and eating together is what it's all about.
My cooking triumphs
When I owned my flower shop, we had an annual tradition with the other shops in town to hold a holiday open house at each shop. We would all decorate with our best and most creative designers trying to outdo the others.
The food we all served started out to be just a few chips and dips but I decided to take it to a higher level and made all manner of delicious finger foods, both savory and sweet. Because my shop also had a wine license, we combined it with a wine tasting event.
This was a one day, afternoon affair and we would get as many as 500 people through the shop in that four hour period. We sold a lot of great Christmas designs and I always got compliments on my food. Most people thought it was catered and were surprised when I told them I had made all of the appetizers myself.
Many of the recipes I made for those events are in my cookbook that I have passed on to my girls. The book also has my comments on various rememberances in my life.
My cooking tragedies
Most of my unedible dishes have been of the dessert variety and are the reason I don't try to be the pastry chef that my grandmother was.
For whatever reason, probably that I don't always measure precisely, my yeast rolls won't rise or my pastry isn't flaky enough.
I learned a long time ago to respond to "what can I bring?" with - "how about the dessert". That way I don't have to embarrass myself with a potential failure in that department.
In my earlier days of cooking I had the usual failures with overdone meat or underdone potatoes and my kids could probably tell tales of yucky dishes that didn't taste the way they should.
My last real flop was at a picnic in May with my family. I tried a new chicken recipe from this site and pre-cooked the chicken, then put it in a barbeque sauce in my slow cooker. My husband was suppose to just crisp it up on the grill and instead he cooked it all over again. Needless to say, it was very tough and dried out.