I've lived in NW Arkansas all my life, been married since 11-04-89 to a wonderful Iowa transplant, and our cats, LittleBit and CutiePie, are out "kids". I make soap for my personal use and to sell and I sew and quilt a little. From raw skim milk I make a fat free ricotta-type cheese that I use in casseroles. I love to feed people and I bake for my family and our friends at the awesome church that we are part of.
My favorite things to cook
Breads- I love the whole process, mixing, kneading, the smell of the baking and seeing the finished product. I recently spent a few months as Head Baker at a friend's start-up restaurant. I had to develope the recipes for the baked goods we would be serving and I really perfected my bread making. I can now make an awesome authentic French bread and have perfected my mom's biscuit recipe. I also added tortes, scones, giant muffins, giant cookies, and cinnamon rolls to my perfected recipes list.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Making and decorating rolled sugar cookies. I use my grandmother's hundred year old recipe. It's not a real sweet cookie- great for icing- and if rolled thick, it makes great tea cakes. This has been a family tradition for Christmas and Valentine's Day for several decades.
Thanksgiving centers around certain dishes that have been in my family for many years.
I also love making Chocolate Sundae Cake. The recipe appeared in the Ladies Home Journal around 1955 as Pudding Cake and my mom always made it for special occasions. Eaten hot, topped with a mound of cold whipped cream- the cream came fresh from our Jersey cows- talk about heavenly!
My cooking triumphs
I had an awesome teacher in my mother. She had several signature dishes that people frequently asked her to prepare. She taught all of us kids to imagine various spices and tastes combined and to not be afraid to experiment. When I asked my husband what my cooking triumphs were, he answered this way: "You have too many to count. Everything you cook is good and you're too creative to have anything that does not turn out great. Your cheesecakes are wonderful." Consequently he is trying to lose weight!
My cooking tragedies
In my early days of making bread, I fed the birds quite a few batches that did not turn out!