I have been in the kitchen for as long as I can remember, at least 20 years. I learned the bulk of my cooking skills from my mother. Her basic approach (and mine) is to use cookbooks mostly as a guide. About the only time I follow a recipe word-for-word is for baked goods such as breads and cakes (I might add a dash of a complimentary spice, but that's it).
My favorite things to cook
Where to begin! I like to cook pretty much anything, and am always looking for new things to try. If there comes a time when I can't find anything new to prepare (or fall back on an old favorite), then I'll probably quit cooking/baking. However, I don't think that'll happen, because of the wealth of recipes from around the world.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My favorite family cooking traditions stem from cooking in the kitchen with my parents. As soon as my children are old enough (a daughter and a son), I hope they will want to be in the kitchen with me, learning about the processes involved with preparing the foods we eat.
My cooking triumphs
The most memorable cooking triumphs that I have involve recipes that I have found and adapted to suit my family's needs. The biggest triumph I can think of right now is adapting foods containing peanuts, yeast, and corn into versions without those ingredients (or simply finding recipes without those ingredients)--my daughter's allergic to yeast and peanuts, while I am allergic to corn.
My cooking tragedies
The first time I cooked with tofu...I was in grade school and read a book that mentioned how to prepare tofu (I don't remember what the main story of the book was about, as it was probably 16-17 years ago). My mom and I got the tofu and the other ingredients and prepared the dish. It was so bland! I have since eaten delicious tofu, so the result of that tragedy came about either through cooks' error or else a faulty recipe (more than likely, it was cooks' error).