I've gone through several incarnations as a cook. In my past life, I cooked only occasionally, made it my form of creativity, and prepared complicated, single dishes. Then, I entered family life mid-stream, with nothing in my hip pocket to rely on. I entered a family cooking crash course, learning the difference between kid-friendly food and what my husband and I liked to eat, and trying to maintain both an appealing variety and our budget. Now, I cook for my husband and myself. Thankfully, our experimental tastes are similar, he's an appreciative audience and insists on taking the lead on clean-up. :-)
My favorite things to cook
My favorite things to cook are entirely driven by what I want to eat. My favorite flavor combination, regardless of cuisine, is sweet/hot. I was made for NC BBQ, Thai and everything in between.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My favorite cooking traditions are those that support relationships, binding people together through aroma, taste and tradition. It could be simple, like memories of my grandma, mom and I talking politics and drinking tea, while munching on a naughty cheese sausage plate and cooking a holiday meal. Or, it could be more complex, like my husband and I, determined to develop our own Christmas traditions after our mid-life marriage, deciding that an annual Christmas Eve dinner of cioppino and sourdough bread is the bomb!
My cooking triumphs
My cooking triumphs either support or develop new family traditions. Finding and making a cake recipe that faithfully reminded my husband of the cake his mother made in childhood, sending him over the moon with its taste and accompanying memories, was a real score. Baking chocolate chip cookies, timed to come out of the oven upon the arrival of my stepchildren at every visit, so that the house is filled with the cookies' welcoming aroma and my stepchildren can look forward to a treat, is lovingly intentional.
My cooking tragedies
I must live under a holiday jinx. One Easter I made scalloped potatoes without first testing the recipe. Big mistake. They were hard and sitting in a pool of liquid. Our guest was gracious but I was mortified. I learned my lesson. In advance of preparing a large Thanksgiving meal by myself for my husband's family I started experimenting with stuffing recipes in July. The recipe I ultimately chose didn't communicate how long the stuffing should be baked. I got caught up in the frenzy, didn't use good judgment and it turned black. No one wanted to eat it.