I love to cook and share meals with others and hear "MMM-mmm!" If I have to be alone in the kitchen, I prefer recipes or meals that take less than an hour to prepare. My husband and I changed to a vegetarian diet soon after our wedding day, when we realized that our family histories included heart disease and diabetes. We figured we could avoid those conditions if we started healthy eating early. Giving up meat, poultry and fish was easy enough, as beans and soya meat substitutes are readily available, and I love the challenge of creating meat-free dishes that taste like the dishes of our family homes.
My favorite things to cook
Stews served over rice. Savory fritters that can be appetizers or a complete meal with a side of vegetables. Muffins for breakfast, snack and lunchboxes.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I like when my extended family gets together, and the cooks all work together to get the meal hot and onto the table. Since I was about 10 years old, and invited some classmates to the pool for a "get-together", pot-lucks have been my favorite way to entertain. That way, everyone has some responsibility for the success of the event.
My cooking triumphs
I love when I convert someone to eating raw chocho. Another name for this squash is "chayote." My grandmother used to plant a chocho vine at every house that a family member moved to (and she had 11 children, so that's a lot of family). Chocho is often an ingredient in soups or pickles, but when cut into sticks as part of a vegetable platter, they are very refreshing. They are firmer than cucumbers, with a light taste.
For my husband's 40th birthday, I served rotis with different fillings, and many guests were delighted with the curry TVP (textured vegetable protein) that resembled the traditional "Curry Goat" that is often served at Jamaican parties.
My cooking tragedies
I started cooking when I was 10. Up until then I made flavored toast and simple eggs. My first baking attempt was inspired by a delicious chocolate cake I had at a friend's house. I begged her sister for the recipe, which she happily gave me. I followed the recipe exactly, but my family suffered through the "door stop" that was swimming in a plate of "soup". I kept practising, and eventually I made cakes that were light and frosting that was fluffy. My attitude is "It's just one meal," that is to say even if a dish doesn't turn out perfectly, there will be another opportunity to shine soon (sometimes only three hours later!). Even now, after many years and many meals, I have some "near-misses." I invited some new friends to dinner, and the rice was still not cooked after all the other dishes were ready, so I just apologized and we had dinner without the rice.