I'm a mother of two toddlers. I am mostly self-taught cooking-wise, though had 2 grandmas who were both excellent cooks and also learned lots from them. I used to read cookbooks in college for "fun" couch reading. I love food: cooking new foods, eating new foods, as well as the old classics. My favorite part of vacations is trying new restaurants with different ethnic backgrounds or great seafood restaurants on the coast which is a nice diversion from the great midwest.
My favorite things to cook
I love an assortment of foods. While I love to venture into the gourmet and advanced recipes, I also love the basic home-style comfort foods. Meatloaf and mashed potatoes has to be one of my favorites. But it's so hard to pick one. I love making Cobb salad, chili, quiche. My main focus is healthy food that's delicious (increased fiber, low fat, lots of colorful veggies and whole grains), and ingraining an appreciation for good, whole food in my kids.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My grandmother, mother and I used to gather in December to make kleijner (I've seen lots of different spellings, it's a Danish deep fat fried cookie-donut). We also made Danish kisses, peppernuts, and divinity. This is now too much work for me to do alone, maybe some day when my kids get older we can resume this tradition. I can also make a mean aebleskiver (Danish pancake balls). I found an awesome old cast iron aebleskiver pan on eBay! My grandma was so good--it was my grandfather who was 100% Danish. My grandmother was 100% German. Wished she also did some German cooking, which I also love.
My cooking triumphs
Paella--it was amazing how perfectly it turned out the 1st and only time I've made it. The rice was perfectly done, the seafood perfectly done, nice crust on the bottom of the rice as is traditional preference. My mother-in-law gave me a jar of saffron so I made paella for a big family gathering. It was so good, I'm afraid to make it again 'cause doubt it could be so good the 2nd time.
My cooking tragedies
There have been many (burned rice and burned popcorn are the worst), but none that had a large crowd as witness, which are the really funny ones. Which is amazing because for some crazy reason I usually make a new recipe that I've never tried for entertaining. Maybe my success is due to getting most of my recipes from allrecipes.com. :) I do recall an oven fire at one point, which I refused to use a fire extinguisher on because I didn't want to ruin the food. It burned itself out, and the food survived unscathed. Must've been a flash grease fire.