I live in Colchester, England, with my husband and my two grown up daughters. Cooking for me was always a chore as I never had any interest in it. So I just cooked the basic meat and vegetables and rarely cooked anything else from scratch. Then about five years ago my husband got an allotment (which is a plot of land rented from the local council and used for growing fruit and vegetables), and suddenly I had to learn how to plan a menu using what was in season and work out what to do when we had a glut. This inspired me to start making soups, and from there my interest in cooking just blossomed.
When I'm not cooking I've normally either got my head in a Paranormal magazine or book or I'm chatting to my friends on the Internet. I also love hill walking (if you know England you'll know that I have to travel for that as East Anglia where I live certainly isn't known for its hills!) and tracing my family tree.
My favorite things to cook
I love making soup out of the fresh ingredients that my husband brings back from the allotment, and cooking home made puddings and bread. Of my 'signature recipes' I think the ones I'm most known for are my pasta sauces (always spicy) and my Chili Con Carne which I make with minced Venison meat and Guinness (Stout). It always goes down a storm at parties and freezes well. I also just love browsing through this site to get new ideas. I've even invested in measuring cups and spoons from the USA (ordering from an excellent Stateside seller on Ebay) as I find it easier to follow the recipes in their original format rather than converting them into metric. I have found that that one simple investment has saved me a great deal of time and stopped any confusion with conversions. And I must admit it's a lot easier using measuring cups than it is weighing out everything.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Sadly I never really learned to cook as a child, and although my Grandma was a fabulous cook and made the lightest sponge cakes ever without measuring anything and mixing it with no more than a table fork I never thought to ask her the secret. And sadly now it's too late as she passed away many years ago. However one thing she did leave me was a rolling pin. It is a glass one and was made by her Uncle at the end of the nineteenth century at a glass works in Sunderland, North East England and given to her Mother. As a child in the early twentieth century it used to be my Grandma's chore to hit the large blocks of salt they used to get in those days to get the salt for cooking and the table (before packets of free flowing table salt) and she used to use the rolling pin to knock the granules of salt off, and it's covered in scratches to prove it! When her Mother died my Grandma got the rolling pin and used it practically every day up until just before she died when she gave it to me. Th
My cooking triumphs
Most of my triumphs have occurred since I started using this site! Indian Chicken Curry II springs to mind. My family adore that, and it tastes so much nicer than a ready made curry sauce out of a jar.
My cooking tragedies
My biggest tragedy is legendary in the family! I once made a rhubarb crumble for my husband (with extra sugar as I thought the rhubarb might be a bit sharp) and when my husband took a bite he ran out into the garden and threw up! It turned out that the caster sugar (a finely ground granulated sugar) I'd used from an unmarked plastic container in the cupboard was actually table salt! I did learn my lesson however, and now mark all my containers with the contents when I empty a packet into one. However to this day my rhubarb crumble is still talked about and laughed at! I think my husband's forgiven me though, although for some reason he's gone off rhubarb. ;-)