Mama to the two most beautiful babies and wife to the best guy! I love cooking for my family. It is my main hobby, followed by gardening and the outdoors. My biggest cooking influences: my mother, an incredible gourmet who hosts fantastic parties, my grandmother - who was an exceptional and well-known country farm cook, my mother-in-law - who has a knack for making both styles very adaptable to busy everyday cooking as well as big family cooking, and my husband - who is fearless, willing, and has and incredible natural instict for what will taste great!
I believe the fun and challenge of cooking is that there is no perfect recipe for any one person/family. Tastes and cooking styles vary and sharing is so wonderful, gifting a person a piece of your home, famil
My favorite things to cook
I love perfecting new recipes and I love preserving old recipes. I am just thrilled when I get requests to recreate or perfect a recipe friends or family have had somewhere. I own more cookbooks than I can count, and have over 800 (at last count) perfected recipes in my personal cookbook software; I get a kick out of reading books, watching shows, and combing the net to combine, eliminate, and perfect a basic recipe. Something as simple as perfect scrambled eggs intrigues me (I think I have them!).
My shrimp bisque, my Springfield, MO - style cashew chicken, my SEAFOOD GUMBO!, chicken marsala, beef stroganoff, carrot soup, and my star - my cornbread and hush puppies - are among my most requested recipes.
My favorite family cooking traditions
1)Holidays, especially when my Grandmother was alive. She was SUCH an experienced and good cook, she made it seem effortless. We have a huge family and everyone participates. Summertimes there is the smoker and salads and slaws, fish frys and bbq, fruit pies, and in the winter - piles of the MOST comforting of comfort food!
2)weekends w/my mother-in-law - she's always trying something cool and new and I've NEVER (honestly - she's not even going to read this :-)) had ANYTHING bad she's ever made (it's really kind of sickening - I mean, NO mistakes?!)
3)Whenever I visit my mother in her city flat, we always make something incredibly gourmet and chic - this is always so much fun. We both save these kinds of recipes to try for when we are together.
My cooking triumphs
The first incredible thing I ever made entirely on my own I was 8 and I found a recipe from my mother's Gourmet cookbook for chilled watercress soup w/leeks. We had wild watercress in some of our spring-fed streams in the Ozarks, which when I identifed it kind of got me thinking, and I actually succeeded in making a very wonderful soup. This was a surprise gift for my mother, my first attempt at cooking something that wasn't just passed down or instructed to me. Since then, I have (after many attempts) finally mastered:
the PERFECT hollandaise!, sourdough breads - which I still work on and try to mess with..., Alfredo, souffles, pie crusts, biscuits, creme brulee, and hush puppies. I keep a list going of my next attempts - a cookbook in my software titled, "Favorites to Try". It's massive. And growing.
My cooking tragedies
ewwwwwww. I have had many, but I really try to block them out. My most frustrating ones were when I had just started putting together big meals and just COULDN'T get everything timed right. Something always burned and something always came out underdone or flavorless. I couldn't recognize a bad recipe just by reading - which I am getting better at.
Dishes that have really flopped? -
1)my first cake - I still don't know what happened - it fell so flat in the center and the outsides were hard, porous, burnt, and crusty (think black lava rock...)
2)mac and cheese - the first few times I made it, it just wasn't like my grandmother's at all. She never had a recipe, so I had to just try to recreate by memory her technique...
These were just the first to pop up as having made me so disappointed and frustrated!
But I take all bad recipes and personal cooking mistakes w/ a grain of salt and keep looking and trying. Its the pleasure of actually cooking that I enjoy.