I'm 33 years old. I grew up in North Canton, OH and learned to cook under my mother's watchful eye. I joined the Air Force at 18 and traveled all around the world allowing me to taste and learn to cook various cuisines. After having lived in 4 states, 7 countries and 1 US territory I finally ended up here in Rising Sun, MD where I live in an old farm house with a big country kitchen - just perfect for when my fiancé Mark and I tie the knot and start filling the house with little ones. The house is on an acre of land, part of which will be soon be planted as a vegetable garden. There’s a berry farm ½ mile from the house so there’s an abundance of strawberries, raspberries and other fruit in the summer for eating, canning and more. I’m a professional that goes to work in the city, but I’m a true country girl at heart so I love to be at home. I love to cook big family dinners for the holidays and for no reason at all.
My favorite things to cook
Philly Cheesecake (the one submitted by Maureen). It's absolutely fabulous. I've been making that same recipe for over 5 years and it is always a hit! I also love to make lasagna and meatballs. My sauce and meatballs are always from scratch (my mom's recipes) and they're always a family favorite. Desserts - if it's sweet, I can make it. I also love to can jams and jellies. I grew up in suburbia, but we had 4 acres of land and my mom and her 4 brothers grew up on a farm so I was fortunate to learn at least some of the basics of living off the land. Move over Smuckers! There's nothing in the world like fresh jam made from just picked berries.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Christmas cookies and candies every year! I spent all my childhood years making cookies and candies with my mom every Christmas. Always plenty for our family of 7, but also plenty to give away to family, friends and neighbors. Except for some of the military years when I lived in a dorm and didn't have a kitchen, I've made Christmas cookies and candies every year for family and friends. My mom lives in Ohio so we can't always be together for our annual holiday baking sprees, but when we do it's cookies and candies gallore. In 2001 we were together and made 20 different kinds of cookies and 10 different candies over a 3 day weekend before Christmas. It was our biggest baking adventure ever. It was exhausting, but so fun and so worth the smiles it brings. My mom's getting older so she doesn't do quite so much anymore, but each year whether baking together or in our own kitchens miles apart it's always fun picking out which recipes we'll be making and swapping through the mail.
My cooking triumphs
Corn chowder! I work in a hotel and we have this fabulous corn chowder in our restaurant, but while most of the menu is prepared by our chefs, the soups come in frozen already made so I couldn't just ask for the recipe. Now I've thrown together some recipes that were pretty good, but I've never tried to re-create something. I referred back to some of my favorite cook books and of course reviewed recipes here and after 4 attempts I achieved an identical corn chowder to the one at work. We even did a taste test among some of the chefs and they couldn't tell the difference! Now I don't have to wait for it to be on the menu at work. I can make it whenever I want!
My cooking tragedies
I was cooking my first dinner in a new house (new to me anyway). Before I discovered how wonderful crock pots were I used to make pot roast in the oven at 250 degrees for 4-6 hours. It came out almost as good as the slowcooker! Well I would put a roast in and then run errands or work outside. This worked well until that first dinner in the new house. I hadn't yet bought an oven thermometer, but the stove was only a few years old so how bad could it be? Turns out the oven temp was off by 200 degrees - 200 degrees high! My roast was cooking at 450 instead of 250 for 6 hours! It went completely dry and was more beef jerky than pot roast. I was married to my first husband at the time and he insisted on eating that roast instead of me running out to pick up something else. It was the most awful thing. I couldn't eat it. I had salad instead, but my ex insisted "it's not that bad" and ate every bit of that roast. We got a new stove a few days later.