I have been cooking for most of my life. I began my cooking career at about 6 years old when I made my first fried bologna sandwich!
My mother taught me to cook at a young age so that I might help her by beginning the preparation of the evening meal when I came in from school, which was before she arrived home from work. Being a single mother, this was a tremendous help to her and an amazing benefit to me!
I have now been cooking for 36 years and am still learning. I am always looking for new and interesting recipes as I get tired of the same old thing all the time.
Holidays are an extremely busy time in my kitchen! I usually cook for about 25 people, some of whom are kind enough to prepare and bring a side dish. I wish they would stay and do the dishes! Ha ha ha!
I am married to a wonderful man who seems to enjoy my cooking. In 22 years, he has only complained a few times. Either I am doing well by him or there have only been a few utter failures. It's always nice to hear, "Mmmm!"
My favorite things to cook
I have recently perfected my Southern Fried Buttermilk Chicken and Biscuits recipe. It has taken me 15 years to have my chicken equal that of my grandmother's Sunday chicken dinner. I wish she were still here to give me her opinion!
I also enjoy grilling. It is amazing the things that can be cooked outside: pizza, turkey (breast or whole), fish, shrimp, chicken, burgers, pork, veggies, and, of course, a good ol' marinated steak!!
I also enjoy cooking Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for the entire family! I have been told that Butterball has nothing on my Thanksgiving bird! (How sweet!)
Perhaps my favorite thing to cook/make is holiday candy for my young nieces and nephews. This is something I have only begun doing over the past few years. I thoroughly enjoy seeing both delight and disgust on their faces when they discover what sweet and scarey treats they receive for Halloween each year: peanut butter eyeballs, amputated fingers, coconut spiderwebs, ghost cookies, etc.
My favorite family cooking traditions
There are many recipes and traditions that have been handed down through the family over the years. I have also incorporated some of my husband's family traditions! My favorite traditions are centered around Thanksgiving dinner. This is special because we are all together. My mother makes homemade yeast rolls (a recipe that she refuses to divulge)! My sister makes the best collard greens in the world! (It's a four day process). My mother-in-law makes homemade chicken and noodles (served over mashed potatoes). My father is in charge of the deviled eggs and candied yams (his specialty). And I... make everything else! Oh! And my husband is in charge of sneaking and sampling food before dinner is completely ready. Lol.
We gather around the table(s) when dinner is ready and my mother says grace. My father-in-law and father rotate years for carving the turkey. We now have an electric knife as neither is as steady handed as they used to be. After dinner, the kids decorate the Christmas tree!
My cooking triumphs
I finally, after about 15 years perfected my grandmother's Buttermilk Fried Chicken and Biscuits recipe. She made this every Sunday. We would all go to her house, after church, and eat.
As hard as I tried, I could never seem to make mine quite as good as hers was. But I refused to give up! It wasn't until about 6 months ago that I discovered her "secret ingredient." It was quite by mistake, but it made all the difference in the world! Now, I am proud to say that no one makes fried chicken as good as my grandma... except me!
I have also been praised for my Italian Beef recipe. I initially learned this recipe from my mother-in-law, but tweaked it a bit and now, even she prefers my recipe.
My father-in-law demands that I be the one to make baked beans for family function that involves food. Again, this was his family's recipe that I tweaked here and there over the years. He refuses to eat anyone's except mine!
I think my biggest triumph was my first turkey. I made it at 17 years old!!
My cooking tragedies
Pie crusts!!! I will never forget spending three days in the kitchen making holiday sweets with my sister. We used her pie crust recipe (she is the baker of the family). She showed me what to do and I turned out crust after crust for her. We made the most delicious pies and tarts!
I rushed home to put my newly acquired skill to use in my own kitchen, but was greatly dismayed as crust after crust was a complete failure. Some of the dough was to moist so I added flour. Wrong! Some of the dough was too stiff, so I added ingredients to moisten it, only to find that I had ruined that dough too! I tried over and over, but was never able to make a beautiful, flaky pie crust like I had been making with my sister. I finally came to realize that pie crust is NOT my forte!
I tried a new chicken recipe that was a miserable failure! It required that the chicken be cooked in the broiler. I followed the directions carefully but only ended up filling the house with smoke and the chicken was inedible