I am the daughter of a Greek chef and a midwestern farm girl. There was no doubt in my mind that I would grow up cooking. My parents owned a couple of restaurants, and I spent 27 years working in restaurants myself.
My favorite things to cook
I love to make Greek food, and have a very extensive collection of Greek cook books and recipes from my family. I also am very adept at Mexican and Italian food, and like to dabble with recipes from other Mediterranean countries, including African food. I love to eat Asian food, but prefer not to cook it, as the ingredients are so different from what I regularly use, and I don't feel I would cook enough of it to warrant expanding my pantry. The most important thing about good cooking is freshness.
My favorite family cooking traditions
We have a menu for Christmas, which consists of the foods my Mother's family cooked on the farm. Ham on the bone, baked beans, scalloped potatoes, homemade buns and of course the same cookies every year, and then on New Years Day I make great northern beans with the leftover ham bone and serve it with cornbread. I do both regular and Greek Orthodox Easter unless they are on the same day, then it's Orthodox. Other holidays, I do not do traditionally. We aren't turkey lovers, so Thanksgiving consists of gourmet things we always wanted to try. My brother the chef started that.
My cooking triumphs
Avgolemono sauce, it is very difficult to make, but I have never failed it. I sometimes just start cooking and experimenting,and do a lot of things very well, but I forget how I did it, to do it the same way again. I am one of those people who can eat something, and tell you what's in it, that is something that many years of experience gives you.
My cooking tragedies
Avgolemono soup, I can never give it the right consistency. Another thing I do is tend to walk away for a minute when I'm cooking in the iron skillet, and it begins to smoke. It's a good test for my smoke alarms. I also do not have enough confidence in my ability, and am always referring back to cookbooks to check if I'm right.