I grew up in the 50s and 60s in the midwest watching parents and aunts cook. My ancestors were originally Europeans who migrated to Mexico. In Mexico, they learned to cook in the traditional Mexican style, which my grandparents brought with them when they moved to the United States in the early 1900s.
I have been married for over 37 years to a man who is Venezuelan. Caracas is known, by Euros and Americans alike, for it's sumptuous cuisine. Over the years I have learned how to cook with ingredients that are prevalent in Venezuelan recipes. It is the flavors and ingredients of Mexico, the USA and Venezuela that permeate my cooking. I love watching Chef Rick Bayless on the Sunday evening PBS cooking show, "Mexico: One Plate At A Time" in which he showcases typical Mexican dishes. I also watch "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" and especially enjoy when he is scouting out the foods and ingredients of South America. I always feel like I need to get up and start cooking after watching.
My favorite things to cook
Any cut of pork; fish and shellfish; desserts; especially in recipes with Mexican or Italian ingredients.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Pot luck Thanksgivings for friends who are unable to attend a family dinner feast.
Prior to my mother's passing in 2005, I used to start making a "white fruit cake" for her every Friday after Thanksgiving day. I would have to say that it was my favorite family cooking tradition even though I really dislike the taste and textures of fruit cakes.
My cooking triumphs
I have two very memorable triumphs:
#1 - A successful "Dacquoise" - a French specialty dessert that has a delicate meringue filled with a mocha and butter filling. There were quite a few failed attempts before I got it just right!
#2 - When my mother was alive, she loved fruitcakes. So I made her a home-made "White Fruitcake" every year for her Christmas gift, even though I abhor fruitcakes. I assembled and baked it the day after Thanksgiving so that I could give it a good rum soaking over the five weeks until Christmas. It was an all day labor of love to make and bake - very expensive, intricate, and time consuming! It was so worth it though, just to see her eyes light up when she took her first bite.
My cooking tragedies
My first attempt at Quinoa - I didn't realize that this healthy grain needs to be rinsed thoroughly prior to cooking or it will have a bitter flavor.