I was born & raised in southern WV, watching my foster mom cook & bake with all the tools of the trade: lard, fatback, Crisco, pork-this & pork-that. At 19, I moved to southern CA; at 28, I moved to Columbus OH with my then 7yo son; within 9 months we had moved to Detroit MI, & 8 yrs later, back to Columbus OH. I find that I prefer the big city to small-town country (more vibrant things'n'places to do & see, not to mention a much wider variety of restaurants to visit), but have been back in WV for a couple of years now, due to an illness in my family.
I love to travel (note that that's not on the list of Hobbies), and I'm still working on which big city I'll land in within the next 1-5 years!
My favorite things to cook
ohmigoodness..this could be lengthy:
Stir-fry (today's Sunday dinner, I think); mac'n'cheese; mixed greens; oven-baked "fried" chicken; Italian (so long as it's got a white sauce; as of about 6-7 years ago, I noticed that eating anything with tomatoes gives me what I lovingly call FFS -- Fred Flinstone Syndrome -- for a couple of days, I'll have swelling in my feet & ankles..thank goodness there's a really delicious White Pizza that Papa John's makes..so does Pizza Hut & Dominoes, but I prefer PJ's).
Would love to show the world that healthy eating does NOT equal bland & flavorless. If I had the means to do so (HUGE influx of lottery winnings, or an investment from Lady O!), I'd love to open up a family-dining establishment that centers around eating healthier & give the fast-food industry a run for their money.
My favorite family cooking traditions
Big Family Holiday Dinner @ my place...especially Thanksgiving, Christmas, & Easter. As I get older, I'm finding that I can't eat all the stuff I used to eat even 10 years ago. That big bone-in ham with the brown sugar'n'honey-glaze is still on my menu, but it's not on my plate! You also won't find the lard in my pantry or ham hocks or smoked-pork neckbones in my greens (I use smoked turkey wings or legs instead). Most times I don't even tell my family it's not pork, and they tear into it like it's the best thing since sliced bread!
My cooking triumphs
CHEESECAKE!! the real deal, not that Eagle-brand milk creation on the side of their can (even tho' I still fall back on that one at times too)..first time I had the homemade "scratch" cheesecake was just a few years ago when I was in Houston for Thanksgiving..my new friend (whom I need to call) made about a gazillion desserts (my one contribution of Not Yo Mama's Banana Puddin, courtesy of Mz Paula Deen, was a pretty huge hit), and I watched in awe as she made the cheesecake..when I returned home, I bought the ingredients (minus the Springform pan..still stuck to the ready-made graham crax crust), and made three. The 1st one cracked & split like the San Andreas Fault was running thru it..I immediately got online & googled 'split cheesecake, what went wrong'..the 2nd one was a tad overbaked, and the 3rd one was just right!
My cooking tragedies
Well, aside from the San Andreas cheesecake mentioned above, I'd have to say my FIRST tragedy took place April 1985..I was on Spring Break visiting my older sister & had decided that, while she was at work, I'd surprise everyone with a homemade lasagna dinner. My brother took me to the store, we bought all the necessary ingredients, got home, fixed the meat sauce (which was SO good...it almost made up for, well, the end result), put sauce in the bottom of the pan, added the noodles, more sauce, cheese, noodles, sauce & ended with a very generous helping of cheese. Baked in oven the specified amount of time..took it out, cut into it and, for the most part, the noodles were still crispy because..you got it..I hadn't boiled them first! Of course, now you can buy the no-boil lasagna noodles..wish I had been the one to patent THAT!!