I am very blessed to have been born to great cooks who were also born to great cooks. My family tends to show its love and appreciation with food, and I am thrilled when my parents are feeling especially loving and appreciative. Sadly, my grandparents are gone now, but I learned kitchen wisdom from all of them. My husband comes from a family of great cooks, as well. He and I like being in the kitchen together, trying new recipes or making old favorites. He grows a garden every spring and fall, and we enjoy the freshness and sense of self-sufficiency that comes with eating home-grown produce.
My favorite things to cook
When I really feel like cooking, my go-to is usually a fresh ham cooked in a paper bag and green beans with potatoes, or yams, and red beans with cornbread. That is such a reminder of Sunday dinner in my childhood. I also like to fry chicken, but I don't do it very often. My mother makes the best, of course; whose mother doesn't? But mine is getting closer to hers every time. And I really like to bake, but I should practice it more.
My favorite family cooking traditions
I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner for my family for years. I enjoy making chicken & dressing, roasted turkey and all the sides, especially when my husband is in the kitchen with me. We also enjoy cooking for a group of friends we gather with several times a year. We frequently try out new recipes on each other, and we have a great time together.
My mother makes something we call syrup cake, which is from-scratch yellow cake with a chocolate topping that gets crunchy when it cools. My brother and I always "fight" over who Mom made it for.
My husband's grandmothers were both fabulous cooks and used to make Italian cookies at Christmas to give as gifts. The cookies were one of my favorite presents, and I looked forward to them every year.
My cooking triumphs
I've made a really good Beef Wellington (which totally intimidated me at first), a great Bolognese, and some spectacular (if I do say so myself) braised beef shortribs, all for special occasions. For everyday, I'm pretty good at any kind of dried bean, soups, pot roast (all thanks to my mom) and (thanks to my mother-in-law) macaroni and gravy and lasagne.
My cooking tragedies
As a very young cook, I tried stir fried rice. Should be easy enough, right? Somehow, mine was a total disaster! I've never tried it again.
I also tried shrimp with lobster sauce - another complete disaster. The recipe called for 5 CLOVES of garlic, but I think they meant 5 TOES of garlic. Never tried that one again either. I think maybe I should just stick to takeout from the really good Chinese restaurant in town.