I'm seventeen years old and live in a small town on the California coast. My household consists of myself, my thirteen-year-old brother, my mother, my father, and my nana. Besides cooking, I adore reading, writing, playing violin, singing, and walking. I often cook with my nana and mother, and my dad is a pretty fantastic cook as well (think homemade pasta and tortillas). My brother and I frequently cook and bake at two or three in the morning, while the rest of the household sleeps. We say, though neither of us actually have career plans in the culinary world, that we will someday open a restaurant/café called "Jiji's," the name being derived from the black cat on the film "Kiki's Delivery Service."
My favorite things to cook
I am definately a baker, though I love to cook as well. The first recipe I learned to follow was for chocolate chip cookies. I started experimenting with baking at about twelve or thirteen; we have fruit trees, and I made a peach lattice pie and a crumble-top (I'm not saying "Dutch" because it may not have actually been classically "Dutch") apple pie. I often "make up" baking recipes by altering the flavors of base recipes (so as to be sure to get essential ratios correct). I also make base recipes "healthy" by replacing white flour with whole wheat flour, sugar with Splenda, etc. I have only recently begun to cook (as oppossed to bake) outside of the tried and true recipes of my family. I more than frequently rely on Mediterranean staples such as olive oil and basil. I have always preferred healthy food... when asked as a Kindergartener what my favorites foods were, I replied "tomatoes and broccoli!"
My favorite family cooking traditions
Though there is no Mexican in my family, our traditional celebration meal is a taco bar. We use Trader Joe's corn tortillas and an insane variety of fillings. Other tried-and-true recipes of my family include pesto, banana bread, chocolate chip cookies, black bean soup, chocolate mousse, alfredo pasta (I almost never order alfredo at restaurants, as it is never as good as our recipe), and a whole lot of other deliciousness. Though we experiment with a variety of recipes, come Christmas or Easter we use what we know is incredible. Whenever I'm sick (or have a broken leg, though that doesn't mess with my stomach) my nana makes me jello... just the boxed kind, nothing fancy... and I always feel bettter.
My cooking triumphs
When I made my first apple pie I had planned to use a frozen pie crust, but never took notice of the fact that it needed to defrost for 24 hours before becoming usable. When I discovered this my pie filling was already prepped. My friend, who was visiting, thought the pie would have to wait a day before completion. However, I simply used a different recipe to make my own pie crust. It wasn't difficult, but my friend was terribly impressed, and I recieved a definate confidence boost. I have also had much success in making recipes more healthy by decreasing or replacing this and adding that... especially within baked goods. One wonderful self-invented recipe I have is "Autumn Whipped Cream," which is just spiced and slightly sweetened whipped cream. I now often make it to top gingerbread or pumpkin bread... or to eat with a spoon.
My cooking tragedies
One of the first baking recipes I tried was for pound cake, because pound cake cannot get much simpler. I don't know what I did wrong, but my loaf was rock hard so dry it made its consummers cough. I didn't bake for a while after that, but the next goodie I made wasn't at all bad.
Two years in a row my Christmas party guests have had a bad dessert. The first year I made a chocolate cheesecake that called for cottage cheese... bad idea. Cottage cheese is not to be used in cheesecakes. Last year I tried to make a roulade, but the cake hardly rose and cracked in so many places that I put it all in a bowl and served the whipped cream and rasberries on the side. At least that tasted good. This year my dessert has to be wonderful... I am a much better baker than cook, but my baked desserts have now failed two years in a row!