I don't know when I first discovered the joy of cooking, but I'm so glad I did! By my own admission I am a notoriously picky eater and after years of suffering a guilty conscience and the annoyance of other cooks I realized that if I made it myself I could make it any way I wanted!
I do revel in this creative freedom and often edit recipes to my tastes. According to Tom Colicchio--yes I'm a Top Chef addict--this means I 'think like a chef'. I don't think you have to make a recipe just the way it was written the first time, but I do think if you make changes you forfeit your right to criticize the original recipe (unless of course you tried it and then had to make changes).
My favorite things to cook
Despite being German-Norwegian American, I swear I have Italian taste buds! I also love Chinese, Greek and Mexican provided that it's not overpoweringly spicy.
One of my favorite things to make is homemade pizza and I do so whenever the craving strikes me; Sometimes it may end up being late at night or into the early morning hours.
Even if I don't particularly like something, I enjoy making it if the special people in my life enjoy it. Food is one of my ways of expressing my love for those around me!
My favorite family cooking traditions
My mother is half Norwegian and grew up with many of the traditional foods. She tried to share her love of klubb with me but to her disapointment I inherited my dad's palate. I do however love her Norwegian pancakes.
My dad's family is German, but so americanized that any traditional recipes have been lost through the generations. My grandmother was a wonderful cook and we enjoy many of her recipes like meatloaf, chocolate oatmeal cake and cowboy cookies. Unfortunately she died before I could ask her to teach me the secrets of her sugar cookies that she was famous for. We have her recipe but it says "use as little flour as possible" and no matter how we try neither my aunt nor I have been able to make cookies like hers.
We do also have a rather strange family tradition that my parents started years ago of having Chinese food for Christmas Day dinner. For Christmas Eve we always have crumpled hamburgers which are a sloppy joe made with sour cream.
My cooking triumphs
My family is rather infamous for our crazy dinner parties, one of which involves throwing food on a plastic table cloth and giving guests only a kitchen utensil to eat with. The other, which we call mystery dinners, requires guests to order everything (including their silverware) off of a menu made up of clues (i.e. 'Funny Money' = corn bread). Believe it or not people come back again and again. Most recently I’ve taken over much of the menu planning and cooking with pretty good results (if I do say so myself).
My cooking tragedies
As a child I was making chocolate chip cookies with my mom (Nestle Toll House of course) when the phone rang, while she was distracted I continued repeating the last step which happened to be adding a tsp of baking soda...needless to say those cookies did not taste as they should, though they were extra light and fluffy.
Often my greatest downfall is simply trying to try too many new things at once. My menus tend to be overly ambitious and my timing is inevitably off.