After raising two children and putting them through college, they are now on their own and my husband and I are empty nesters. Not better, not worse, just different! My husband's job has always required a lot of travel, but now I accompany him on all his trips. It seems we travel more often than we're home, sometimes several trips a month! I have seen and experienced some amazing things and while I do get homesick, I'm blessed for the opportunities to see so much of our country. And, since a great deal of my husband's work is in Naples, Florida, we have a second home there and enjoy our little getaway. When we're home, we've established a new ritual of dining, just the two of us...beautiful music, lots of glowing candles and a martini(Chocolate for me, Traditional for him) while we work together in the kitchen to make creative and elaborate dinners.
My favorite things to cook
While the kids were growing up, cooking meals was more a daily function than a satisfying experience. Once my "work" was done, I always found great satisfaction in baking. Now I've stepped beyond the "kid friendly" meals, and have really enjoyed trying more creative dishes for meals. Baking, however, is still my greatest joy. I still make the family favorites when requested, but I love experimenting, trying new recipes, putting twists on some of them, and try to master higher-skilled techniques not so familiar to me. No distractions anymore, so I now have the luxury of having the time and opportunity to work on more complicated recipes!
My favorite family cooking traditions
Having started cooking at age five, and at my age, there are many memories of family cooking traditions, and I still use them on holidays when we're all together. By far my favorite is our Christmas Eve dinner tradition. I am a second-generation Italian-American who continues to follow traditions set forth by my mom, grandma, and probably by the women before them too. We have a traditional, meatless, Italian Christmas Eve Dinner which has always included spaghetti with sauce made from tuna and anchovies (trust me, you don't taste the tuna or anchovies!), baccala (salt cod), and Shrimp Scampi. It wasn't always the kids' favorite, but they've come around! And I know they'd think something wasn't right with Christmas if it was any other meal!
My cooking triumphs
Consistently preparing beurre blanc and other emulsions perfectly and understanding why!
My cooking tragedies
I've only had one cooking tragedy, but it was a doozie! When my son was about 10, I was in college and preparing my Senior Thesis. I had been studying long hours, getting very little sleep, and still trying to keep up with my domestic responsiblities as well as taking care of the kids and getting them to all their activities. On his birthday I sent him to school with brownies for his class birthday treat. Easy...I made them so often I could do it blindfolded. I'll never forget when he got off the bus after school that day, carrying the empty pan and with his head hung down. Clearly something was wrong! He told me I had forgotten to put the sugar in the brownies, and I can only imagine how embarrassed he was as his classmates sunk their teeth into them! I couldn't have cared less about my cooking failure, but only that I was responsible for my son having a not-so-nice birthday at school.