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I didn't start cooking until my early 20's, even though I come from a family of accomplished and admired home cooks. While I grew up watching my Italian grandmother in the kitchen, I remained uninterested in trying anything on my own. As a young lady, I was known for being particularly ignorant in the kitchen, with no idea how to even make a hot dog! All this changed, however, when I got engaged. I realized it was time to let my inherent talents out of the bag. At the time, the New York Times had a weekly column called The 60-Minute Gourmet by Pierre Franey. Each week, I would follow these recipes diligently, and taught myself to cook that way. From there, I began to read cookbooks and consult with relatives on family recipes. At my ripe old age now, I feel I know enough to put together a very pleasing meal and have become accomplished in my own right. Having an Irish father and an Italian mother, I'm glad I inherited the cooking gene (and the drinking one too! One thing I have learned is that simpler is always better! I always believe cooking fills a need to nuture and show love. After being widowed fairly young and living alone with my pitbull-mix dog (Jade and my Turkish Van cat (Buttons, I stopped cooking for awhile, since I really had no one to cook for. I make care packages for my grown son occasionally, and like to cook weekly for my boyfriend, so I feel like I am truly back in the saddle!!
Update - February 2008: My beloved Buttons passed away last year at the ripe old age of 22! Shortly thereafter, I adopted a sweet young cat who I called Delilah. This past December, she was just joined by her new (adopted baby brother, Bentley. Both kitties are getting along famously with Mama Jade.
Update - November 2009: My wonderful dog Jade passed away suddenly in August. After three months, I have just adopted a boxer/pitbull mix that I call Zoe. She gets along wonderfully with Delilah and Bentley.
If it's eating, anything that doesn't have feta cheese, goat cheese, gorgonzola cheese, or sprouts!!! There are very few things I don't like. If it's cooking, I pretty much enjoy almost everything. I like to cook and bake. However, I don't like anything that is too time-consuming or complicated because, in my experience, it seldom is worth it. I recall making a Buche de Noel many years ago for Christmas. On Christmas Eve, I was up until 3:30 in the morning, making the buttercream frosting, which required 1 pound of butter, beating in 1 tablespoon at a time. That's 32 times!!! I was not only exhausted, but bored. The cake looked beautiful, though. On Christmas Day, I got many compliments and hurrahs. It did taste quite good. But I realized I could have made something much simpler that tasted just as good. Lesson learned and adhered to since then!
As far as restaurants go, I prefer to go to places that offer cuisine I don't prepare at home. A friend and I have a local restaurant review blog, so we try to eat out often. What is really important to me is a really good glass of wine to go along with my meal!