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.