It was an old tradition in my family to take pride in one's cooking, and everybody had a collection of showoff recipes, and as time went by, I learned from my mom and her mother the mysteries of our own showoff cooking: how to make the family turkey dressing recipe, the potato salad recipe, the chocolate cake. When I was 13, I got my first real cookbook, my own copy of the ca. 1968 Betty Crocker cookbook. I studied that book for hours and hours, and began to expand beyond the normal recipes we had been cooking - curry and soups and sukiyaki and other deserts and salads soon began to enter my repetoire, replacing chicken fried steak and pot roast as I got older.
Now I cook all sorts of things, some of which my grandma would be amazed I would even eat: miso soup and curried spinach and stir-fry of all sorts, and tofu and pickled daikon amongst them. But when it's holiday time, out come the old recipes: cornbread dressing with just the right touch of sage, the traditional fruit salad, pecan pie. Some things just don't go away.