Cooking has always been a joy for Norwalk resident Patricia Reda.
For 33 years, Reflector photographer Lou Reda has been the beneficiary of her good recipes.
"It will be 34 years next month," Lou said of how long they've been married.
When Patricia isn't busy cooking, she's teaching at League Elementary. She's taught for a total of 33 years.
"Two more years and I'll retire," she said.
It's quiet at the Reda house nowadays as their daughters, GinaMarie and Angela, are grown and actually sharing a place in Norwalk.
Reda chose soft-batch biscotti or Italian biscuit cookie for her featured recipe.
"It's a tradition for me to make at family functions," she said. "Lou's mother had the original recipe and I added shortening and created the soft-batch effect."
Today, she's trying to stay away from comfort foods.
"Chocolates," she did admit to, though. "I'm trying to be health-conscious so I'll add fruits and vegetables."
She'a pretty organized cook, too, usually with the same ingredients on hand.
"Flour, sugar, vanilla, milk, eggs," she said.
She knows the meals she makes most often.
"Skipper's linguini, sesame chicken, cookies, pasta on Sundays and chicken paprikash that's the Hungarian side of the family my side," she said.
The chicken paprikash is her best meal, she says.
She immediately knew her worst.
"There was a Swiss steak recipe from a Betty Crocker cook book I made when we were first married," she said. "The dog wouldn't even eat it. The dog turned its nose up at it. I never made it again."
She said the Skipper's linguini can be made if company arrives unannounced, but added any of her most-often cooked meals, can be made quickly.
Her potluck special is the biscotti.
"But I like to try different recipes," she said. "If there's a crowd I like to bring rigatoni in a big crock pot."
The family sticks to the normal holiday cooking traditions and that includes Skipper's linguini on Christmas Eve.
"Yes, but again with some variations," she said about the Thanksgiving turkey meal. "We'll have a crock pot of mashed potatoes."
She has simple advice for cooks.
"Don't be afraid to experiment," she said. "I took my mother-in-law's recipe for these cookies that were always rather hard and added shortening and made them softer and people like them better that way."