I miss having lunch out with Vogon because there's something different about being out together than eating at home together. With the "no object" clause, I'd like to stay in with a chest freezer to allow for "freezer cooking" meals and a big pantry for all the canning our hearts desire.
2. What is the most elaborate meal you've ever prepared yourself or purchased at a restaurant?
Are we talking lots of courses elaborate, amount of people fed, elaborate methods and fine plating details, or something else? I've coordinated some multi-course holiday meals -- they're easy with a work-ahead plan and plenty of freezer space. I've cooked in a Scout camp kitchen to feed 100 over a three-day weekend. I've done detailed cake decorating including spun sugar, lacework and cake embroidery, drop flowers and nail flowers, and I know how to use fondant and gum paste. If any of my pack's dens are interested, I would have a BALL doing the Wilton Icing Fun Workshop.
The most elaborate meal I've had out was at a since-defunct French restaurant where the highlight of the meal was informing my date I like foie gras not because I like liver, but because I hate geese. (Hitchhiker's Guide reference FTW!)
3. What food do you find yourself making and/or eating way too much?
Beans, seasoned almost like my grandma's. (I skip her secret ingredient.) They're super easy to make with a pressure cooker: soaked beans, water to cover, a bit of EVOO to keep the foaming down and not clog the pressure valve after the cooking's done, a bit of salt pork for flavor and seasoning to taste -- I use chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, and epazote to reduce flatulence.
Add more than you think you should to get a good flavor afterward; it's human nature to season too sparingly just like it is to not get in close enough to take great group photos. Don't salt them until after they're cooked because they won't cook as well if you salt first. We usually turn them into refritos (refried beans) afterward by mashing them in a skillet with sauteed chopped onion and garlic.
4. What was your most disastrous cooking/eating out experience?
Cooking: the time gaming night was canceled after I'd had sauerbraten marinating in the fridge all week; it turned out fine, but I left Himself to take care of the apples and braised cabbage and it freaking burned to the bottom of my good copper-bottomed skillet. Grr.
Eating out: I've had all kinds of odd dining out experiences, but nothing truly awful. One of my favorites to tell people is about Pizza Hut -- we never ordered from them when we lived in Goldsboro after we went in once to have an early dinner and the hostesses were too busy paying attention to their friends to seat us despite repeated requests. On our way out, we noticed they had one of those pressure-activated lines in the parking lot that activates a dinger inside, so we drove and backed over it for several minutes to amuse ourselves before leaving.
If you live in Goldsboro, I loved Pupetta (919-705-0300) for their Neapolitan-style pizza and free delivery to base in the evening and Brooklyn Pizzeria (919-778-5666) by Wal-Mart for their great NY-style pizza and garlic knots. Mimmo's (919-778-6116) at Berkeley and New Hope makes good pizza too -- we were regulars there our last year in town.
5. Would you rather cook for someone else or have them cook for you?
It depends on the someone. I love to cook for my friends but I don't get as much joy out of cooking for myself. Lately, I defer to Vogon since he enjoys the process of cooking so much more than I do and I pick up the cleaning up and putting up leftovers.