I grew up on a small PA farm where we raised chickens, pigs, cows and a number of other four-legged friends so I am a farm girl at heart. Being self-employed, my dad worked long hours and didn’t get home until late at night but he loved to cook. Some of my fondest memories are of my father cooking in the kitchen long after my sister and I were sent to bed. Smells would waft up the stairs and draw me out of my room to try his creations. Those memories are probably what drew me to food as a profession.
After graduating from art school, I moved out of the house and began creating my own recipes and learning from others. I evolved from a graphic artist in the food industry to a food stylist several years ago and have been passionately cooking and baking since then for my family as well as clients. I am so blessed to be able to do what I love and get paid for it!
My favorite things to cook
Too many things to list, but I'm really into fondant cakes right now! I just created a full-sized guitar for a friend's 30th birthday party. It was a huge hit! Guests couldn't tell it from the real guitar. Several months ago I did a tree stump with fairies on it for my niece's birthday.
I also love to cook Italian dishes, PA Dutch meals and desserts. I don't think there's a cookie I've met that I haven't loved.
My favorite family cooking traditions
When I was young, my mom was the principal cook in the family. She made my most memorable meal of Tuna Casserole. I love it! At Christmas time we made tons of cookies and my mom taught me how to bake cakes. Only a few years ago did she finally tell me that she hated to cook when my sister and I were young. I was so disappointed!
My father, on the other hand, loved to cook. He is still in the kitchen most weekends making bread and frying things. He is now the principal cook for the two of them.
My cooking triumphs
A few years ago I was diagnosed with food allergies and sensitivities. I cried for weeks, especially when my husband and I took a trip and there was nothing to be found on ANY menu without wheat, eggs or dairy. Being a "foodie" it became a challenge to keep an interesting menu all the while making things that my family would eat too. I learned to make quinoa, millet, tofu and baked good with different flours. My allergies have become sensitivities (all but the yeast) and my sensitivities are so few that I can now eat a relatively normal diet. I'm very proud of the fact that I learned to make bread rise with yeast and gluten free ingredients!
My cooking tragedies
Oh my! Anyone that has cooked with bean or rice flour has had MANY disasters! I usually just send them to work with my husband because in an office - it's a free for all!