gone back and tried to think of when I began to cook.
I recall it was about the 5th or 6th
grade. My family
and me lived in Vienna, Virginia.
I remember helping mother bake a cake.
OK, it was a Duncan Hines cake.
During high school, by this time, we moved back to
home was in Willow Grove.
I started baking turkey for Thanksgiving.
Then I began fixing the ham for Easter.
cooking, the major influence was
My grandfather Eastep was Scots-Irish background.
His mother (my great-grandmother) was of German ancestry.
I know the Eastep's immigrated through Maryland and up to
My grandmother Eastep was a Showalter and her family came from
Adams County. Everyone seemed to move to Blair County a few years after the
mother's side, my grandfather Baker was of German heritage.
My grandmother Baker was a Butt.
Her family lived in north central Pennsylvania and my
grandfather came from Waterside in north Bedford County.
My grandparents, except for Grandma Baker, lived in a
15-mile radius of each other, not to far from Martinsburg,
Pennsylvania, in an area knows as Morrison Cove.
My grandmother Baker came from Houtzdale, PA, which is in
I always said I was 7/8 German from my great-grandparents.
Grandfather Baker died when my mother was very young.
For the most part, my Grandmother Baker lived in
Williamsburg, PA most of the years my mother grew up.
My mother was about two years behind my father in school.
The current population of Williamsburg, PA is 1500
people and I believe it has held steady for the past 75 years.
It was not until after World War Two, that they started
to date each other.
For the first
nine years of my life, we lived around Harrisburg,
Then we moved to the Philadelphia area for about 2-1/2
years. Then we had
an adventure to Metro Washington, DC (Vienna, VA) before moving
back to the Philadelphia area for my high school years. We always used that big label of Pennsylvania Dutch, however,
we were of German ancestry and it influenced our cooking.
I had thought of going to cooking school
after high school.
However, history was my love and I decided I would go to
college to become a college history professor.
Besides, at that time being a chef was not highly
regarded. After my
first year in college, I knew being a college history professor
was not for me. The
main reason, my college professors was so boring and
time, an important person hit the TV screen that greatly
influenced my cooking life.
Sorry Julia, it was Graham Kerr's "The Galloping
Gourmet." He opened
the whole world of cooking to me instead of my standard
Pennsylvania Dutch cooking.
Cooking with wine was a hoot.
My parents drank liquor socially.
Even in high school, I learned to make Manhattans for my
parents. I had
already decided that I did not want to drink but I enjoyed
making drinks for my parents and cooking with wine.
Making a cooking career was never in my
However, I enjoyed cooking and learning new cooking
methods. I would
see recipes on TV or read them in papers.
After making them, I worked a finding ways to make them
different or more to my taste.
I moved to
Arizona and Southwest cooking became important to me.
I began only eating Tostadas (shredded lettuce, beans on
a flat taco shell). I did not like my food hot (spicy). Then it became fun to mix my Pennsylvania Dutch recipes with
some southwestern spices.
Now, I do not care for my food to be fire engine hot, but it
does need to have some heat.
For a long
time I toyed with the idea of doing a cooking book.
I became a computer geek and worked as an Information
Technology expert for several companies.
On the side, I wrote a back road travel book.
When I got interested in the Internet, I decided to do a
back roads website. I thought, it would be a good idea to add some picnic recipes
on the back roads website.
Funny thing happened, the picnic recipes became the
attraction to the site.
Then I decided to split the two and make a separate picnic,
tailgate, and backyard party website.
The rest is history.
I even worked in a cafe to help with my cooking skills.
Come an' Get It