Kathy Squires was recommended as a good home cook by Lorie Land, whom she met in a cooking class at James Island High School several years ago.
Kathy says she owes her passion for cooking to her grandmother and mother, “not to mention all those women who've shared recipes with me over the years.”
Name: Kathy Culbertson Squires
Residence: Mount Pleasant
Occupation: Domestic engineer
Family: Husband, Jerry, an MUSC physician; son Ryan Squires of Washington, D.C.; son Scott Squires of St. Simons Island, Ga.; and daughter Courtney Squires Kozelski of Charleston; three grands and “one in the oven.”
Q: Why do you like to cook?
A: Often when I cook, I think about how my mother and grandmothers before me made some of the same dishes, although often I make them with modern substitutions and equipment. Also, when I make something that I have had while traveling, I can imagine I'm back in that location. For example, when I make cinnamon yeast rolls, I think of my mother making them, and when I make gazpacho, I remember eating it in Madrid.
Q: How would you describe your style?
A: My style is mostly make-it-from-fresh ingredients and from scratch if I have time; but who can live without using frozen pie crusts, Oreos and Nutella as ingredients?
Q: Who were the most influential people who fed your passion for cooking?
A: My mother and grandmother influenced me the most. My mother raised and canned almost all our vegetables and some of our fruits. My grandmother was a school cook and ran a boarding house. (Someone once broke into my grandmother's house, and all they took was a bowl of her homemade noodles.) However, I really enjoy using fresh fruits and vegetables in dishes they had never even heard of, like pizza Nicoise made with thin slices of lemons, red onions, Nicoise olives and fontina cheese.
Another person was Elizabeth Lynch, a friend who happened to tell me 30 years ago that I didn't have to follow a recipe exactly!
Q: Tell us about a dish or dessert you took great pride in accomplishing.
A: I love making a really rich dessert I found in Bon Appetit: Chocolate Strawberry Buttercream Torte. There are four torte layers made of ground pecans and bittersweet chocolate. In between the torte layers are strawberries pureed with butter, sugar and cream. It's all covered with a chocolate glaze and garnished with strawberry halves. It takes a few hours to make, looks beautiful when it's done and tastes even better.
Q: What is something you still desire to master?
A: Well, this fall I'm going to Turkey and while there I'm taking lessons in cooking traditional Turkish dishes. I know very little about Turkish cuisine but it seems great foods come from great civilizations, so I should really enjoy this experience.
Q: If you were entertaining for family and friends this summer, what would be on your menu?
A: I like serving cantaloupe draped with a thin slice of proscuitto ham, pan-roasted chicken thighs, my favorite squash casserole, steamed young green beans and sliced tomatoes drizzled with buttermilk-basil dressing. Instead of wine, I like this with a Saison, the rustic beer that French farmers make for drinking in the summers. With peaches just coming in, I like lattice-topped peach pie and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Q: Name three fantasy guests you would love to have for dinner.
A: Gladys Taber, Alice Waters and Cleopatra.
Gladys Taber was the first author I ever came across who wrote lovingly about gardening and the joys of consuming the fruits of the garden. She was a columnist for ladies magazines before my time and wrote about her dogs, produce, cooking and friends at Stillmeadow Farm. She gave me a new perspective on living in the West Virginia mountains and got me into gardening.
I really admire Alice Waters, owner of Chez Panisse in San Francisco. Her foods are simple but flavorful. At her restaurant, I had one half of a free-range boiled egg served warm, sprinkled with fresh herbs as an appetizer. I can still see and taste it.
I would love to know how Cleopatra used food in her political pursuits. Supposedly she and Antony got other food lovers together for hunting and discussions and would go into dangerous areas in pursuit of good food. Evidently her banquets sometimes had more courses than we can imagine.
Q: What's a favorite indulgence?
A: Eating chocolate fondue without dipping anything into it except my spoon.
A favorite summertime recipe:
I have made this recipe since I was a bride. My kids loved it, and I'm frequently asked for the recipe. It's simple, doesn't require the oven and it takes advantage of the peaches that are coming in now.
8 to 9 ripe peaches
1 package vanilla wafers, crushed or 12 graham crackers, crushed
2˝ cups powdered sugar
1 stick butter or margarine, softened
3 to 4 teaspoons water
1 cup sweetened whipped cream or 8 ounces Cool Whip
Peel and slice peaches. Put peaches in bowl and cover with water and lemon juice for 5 to 10 minutes. Meanwhile, spread crackers in bottom of 9x13-inch pan. Make a thin frosting-like mixture using the powdered sugar, butter and water. Mixture should be runny.
Drain the peaches. Cover the cracker crumbs with peaches. Drizzle sugar mixture over peaches then frost with whipped cream. Chill and serve.
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Catching some good food on Lake Murray
It's catch-up time after a week's vacation, including several days on Lake Murray in the Gilbert area. The water in our cove was deep and cool, and wonderfully refreshing as we bobbed on floats in the 100-degree heat.Our hosts apologized for not serving “gourmet” food. Oh, please! Fresh fried fish, stoneground yellow grits and sliced heirloom tomatoes for breakfast is at the top of my list of fabulous meals. We enjoyed grilled quail from Manchester Farms and a delicious layered Greek casserole with potato, squash, tomatoes and feta cheese called Briam. It doesn't get any better, honestly.So here's a recipe for Briam. It should be noted that different vegetables can be used depending on what is in season.BriamMakes 6 to 8 servingsIngredients4 large potatoes1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling1 medium onion, diced4 cloves garlic, finely minced1/2 cup dry white wine1/2 cup fresh dill, chopped1/2 cup fresh parsley, choppedA pinch of dried mintA pinch of dried basil2 cups tomato sauce˝ cup water1 pound zucchini, sliced in thin rounds4 large tomatoes, sliced Salt and pepper to tasteCrumbled feta cheese to tasteDirectionsPeel and boil the potatoes in generously salted water until nicely tender. Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch rounds and set aside.Heat 1/2 cup olive oil in a sauce pan and saute the onions until translucent. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about a minute. Add the 1/2 cup wine and saute a few minutes more.Add the herbs, tomato sauce, and about a 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.While the sauce is simmering, drizzle some olive oil in the bottom of a rectangular baking pan. Layer half the potato slices on the bottom of the pan. Season them lightly with salt.Top the potatoes with the tomato slices. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Next add the remaining potatoes. Season lightly with salt and top with half of the tomato sauce.Next add the zucchini and top with the remaining sauce. Bake in a 425 degree oven for one hour or until the vegetables have cooked through and are very tender.Sprinkle desired amount of crumbled feta cheese over the top for extra flavor.Way coolA couple of weeks ago we featured a cucumber soup recipe from Grace Episcopal Church's Tea Room. That prompted Nancy Tweed to dig out her favorite recipe for cuke soup that she hasn't made for ages, and she offered it to share with readers.The recipe came from her college friend who lives in Richmond, Va.Cucumber SoupMakes about 4 servingsIngredients 1 (24-ounce) container of sour cream1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice along with some grated rind1 tablespoon dried dill and more for garnish1 teaspoon celery salt1/4 teaspoon white pepper3/4 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon dry mustard1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules3 medium cucumbers, peeled and seededDirectionsPlace all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.Who's got the recipe?Still looking:A West Ashley reader asks for recipes for beef tips in a brown mushroom sauce that does not use salty soup. Also, how to stir-fry those beef tips with vegetables.Another reader requests a coleslaw recipe that is not too mayonnaise-y.And does anyone have easy, healthy recipes for spinach?If there's a recipe you've lost or a dish you are just wondering about, email food@postandcourier or call Food Editor Teresa Taylor at 937-4886.