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

Age: 60

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.

Peach Dessert


8 to 9 ripe peaches

Lemon juice

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.

If you would like to suggest a good home cook to be profiled, email food@postandcourier.com with “Good Cook” as the subject line. Briefly describe the person's talent and how you know him or her, and provide their phone number or email address so we can contact them.