When I was nine years old, I fell head over heels in love with baseball, most specifically, with the New York Yankees. It was summer, I was home from the Catholic boarding school my parents had cloistered me in, and something--perhaps Mel Allen's mellifluous voice coming over the radio--transformed me into a dedicated Yankee fan.
That's when I began writing. I spent my days creating articles about the Yankees for ClubHouse Chatter, my newsletter. The Olympia typewriter I had inherited did no more than make one copy of my work; I needed more. I had to let the Yankees know I was devoting my summer--no, my life--to writing about their heroic deeds on the field. I coveted one of those purple-ink gelatinous copiers I saw the nuns using to print out prayers. I turned to my parents and revealed my secret life.
My father groaned and I swear I heard the word "hussy" escape his lips. My mother wanted to know how long I thought this phase would last. "Not a phase," I screeched. "Writing about the Yankees is my life's ambition. I'm going to be a sportswriter." My father allowed that he'd pick up a mimeo machine for me the next day but he wanted to see everything before it went out in the mail. I see now I was ahead of my time: I had blurted out everything in my plans, including that I intended to mail ClubHouse Chatter to the Yankees, to Joe D., and Yogi, and Little Scooter, and Bobby Brown, and Snuffy Stirnweiss. I was even going to send copies to their front office.
ClubHouse Chatter came out quarterly and I printed it on the purple gelatinous copier until I was fourteen. Its circulation hit all the right people. A. E. (Red) Patterson, public relations director for the Yankees took notice and invited me to their Fifth Avenue offices, where I met Dan Topping, took pictures of everyone with my Brownie camera, and interviewed them as much as a nervous 11-year old could. Red Patterson encouraged me to come to Spring Training in St. Petersburg, where I would meet the players, and even get to see potential rookies for next season. He even mentioned the Yankees stayed at the Soreno Hotel.
That's all I needed to hear. I made a deal with my father over grades and five days at Spring Training. By some miracle, my writing improved and ClubHouse Chatter began looking better than ever. I wrote about my one-on-one interviews, I got baseballs autographed, and Hy Goldberg, sports editor for the Newark Evening News, interviewed me. ClubHouse Chatter and I made a paragraph in his column.
Every issue of ClubHouse Chatter is lost forever, but I've always wanted to write about something most people enjoyed. As a new bride, my husband moved us to the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia in 1959, and I began writing The Happy Cook column for a local weekly. Restaurants in the area were few, and since we enjoyed well-prepared home cooked meals, I became an avid reader of McCall's magazine. Mary Ekley was the food editor, Julia Child wrote a monthly column, and I collected every one of their recipes, many of which I continue to use.
It became clear to me that the secret to creating delicious meals was determined by my resourcefulness and savvy, my knowledge of food, and by what I made
with the raw materials available to me. I fell in love with food.
Somehow I managed to meet the right people, those who had cooking schools and were members of the fledgling International Association of Cooking Schools. It was 1979, my high school aged children and husband gave me room to grow. I was on my way.
I attended Le Cordon Bleu and several American schools to learn culinary techniques and how to establish my own cooking school. I opened my own two cooking schools in my home kitchen and in Roanoke and for a decade I taught classes every month. Since then I've continued writing restaurant reviews for The Roanoke Times and meeting deadlines for my weekly Happy Cook column in The (Lexington) News-Gazette. My latest pursuit is hosting the Happy Cook Show on local station WREL-AM featuring two half-hour interviews with cookbook authors. I'm as happy as a lark in my chosen careers, and I want to share the joys and flavors with you.
In 1995, Warner Books published my first cookbook, Cookies by the Dozen: Over 75 Recipes for Just A Dozen Cookies Each. It was named an alternate selection for the HomeStyle Division of the Book-of-the-Month Club, translated into Russian, sold well, and had two printings. Alas, Cookies got caught up in the Warner-AOL merger and was unceremoniously declared "out of print."
On this site I will present recipes from my Cookies book, as well as restaurant and travel news, ideas for meals and treats, recommended cookbooks, Happy Cook columns, plus answers to your food-related questions.
After all, I'm The Happy Cook.