Start baking professionally…that is almost crazy. That is what I thought when the idea popped into my head about a year ago. I am a proud mother of 2, devoted wife of 1, a dog mom, and an occupational therapist by trade. It’s an unlikely biography for a professional baker, but I am excited to bring the tastes of my childhood, sweets of my family history, and the delights I have discovered in recent years to the world around me. I come from a long line of home (and 1 professional) bakers, spanning over 4 generations, who have been influenced by trends, flavors, and culture. It is my great grandmothers, grandma, mom, and dad who I credit my skills.

I grew up on 5th street in a little mill town of Western Pennsylvania, near the Ohio border. It was a time and a place that caused me to firmly believe everyone in the world had a clothesline, a garden, and was willing to lend an egg or cup of sugar if you were in need. My mom baked almost every day, using resources from the garden and fruit trees. She provided many family favorite recipes and was always looking for something new to try. Baking was a natural part of life. Scads of cookies, pies, kolachi and other bake goods frequently were made in our home. And ours was not the only one.

Within the region, it was and is common to have large cookie displays for events and celebrations. Only after moving away from the area (now a resident of North Carolina) did I realize that not all parts of the country carry the same tradition. This is when I discovered the term “Pittsburgh Cookie Table.” These tables are grand treasures providing dozens and dozens of assorted cookies (and sometimes other treats), made by friends and family, to share with guests. Not only are “everyday” cookies a hit, the not so common, and fancy cookies are often on display. Bars, dropped, shaped, rolled, layered, and filled; all ready to fill a plate for sampling and sharing. Additionally, kolachi always made it to the display for our family. Its origins come from Eastern Europe and is made of a sweet yeast dough with a nut or fruit filling. SO GOOD!

While it might not make it to a cookie table, who could forget about pie. Most holidays wouldn’t be the same without it. During my childhood, often the kind of pie made depended on the fruit that was in season. But no matter the filling, the crust was homemade, flaky, and so yummy. Serve it with ice cream, plain, or milk poured over top, I cannot say no!

Naturally, I carried on with this baking spirit in my own home. My husband and children reap the benefits. But, it recently occurred to me that these traditions might be fading. Maybe it’s because I am no longer in the same area of my youth. Or, maybe it’s because folks don’t realize just how much variety and sweet goodness exists. Maybe we are all too busy. Whatever the reason…here I am…ready to bake for you! I look forward to providing you with the sweet goodness of my heritage, tastes of my upbringing, and the products of my always growing interest in baking. Enjoy!