A white split-level home adorned with black shutters sat quietly on Twist Road in Philadelphia, PA. Concrete steps lined the front of the house with a black railing that led Aunts, Uncles, cousins, kids, grandchildren, and friends to join the Donahue family for Sunday dinners, holiday celebrations, or impromptu get-togethers. All were welcome to gather and hear one groaner joke after another while enjoying appetizers, full-course meals, and homemade desserts.

The only thing missing from this house was a big red bow symbolizing the gifts and memories many received from the family that lived there for many years.

Marguerite Quinn from Trooper, PA, grew up in that house. Like her mother before her, Marguerite is a LIFELONG Cook. Inspired by her mother’s love for cooking and charmed by the warmth and corny jokes told by her father, Marguerite carries on the tradition of making food with love, welcoming friends and family into her home, and teaching her children to cook.

And for full disclosure – Marguerite is a childhood friend of mine. Her parents always welcomed me into their home and invited me to many Sunday dinners. I even had the privilege of spending time with her mom, making a pie shell to surround the scrumptious peach glazed pie. It’s not just the delicious food I remember, but the handwritten recipe cards and the detailed preparation checklist written on paper on the kitchen counter.

Marguerite began cooking with her mom as a young girl, creating memories that she gently tucked away that inspire her today. Making dishes and baked goods like Granny Waffles, raspberry shortbread, ginger snaps, Irish stew, and slumgullion strike a familiar chord with Marguerite and family members.

What’s slumgullion? It’s a skillet casserole with sautéed peppers, onions, and meat that Marguerite ate as a child back in the day. A meal she didn’t like much then and hadn’t made as an adult for a long time until she found herself inspired by a food memory.

Food memories are moments triggered by specific foods or recipes that remind us of traditions, who we are, where we came from, and recollections of the past. Marguerite says they’re opportunities to share stories and hand down the family legacy and delectable delights to the next generation.

She takes her family on vacations like a Windjammer Cruise when whipping up a batch of fried plantains or on a family trip to Ireland, where her mom secured a recipe for lemon cheesecake that Marguerite and her family still enjoy today. The story goes that her mom charmed a woman at a local tea shop in Ireland into sharing the mystery ingredients – lemon jello and cream – which make a thick and dense cheesecake into a light and airy delight.

While food memories inspire Marguerite, she creates some food memories of her own. I call her a Food Memory Maker. She takes her love for cooking and starts a chain reaction by merging food experiences from the past into new experiences today.

Marguerite has a way of taking something traditional and making it her own, like pizza on the grill. She loves to see how a recipe comes together or how you can adapt it to make it something new. These days, nothing brings her more comfort than cooking and baking; it’s about controlling what you can and not losing sight of the big picture by doing things and spending time with the people you love.

Join me honoring Marguerite, a LIFELONG Cook and a Food Memory Maker. Like a recipe, she leaves a trail of words written with love, rooted in connecting and bringing people together and making memories that inspire thoughtfulness, laughter, a tear or two, and a belly full of something yummy.

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