I’m LaCreta Holland –I love to travel, sew, read and my 3 cute grandchildren and I love to teach people to cook!
I experienced a variety of food in my youth. I grew up in St. Louis, MO with the cooking influences of the south, like chicken and dumplings, from my southern grandmother. My love of Mexican food started with my mother bringing bottles of hot sauce home from family vacations to California to make her own Mexican food, since my parents loved it so much from their college days in LA—years before Taco Bell set up shop anywhere east of Denver. While in college in Utah, I loved the Navajo Tacos served in the student union cafe. I still get a thrill whenever I am traveling west, searching for that PERFECT burrito!
After college, I lived in Washington, DC, which opened my eyes to all the fantastic international food offerings there. Szechuan orange beef from Chinatown was a revelation and friends from Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam extended my taste experience even further. After marriage and the arrival of our fourth child, our family moved to Lerici, Italy and it was there that my interest in cooking and skills really took off.
Italians insist on fresh fruits and vegetables – blunt words from customers were not uncommon to the seller if the vegetables or fruit were less than perfect. They care a great deal about the quality of ingredients and then do wonderful, often simple things, with time tested recipes and a cultivated sense of culinary art to guide them. I tried to imitate that while living there and then developed my own style, sometimes blending Mediterranean with other cuisines. There is no better smell in the world than olive oil heating in a pan on the stove with a bit of garlic and onion, waiting for something to be added. Moving to Italy not only taught me more about cooking, but helped our family to be closer. Sharing a meal with family is so important to Italians; nothing gets in the way of that sacred time– meals are not rushed or eaten on the run as is so common in American life.
Now, living in State College, I have the wonderful opportunity to cook fresh meals in Happy Valley.
Come and cook with me!