The lady who inspired it all - Marie!
Marie Miller is a lively Amish woman who loves to laugh, tease and work. How much she enjoys working in the kitchen is clearly evidenced by the full-size commercial stove in the basement shop of her two-story Walnut Creek home. Besides cooking for large groups and catering, Marie keeps busy sewing clothes for herself and her four girls. She estimates that she makes between 20 - 30 dresses a year for her children, but admits, "I don't really care to sew, so I don't make myself a dress unless I absolutely have to."
With over three decades of experience to guide her, Marie has no need for recipes. "I won't say I don't look at a recipe, but I always modify it," she claims with a ready smile. At 16 years of age she began helping her mother bake for large crowds, including one summer in which they baked over 1500 dozen cookies. As the oldest of eight children, Marie has put in a lot of hours in the kitchen helping out with her parents own cooking business. She remembers with enthusiasm, "We baked more Amish pies than we cared count! Oh, yes - Mom's shipped hundreds of pies! - she can tell ya all about it!"
Marie maintains what she calls a "small" garden. "I don't plant enough to can and what have ya," she says. But there is always enough potatoes, green beans, cabbage, carrots and onions to make "Crow's Nest", a stew her family has come to love. "I throw it all in a pot and simmer it with a pinch of salt and pepper," she says matter-of-factly. This type of home-grown simplicity is what makes Marie's cooking so valuable to those lucky enough to sit at her table or taste her ware. It is clear that Marie loves to cook good food for those whom she loves - and each bowl of her soup and slice of her pie can speak for itself.
When asked about her favorite kind of pie, Marie laughs and says, "Oh, I don't have a favorite pie - I've eaten so many of them for so many years. I guess if I had to choose I'd go with the Pecan Pie."