Diane_SturlaI fell in love with cooking and baking around 10 years old when my best friend and I were making peanut butter cookies in an effort to earn our cooking badges for Girl Scouts.  Like all good cooks we tasted the batter when it was done and to our surprise it was awful, so we asked for my mom’s help. She went over the recipe asking us to show her which utensil we used for which product and we had used a tablespoon instead of a teaspoon for the baking soda. She told us we needed to fix it, so we did the math and made the largest batch of peanut butter cookies of our life. After we got them all baked, my mother had us package them up in wax paper and put them in shoe boxes and give them away to the neighbors.  Oddly enough, my friend is now a teacher and this is when she fell in love with math.

My mother was a good cook, but with 5 children her job was to provide us meals on a budget that didn’t take all day. That being said, she knew how to throw a party. I remember many nights where my parent’s friends would come over and play cards and have cocktails and everyone was responsible for supplying something for the meal. When I was a kid I would trade my chores with my mother and make dinner so I wouldn’t have to do whatever my chore of the day was.  I would watch Julia Child on TV with my dad on Saturday mornings and we would come up with some wonderful experiment for a new pastry cream to put in our éclairs or cream puffs or cheesecakes. He was an excellent pastry chef and his mother taught me how to use local foods.  She was a great cook and used whatever was in season to make a cobbler or a pie. Every now and then I would get to spend a weekend with them and we would always fill our time baking and cooking a great meal.

As an adult I moved my family to Northern Michigan where I was taught how to cook incredible, homey, comfort food on an antique cast iron wood burning stove that my mother in law found at an old lumberjack camp and had put in her house. I developed an understanding of how important what an animal ate was to how it tasted.  Sunday dinners took on a whole different meaning and I used them as a way to learn whatever I could from a woman who was another one of the best cooks I ever knew.

My career as a Marketing Director gave me the opportunity to plan educational seminars that included entertainment and booking special events.  I have headed teams that planned events from black tie balls to charity golf tournaments with silent and open auctions. This solid foundation gave me the necessary tools to create a solid track record of successful events.

Throughout this time I raised 3 children and took pride in my monthly “Guinea Pig Dinners” where I would take a meal out of Bon Appetite magazine that I had never made and invite friends to be my guinea pigs. All of my children were included in my private entertaining events; their favorite toys included a “spoon and a bowl”.

There was a day my brother called and said, “Hey sis, I am in a bind, I need to provide lunch for my bible study on Saturday, would you mind throwing something together? “ I was so excited to have found a whole new group of guinea pigs. Well, soon after one of the ladies in his group called and asked if I would mind cooking for her daughter’s graduation party and that started it.  It was Just In Thyme.