When asked if she was ever interested in cooking for one of those really fancy restaurants that serve the small exotic portions of food, Karen Davis had to laugh.
The high-end restaurants have a certain appeal on occasion. But growing up in central Iowa, dead smack in the middle of the heartland, Davis' grandmother's cooking was her biggest influence.
Creating home-style dishes using the kinds of ingredients that come right from the earth around her Iowa home is what Davis does best. And that's exactly the niche she fills as a culinary specialist with Taste of Home Cooking School.
“The way I kind of look at it is (home economics) prepared me to help the home cook learn how to perfect their stove,” said Davis, who holds a degree in home economics education and educational services in Family and Consumer Sciences at Iowa State University. “For me, I love the home-style kind of cooking the best.”
Davis, who has worked for the Iowa Egg Council and pork industry, is the guest culinary specialist at the second Taste of Home Cooking School event, put on by The Free Press and sponsored by Hy-Vee. She will be demonstrating 10 recipes at the event, to be held Thursday.
Besides inspiration from her family, Davis was involved in 4-H growing up and always brought baked goods to the fair. One year, her grandma's chocolate cake recipe won a purple ribbon.
Her love of down-home cooking never left her, and now, when she's not on the road with Taste of Home Cooking School, she serves as a food consultant. She also develops and tests recipes, and she writes about food for the magazine Our Iowa.
For the past seven years, Davis said working with Taste of Home has been a great experience.