The ability to share the warmth of a hot, out-of-the-oven batch of cookies, or to hear the laughter of a parent and child when a mixing mishap sends pancake batter across the counter is meaningful to more than 1,000 people that contribute to Taste of Home publications across the country. Sharing time in the kitchen with family and friends is especially embodied in local Taste of Home Field Editor Lori Daniels.
In 1995, when Daniels submitted her first recipe to Taste of Home Magazine, she had no idea how it would present her with an opportunity to share her love of cooking with thousands of people all over North America. Even though she didn't get her holiday cookie recipe recognized when it was first submitted, Daniels kept submitting. Eventually, one of her recipes was published.
In 1999, she received a letter and package. The letter told Daniels her recipe had been published and it was included in the book that was also sent to her.
Lori Daniels loves to bake. On Wednesday, as an evening snack for her and her husband and two daughters, Daniels made a batch of ‘oatmeal scotchies.’ (CU?and The Inter-Mountain/Alec Rader)
Between that first submission and the cookbook, Daniels sent in many other recipes for contests and general publication that never made the cut. However, she received a letter in 1997 or 1998 that asked her if she wanted to be a Taste of Home field editor. When Daniels agreed she promised to keep doing what she was doing and send recipes for a trial in the Taste of Home test kitchen. After that first published recipe in 1999, Daniels was surprised with another honor from Taste of Home: They wanted to feature her in the July-August 2000 issue of Country Woman Magazine.
Photographer Brent Kepner was hired to conduct a photo shoot in Daniels' home in Beverly and her face appeared on the cover a few months later. After it was published, it was matted and framed. It now hangs in the Danielses living room today. Daniels said it may seem like a glamorous job, but field editors only receive compensation for the recipes that are published and a free subscription to Taste of Home Magazine. Holding a full-time job and having two children, those perks are not why Daniels has had more than 30 recipes published in magazines, books and on the Taste of Home website.
"If I can teach someone how to cook and love to do it, that's why I do it," she said.
Field editor facts
Field editors volunteer their time and energy to supporting the Taste of Home brand. In return, they receive a free subscription to Taste of Home and a monthly e-newsletter.
They provide recipes, tips and ideas for Taste of Home and its sister magazines, Simple & Delicious and Healthy Cooking.
Many of them are active in the community forums on tasteofhome.com, mentoring new cooks and/or new field editors.
They promote Taste of Home in their communities in a variety of ways, from chatting about the magazine around town to conducting cooking demos for civic groups, at the library and on local television. Some have radio spots, blogs or columns in local newspapers. Some offer cooking classes or bake for fundraisers.
Some have become local "celebrities," recognized at the grocery store or dentist's office. some get calls at home from people seeking cooking advice.
They represent a cross section of North America. Among the "team" are a clinical psychologist, an advertising sales representative, a career counselor and owner of a dog biscuit company.
The more than 1,000 field editors are among the magazine's most engaged readers and supporters.
According to Daniels, her favorite thing about cooking is sharing it with friends and family. The holidays are her favorite time because her kitchen is full of loved ones. She has had several of her Christmas recipes published. That first recipe from 14 years ago was a holiday cookie recipe. Daniels said her love for cooking is multiplied during the holiday season.
Daniels said that her duties as a field editor are few but she doesn't mind when Taste of Home contacts her with a special request. Most of the time, Daniels will make something for her family and think to herself that it would be a good submission. Her recipe for Italian Garden Salad was created one weekend afternoon with some leftover spaghetti and fresh garden vegetables. After it came together, Daniels said she was surprised with the result and decided to send it to Taste of Home. The cooks at Taste of Home agreed it was good and published it. According to the Taste of Home website, 100 percent of the people who tried and rated the recipe would make it again.
"It's an honor and a privilege to represent Taste of Home," Daniels said.
Published recipes are tried by cooks all across the country and used to feed their families, she said. That is one of the things that makes her happy to submit ideas to the company. Even her family will occasionally make suggestions for her to send in.
"Even my girls will say, 'Mom, you need to send that in,'" Daniels said.
Every recipe that is published in the magazine is usually compiled into a cookbook, a copy of which is sent to field editors who contributed a recipe. Daniels' collection is vast and "they mean a lot" to her. She sees the books as something she can pass on to her daughters when they have kitchens of their own, not simply reminders or rewards of what she has accomplished. For nearly 20 years Daniels has been a part of the Taste of Home family. She has helped with cooking schools like the one scheduled in Elkins this May. While she doesn't have plans to stop cooking, enjoying her time in the kitchen or submitting things to Taste of Home, she is humbled by the thought of where her journey began.
"It just started with one little Christmas cookie recipe," she said.
The Inter-Mountain and Davis &?Elkins College have partnered to bring the Taste of Home Cooking School to Elkins on May 26. Although all of the VIP tickets already are sold out, The Inter-Mountain is accepting advanced reservations for remaining tickets. To reserve a ticket, call 304-636-2121. When tickets become available in April, individuals may take advantage of the early bird price of $10 each, which is $3 off the $13 price tag.
Vendor space is also still available, and inquiries can be made to Heather Goodwin Henline, publisher and general manager of The Inter-Mountain, by calling 304-636-2121 ext. 104 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.