Cooking takes Steele to ‘happy place’
If Denise Steele is ever having any problems or just wants to relieve some stress, cooking is her happy place.
“I get into the kitchen and start cooking to take my mind off things,” Steele said. “My food makes people happy, and when I see them happy, it makes me feel good. People always tell me I season my food with love.”
Steele was born and raised in Philadelphia and works as a cook at Marathon’s Philadelphia Market and Deli on Holland Avenue.
She is married to Adolph Steele and they have three sons, James, Terrance, and Patrick, along with five grandchildren.
Steele recalls learning to cook when she was about 8 years old.
“When other kids would go out and play, I would stay inside and watch my mom, Martha Moore, cook,” Steele said. “That’s what she did for a living. When I started cooking, my mom would let me make some cornbread. After that, she taught me how to make spaghetti and pasta salad, fried chicken, and more. By the time I was 12, I could cook anything besides desserts, which is something I still don’t do often.”
Today, Steele still makes a lot of the same dishes she made growing up, and is hoping to start her own catering business soon.
“I cook for other people when they request it and for things like family reunions and weddings,” she said. “Here at work I’m famous for my Dorito casserole, which is something we have at the deli every Wednesday. The people here also love my seafood gumbo, and old fashioned dressing with hen instead of chicken for Thanksgiving and Christmas. My family comes over for the holidays and they enjoy that.”
“For any occasions we have, they’ll come to my house,” she said. “We do a lot of fish frys and barbecues. When I do make a dessert, I’ll make banana pudding with strawberries.”
EASY PASTA SALAD
2 bags of Rotini pasta
2 tomatoes, diced
1 cucumber, diced
1/2 purple onion, diced
1 jar salad pimentos
1 package of diced ham
2 bottles of Wishbone Italian dressing
1 package of dry Italian dressing
1/3 cup of Supreme Salad Seasoning
Boil pasta noodles for 7 minutes and drain. Toss the noodles with all the other ingredients and refrigerate for several hours before serving. You can add shredded cheese if desired.
LOADED POTATO CASSEROLE
5 pounds of potatoes, cubed and boiled
1 large bottle of Ranch dressing
2 cups of shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup real bacon bits
In a large casserole dish, layer the potatoes, bacon bits, and ranch dressing. Repeat this step. Bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. Garnish with fresh green onions and olives, if desired.
STRAWBERRY BANANA PUDDING
2 boxes of instant banana pudding
2 cups of strawberries, sliced
2 cups of bananas, sliced
1 box of vanilla wafers
1 large container of Cool whip
Mix the instant pudding according to directions on the box. Add strawberries, Cool Whip and bananas to the pudding mixture.
In a large bowl, layer the fruit and pudding mixture and the vanilla wafers. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.