The Cooking Queen celebrates her first cookbook in Coconut Grove

The Miami Herald on October 17th, 2009

Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray should get their cooking mittens ready.

Homestead's Linda Ogden Epling may be giving them a little competition in the kitchen very soon.

The 62-year-old grandmother -- nicknamed "The Cooking Queen" by family and friends -- has just self-published her own cookbook befittingly called The Cooking Queen Opens Her Kitchen ($39.95).

She's scheduled to appear Wednesday on NBC's South Florida Today, and Thursday and Friday at book launching events in Coconut Grove and South Miami-Dade.

Then she hits the road for a book tour in north Florida and Georgia.

She's hoping the book will inspire others to fall in love with her concoctions.

Plus, she wants to get more people reaching for spatulas and bowls.

"Even if you don't cook, my recipes are simple and easy," she said. "Each takes 30 minutes to make."

Her book contains 191 pages filled with more than 200 recipes which she came up with mostly while running her own catering company for 27 years.

Her company was called Linda Ogden Catering.

She started it out of her home, delivering meals in her station wagon.

She catered everything from weddings to showers to political events, as well as for the South Florida Orange Bowl Committee.

Some of the recipes included in her book are also old family recipes.

They've been passed down to her just like her name the "Cooking Queen" which she was dubbed as a child.

"My Aunt Carole originally gave me the name while I was growing up," she said.

"She would always tease me when I was cooking and say that I thought I was a queen while I was in there and the name stuck."

Indeed, it did.

A few years ago, her family bought her a diamond-encrusted broach shaped like a crown.

She proudly wears it all the time -- especially when she's busy slaving over a hot stove these days for special family events or holidays.

Written in less than a year, The Cooking Queen Opens Her Kitchen is filled with more than just the recipes that won Ogden Epling thousands of hearts and stomachs over the years.

She has also included tips for entertaining and decorating, as well as photographs of her cuisine that were taken at her home.

In her book, she includes recipes for entrees, such as Basil Tomato Pie and appetizers like Apple Cider Drummettes, Broccoli Corn Bread and Dockside Crab Dip.

When it comes to desserts, Ogden Epling has included her signature sweets, such as The Queen's Coconut Cake with lemon filling and her mother's decadent chocolate Geneva Mayonnaise Cake, which she recalls fondly learning to make.

"Growing up we were really poor and we didn't always have eggs and oil -- so my mother used mayonnaise as a substitute," she says.

"I learned early on how to make something out of nothing."

The hardest part of writing the book, Ogden Epling confesses was having to figure out exact measurements for her recipes.

"My grandmother and mother taught me to cook without using measuring cups and spoons," she says.

Ogden Epling will release her cookbook at the Coral Reef Yacht Club, 2484 South Bayshore Dr., in Coconut Grove on Thursday.

The book signing will be 6 to 8 p.m. RSVP to 305-665-6762 or ajtrav@aol.com.

Then on Friday she will have a similar event from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Capri Restaurant, 935 Krome Ave., in Florida City.

For more information on where to purchase the book, CLICK HERE.

Photo by CHRIS CUTRO - In the kitchen Linda Ogden Epling author of the new book "The Cooking Queen Opens Her Kitchen" at her home in Homestead.

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