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A love of vegetables

July 09, 2003|by KATE COLEMAN

katec@herald-mail.com

Lifestyle Staff Writer Andrea Rowland has liked onions since she was a little kid. She also was young - about 6 or 7 years old - when she started cooking.

Her mother had family members - Rowland, her younger sister and her father - take turns preparing dinner one night a week. They'd look in cookbooks to find recipes they wanted to try.

"I was really good with macaroni and cheese," Rowland says.

That ability seems to be hereditary. Macaroni and cheese is one of Rowland's daughter's specialties. Her mother says Alexa Hurley, 12, likes to make anything fast.

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"She is not a patient cook," Rowland, 32, says, but she credits her daughter with a great chef salad. "She likes to arrange things."

Alexa also is the best lettuce cleaner in the house - "one leaf at a time" - a talent developed after she found a tiny slug on lettuce her stepfather, Herald-Mail Columnist Tim Rowland, had washed.

Tim Rowland is a great cook, his wife says. "I'm still the baker. He doesn't like to measure," she adds.

Andrea Rowland lived in Baltimore County, Md., until her family moved to a little town near Salisbury, Md., when she was in fourth grade.

After graduating from Salisbury High School, Rowland attended Towson State College for a semester, then went to Costa Mesa, Calif., about 45 minutes south of Los Angeles - and spent three and a half years there. She married, had her daughter and went through her "vegetarian phase" in the West.

But her love of "all vegetables" began because she was raised eating them.

And it continues.

She recently gathered red onions and a variety of greens - spinach, baby kale, arugula, a couple of different lettuces - for her shrimp salad from the bounteous garden in the back yard of her bright Halfway home.

Rowland is quick to say her husband is the gardener. Salads are on the family's menu every day. "We've got to eat the lettuce," she says.

"I've done just about everything that can be done with spinach," she adds.

Rowland says she's always liked to cook, but time in the kitchen is shorter since she began graduate studies in August at Hood College - a commitment of about 20 hours per week. That's on top of her full-time job as a reporter at The Herald-Mail. She joined the staff of the Hagerstown newspaper in December 1998 as a community reporter. Her work has earned her several first-place awards in Associated Press and regional press association contests. She joined Lifestyle in May.

Rowland says she hopes to complete her master's degree in humanities in December 2004.

In her spare time - she laughs trying to remember what that means - she likes to shop and read.

"I like to do things with my hands," Rowland adds. Friends can tell what phase she's in by the Christmas gifts she gives. There have been dried flowers, wreaths, scented oils and bath scrubs.

This year it will be homemade jams. "We had a really good strawberry crop," Rowland says.

Although she can't name a favorite dessert, Rowland says she loves her mother's strawberry shortcake.

What makes it special is a glaze over the shortcake - made from "mushed up" ripe berries, butter, a little vanilla and confectioners' sugar - before it's topped with strawberries and fresh whipped cream.

"Bon apptit," Rowland says.

That's the little phrase that begins her family's meals.

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