Life down to the letter

June 30, 2004|by KATE COLEMAN

Robin Straley said she doesn't do much improvising in her kitchen.

"I have everybody else's recipes," she said.

She follows them pretty much to the letter, and nobody has complained.

Straley also likes to get things right at work. Except for the year she and her husband lived in Charleston, W.Va., she has worked at The Herald-Mail since she got out of high school in 1982.

She started as an editorial assistant in the newsroom. After a few years, she moved to the classified advertising department.

A couple of years ago, Straley expressed an interest in becoming a graphic artist. She took evening classes at Hagerstown Community College and learned computer graphic art skills. When the advertising department reorganized into sales teams, there was an opening for a graphic artist. Straley got the job.


The newspaper has been a big part of her life in another way. It's the place she met her husband, Mike Straley, a sportswriter at the paper in 1985.

"My baking is what won his heart," Straley laughed. It was her apple pie - with a scoop of ice cream - that got him.

The Straleys live on a little more than an acre that was part of Mike's grandparents' Greencastle, Pa., farm. Straley's "taste for design" is in evidence in the red brick, two-story Colonial home she shares with her husband and daughter, Leah, 12. Chris Straley, the 21-year-old son of the family, is living on his own.

Robin Straley and Mike's mother did all the wallpapering. There are welcoming wreaths and several tableaus of small stuffed bears. Her hobbies include gardening; she has beds of perennials behind and at the side of her home. Straley also likes to cross-stitch.

Mike Straley does some cooking, Robin Straley said, and they sometimes watch Emeril Lagasse's cooking show on television.

"He's the one that usually tries the 'Bam!' recipes," she laughed. "I love old cookbooks. I like old-fashioned, traditional recipes."

She makes yeast breads and has been creating challah - the braided white bread traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath and holidays - for six or seven years.

Straley has been making her Applesauce Cake longer. It was a recipe her mother, Jane Higgins, made from a recipe shared by Higgins' mother-in-law, Mary Straley - Robin Straley's paternal grandmother.

Straley usually bakes a dozen cakes for presents at Christmastime and has sent thank-you cakes to friends in North Carolina and Long Island.

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