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Sisters' cooking is down-to-earth food

July 02, 2006|by KRISTIN WILSON

For Peggy Lowman and Daisy Schlotterbeck, food has always been about comfort and hospitality.

Most months of the year, the two sisters prepare a "fellowship dinner" for members of their church, Zion Evangelical and Reformed Church, in Hagers-town. They have regularly prepared food for 30 to 100 churchgoers for about 20 years.

The duo enjoys sharing their homemade meals and says the fellowship dinners have become a tradition at the church.

Lowman, 63, and Schlotterbeck, 61, both of Hagerstown, are two of six children. Their late mother, Ellen Newlin, cooked in the Pennsylvania Dutch tradition, Schlotterbeck says.

"She cooked everything from scratch," she says.

Newlin also taught her children to never turn anyone away from the dinner table.

The sisters were the oldest girls in the family. When their mother died at age 51, Lowman and Schlotterbeck were called on to take care of their two younger sisters who were 8 and 10 at the time. For Schlotterbeck, that's when she really learned how to cook.

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Both sisters developed a lifelong love of cooking, discovering new recipes and trying new things in the kitchen, they say.

Lowman worked in different aspects of the food business on and off for 40 years and she is a prep cook at Bubba's Deli.

Schlotterbeck has a cookbook collection several thousand volumes strong. Cookbooks line the floor-to-ceiling bookcases in her living room and cover shelves in other rooms throughout the house. "The last time I counted I had over 3,000," she says.

But the women still are learning new things about food preparation and uncovering new and interesting recipes.

Peggy Lowman and Daisy Schlotterbeck recently answered some questions in Schlotterbeck's newly renovated kitchen:

Q: Do you remember the first thing that you learned how to cook? What was the first dish that you mastered?

Daisy: Mine was roast chicken and gravy - a whole chicken dinner. Roast chicken with the stuffing. That was my first meal.

Peggy: I really don't know. My kids used to love slippery potpie. I used to make a big pot of it. (Daisy's) kids would come to my house and we'd have slippery potpie.

Q: It sounds like a lot of what you two do is kind of your comfort, real American cuisine.

Daisy: Yeah, down-to-earth food.

Q: Do you think your mom's Pennsylvania Dutch cooking influenced your food?

Daisy: Oh yeah. And our mother cooked like her mom. ... Our grandmother and our mom was the same way. They never turned anybody down for a meal.

Q: So there was a tradition of hospitality in your family?

Daisy and Peggy: Oh yeah.

Q: So to you food was always about taking care of others, providing for others?

Peggy: Our aunt, uncle and grandmother used to come to our house every Sunday for dinner.

Daisy: Until we were teenagers.

Q: So you were used to the idea of cooking for others and providing a meal for the family?

Daisy: Oh yes.

By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

Sisters Daisy Schlotterbeck, left, and Peggy Lowman prepare homemade meals such as meatloaf for a fellowship group at their church.

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