Cooking is a Joy

Written by Mike Siroky. Posted in Dining & Entertainment, Featured

Published on June 26, 2012 with No Comments

For Laine Kasarda, All Soup’d Up delight for Hobart Woman

For Laine Kasarda, cooking is more than a calling. It is a life adventure.

“If you love what you do, it isn’t really work, is it?” she said.

She is a familiar sight at area car shows, especially with her personalized grill that started life as a hot rod engine, a 370 Chevy small block.

Among her appearances this summer season are the Gary Air Show and practically every car show from Schererville to Crown Point to Munster to Southlake Kia. She is a regular at the new Hobart senior center/courts/police building in the former middle school and every Thursday afternoon at the Hobart Farmer’s Market in the park.

Oh, and on the side, she has an office cleaning business.

“I started cooking when I was nine,” Kasarda said. “In my family, everybody worked, so someone had to cook the meals at home.

“When I was a teen, I got really seriously interested,” she continued. “I was always experimenting with different recipes. I’d send my dad to the grocery every morning and then I’d cook every day.”

It didn’t hurt that her parents ran a cafeteria in Glen Park or that family history was on her side.

“My father was full-blooded German and Slovak, which has a lot of great traditions,” she said.  “My earliest memories were scooting around between the tables in the cafeteria. I never actually worked in a restaurant . . . but I like eating in them. But, to this day, I use a lot of the stock pots we had there.”

She makes her pierogi from scratch, starting with the dough. Same with the halusky, laskonsky, Easter Borscht and Christmas Barley Soup.

“When my siblings arrive on Pierogi Day, they get to help roll the dough and stuff them,” Kasarda said.
Of course, part of the tradition for wonderful cooks is that cooking is a memory exercise.

She especially likes experimenting with soups, although some of the favorites are demanded by her regular customers. And even her mistakes turn out well. Once, when she forgot one of her prepared pots in the walk-in cooler one day, she just told the customers asking after it that it would better tomorrow because it had an extra day to simmer.

“Any time one of the grandkids asks, I have to tell him there is no recipe,” Kasarda said.

Her love of all things cooked and baked is “what got me excited about doing it,” she said.

The cleaning service led to other jobs. “One of my (cleaning) customers would have a large company picnic and I catered that for them for five years,” she said. “The last picnic was for 450 people. So I thought, ‘I love this; I want to do this.’ ”

She had grown up and attended school in Hobart and now lives there again.

“I started with the Farmer’s Market last summer downtown and I loved that,” Kasarda said.

She then talked to Hobart Mayor Brian Snedecor.

“During the winter, I talked with the mayor and he offered to let me run the stand in the new building,” she said. “A couple of days each week, I cook for the seniors, the judge, the bailiffs and the ladies in the offices. Plus people come in to eat. I love the guys in the street department. I am always happy to see them because they come in hungry and they love my homemade desserts.”

She does not use “canned anything and only homegrown vegetables,” Kasarda said.

“My dad always said I may not be able to become rich but I will always have something to eat.”

She has explored some Valparaiso sites for a future, more-permanent home base and has had some meetings with developers. But she likes the freestyle life for now.

“All Soup’d Up is something my dad and I were going to do together,” Kasarda said. “I think it’s one of his better ideas.

Her father passed away and she continued the dream as a tribute. “He would have loved it, what it has become,” Kasarda said.

For more information on Laine Kasarda’s catering adventures, call 219-405-5930.

#1 Every Thursday afternoon, Laine Kasarda is at the Hobart Farmer’s Market in the park.

#2 Laine Kasarda’s personalized grill started life as a hot rod engine, a 370 Chevy small block.

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About Mike Siroky

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed in the above excellent column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Mike Siroky is a writer and editor. He is a native of Northwest Indiana. He has worked in media from coast to coast. To contact Mike, email mikel@the chronicleNWI.com

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