Neighborhood: Longboat Harbour
Your neighbor since: 1999
For Martha Miller, the love of cooking runs through her veins.
“If you’re a Southern girl, your momma would just smack you if you didn’t like to cook,” said Miller with a laugh.
Originally from Louisville, Ky., Miller got her first introduction to Longboat living after a particularly cold winter up North — one that included an ice storm.
“After the storm, a friend called me and said, ‘Let’s get out of here. Have you ever been to Sarasota?’ And I said, ‘No … Is that where the circus is?’” said Miller, smiling. “So, we came for a couple of weeks, and the next year, I thought, ‘Why on Earth do I have to stay here all winter?’”
She returned to Lido Key, but was told to visit Longboat Island Chapel one Sunday for a service. Miller drove out the first chance she got and was sold.
“I’ve been at the chapel for about 14 years now,” Miller said. “I just fell in love, and that love affair has continued. It’s the warmest, most accepting and caring group of people that I’ve ever been associated with.”
About seven years ago, Miller began sharing her love of cooking with her fellow members. She started with the style show luncheon as well as a five-course gourmet dinner fundraiser for close to 100 people. This past year, she added the “Downton Abbey” tea to her list of events.
Her baking is not just appreciated throughout the chapel community — it has been auctioned off to the highest bidder.
“A few years ago, they asked if I would make my carrot cake as part of an auction,” Miller said. “My husband and I were actually in Las Vegas at the time, so the phone rang and they told me it sold for $300.”
That cake, based on a recipe from Miller’s friend, is now one of her favorites to bake.
“Everyone likes affirmation and applause, and I’m just enough of a ham to like that, too,” Miller said. “That cake seems to make people so happy.”
Her second-favorite dish, though, brings her back to her roots.
“The next thing that I not only love to bake but love to eat is biscuits,” said Miller. “Buttermilk biscuits and gravy: You just can’t beat that.”
Contact Kelsey Grau at [email protected]