Creative in the kitchen and in crafts, Gloria Diggs blends old ways with new

Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Oct 12, 2011 - 05:46 PM

Photo: Army travels brought Gloria Diggs many experiences in life, culture, and cuisine. Growing up in Onemo, where she now resides in the family homeplace, Gloria learned heritage crafts such as making rugs from corn husks. She has even learned to make a fashionable hat from the useful material. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

Army travels brought Gloria Diggs many experiences in life, culture, and cuisine. Growing up in Onemo, where she now resides in the family homeplace, Gloria learned heritage crafts such as making rugs from corn husks. She has even learned to make a fashionable hat from the useful material. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

She is as creative in her cooking as she is in her arts and crafts. Col. Gloria Diggs, U.S. Army retired, a Mathews County native who now lives in the family home, The House of Diggs, on Winter Harbor at Onemo, starts her day with a good breakfast. From there her hands continue to make the creations for which she is so well known.

Following her graduation from the Medical College of Virginia School of Nursing, Gloria spent 33 years as an army nurse. During those years there were many places she called home, and it was at these places that Gloria had the pleasure of tasting and then learning many ethnic styles of cooking. "We did a lot of entertaining in the military and always took something of the area and made our menus of that. When I entertained, I cooked, but also ate at many restaurants. There was a Russian restaurant in Europe that I liked and ate there a lot. That’s how my Borscht recipe came about but I did my own thing to it."

Gloria gives the credit to her mother for her knowledge of cooking although, "she always said she wasn’t a good cook. She taught me to make popovers and I still make them today especially at lunchtime. I used to help my mother in the kitchen. You know, she had fried chicken on Sunday and we always had a garden so there were always fresh vegetables or if in the winter those we had preserved. My mother was 104 years old when she died and my father was 100 when he died."

Since retirement, Gloria has sort of followed in her mother’s and father’s footsteps. She too has a garden and makes good use of it when she cooks. At one point Gloria harvested the wild asparagus that grew on her land and sold it at a farmers’ market. "I cook my own things. Do not buy any prepared foods."