Food & Drink

A Quiet Storm

Downtown Diane reins in her busy life by cooking.

Even in the calm and comfort of her own Pikesville kitchen, Diane
Macklin is in perpetual motion. She makes coffee with her new single-cup
Keurig brewer, throws open the doors of a cabinet to show off her
Indian spices, rifles through a recipe notebook to share her favorite
dishes, and quickly pulls items out of her refrigerator.

She has no qualms about showing off the homemade, basil-infused
vodka, which she proceeds to serve (at least on this weekday) well
before noon. “I’m on my fourth cup of coffee,” explains Macklin, more
commonly known as “Downtown Diane.” “That’s why I’m so revved up.”

But truth be told, the diminutive dynamo (“barely 5 feet,” she
giggles) is always on the go. She’s an entertainment, food, and travel
reporter, who dishes on hot happenings in and around Baltimore on her
website (she has more than 4,900 followers on Twitter)
and does a gig with 105.7 radio on the Norris & Davis Show.

When she isn’t out and about, though, she can most often be found in
her homey kitchen, whipping up cauliflower curry stew for her daughter,
Jessica, 20, and meatloaf for her husband, Larry, and son, Josh, 18.

Preparing family holiday favorites, such as apple kugel (see recipe),
is also part of her repertoire. “I found this recipe on a cooking
website a few years ago,” says Macklin. “I wanted something to add to
the Passover table that was a little bit sweet. Since you can’t eat
noodles on Passover, I decided to substitute farfel [broken pieces of
matzo] for noodles. It’s not your typical kugel, but my guests have
always loved it.”

Macklin’s sunlit kitchen—stocked with cookbooks (Roy Yamaguchi,
Rachael Ray, and Gertrude’s John Shields among them), a wine rack, and
ample seating for family and friends—is the hub and the heart of the
home. “I’ve thought about redoing this kitchen,” she says, “but I love
the light and the white, and I really use this kitchen. I have a friend
with a two-million-dollar house who doesn’t know how to turn on her
oven, and I’m like, ‘Are you kidding me?’”

The all-white kitchen is also a perfect backdrop for the colorful
Macklin who was named funniest girl at both Pikesville Middle and
Pikesville High schools. “I am the only girl in the family, and I have
two brothers,” says Macklin. “I was always around my brothers’ friends
and had to be outgoing.”

Radio personality Steve Rouse can attest to her persona. “Diane is a
cross between Joan Rivers and Mother Teresa,” says Rouse, who helped her
get started in radio. “Pretty crazy and very giving and caring, all at
the same time.”

Macklin has always been a foodie. “Ever since high school, I’ve
worked for almost every restaurant in Baltimore,” she says. “At various
times, I worked at Lee’s Ice Cream, Sizzler (“I quit after the first
night because they told me to clean the dining room,” she says,
laughing.), Miller’s Deli, and York Steak House. “My favorite was
Lee’s,” says Macklin. “I still make an amazing milkshake because of
working there.”

As a mass communications major at Towson University, Macklin interned
with radio and TV personality Eddie Applefeld, who was then marketing
director of Lexington Market. “I was in charge of leading the school
groups and teaching them about the different types of foods sold there,
including tripe and pig’s feet,” says Macklin, who went on to become a
marketing director for a Baltimore-area Domino’s Pizza franchise at age

Although Macklin takes frequent cooking classes (at Roy’s and Chef’s
Expressions, for example), her own taste buds have been her greatest

“The secret to being a good cook,” says Macklin, “is putting your own
touch on a recipe. If something calls for a certain amount of an
ingredient, do it according to your own taste. That’s key. In the
kitchen, you have to be fearless.”

Passover Apple Kugel


  • 2 cups matzo farfel
  • 4-6 apples (preferably Granny Smith), peeled and diced
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons margarine, melted
  • Cinnamon


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Fill a medium-sized pot half full of
water and bring to boil. Add farfel and cover. After five minutes, when
farfel has softened, drain.

In a separate bowl, mix remaining ingredients, adding cinnamon to
taste. (She likes to add cinnamon to the mixture and then sprinkle more
on top before baking as well.)

Add the drained farfel to the mixture. Mix well and pour into a baking dish. Bake for one hour.

Serves 8 to 10.