Diane Altman Leary

MeMe has been cooking for family and friends all her life, and Sunday lunch at her house is a standing appointment. She usually has between 12 and 22 guests and the only requirement is that they first fill a church pew.

Several years ago MeMe’s grandchildren began inquiring about her recipes. They asked her to write them down. So, she got busy! A list was started and she began digging to find the recipes in all kinds of places: old cookbooks, computer printouts, recipe cards, magazine clippings, napkins, and scraps of paper. She then spent the summer and fall of 2020 (pandemic) typing them into her computer Finally, she made five heirloom cookbooks, looseleaf binders filled with the recipes as Christmas gifts for that year. 

The grands continued to ask her questions about how to make various dishes, even with the homemade cookbook. So, they asked her to make a video (tutorial) so they could follow along and have the memory of her making their favorites. The first video was the making of pralines, an iconic southern delicacy. No need to visit a Savannah or Charleston candy kitchen when you can make your own! 

Thus, MeMe’s Recipes was born, or recorded, into existence starting as posts on Facebook

With the generous support of her family, MeMe has launched her own YouTube Channel and Instagram so others can savor and share the delicious recipes. Her endearing grandmotherly-ness and unique southern charm (and accent) have touched the hearts of hundreds-of-thousands of viewers.

Many of her dishes are “made from scratch” recipes, but most are quick and easy – supplemented by staple, ready-to-make or boxed ingredients – to help busy families create wholesome meals at home. 

It is thrilling to see people cooking for their families, enjoying their kitchens and gathering around the table again. 

The hierloom cookbook as been converted into her first professionally printed publication, available in the MeMe’s Recipes’ store, called Sunday Lunch at MeMe’s. Funds from every sale are donated to Christian missions, as she feels she is a kitchen missionary and cooking is her ministry. 

Cooking has opened opportunities for MeMe to bless others. She says, “Cooking is my love language… and I have loved a pile of people over the years.” Her spiritual gift is obviously hospitality, but who knew the “Boss” of her church choir would be such a social phenomenon?! 

"I consider myself a kitchen missionary...

I serve, love, and encourage others by cooking."

Full Circle

MeMe first started cooking out of necessity. As the oldest of four children, cooking seemed to be her duty whenever her Mama was sick or working. Her Daddy would put a box in front of the kerosene-fueled stove for her to stand on, and she would scramble eggs or make oatmeal. It was on that box where her love for cooking began.  

MeMe’s mama, affectionately known as Mammie, was a good cook and set the example, especially with her special Sunday lunches with savory meats, lots of vegetables (usually from the garden) and mouth-watering biscuits. MeMe would help with the food prep and was often tasked with making a dessert. 

Those childhood experiences cultivated a love for cooking and conditioned her for feeding a family of her own. As such, MeMe’s husband, Lee, and her children (Ken, Katrina and Kaylene) were subjected to new recipes, spins on old ones, creative shortcuts and a few failures over time. 

An impromptu meal with friends or family was the norm as MeMe fed everyone from her children’s friends to neighbors, business associates to church guest speakers, to football coaches and players, to Bible study groups … you name ’em, MeMe has fed them! And by God’s Great Grace, there always seemed to be enough food to go around.

Back in the day, there weren't drive-thrus or take-out restaurants like there are today. Not to mention that it was more economical to cook at home and have a complete meal. 

Do everything in love. 1 Corinthians 16:14

The River

the Tides that Bind

MeMe grew up near the low country coast of South Carolina. She treasures her familial heritage and many of her dishes are inspired by the bountiful river (pronounced ri-vah). “The Tides that Bind” is a spot on the saltwater that her immediate family built to share. There they enjoy the sunshine, togetherness, and (of course) scrumptious food many times a year. 

There is something about the salt air that clears the mind and rests the soul. Chasing dolphins, jumping or fishing off the dock, swimming against the tide, endless boat rides, crabbing in a nearby creek, soaking up rays on the sandbar, and floating in the river – all things that make the family beautifully sun-kissed and famished!  


You’ve heard of farm-to-table… Well, Meme enjoys river-to-table. The river is where the love for seafood comes from, and so a prominent section of her cookbook is dedicated to the unequivocal recipes of the Carolina low country.  

Mammie would say, “It’s not the food, it’s the scenery and company that enhance the flavor of anything.”

When at the river, the moss hanging from the trees, the marsh swaying in the breeze, the pluff mud clicking, the fish jumping, the dolphins splashing, the fluffy clouds in the salty air blowing, the ebbing and flowing of the water, the sound of shuffling, sandy feet and echoing laughter is enough to make anyone fall in love with the setting and flavors.