Monday, 14 January 2013

I've said before that my endless drive to and from work affords me time to think. This week I've been going over business ideas and I keep coming back to teaching kids ( and adults if they want) the basics of cooking. Too many families rely on quick foods and takeout to get a meal on the table. I'd like to create a program where I teach teenagers five fairly simple recipes that will make them self-sufficient in the kitchen. They can cook for themselves when left alone and hoefully take over at least one meal a week to help out their parents.
I forced this on my children at an early age, 12, I was working deadly retail hours and felt that I shouldn't have to come home and make dinner as well. I assigned one meal a week to each of my fabulous four. I'll admit that some took to the task more enthusiatically than others. Jess loves to cook. Her first meals were simple but dinner was on the table and it was quite tasty. Jenn wasn't interested in learning to cook. If I left clear instructions they would be followed but creativity didn't come into it. Jeff also took to cooking taking over much of the cooking once the girls moved out. Greg is my biggest challenge. Never one to do anything without a discussion/debate the thought of putting together a meal on his own never enters his head. Soup and grilled cheese is about the extent of his talents. So, I have experience in trying to light the culinary fire in kids.
I spend a lot, and I mean a lot, of time on pinterest. I'm always looking at recipes to pick up new ideas. What I've learned is that few pinners bake from scratch! Cake mixes, fridge rolls and oreos seem to be the basis of many recipes. There was one " fabulous" slow cooker soup that involved opening at least five cans. My blood pressure rose just thinking about the sodium content! The idea of a slow cooker is to use raw foods that need time to cook, dried legumes, carrots, potatoes etc and simmer them slowly to release their flavour and nutrients. Add broth, herbs, fresh garlic and onions and you have an easy soup that makes your house smell wonderful and is ready for supper.
I grew up in time when packaged food was new and exciting. Mom would bring home the latest and greatest for us to try. Instant potatoes & Bisquick jump instantly to mind. Now I cringe when I think of them. Biscuits, pancakes, dumplings and yorkshire all stem from the same simple combo; eggs milk, flour and a fat ( in my house it's usually butter). If you need to have a mix let me blend up a natural version that keeps on the shelf.
These ideas along with some others that are percolating in my brain would make up a five class course. Recipe book with these and some other simple recipes would be provided as part of the class. Now, who thinks there's a market for this out there? How do I poll the kids to see if there'd be enough to make it worthwhile. I'm open to suggestion!

Monday, 7 January 2013

Every day I think about wishes and dreams. I have long wanted to run a bakery cafe. I have it all planned out. It's going to be completely different from the other cafes in Muskoka.We'll serve fair trade teas and coffees and offer afternoon tea featuring home-baked treats. The bakery will offer a selection of delectable gourmet treats made in small batches from recipes I've developed and collected over a lifetime. I've got the colours picked out and you already know my logo.
Everyone who tries my baking falls under it's spell. I hear all the time that Bracebridge needs a good bakery but, for now, it remains a dream.
Instead, I've been drawn back into the retail ratrace. I'm actually pretty good at starting up and building the business for new locations. I've had the pleasure of taking products I believe in to the public and create a welcoming atmosphere in which to shop. Over the years I have made friends of customers and they're who I miss most when it's been time to move on. I'm just tired of doing all of this to put money in someone else's pocket. But I drive for hours to keep hearth and home and tamp down my hopes of doing what I love instead of what I must.
The question is how do I make the dream come true? I read about female entrereneurs who started on a shoe string. I'm finding that I need to think bigger than that. Without a store front from which to sell my product I can't reach enough people to make a living. Within that storefront I'll need a commercial kitchen. Therein lies the biggest stumbling block. Setting up a professional kitchen costs tens of thousands of dollars.
 2012 sorta dulled my spirit.This is generally pretty difficult to do because I truly do believe in the positive outcomes of things and that there's something good in every experience. I'm still trying to find the silver lining in the past year. I was about to hang a sign in my entranceway saying " abandon all hope, ye who enter here". I can't let this dream go because without it I disappear. I become the same person I've always been doing things for everyone else and forgetting what I need.
So, while I get my house in order after this tumultuous past year, the bakery sits behind me percolating. I'm going to do what I need to for now and then pull the project out again, dust it off and bring back into the light. Maybe the next time the planets will align to bring all the necessary components  together. My customers are out there just waiting to come in sit down and enjoy some treats and good cheer!  Just, not yet.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year! I've no idea if anyone is reading this but I'll carry on as though someone is out there.
I'm tired of defending my positon as a cat owner. Whenever I talk about my cats, which is rarely, I feel it necessary to, half jokingly, reiterate that I'm not a "crazy cat lady". The reality is, is that I'm not. Who I am is someone who has rescued seven cats, yes I said seven, from if not death then at least a poor existence in a shelter. No cat pics posted, no cat sweaters and no cat chatkas.
Hailey joined our family after the death of my buddy Toby, best cat in the world. A haughty calico, she deigns to let us live with her. Next came Jasper and Jasmine. They joined us after we moved to Heart Lake. A small symbol of freedom. Jasper quickly became my best buddy and Jasmine, well as I always say, thank gooness she's beautiful 'cause there's not a lot going on in there.
Bert and Jon joined us while I worked at Petsmart. Jon was a miserable old sod who just didn't fit in. Jasper hated him at first sight and made his life miserable. Flash forward Jon moved out with Jessica and now is king of the hill and happy as a lark. To hear those two converse is entertaining. Bert, the only cat whose name we've changed, was listed as not playing well with others. This does tend to be true with cats but with us two-legged creatures he's the most lovable cat I've ever met. He sold me on the idea of the greatness, and madness, of black cats!
Angie arrived shortly after our move to Muskoka. She is an older black who is overweight and was abandoned by her previous family. She had been at the shelter so long we did actually fear for her life. Now she is still a little pudgy with a gleaming coat and has become my shadow. Us old girls gotta stick together!
The final two joined us last February. Geordie and Pip are black kittens who had spent their whole lives in a cage. They had been at Petvalu since Christmas and I resisted as long as possible . We hadn't had kittens before and they have added an element of excitement, shall we say, to the household.
Each of the cats has a distinct personality and are members of our family. Dog owners say this all the time with no recourse but people scoff and ridicule me if I say this. Cats love you because they want to, not because you fed them and rubbed their bellies.They have enriched mine and my family's lives for years. How can that be bad?
Yes, my house is currently full and the chances of someone wanting to get involved with quite so many animals is slim but I've taken on the responsibility of their lives and I will live up to that responsibilty. Pets aren't disposable things that you off-load simply because they become inconvenient
I was listeningto CBC this morning, as usual, and heard that " Thriller " turns 30 today. First off, holy jumpin', thirty years where'd that go . Next it brought back a memory of a road trip I took with three girls to Montreal.
At that time I was managing at Legs Beautiful in Toronto at King and Bay. We were a small and close team and we got it in our heads to head to Montreal for May 24th weekend. At that time the mall closed down on the weekends because there was no one in the office towers to shop so we had three days off. This is one of the few truly spontaneous things I've done in my life and it was a blast We had no other plans than to hit the city and see what happened.
Where does Thriller fit in you say? Well, I had a Renault 5, my first car and the one I learned stick on, that I had Mark outfit with a cassette player. State of the art technology, I might add! We had four tapes for the twelve hour round-trip drive. We cranked the music, opened the windows and sang our stupid heads off. Needless to say we knew the album by heart by the time we got back. Our digs in Montreal were ashabby aprtment belonging to Dawn's sister-in-law. Who cared the weather was great and we spent most of our time outdoors.
Like most memories I can't remember specific details but I do remember riding the Metro all over the city and laughing.
So, thanks CBC for reminding of that trip and to Dawn and Lisa I hope you're healthy and happy.
I'm here today to shamelessly promote my daughter's artwork. Jenn graduated art school in June and is looking for an entrance into the publishing world as an illustrator. I love her more humourous work and anything to do with children's books. Take a look at her stuff on deviantart ( under hyacinth-zofia)and society6 under Jenn St Onge). She'll do custom work as well. My company logo was a birthday present!
If anyone knows anyone who could use her work pass it on.