The Early Years My mother said my favorite plaything starting at age 3 was her good china. Who lets their 3 yr-old play with china! But she probably decided if this was going to entertain me for hours while she was in the kitchen, then it was worth the risk of breakage. I started out with just a few dishes playing tea party, but then worked up to emptying the china buffet to play dinner party. My mother said I never broke a dish.
I discovered that two of the jobs you could do on a farm while watching TV was that of cook and baker, so these were jobs I volunteered for at a young age. My mother was an excellent cook and baker, and won many prizes for her baked goods at the Wright County Fair. But she had other things she would rather spend her time on and was happy to gradually turn the kitchen over to me. By 12, I was planning the menu and making the grocery list for the week. Within a year I was calling in my grocery order for someone to pick up from the grocery store in Howard Lake.
I loved helping my mother host large holiday dinners. While I never wanted to be a restaurant chef, I thought helping people host parties would be a perfect career for me. I even had a recipe box as a teenager with a collection of recipes I’d like to cook for parties someday.
As soon as I had my own apartment after college, I started having brunches and dinner parties and adding to my recipe collection. The party that people still bring up years later is the infamous Cinco de Mayo Brunch with 19 items on the menu! I served my first course at 11 am, right on time. But along the way the schedule got off track, and I served the final course to about 8 of the 40-some guests still there at 6:30 pm – Apple Crisp Belgian Waffles with ice cream and caramel sauce with a crunch topping. Making a Paleo version of this is on my To Do list (along with many other favorite recipes).
Cuisine with an Accent In the mid-80s through the early 90s, I had a small private chef/catering business called Cuisine with an Accent. I traveled a lot while working in communications for high tech companies and always sought out the best ethnic restaurants, as well as all the wonderful ones in the Twin Cities. I worked on recreating these dishes for family and friends, and after a number of years of being asked to cater parties I decided to make the leap.
I was trying to decide if I wanted to make catering a full-time career, but when I took a job at FSI International and they offered to pay for my masters in Business Communications at St. Thomas that was the end of my catering career. But I always wanted to eventually return to creating food in some role.
Paleo Diet Once I gave up my catering career to return to school, I continued adding recipes to my collection and by 2015 I had more than enough recipes to start a catering business. But 2015 was the year I was in a serious car accident and was told by an orthopedic doctor in 2016 that I should go on the Paleo Diet for life due to all the inflammation caused by the accident.
I went through my recipes and sorted them into three stacks – recipes that were already Paleo, ones that could be converted to Paleo, and ones with no chance of a Paleo version, which I gave away.
Twisted Paleo After going Paleo, I started working on recipes for a Paleo private chef menu, and in Oct 2017 I decided I wanted to work part-time as a contract writer while working on recipes for my menu. But my plans changed in Jan 2018 when I discovered the MN Cottage Food Certification Program. Within three weeks, I completed the training and received my certification.
Rather than doing any contract writing, I decided to work full-time on making products for farmers markets and by the end of May I was ready to start selling my Twisted Paleo Sweet and Spicy Mixed Nuts and three kinds of rubs/seasonings in different heat levels.
Farmers Markets I chose to do the Excelsior and Wayzata farmers markets, but they weren’t very busy so I asked other vendors what markets they would recommend. This is the most talked-about topic by vendors at markets other than weather.
When I was next to Dustin Vanasse, owner of Bare Honey, at the Wayzata market, I asked him for recommendations. He said I absolutely needed to be at the Minneapolis Farmers Market. I told him that after two months of farmers markets I wasn’t ready, but definitely wanted to do it eventually. He said his next recommendation was the Eagan Market Fest. A few others had suggested Linden Hills and he agreed that would be a good market for me.
After paying each a visit and really liking them I decided to give both a try. They were busier and I sold more, but I had regular customers at the first two and had become friends with my neighbors so I did all four – yikes! It probably was one too many, but I enjoyed them all and learned so much.
After doing the Linden Hills and Eagan markets in 2019 I decided I was ready for the Minneapolis Farmers Market, and contacted them in January 2020 to inquire about selling in the spring.
In the meantime I worked on my Paleo private chef recipes. On Feb 5, while shopping at the Chinese supermarket Shuang Hur in St. Paul, I saw many people wearing masks, long before you saw anyone wearing masks elsewhere. It made me wonder if they knew something we didn’t, and I soon decided I should go a different route.
Twisted Paleo Cottage Bakery Adding a cottage bakery had always been part of my long-term plan, and by early April 2020 I decided now was a good time to start working on it. But I knew I had so much to learn. During covid, many of my friends started taking master classes in all sorts of areas of interest. Since there wasn’t a master class on learning how to bake with Paleo ingredients I decided to create my own.
During this time I heard from a number of friends who said they were so bored, but boredom was not something I experienced. For me there weren’t enough hours in the day to get through all I had planned. I joked to my friends that I was on a sabbatical leave, albeit unpaid and longer than most, but it was time well spent.
Plate & Parcel Holiday Markets 2021 December 2021 I decided to do the Plate & Parcel Holiday Markets at Wagners Garden Center in south Minneapolis. These were the first markets I had done since the Plate & Parcel Holiday Markets in 2019. It was so good to see a number of former customers and vendors I worked with in the past, and I realized how much I missed the markets.
Addition of Autoimmune Protocol, SCD, and GAPS Diets After telling one of my customers at the holiday market about my addition of a cottage bakery, she asked if I had any Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) baked goods since her doctor had recently put her on this diet. I didn’t but said I would look into it.
I worked on AIP baked goods throughout January and this diet lead me to the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) and the GAPS Diet which stands for both Gut and Psychology Syndrome and Gut and Physiology Syndrome, depending on the condition the diet is being used to treat.
Minneapolis Farmers Market 2022 After visiting the Minneapolis Farmers Market in May, I decided I really wanted to be part of this market. Besides selling my nuts and rubs, I wanted to include some cookies. I knew immediately I wanted to make my grain-free "Oatmeal" Raisin Cookies. Besides being my most popular cookie, they are also vegan, and dairy and egg free is important to a lot of my customers.
I also wanted to have another cookie that was GAPS and SCD legal. I was working on several cookies for these diets, but then decided I could make a GAPS/SCD "Oatmeal" Raisin Cookie by replacing the maple syrup with honey. Everything I've read say they are a one-for-one replacement for each other. Don't believe it! My first attempt at this looked more like bars than cookies, that's how much these cookies spread. Plus they tasted cloyingly sweet. After many tries I finally landed on the right proportion of honey, almond and coconut flours and all my testers gave them a thumbs up.