My Dutch grandmother taught me to make small royal icing flowers for birthday cakes when I was a little girl and encouraged me to enter baked items into the Puyallup Fair while I was in 4-H, items which gained me blue ribbons. Snickerdoodles, corn muffins and an orange-coconut quick bread. Ages 10 and 11.
My mother encouraged me not only to help cook dinners, but to bake desserts served at dinner and going into lunches the next day. I baked bread often and took a warm loaf across the street to the lady who ran a poodle kennel and her elderly mother. I was paid a dollar for that bread and got to keep fifty cents of it.
As the oldest of six, I not only babysat my siblings but also sat for others whom, upon return from an evening out, would find a batch of beautiful, homemade cookies on the counter.
When I was a student at the University of Washington, I built a small catering business, employing other students as wait and bar staff, doing small dinner parties and an occasional huge cocktail party for university sports fundraisers. My handwritten invoices said “Ms Chef in Seattle, Singing Cateress” (and that was before others were sleepless here.)
I took cooking and baking classes and taught such classes, even tutoring one local lady in exchange for lessons in horseback riding, English style, because I was heading off to a foreign land where western saddles were not on offer.
I’ve loved to bake and cook ever since I can remember, but my lifelong favorite time to bake is during the Christmas holiday season. It has been my custom to make at least a dozen different kinds of cookies and candies as gifts for family and friends every year. There are a few favorites which I make yearly, but I change it up, too, adding some new creations or, it seems, simply throwing the recipe cards in the air, closing my eyes and choosing cards from the pile.
Occasionally, I’ve had extra goodies and found there was a market for them. I’ve thought and dreamed about having a bakery with a performance space for as long as I can remember, but … life.
Dreams, however? Dreams are another thing, and in my case, many nights I’ve dreamed myself inside an imaginary bakery, seen a cookie or cake that interested me, woken up, written it down, gone back to sleep and discovered it when the alarm rang in the morning. Those cookie dreams plus time and testing have led to lines of actual new cookies over the past 20 years, cookies that are unique, lovely and truly delicious.
They also led me to conclude that it is not necessary to wait for the holiday season to bake them, and market research has shown me that there is a year-round local, national and international market for what I have to offer.
It is my plan to make these wonderful cookies available locally, open a local storefront and join the on-demand, virtual economy, then to expand. For me, my little shop and my future customers, it is all about the cookies. (Update: It turns out that it’s also about the specialty caramels and ice creams. Who knew? Caramels with no corn syrup and artisan ice creams.)
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