Faithful blog friends... I know that an update on the Monroe community kitchen is long overdue. So many of you have reached out to me with questions about the progress on the space and I want you to know that your curiosity and interest in this project continues to inspire and motivate me. Knowing that you're on this journey along with me, means the world to me.
If I'm being honest, I've been hesitant to post an update because I don't have pictures of new windows, repaired doors or a shiny new roof to share with you. 😬 There actually haven't been any modifications or renovations to the space in the last 30 days. Don't let the lack of physical changes fool you into thinking that progress on the kitchen project isn't being made though. Quite the opposite really. There is a ton of work going on behind the scenes - in preparation for the renovation. Like, hours and hours and hours of work. 🤣
I've spent the last month walking through the kitchen building with contractors, roofers, architects, grant writers, church members and adventurous friends willing to brave the super tumultuous space to give me their input.😅 I'm learning about all of the rules and regulations of commercial kitchens, ADA accessibility and window efficiency. I'm learning to make sense of sight plans, decipher surveys and understand architectural drawings. I certainly never expected to add any of this to my list of credentials but here I am drawing up kitchen designs on restaurant napkins.🤣 I'm certainly not an expert at any of it but I'm doing my best to understand it all.
I'm also learning to juggle all of my kitchen meetings, phone calls, emails and text messages with my catering responsibilities. It may sound like I'm complaining but honestly, the challenges that have come along with this Community Kitchen have been a welcome addition to my life. In case you were wondering, baking a couple hundred cupcakes in a day is strenuous but not very mentally stimulating.😜🧁 I'm learning to embrace the challenge of exploring new things.
This kitchen project has also turned me into a daydreamer.🤔 I find myself imagining all of the cooks and entrepreneurs that will be able to launch and build their businesses in the community kitchen.👨🏽🍳 I'm envisioning all of the community members that will be able to participate in a cooking class in our studio kitchen space. Kids, adults, parents, - everyone.🥘 I dream about the beautiful events and parties that will take place in this amazing space.
Even though I'm still sharing all of the before pictures of the building, rest assured that plans are definitely in the works for a brand new Monroe Community Kitchen. My hope is that by sharing the pictures and my thoughts, you too will start to see past the broken glass and boarded up doorways and start to see the vision that I have for this amazing building. I am truly thankful for all of your support and encouragement along the way. Be sure and check back in on the blog from time to time for kitchen updates.
All I have to say right now is ... WOW! Okay, that's not ALL I have to say but I am overwhelmed by all the love and support that has followed my announcement about the Monroe Community Kitchen. You certainly know how to make a girl feel loved.😌 I've read each and every one of your comments, text messages and emails - most them, more than once.😅 I've listened to your voicemails and treasured each and every encouraging word that you have passed along. And although I haven't been able to respond to each of you individually, please know that your reassurance and positive feedback has meant a lot and given me the inspiration that I needed to continue on this journey.
I feel like my initial blog post really only scratched the surface when it came to identifying the intended purposes for this amazing space. I have so many BIG plans for the community kitchen that it may actually take a couple of blog posts for me to accurately describe all of the ways that I want to use it.😅
For those of you who don't already know, I own a cottage food business. I enjoy all different kinds of cooking but the fact that I buy 60 pounds of butter at a time should give you an indication of the type of food that I make most often. 🧈🍰😅 Baking is my stress relief --- most of the time.😂 And it's been the avenue that's allowed me to meet so many wonderful people in our community. I truly consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to share the food that I make with my community. 😅
As much as I love baking and as rewarding it is to see the smile on the face of a child when they see their birthday cake for the first time, I've always felt like my there was a piece of my business that was missing.🍰 And it really wasn't until I took on this community kitchen project that I fully realized what that was. It wasn't that I needed to add more recipes to my repertoire - it was a desire to share my knowledge of food with others. I don't want to just bake cake and cookies for people - I want to educate people about the importance and value of quality, nutritious food. And yes, I realize that this sounds pretty hypocritical coming from someone who earns their living as a baker, but I feel like my experience in the food industry have given me valuable insight that I can pass along to others.
We can all agree and food is a necessary component to life and it's intricately connected to our health and well being which is why I'm so excited about the prospect of having a space in Monroe to educate people about the importance of quality food. My dream would be for everyone in my community to be able to join us in the community kitchen.
Children who are learning how to properly use kitchen equipment and young adults who are preparing to move away from home for the first time. Young families who want to learn how to meal prep in large quantities, people who want to safely prepare and reheat small meals for themselves and community members who may not have access to any other kitchen. I want to invite people who want to learn how to make charcuterie boards and those who want to sit back, sip a lemonade and watch me prepare a charcuterie board. 🤣🍱 I could go on and on, but I think you get the idea. The goal is to make our community kitchen available to as many people as possible.
We're still at the very beginning stages of this massive project and I feel like there are mountains to climb so for now, I'm trying to focus on taking one baby step at a time.😅 On that note, there are several pieces of kitchen equipment in the space now (see photos above) that are not going to be used in the remodeled kitchen so if you're interested in purchasing any (or all) of them - please reach out to me. We will need to clear out the existing equipment to make room for the studio kitchen. Also, anyone out there in desperate need of a boiler?🤣 😬
I honestly feel like I can't ever thank you enough for supporting me and my dream of creating a community kitchen. Having a community of support is critical and I'm thankful for everyone of you that has reached out to me and those that have prayed over this project. Whether you know it or not, you are all helping to advance the Grace Community Kitchen.
I've been keeping a secret. I've taken on a new project this summer and I can't wait to tell you about it. I spent several days debating about the right time to tell you about it and I finally came to the conclusion that there really is never going to be an exact "right" time. So here goes - allow me to introduce to you the project that's demanded a big portion of my time and attention this summer - the Grace Community Kitchen.
Let me start at the beginning. I'm a proud member of Grace Church in Monroe and in 2017, the church purchased the original Monroe High School campus which was later used as an elementary school. The school had been abandoned for almost a decade and let's just say - it was desperate for someone to breathe new life into it. The very first time I stepped foot onto the future church campus - I was greeted by more than one wild animal who had taken up residence - inside the building. 🤣
I could go on and on about the amazing transformation that's already taken place on this land and the exciting plans for the buildings that are still left to be renovated, but for the purposes of brevity - I'll stick to the building that I've been focused on - the cafeteria. No surprise, right? 😅
The story about how this incredible space fell into my hands is truly extraordinary and an incredible testimony of how God moves in the most magnificent (and unexpected) ways. At the risk of oversimplifying - let me just say that I felt the undeniable call of God to step into the role of spearheading this project and when He calls --- I answer. Needless to say, I am both honored and humbled to be taking on this massive project. Have I mentioned that, there is currently an active birds nest in the electrical box. 🐦😂
So what is the plan, you ask? The plan is to convert this old school cafeteria into a Community Kitchen. A functional, modern commercial kitchen space that will be available to members of the church and the community. Plenty of cold storage, lots of prep space, dry storage lockers and commercial cooking equipment in a beautifully renovated and modern commercial kitchen space. The perfect space for young entrepreneurs to launch their food business and established food venders to expand their offerings.
This is all very exciting but I've still only told you half the story.😅 The cafeteria space is only a small part of the building. The original lunch room, where presumably, the kids sat at long tables to eat their lunch, is going to be transformed into an event space. The beautiful room is bathed in sunlight from the floor to ceiling windows on two out of three exterior walls. Granted, most of the windows are broken right now, but if you can look past the boarded up windows, you will get a glimpse into the incredible possibilities of this space.
The new rentable, event space will also be home to a beautiful and functional demonstration kitchen. I feel like there is a need in our community for a dedicated space for teaching and educating people about the preparation of food. A space created specifically for chefs and cooks to be able to use to share their talents and skills with others. How cool would it be to be able to have cooking classes, right here in Monroe? 👩🏻🍳🥘
In case you couldn't tell - I'm over the moon excited about this project. 🤣 I've never been a part of a journey quite like this one and I'm excited to share it all with all of you - right here on the blog. I won't be blogging on a regular basis - but you better believe that I will be checking in with you and sharing any updates on the space. Oh, be prepared for me to be asking lots of questions of my followers. This is all new territory for me and I've got LOTS of questions. 😅
So until next time - Ciao!
On July 20, 2011 - I published my very first blog post. It featured a Shrimp Salad recipe and it was, to put it nicely - succinct and to the point.😅 If you're looking for a reason to giggle today you can check it out here. Obviously - I was new to the blogging world and I had a lot to learn about writing, photographing food and website design. Even though it's not great content, I leave the post up because it's motivating for me to look back and see how far I've come as a blogger over the last 12 years.
The evolution of MyStoryinRecipes.com has been a wild ride. I've moved from using the blog format as a means of recording and organizing my recipes to monetizing it as a way to earn extra money. Then I switched back to blogging as a hobby again and using it as a way to share recipes with my family and friends. (And yes, I consider my blog followers to be friends.)
I've enjoyed all the stages of blogging and now that it's simply a hobby - the stress of producing content and publishing on a regular basis is off. The blog is still the place where I can vent out all my frustrations and share my victories. #Bloggingismytherapy 😅 I've shared so many stories and experiences from my life and I'm so grateful to all of you who have joined me on this journey.
It only seems fitting that on my 12th blog-aversary - I would share with you some new and exciting news about the blog. From this day forward, the blog is going to look a little different. I will still continue to share my favorite recipes but I'm also going to be sharing some new (non-food related) content as well. There are some super exciting projects and trips that I'm going to be a part of this summer and I want to use this format to share all of the exciting details with you - without the distraction of a recipe. I feel like sometimes the activity or the journey needs to take center stage instead of a recipe.
Here's a little clue to help you guess what my latest blogg-able project, might be. Any guesses?🤣 I can't wait to share this, and the other exciting projects, that I'm working on, with you.
Foodies don't fret. Creating new recipes is still my hobby and I will still continue to share them with you - just not on every single blog post. Sometimes this space might look more like a travel blog and at times it will look like a community connection page but it will ALWAYS be my story.
Make sure that you're signed up to get my blog posts in your email inbox so that you don't miss out on any of the exciting news or recipes that I'll be sending your way. Don't let recipes like this one for Breakfast Sliders, for example, slip away.
If you've ever made mini sandwiches on sweet Hawaiian bread with butter sauce poured over the top, these breakfast sliders might look familiar to you. It's a variation on the popular make ahead tailgate snack - rebranded as a breakfast treat. Baked eggs, ham and cheese on a sweet roll or a slider sized brioche bun. They're easy to put together, you can make them in advance, they're customizable and they're DELICIOUS!
12 dinner rolls, cut in half
4 Tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon butter
9 slices cheddar cheese
18 thin slices of deli ham
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
3/4 Tablespoon spicy mustard
Cover and refrigerate or bake 15 minutes at 350.
Remove from pan and slice into sliders.
Cooking classes taught by friends, sailing adventures, kayak trips, fishing excursions, outdoor dueling piano concerts, boat rides, doggie swims, winery brunches, breweries visits, family cooking sessions, water skiing and lots of family time --- these are the days we've been dreaming of. ⛵️🎣🐶🍷🎹🎶
Our weeks spent on Johnson's Island are exciting, amazing, fun and exhausting -- all at the same time.😅 I did a little bit of baking while I was there - mostly biscotti. There is never any shortage of great food --- and wine --- when we visit my family. We actually kicked off our trip with a surf and turf dinner - thanks to my brother who picked up lobsters in Massachusetts and drove them to Ohio.🦞
Taking a break from work is great - but I also love my "day job" so getting back to work isn't a chore. I am so lucky to be able to share my love of cooking and baked treats with my community. My Gluten Free clients are some of my most grateful and appreciative people that I bake for. Finding new, delicious gluten free recipes for my special diet customers has become a new hobby of mine. This gluten free cinnamon coffee cake is amazing and if you are sensitive to gluten --- you need to try this.😋
Gluten Free Cinnamon Coffee Cake
1/2 packed brown sugar
1/3 cup gluten free flour
1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 cup cold butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 gluten free flour
2 teaspoons gluten-free baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 to 3 teaspoons milk
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