About

I’m Jen the Catalyst, founder of Catalyst Cooks.  And this is my brain on food:

  • greek-pilaf
  • Venison skirt steak
  • Hummus makings
  • Pico de Gallo Makings
  • Artisan cheese plate
  • Everything Pizza
  • Shrimp Kebabs
  • Pesto Pizza
  • Diced Potato
  • Grapefruit and Zest
  • Omelette
  • Longevity Noodles
  • Fettucine with Bacon
  • Spring Onions
  • Mayslacks beef roast sliced
  • popover egg
  • Homemade Yogurt with Blueberries
  • popovers done 1
  • potato-oatmeal-flax-bread
  • beets
  • Mayslacks beef roast
  • Red Bell Pepper
  • Pumpkin Bundt Cake
  • sushi-bowl
  • Pico de Gallo
  • Fruit
  • Homemade tortillas
  • Chopped potatoes
  • Steak on the tailgate grill
  • Pasta Flour Trio
  • popovers done 2
  • Kale at the Farmer's Market
  • lasagne
  • Pumpkin Bundt Cake sliced
  • Roasted Chicken
  • The start of homemade pasta
  • Fingerling Tomato Tart
  • Pork Chop with Apricot Sage butter
  • Guacamole
  • rhubarb-lavender-lemon-sorbet-1
  • Caprese salad
  • Grapefruit
  • Lions Head Meatballs
  • Minnesota pears
  • tomato wash
  • enchiladas-before-the-oven
  • bruschetta
  • Refrigerator Pickles
  • Mushrooms
  • italian-sandwich-on-ciabatta
  • Soup
  • Homemade Yogurt
  • beef-skewers-with-spicy-peanut-dipping-sauce
  • Pineapple
  • Zested Grapefruit
  • Pear Onion Tart
  • rhubarb-chutney
  • Storing bacon
  • artisan-bread
  • Chicken Stock
  • Rice Cake
  • Orecchiette Gluten Free
  • enchiladas-hot-out-of-the-oven
  • Tomato soup
  • Beautiful loaf of bread
  • Dumplings
  • mango-chutney
  • Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • veggie-enchiladas
  • Bread Rising
  • Homemade Bread with Flax
  • roasted-colorful-veggies
  • Seared Scallop on Parsnip puree
  • tagliatelle
  • navy-bean-soup-2
  • waldorf-chicken-salad
  • Orange Glazed Bundt Cake
  • Orecchiette Pasta
  • philly-cheesesteak
  • Burger & homemade bun
  • popovers done 3
  • 3-cheese-ravioli
  • Bananas Foster
  • Chopped Fruit
  • grain-carrot-cakes-with-carrot-coulis-and-carrot-green-pesto
  • Canned Tomatoes
  • homemade-pasta-drying
  • Dumpling Makings
  • Pasta Drying on the back of a chair
  • Avocados
  • Samosas ready for takeout
  • Makings for olive tapenade
  • ciabatta-just-baked
  • rhubarb-lavender-lemon-sorbet-2
  • Pumpkin Cheesecake
  • Fruit Salsa
  • Roasted turkey
  • pico-de-gallo
  • popover batter
  • Chicken on the grill
  • Dried Pasta
  • turkey-4-17-12
  • Squash
  • Carving the turkey
  • popover pan
  • st-pattys-in-shanghai-stir-fry
  • Spinach pasta
  • Turkey Brine
  • Roasted Winter Vegetables
  • Kansas City BBQ
  • tomatoes, onions, squash blossoms at the Farmer's Market
  • turkey ready for the oven
  • Jalapeno peppers
  • Apple Butter
  • squash at the Farmer's Market
  • Savory Tartlet Trio
  • kitchen
  • Marquette wine Cherry sorbet
  • navy-bean-soup
  • Blueberry Muffins

When did food begin to consume me?

As a kid, my mom made delicious home-cooked meals.  With the passage of time I appreciate that more than I did when I was young.  I wasn’t even curious about what was happening in the kitchen, and (unfortunately) I didn’t want to learn cooking from mom.  When I went to college, I didn’t have to worry because the cafeteria was included in the price of admission and more than took care of my every nutritional need.

Everything changed when I was 22 years old.  I studied in Paris for the fall semester of my senior year in college.  I lived with a lovely Frenchwoman, Mlle. Bourgain, who made me dinner 2 nights a week and left me the run of the kitchen the other 5 nights.  I was lucky, most of my classmates did not have access to their kitchens when it wasn’t family dinner night.  But I had no idea how to use it.  However, with the helpful prodding of my friends and armed with a Better Homes cookbook, I began to evolve into a functional cook.  I even hosted my first Thanksgiving in a foreign land with my new-found ‘family,’ learned to eat my steak rare, enjoyed my first fondue, and started a life-long affair with wine.

I returned home with new cooking skills and confidence under my belt.  No better place to practice than in my first post-graduation apartment.  With hand-me-down cookware, I threw together dinner parties for friends.  I learned how to grocery shop for one, served fun food at my great-grandma’s kitchen table, and was determined to be the entertainment hub of Hopkins.  (If there is photographic evidence or written documentation of these events, they are buried in film-based photo albums and written notes, as yes- it was that long ago!)

I began my professional life in earnest – spent a year working in Puerto Rico where the dinner parties were even crazier and the Caribbean influence grabbed me.  When I moved back to Minneapolis I brought that experience into my cooking, was even more excited to share it with friends… and despite moving six times in four years, I was always good for being the hostess of a kick-butt dinner party.

When I turned 40 and as my career progressed, the time I had to cook gradually began to decline.  I found myself working more than sleeping, eating, and enjoying life- combined.  I missed the kitchen and the comforts that my homemade meals delivered.  I was more unhealthy than ever before- emotionally and physically.  With the support of my Neighbor Dave, friends, and family, I decided to move from my corporate corner cubicle into the kitchen.  After much soul searching, I realized that I loved and missed cooking so much, and I wanted to better utilize my natural ability to make fun things happen.  Thus- Catalyst Cooks was born!

In the beginning of this blog, I documented my experiences in hopes that others would find it interesting.  If you read back to the early blog posts, you’ll find some interesting information on my path to establishing my business.  There are some great stories about many company name and my job title changes, pursuing a trademark for Catalyst Cooks, and learning lots about business fundamentals while enjoying a great departure from work “before” to work “after” corporate life.

I’m so glad you’ve joined me for the ride!