About

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

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

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!