About

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

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

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!