About

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

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

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!