Monday, August 12, 2019

I Will Continue To Cook And Bake. For Lisa. Our Kids. Friends. Family. With Pride.

The photo accompanying yesterday's blog column was the birthday cheesecake I made for Lisa. I made it the day before. While Lisa napped yesterday afternoon, I added the special finishing touches. Chopped strawberries in the center. A chocolate ganache drizzle. And, my hand-dipped strawberries along the top edge.

It was over the top. When Lisa woke up and saw the finished cheesecake, her eyes widened and her mouth dropped to the floor.

I posted the same photo on my personal Facebook wall. A lot of people responded including a woman who we have known for a few years.

"Why aren’t you in your own bakery?"

I replied with a gif of a dog stirring something in a bowl.

She replied back.

"Seriously I would buy your desserts."

I wanted to reply back, but I got sidetracked with a few things. A few of our neighbor friends stopped over to wish Lisa a happy birthday. I had to finish making garlic bread. Our favorite humans were coming over for dinner within the hour.

This morning, I was going to respond, but after a few paragraphs into the reply, I realized it was too long-winded for Facebook. I needed to expand my response into a blog column.

To back up a bit...

I've been baking for almost 40 years. In fact, the cookie bowl that jump-started my passion for baking just made its way back to me last month.

In my early 20's, before social media, I was interviewed for a manager's position at a very small convenience store. The company only had about 7 stores in New Hampshire. The one in my area was doing poorly because there was major competition less than a 1/2 mile down the road.

During the very quick first interview, one of the owners asked me, "What can you do for this store to make it successful?"

I had 2 days to figure that out. And, I did.

This store had a small kitchen area equipped with counters, a sink, and a couple of industrial convection ovens.

When I arrived for my second interview, I was prepared.

"In addition to managing the store, I'm going to open up a small bakery. I will offer homemade desserts, snacks, and pizza."

Obviously, that's the in-a-nutshell version.

I was hired.

In the months to follow, the numbers went up and the store was crowded from open until close. People came in for fresh baked cookies, pie slices, whoopie pies, cupcakes, cake slices, quick bread, etc. During the holiday season, people ordered pies and cakes and cookies and pumpkin bread.

It was so successful that our local radio station spent an afternoon there to cover a "second" grand opening. I even got to ride in their plane to assist with the traffic report.

What I loved the most were the customers. A lot of older people came in to buy baked goods and shared stories about how it reminded them of when they were kids.

Sadly, a little over a year later, the company hired a new district manager. Instead of embracing what worked in each store, he wanted all 7 stores following the same operations. He failed to acknowledge the uniqueness of each store, their locations, and what contributed to the success of each store.

In short, that meant only offering "thaw and bake" and "thaw and serve" baked goods. Within a month, the numbers dropped. I lost about 75% of our customers.

Of course, the owners and the new district manager had to place the blame somewhere.


During an intense meeting, I explained why the numbers had dropped. I provided proof. A few faithful customers even spoke up in my defense. Despite all efforts, the district manager was not willing to go back to having a bakery inside the store.

I gave my 2-week notice.

Since then, baking has continued to be a passion of mine.

I've baked for special events, holiday parties, bake sales, fundraisers, gifts, potlucks, and other events to celebrate milestones and rites of passages.

In the here and now...

I'm going to be 46 this year.

I'm a Work at Home Dog Mom. Soon-to-be professional pet blogger. DIY Dog Mom Project enthusiast. Wife. Homemaker. Creator of homemade dog treat recipes to share with other Dog Moms and Dog Dads. I am also working on a book that I hope will be published next year.

I am not interested in opening up a bakery or dessert bar or diner. I'm not a stranger to hard work and long hours, but again, I'm a Work at Home Dog Mom. Lisa works outside of the home.

My Work at Home Dog Mom Life comes first. What that translates to is that the well being of Lisa, our kids, our home, my work, Lisa's work, and all that contributes to that come first.

In other words, spending 20 hours a day away from my family and home and investing a ton of money into a bakery business is not an option. It's not something I want to do. I have the work ethic and marketing knowledge, but we don't need another bakery or dessert bar.

Over the years, I've seen quite a few crumble within a year or so. The ones who have been successful...I applaud your tenacity and talent.

Sure, I've considered selling baked goods from our home.


The Cottage Food Laws here in Connecticut are pretty strict. They did revise these laws back in October of 2018.

As quoted...

"Cottage food is food that is made in your home for direct sale to
consumers. For safety purposes, Public Act 18-141 sets limits on what
you may sell in the State of Connecticut. Cottage food operators
in Connecticut will be able to apply for a cottage food license effective
October 1st, 2018, and will be able to sell once their license is approved.

Cottage food must be held to the highest safety standards, and
production and sales practices must follow laws and regulations
outlined by the State of Connecticut and the Food and Drug
Administration (FDA)."

You can read the entire Cottage Food Law manual here.

I skimmed over it.

And again, nope.

Not interested.

Being a Work at Home Dog Mom and everything that entails is a 24/7 job. It's one that I'm very proud of.

I love cooking and baking for Lisa and our kids and our neighbors who have become family.

I love sharing meals and scrumptious treats.

I love the look on people's faces when I bring cupcakes, cookies or cheesecakes to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and other rites of passages.

I love cooking and baking the foods that bring friends and family back to a time when things were simple and good. Made from scratch. Made with love.

You can't put a price tag on that.

Going forth, I will continue to spend loads of time in our Bodacious Kitchen. Cooking and baking for Lisa, our kids, friends, and family.

With pride.

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