I am a self-taught cook who can nourish your body and soul with delicious, nutritious, REAL food!
My Adventures in Cooking
My first cooking experiences were making butterscotch pudding on the stove while standing on a chair in the early 1970s. I was probably 4 or 5 years old and totally dug the milk thickening as it heated and I stirred and stirred. I could hardly wait for the taste of hot pudding. It was out of this world. Ten minutes of stirring seems like an eternity to a child but what a great reward when that cooking is finished and bowls of hot, sweet pudding are poured. And then don’t forget the wooden spoon to lick and scrape out every last delicious bit from the pot! Yup, I enjoyed cooking from the very beginning.
Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, I consumed huge quantities of processed foods and certainly enjoyed them but as I grew and learned more about health and nutrition, I have learned to cook most things from scratch and delight countless people with new recipes and healthy and equally tasty versions of the old favorites that we really should not be putting into our bodies.
To me, cooking for myself and others is a total expression of caring and using the highest quality ingredients is really important. You can heal your body with food and vice versa.
How a Love of Cooking Evolved
In 2017, my husband and I bought a small farm in rural Washington county and embarked on a homesteading experiment. I wanted to grow my own food so I could trust how something was created, cared for during the growing season, harvested, cooked and ingested and stored when we have excess. We have many different gardens and grow and cultivate so many amazing ingredients from herbs to fruits and vegetables.
We have chickens which supply us with farm fresh eggs and at some point, there will be two goats to help with the grass cutting and supply milk that I can use for cheese making and soap.
Soon we will add a whole mushroom area to the farm and have been learning lots about mycology. There are very exciting things happening with mushrooms that will blow your mind. Mushrooms are not just for sustenance! Mushrooms are medicinal too and believe it or not, mushrooms could truly save the world. There will be more on that idea later in future blogs.
Our bees tend to the gardens pollinating flowers that turn into amazing vegetables and fruits and even the weeds are happy with the bees’ attentions. Yes, we steal honey from them and beeswax but we care for them and feed them too. It is a truly synergistic relationship with everything on our farm.
I have become interested in learning about healing weeds and herbs. By combining many wild and natural ingredients with beeswax from my bees, I can make lotions, salves, balms and potions the way people originally made things for their families before pharmaceutical companies and their mountains of pills came to be. I have nothing against Western medicine AT ALL, but there are MANY instances where we can find a simple and natural cure or aid to help ourselves with little or no side effects.
Keeping it simple and pure is something we strive for at Cassel Apiary and Produce Farm.
We also tap our maple trees in late winter and make REAL maple syrup. Getting back to nature is a wonderful thing and we encourage people to come to the farm if you are local or visiting the area. You can keep track of what we are doing by reading my blogs and following me on Instagram!! I also encourage questions so connect with me via email, text, phone, or even send me smoke signals!
I want to share what I have learned and continue to learn with like-minded and open minded people. For instance, discovering that a particularly annoying weed that grows rampantly everywhere can actually cure skin conditions and digestion issues is incredible. I don’t look at things the same way as I used to.
After growing so many high quality organic ingredients, cooking, canning, freeze drying, freezing, consuming, sharing and selling, my thoughts turned to a new idea.
I have catered in the past and really didn’t enjoy schlepping loads of food to places and feeding 100 people for 3 hours. I can say though while my kitchen remodel was taking FOREVER in the early 2000s, I catered a party for 90 people on a 4 burner Weber grill and a hot plate. That was STRESSFUL but successful.
Over the past two decades I have cooked individual meals in my homes for countless people. These interactions are the most satisfying for me. I love the whole process of deciding on a menu, gathering the ingredients, prepping and then cooking and finally serving REAL FOOD. Seeing everyone’s faces as they taste each new bite, and the comments they make on the food is a total DELIGHT to me. I have always said LOVE is the most important ingredient in every recipe that I make. Once or twice a year I forget that at home and things do NOT turn out well! Being mindful of the folks I am creating a recipe or cooking for always makes me remember that very important ingredient so you can usually taste that love at first BITE!
Now I Would Love to Cook for You
So I started thinking, people have been intrigued with these meal services that send you exactly what you need and recipes so you can create great, healthy meals at home. I have asked some folks who have paid for these meals to come in the mail and some people cook the meals and some admit, they still aren’t into the cooking. This had me thinking. Would people perhaps for a special occasion or just once in a while want to have a ‘fancy” meal cooked in their own houses and served to them? Perhaps they may like to watch the whole process of food preparation as well and maybe be inspired that is really isn’t as hard as they think to make total yumminess.
I have taken classes at the New York Culinary Institute, am a certified manager of food safety and carry liability insurance.
I did not attend culinary school but more the School of Life and have the burn scars and healed slices on my fingers and hands to prove that!
So, I am offering up my culinary skills for hire! I am not looking to be a full time personal chef who cooks every meal for a family, but would love to be your “for hire chef” from time to time!
I would like to create restaurant-quality meals for you in your home perhaps for a special dinner or occasion and can also prepare meals for you or family that may need nutritious foods that can be reheated.
I will shop and bring all the food and some special tools that I like to use and then voila, will create masterpiece meals for you.
Whatever your diet may be—vegan or vegetarian, paleo or keto, low salt, low fat, I can handle it.
Do you have a sensitivity to certain foods or enzymes? If you or any of your guests suffer from food allergies such as gluten, dairy, egg, shellfish, soy, peanut or tree nuts, etc.? No worries! I can cater to your dietetic and nutritional needs.
If this is something that may interest your palate, connect with me and let’s plan a terrific menu and event!
I also make confections. Whether you want hand-made hard candy lollipops or chocolates, I can do that too!
I look forward to feeding your soul and your tummy!
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Avella, PA 15312