Balancing Act – You can work hard and have a life. For real.

Hello.   My name is Casey Steele and I am the writer of this here blog.  I rarely ever refer to myself as an entrepreneur.  Heck.  I can barely spell the word, but it is one way to explain what I am and what I do.  There are 2 main reasons I choose to blog about my work.

1. It is a means to share with others.  Through my work I get to meet extraordinary people and I thoroughly enjoy talking about them.

2.  Through writing I get to offer insight.  How helpful this information is to others is entirely up for debate.  But as long as the internet is still a thing, I can put things out into the world wide web and pretend I know what I am talking about.  That makes me feel special.

Over 5 years ago I had some thinking to do.  I graduated with my Master’s Degree in Architecture in the spring of 2009.  Sure, the economy was bad, the industry was laying people off left and right, but I wasn’t too worried.  I found myself not trying all that hard to find a job in my field and even if the economy had been booming, I’m not sure I would have tried much harder then.  I found myself a job working at the YWCA women’s shelter.  At that point I had never held a job for more than 2 years due to high school, moving away to college and an overall unsettling need to not settle.

I love where the road has taken me.  I met and married the handsome devil hiding behind those sample glasses of Liene’s.  Marrying him was not me settling.  I definitely got the good end of this deal.  He has to deal with me and his ability to do just that astounds me.  He is patient, understanding and beyond supportive.  He married a girl who was supposed to be an architect but has always stood by me and my decisions to be difficult.  The picture below from our wedding dance was taken by the talented folks at Milestones Photography.  Awe geez, look at those love birds.

My father started his own business when I was a wee-little child.  My mother became a big part of that business and I learned firsthand what hard work looks like.  Another amazing thing about them – they both were still loving, available parents.  Everyone today is so busy, too busy and just flat out busy.  Sure – I’m busy.  But I really do want to have a life.  I am not yet 30 but I feel like I am much older than I am.  I know I still am fairly youthful but my start-up business philosophy has left me feeling like I am not young.  I won’t be surprised when my hair starts turning gray within the next couple years and wrinkles appear.  Pssh.  Battle scars, that’s all they are.

You definitely don’t need to start a business to find yourself struggling to find time for yourself.  I worked a full time job and started my baking business, Love in the Oven Bakery, on the side.  It was tough but it was something that I had to do.  I knew what I wanted and I was ready to sacrifice time to make it happen.  In the summer of 2014 Love in the Oven turned 4.  My little bakery is growing up so fast and with time is taking me down new and interesting, rather unexpected, avenues.  Square One exists only because I started Love in the Oven.  If I hadn’t gone that route who knows what I’d be doing.  Food has taken me down a new road.


The first year or so of Square One I lost some social skills that later had to be restored.  Finding that balance between what I’m doing as a career (which I love) and hanging out with my people and doing things I like to do (which I also love) is a challenge but it’s all about priorities.  We make choices.  Chances are good if you are reading this blog you are likely an adult since the pictures I post and the words I write probably don’t interest many kids.  Really it came down to how tired I was of hearing how busy people are.  Not just that, but also how much they complained about how busy they are.  We do this to ourselves.  I know, I don’t have children and that creates a whole new level of busy-ness, but parents add layers to their busy schedule that sometimes may not be necessary.  My parents had 4 kids and their own business but I never felt as if they didn’t have time for it all and really, Square One and Love in the Oven are quite similar to children.  They require lots of attention and though I may not have to run them to basketball practice every Monday and Wednesday evening they are not self sufficient.  They also bring me joy (most days, let’s be realistic here).


So what exactly am I saying?  Good question.  This appears to be one of my most scattered brained posts as I have started it, worked on it and walked away from it several times.  It’s not easy to prioritize but it’s essential.  Delegate if you can.  Personally I am not a great delegaterer (not a word) but I am learning because I know I am not good at everything.  There are things I do well, things I do even better and things I am flat out not good at.  Delegating allows for you to not only to hand off tasks to better qualified folks but it also allows you to make time.

Choose wisely and though you are always moving forward in your business/career be sure to not lose sight of what drives you outside of that path.  If you thrive off of working 60+ hours a week then more power to you!  If you’re like me and need to socialize with people off the work path or spend some time all on your ownsome make it happen.  You’ll feel better when you do.  If you find yourself too busy to do the other things in life that you enjoy then pause, look back and figure out what rearranging/prioritizing/delegating you can do to make yourself a happy self.  Trust me.  It’s worth it.  It doesn’t always work out as planned but when it does it’s absolutely wonderful.  It will bring you great joy.  Like when our dog Kenzie runs full speed and jumps off things.  Bliss.



Meet Libby’s Cupcakes, Etc.

Let me start this off by making a rather bold statement.  I have never been a big fan of cake.  That is, until I met Libby Martin.  She showed me the light.  The light, the fluffy and the flavorful world of moist cake.  Maybe it stemmed from meeting one too many dried out squares of cake with frosting that left your tongue feeling confused.  But once I tried Libby’s cupcakes, I realized that not all cakes are created equal and that you don’t need a ratio of 6:1 of frosting to cake to make a cupcake delightful.


Libby owns and operates Libby’s Cupcakes, Etc.  A specialty bakery focusing on beautiful and delicious cupcakes.  This North Carolina native has literally lived from coast to coast residing in LA and Washington DC before meeting a special boy who brought her back home with him to the Midwest.  Her and I have a similar background.  She has a degree in interior design (I went to school for architecture).  Now we are both bakers.  Whoa!

I snapped some photos and asked Libby some questions while she was baking for an upcoming wedding.  Here’s some more info and a bunch of pictures of her in action, baking away.

Check out these adorable measuring utensils.

Libby was in the kitchen baking up a special order of 16 dozen dairy free cupcakes – Vanilla Bean, Chocolate and Carrot Cake all topped with dairy free frosting – vanilla buttercream, almond buttercream and cream cheese.  Throughout this post you’ll find pictures of her pouring, baking and decorating her tasty creations.

Back in Washington DC Libby met a man named Andy.  They really hit it off and Andy decided to bring Libby back to the great Midwest with him.  They ended up building a family in Moorhead and have 2 young boys Will who is 7 and Drew who is 5.  These 2 boys keep them plenty busy with their year round sports activities, school and more.  When asked how she manages having her own business and her family she said, ‘Insanity.’  That may be one of the best answers ever.  She has learned to dedicate time to find a balance between operating and baking for Libby’s Cupcakes and spending valuable time camping and doing various activities with her children.  She also finds it very important to make time for friends…and wine.  From my experience you really can’t go wrong with good friends and wine.

After taking a cake decorating class and experimenting various techniques on her own, Libby made desserts for her first wedding back in 2010.  She formed her LLC for Libby’s Cupcakes, Etc in 2011 and has been doing weddings and special events ever since.  Weddings are a big part of her business and her cupcakes are perfect for such an occasion.  Her attention to detail and ability to decorate such beautiful frosted cakes make for an elegant and custom dessert for weddings.  Libby’s grandmother worked in a bakery in Raleigh, NC where she frosted and decorated cakes.  She jokes that is in here genes to be a baker and create intricate, beautiful desserts.

One of Libby’s favorite aspects of creating desserts for weddings is getting to know the bride and groom.  Each couple is unique and so is the style and decor for their special day.  She enjoys learning more about them and helping create cupcakes that are custom to their decor and colors.  Coordinating with their decor and making things look pretty are her specialties.  Her most requested flavors include vanilla, chocolate, lemon-raspberry, carrot and red velvet.  Personally she really enjoys lemon cake with fresh raspberry buttercream, mocha cake with salted caramel buttercream (I am drooling now) and chocolate cake with peanut butter.  Another favorite of hers that we might not be familiar with since it’s more of southern thing is Mandarin orange cupcakes, aka Pig Pickin’ Cake with pineapple frosting.  A dessert commonly seen at barbecues.  Sounds like a great time to me!

If Libby isn’t baking cupcakes for a wedding or event, she enjoys baking other things as well – including gingersnaps and fruit tarts.  Kitchens aren’t only for baking though.  Libby also enjoys cooking as well.  Making soup and roasted vegetables tops her list of favorites.  Cutting up fresh vegetables and simply coating them with oil, salt and pepper makes for a dish that is not only tasty, but also beautiful with all the different colors.  Libby also wanted to make a shout out to her husband, Andy for his grilling skills.  He’s the grill master and makes a mean pizza.

I have had the opportunity to get to know Libby over the years and she truly is a wonderful person.  She takes great care and pride in her work.  It shows in the details.  The cupcakes she made for this wedding were decorated so beautifully and right before the wedding were topped with handmade fondant flowers to be displayed elegantly for the wedding couple and their guests.  She has taught me that you can be a full time parent, start your own business and make cake that will leave you craving more.  For more information on Libby’s Cupcakes, Etc. you can find her contact information below.


Libby’s Cupcakes, Etc.


Being a Maker – DIY Wood Studio

This area consistently amazes me.  I didn’t grow up in the big city so moving to Fargo was exciting.  Old neighborhoods, stores galore and a downtown area that literally brings a smile to my face every time I think about it.  I’m smiling right now.  Because I thought about it.  I’ve ventured to various large metropolis areas and though I find them thrilling and new they don’t have we have.  Fargo-Moorhead is growing.  We have innovators, makers and beautiful souls that create a community that leaves visitors in awe and provides new opportunities for its citizens everywhere we look.  I’m truly in love.  I fist pump like this little gnome guy from my garden when I think about the potential of our community.

When we started Square One Kitchens I caught wind of  similar business that had started up in our area called the DIY Wood Studio.  Square One is a shared commercial kitchen space and the DIY Wood Studio offers the same opportunities but with wood working equipment.  We provide cooking classes and they provide wood working classes (which I will share my wonderful experience with you below).  I knew we had to meet and chat about our experiences and how our businesses could tie together.

Jim and Ann Clapper own and operate the DIY Wood Studio and they are truly beautiful people.  I enjoy talking with them and love to hear about the adventures they have had in their travels as well as the ventures they are pursuing with their business.  Their logo remind me of my days in Architecture school and that makes me smile.  Here’s a close up.

At the beginning of this year I decided I needed to expand my hobbies – learn some new skills and hone ones that I already had experience with but hadn’t really focused on.  In college we had a wood working studio to help us create models and various other projects.  Creating something with your hands that is tangible and useful makes me happy.  (Good news:  apparently lots of things make me happy.  That in itself makes me happy).  So, I signed up for a Basic Wood Working class at the DIY Wood Studio to get myself back into a non-food maker world.  We met once a week for 4 weeks and I got to work with some great people – Stan, Mark and Donna along with our instructor Scott who also teaches at Fargo North High School.

In this class we each made our own cutting board by cutting down, gluing together and sanding  pieces of maple and walnut wood.  I forgot my camera so I don’t have any pictures but it looked something like the photo below.

This is actually the top of some wine racks the DIY Wood Studio folks made to sell at Unglued’s Craft fest in February.  But it’s the same idea.  Working with various tools and learning their applications is incredibly useful.  After making a serving tray I realized I now know how to make drawers and use all the tools necessary.  I’m currently plotting several projects that will involve wood drawers.  See below for the tray assemblage!

As an additional safety precaution, the table saws are no ordinary table saw – they employ the almighty-finger-saving powers of Sawstop (check out this video.  This technology not only saves fingers, it saves hot dogs  Science!  Yes!

See what I mean?  It’s like a wee little baby drawer in progress.  All it’s missing is a bottom piece and some stain.

Excited to put this tray to use – along with all the knowledge I’ve obtained and my reignited love for wood working!

In this Basic Wood Working Class we made a cutting board, serving tray and a picture frame.  I’m now working on a few projects for my home including some built in cabinetry and a custom counter to surround my pedestal sink.  I also have about 278 other ideas as well.  My husband and I took a class where we got to make our own toboggan…for once I am actually hoping the snow sticks around so we can hit the hills!  Below are some more pictures of this wonderful facility and more information about the DIY Wood Studio!

Here is a view of just some of the equipment they have to offer.

You can get an annual or monthly membership that allows you to come in and work on your projects as you wish based on your what time works best for you.  There is always someone around to help you out by answering any questions you may have.

Yes – I now know how to bend wood…without it breaking!

Here Stan is starting on his final project – turning his own wooden pen.  It’s fun to think about making your own pen.  Every time someone asked for a pen I totally would step in and say, “Here.  You can use the pen that I made.  Yes, the pen that I made.”

For more information about the DIY Wood Studio you can check out their website for a full listing of classes, membership and events!  The website is listed below this picture of some wood slabs.  I am going to have this made into a large format print and framed (with a frame I am going to make myself).

DIY Wood Studio

3231 4th Ave. S. Studio A

Fargo, ND 58103



For lack of a more creative title I decided not to beat around the bush.  Today, we’re talking eggs.  I am a baker by hobby – turned addictive hobby – turned career.  If this blog is not about Square One Kitchens and its happenings, it’s going to be mostly about baking with some cooking tossed in.  My goal is to provide knowledge of ingredients before I introduce recipes.  The more you know about the parts of a recipe and how they work together, the better the outcome will be.  With baking it is all about precision, balance and creating something that makes you nearly drool – or in some cases, actually drool.

I think eggs are great.  Yep.  I said it.  One time when I was in a grocery store I saw vegetarian eggs.  So what is a vegetarian egg, you ask?  Well, it means the chicken was a vegetarian.  I delved into this a little more out of sheer curiosity and found that naturally chickens are foragers and omnivores – eating worms, bugs all the way up to snakes and mice.  Steps must be taken to keep the chicken from obtaining their natural dietary habits.  I would guess containment.  Then again, I know absolutely nothing about actual chicken rearing but I do hope you enjoy these sexy pictures of eggs and a little lesson on the mighty food.

Egg Anatomy 101:  Color is based off the hen’s color and breed.  Simply put, white feathered chickens produce white eggs and red/brown feathered chickens produce brown eggs…for the most part.   The breed of the chicken can also be a factor.  Brown eggs are often more expensive because they come from larger chickens who require more food.  As far as nutritional difference, there really isn’t any noticeable difference.   To delve into the physical break down of an egg, I dropped one on the counter (intentionally, I swear) and took pictures of it.

I love the sound of cracking an egg.  Sometimes I crack hundreds in a day when I’m baking and it’s such a rhythmic process it just lulls me to a peaceful land.  A little weird?  Yes.  But it’s OK.  So as you can see in the picture above you’ve got your egg shell (which is actually porous and allows for transfer of moisture and air) which has 2 layers of membranes on the inside which further protect the egg’s innards from bacteria and the like.  Once you get past those the main parts are what we are most familiar with eating – the white and the yolk.  The chalazae are the little white ‘ropes’ that you see inside the egg.  These act as anchors and hold the yolk in place.  The fresher the egg, the more prominent they are.  Just a little fresh egg tidbit for ya there.

That there is the plant in the little window box in the kitchen.  I figured we need a break from all this eggucation.  Also, I am easily distracted by things I find pretty.  Heck, this whole blog post started with really nice snowy-day lighting in my kitchen and looking for something to take pictures of.  Just happened to have some eggs warming up on the counter (yes, this is frowned upon but I keep my eggs at home at room temp all winter long.  Living on the edge.)  I do not encourage this behavior.  I just want it to be known I break the rules at my house because I’m cool.

Back to the eggs.  We could further investigate the layers of the albumen (white) and the yolk but I’m going to keep this short so we can get to the basics of baking with eggs.  The white has 2 main layers – the thin, very fluid exterior albumen and the middle albumen is the thicker, denser portion which is off-yellow in the picture above.  Then you have the yolk, which has its own membrane that helps the yolk hold its composure.  I wish I had a special layer that helped me keep my act together.  Oh, you are inquiring about the nutritional value of the white vs. yolk?  Funny you should ask.  Personally, I’m a whole egg girl.  There are many worse things for me to eat and I love a runny yolk on toast.  The nutritional value built inside that beautiful shade-of-yellow yolk is hard to put aside.  Don’t get me wrong…the white has some great selling points;  it’s cholesterol free, high in protein and riboflavin.  The yolk contains all the cholesterol but also contains lots of great nutrition including Vitamins A and D, iron, calcium and more.  They truly are incredible!

I call this ‘Distant Yolk’

Yolks are great emulsifiers.  They are a way to hold 2 things together that don’t necessarily like each other.  As in, water + oil.  If you were to make your own mayonnaise from scratch, you would need an emulsifier to create a homogenous mixture that is appealing and easy to use.  Yolks contain lethicin, which acts as an emulsifier by holding together the water and oil.  If you did not incorporate it into your mayo, you’d end up with 2 distinct layers that don’t really want anything to do with the other.  Emulsifiers are also what keep some dressings together – especially your vinegar + oil salad toppers.

That’s it for this lesson on Egg Anatomy 101.  Next up – Baking with Eggs:  What they contribute to the world of baked goodness and a recipe focusing on the importance of properly whipped egg whites! Thrilling stuff ahead!




Constructing a Business

Whether your business is food related or not, ‘constructing a business’ is quite the experience.  Throughout the process of getting the doors to Square One Kitchens open and ready to roll, I learned a lot about construction and about myself.  The pictures throughout this post are of the building while it was under construction – most of which we did ourselves.  We really know the ins and outs of this place now and it’s like owning a second home.  But not the vacation home on the lake or down south – it’s a second home 5 minutes from my real home where I have to remind myself that I don’t actually live here.  It’s that kind of 2nd home.


Growing up in a DIY family and having a degree in Architecture, I thought I would have a pretty good handle on how things would play out during the construction of Square One Kitchens.  I knew my stud spacing, kept plumbing layout in mind, used the height of the ceiling to my advantage and so on and so forth.  What I didn’t account for is how hard it is to schedule contractors, how nothing goes as planned and how budgets end up being mere suggestions when everything is said and done – and that’s just dealing with the physical space.  It took a while but I learned my extremely passive-not-so-aggressive ways were not going to do the trick here.


When I started Love in the Oven Bakery it was simple.  My overhead was minimal because I was renting a commercial kitchen from my previous employer.  I spend ‘x’ amount on ingredients and ‘y’ amount on rent.  X + Y = Love in the Oven Bakery’s Expenses.  Easy peasy.


Square One and nearly every other business ever, are whole other beasts.  We’ve got bills, we’ve got risk, advertising, clients, broken equipment and the like.  My favorite part is the clients – working with them, interacting and learning about what they do is honest-to-goodness my favorite part of this place.  My least favorite part is things that don’t work.  Say for instance – and this is totally hypothetical and most definitely never did actually happen to me –  you set the oven to 350F, put some bars in there and 5 minutes later smell a hint of undesirable burning.  Well – that would be your oven’s thermostat deciding it’s not going to regulate the flame and instead heats to roughly 500F.  My bars didn’t stand a chance.

Business is ultimately beautiful.  Determining your own destiny or fate through your actions and hard work is truly fulfilling.  I do sometimes miss a paycheck where I know if I work so many hours I will get paid for every single one of those hours but I find that when I go home each day I feel fulfilled in what I am doing and where I’m going (or at least where I think I am going).

For a while I started forgetting what this place looked like – how much time we had spent here, the people who were here late at night helping us tear down and rebuild to make a shabby office building into a culinary incubator, how much pizza we ate and beer we drank, how my marriage survived dedicating all our free time to getting this place finished.  So, I framed all of these pictures in this post and hung them on my office wall to remind myself along with a quote that keeps me real:

“Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.” – Theodore Roosevelt


Let’s Talk Gigi’s Ice Lollies

Let me just start this post off by saying if you haven’t had an Ice Lolly from Gigi’s Ice Lollies – ya best put it on your ‘to do’ list for the summer of 2014.  You can find these delicious frozen treats in a colorful cart on the sidewalk along Broadway and 3rd Avenue North in Downtown Fargo during the summer- May to September.  The perfect handheld cuisine for moseying up and down the beautiful downtown area.


If you haven’t heard of the term’ ice lollies’ you are not alone.  Up here in the Midwest we most commonly refer to them as popsicles.  Nicole Glaze Kolbe, the owner and creator behind the amazing flavors of these handmade ice lollies, put use a term that is used throughout many other parts of the world because Unilever has heavily copyrighted the term ‘popsicle’.  Those big bullies.  Regardless, the term ‘Ice Lolly’ is  absolutely delightful!


The bright colors of Gigi’s Ice Lollies – whether it’s her cart that is toted by a bicycle, her business card, or the frozen creations themselves, matches perfectly to Nicole’s personality.  You honestly just can’t help but smile when she says, “Hey there” in her happy, southern accent.   A Tennessee native who wound up falling for a Midwestern boy, she moved to this area to be with her love, and now husband, Kasper.  Together they live in Moorhead with Kasper’s son Noam.


Nicole grew up In Johnson City, Tennessee where her grandmother, Gigi, made her ice lollies using fruit juice and fresh fruit from the trees in their southern country yard.  Classic flavor combinations like peaches and cream were Gigi’s sweet spot.  Nicole took this experience, along with her love for complex handcrafted flavors and brought her own twist on ice lollies to the FM Area by bringing us the frozen lolly version of desserts and combinations we love – Lemon-Ricotta, Vegan Banana Split, Frozen Hot Chocolate – just to name a few.  Many of her flavors are vegan and the majority of them are gluten free AND she uses locally sourced and organic ingredients to the fullest extent possible. 


When chatting with Nicole and asking her questions about her business I just had to laugh when I asked her about her background/education.  She also has a fancy degree – her’s is a Master’s in Social Anthropology.  She now refers to the diploma that is framed on her wall as a very expensive ‘decoration’.  I’m guessing like me though, that experience helped shape her into the shining business owner that she is now and it looks as though she’s found her happy place.


Gigi’s Ice Lollies is Nicole’s full time job, along with taking care of her step-son, Noam.  During the ‘off-season’ Gigi’s offers a Winter Club, of which I am a proud member!  For the Winter Club you get 10 ice lollies a month for 6 months (October-March) that can be picked up at Unglued on the first Thursday of the month..  Last month we had frozen hot chocolate (one of my all time favorites!) and the next one is the maple pumpkin pie (the beautiful, creamy orange ice lolly in the photos).  Yum!


Nicole has some new flavors in the making for the 2014 summer season as well as new ideas for how to get ice lollies in your life.  Gigi’s can provide ice lollies for your next event – whether it be a corporate holiday party, a wedding, family reunion – you name it.  She was actually just at Get Hitched – A Wedding Event for the Modern Bride promoting what Gigi’s can offer to wedding celebrations.  Ice Lollies at your wedding?  I’m going to spend the rest of the evening planning my vow renewal party.

To find out more about Gigi’s Ice Lollies – you can check out her Facebook Page or send her an email.

Baking with Jen’s Breads

Imagine walking into work and it smells like fresh baked bread – Italian herbs, cheese and yeasty goodness.  Or maybe the air is full of sweet cookie dough baking in the oven in a delightful variety of flavors.  That is what I get to experience when Jen Woinarowicz, owner and head baker of Jen’s Breads, is at Square One preparing for her next big event.

 At her latest event – The Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcase in Grand Forks – Jen baked 1800 cookies and 150 loaves of bread.  It was a Saturday-Sunday event.  That Saturday evening I was in the kitchen for another event and in walked Jen.  She sold out of everything.  EVERYTHING!  1800 cookies and 150 loaves of bread gone in mere hours.  Her sister came in and they got to baking into the wee hours of the night so that she could have product for Sunday.  It’s almost a guarantee that Jen’s Breads will sell out at any event they take part in.

 While Jen was preparing and baking away for the showcase with her business partner and fiancee Travis , I snapped some photos of her cookies and famous Italian Cheese Bread.  Delish.

 In college, baking was Jen’s stress reliever.  A way to break free from studying, tests and worries.  It helped her through her rigorous course work at UND and offered a creative outlet.  Travis mentioned to Jen one day that maybe she should try selling her product so they gave the West Fargo Farmer’s Market a go.  Everything sold out within an hour so they just kept going back with more and more.  Overtime Jen’s Breads started signing up for other events and became a Pride of Dakota member.  Each summer on Saturdays Jen can be found selling her breads and cookies at the Grand Forks farmers market, one of her favorite events.

 Jen’s Breads is most famous for their Italian Cheese Bread – an herbed fresh and flaky bread that is rolled up with an Italian cheese mixture – let’s just say the last time I bought some I ate the whole loaf, by myself, within a 24 hour period.  It’s that good.  Jen’s Italian Cheese Bread actually came about somewhat by accident.  While making focaccia the cheese on top got too crispy while it was baking so instead of sprinkling it on top, she rolled it up within the bread and voila!  Italian Cheese Bread fantasticness.

 Jen is a pro when it comes to baking – she’s efficient and develops unique and tasty flavor combinations for her cookies.  Some of her most unique and best selling cookies include Caramel Apple Cider, Cherry Cheesecake and Whoppers cookies.  Though she offers such intriguing flavor combos, she also sells lots of her classic chocolate chip cookie as well.  I firmly believe everything she creates is absolutely wonderful.

If Jen isn’t baking or at a show/event you can find her chasing around her 1-½ year old daughter Reese, hanging out with Travis and his daughter’s Ella and Madysen or working her part time job.  Needless to say, Jen keeps quite busy!  Many times her mom drives down from Jen’s hometown of Drayton, ND to help her prepare for events.  She is such a sweet woman.  Jen seems to have a lot of sisters…I’m actually not sure how many, but they stop in all the time to help out as well.  I’m pretty jealous.  I can’t even get my brothers to visit me (Or at least one of them.  And yes, I hope ‘that brother’ sees this!)  Reese stops by and though she can’t really help with the baking she always lifts the mood with her contagious smile and overall giddiness.  Ella and Madysen have been in to help as well.  Go Team Jen’s Breads!

 Jen’s Breads will be turning 3 years old next summer and there are some very exciting plans in the making!  With the help of her fiancee and her family, Jen will be opening a retail location in West Fargo near Costco.  Their bakery will offer all their staple favorites as well as more artisanal bread options and an expanded product line including soups and sandwiches.  To make this even more exciting, Jen is 5 months pregnant with the little one due in March.  It’s a truly busy time for them but 2014 is going to bring so much greatness I can hardly wait!

 In the meantime if you’d like to get some Jen’s Breads in your life, you can find her at the Fargo and Bismarck Pride of Dakota Holiday Showcases and she’ll be taking special orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas as well.  Just shoot her an email to get your order lined up for the holiday season.  I know if I go home for Christmas without a couple loaves of her Italian Cheese Bread, my mom won’t be very happy with me.

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A Chat with Lush Lola’s Catering

We were in the midst of construction for Square One Kitchens when Shannon Malzahn gave us a jingle.  Shannon owns Lush Lola’s Catering – along with her husband, Jim.  They were looking for a way to expand their business from the lakes area to Fargo-Moorhead.  I remember showing Shannon and her kids around the kitchen and telling them it will be done in a few weeks – even though the floors were unfinished, we had no equipment in place and it honestly was a big ol’ mess.  Let’s just say I was off on my guesstimate.  But Shannon hung in there patiently.


Lush Lola’s was one of the first businesses to use the kitchens here and I have had the pleasure of learning more about her and her catering business throughout the year.  So now I’m going to share the story of how Lush Lola’s came to be and what they are all about.  While I was visiting with Shannon she was filling several hundred small glass flasks with her signature Captain Lola’s Rum Barbecue Sauce for favors for a wedding.  The pictures below are of her in action in the kitchen here at Square One bottling away!

Shannon is no stranger to food – growing up helping her mom with her concession stand at the Minnesota State Fair, operating food booths at festivals and events throughout the area for years makes it easy to see that food is a big part of her life, and her family’s.  I’ve never seen a true family operated business until I saw Lush Lola’s in action.  Her husband can often be found manning the hog roast and her 2 older daughters are often around helping out, too.

So, what’s the story behind the name?  Well, let me tell you.  The name Lush Lola’s is made of 2 parts.

1 part Lola:  Shannon was at a festival and stopped in a nearby store where she came across a piggy bank she knew she needed to have.  Unfortunately, it was not for sale.  That did not stop Shannon.  She convinced the store owner that it was fate and ended up walking out with the soon-to-be-named mascot for her future business – Lola (you can find pics of Lola on their website).

1 part Lush:  Drunken Pig (Lush Lola’s famous beer braised pork), Tipsy Cow, Wobbly Chicken…are you seeing a pattern here?  Beer and spirits are used in fun and exciting ways to add flavor to the dishes created by Shannon so it only made sense!

Thus, Lush Lola’s!

Lush Lola’s has been busy in 2013 catering to weddings and other corporate events throughout the FM and lakes areas.  They whip up some fantastic side dishes to go along with their ‘lush-ious’ (I know that is definitely not a word) main courses as well.  Shannon was just at Get Hitched –  A Wedding Show for the Modern Bride promoting their Smashed Potato Bar and Indoor S’mores Bar.  Both are great ideas for fun ways to serve up food.

 If Shannon is not working her tail end off with her busy work schedule,  you can find her reading a book, creating new recipes or traveling around looking for inspiration.  Jim and Shannon have 3 wonderful daughters that are truly a joy to visit with whenever they are helping out in the kitchen here – Madison, McKenna and Magnolia make this great family owned business even better!  I have honestly never met such helpful kids.  I hope I was that helpful when I was a child, but chances are good I was not.  Magnolia is 5 so she is not around often, but when she stops by she is quite entertaining!

Given how busy Lush Lola’s has been this year and how quickly they are booking up for their 2014 season, I’m guessing we’ll be seeing a lot of this lovely family owned business in the area – cooking up good tasting food for various events and get-togethers.  And how awesome is that favor flask bottle of BBQ sauce!?  What a great idea!  If you want to learn more about Lush Lola’s you can check out their website, shoot them an email or give them a call.  Facebook is also a great way to keep up to date on what they’re doing and to keep current on their happenings!

We’re Blogging!

At Square One Kitchens we are looking to keep everyone connected, creative and involved.  Thus, a blog!  Hopefully many insightful and witty posts will come to follow this one.   I’m going to consider this post a trial run and wait for my creative mojo to kick in.  To give you a little insight into what we’re going to be doing with this here blog I’ll offer some ideas of what we’ve been brewing up since we started Square One nearly a year ago:

  • Cool insider looks into up-and-coming food businesses here in Fargo-Moorhead.  Honestly, the talented business owners who use the space here are beyond belief and their stories make it even better.  I consider myself  lucky to get to meet them and work amongst their creative selves.
  • Photos!  Food!  Photos of Food! Tips, Tricks and Back Flips! (To be honest, there will likely be no back flips involved.  I just like to rhyme).
  • Cooking classes and information on when we’re having them, what they’ll involve and the instructors who teach them.
  • Connections to the Community.  We love this area and want to shout from the roof tops about the amazing things that happen here but due to my fear of heights, I will remain on the ground and use a blog to ‘shout it out’.  Less dramatic, but safer.
  • I’m guessing through time we’ll brew up some more ideas and I’ll share them here as well.

I’m going to throw it out there and let you know that we’re pretty excited and we want you to be, too.  I often use too many exclamation points in my writing so I’m trying to refrain from putting one after every other sentence.  Despite the lack of exclamation though, we truly are so excited.