For over 35 years, I have been cooking and baking for my family and friends. I really began my interest when I was 11 years old and was hired as a "bus girl" for our local cafe in Fairmont, Nebraska. Soon after, the owner's mother, Mary Gangstad, took me in under her wings and showed me the old-fashioned way to cook. It wasn't long after that, which the owner, Jerry Gangstad, started to teach me how to be a short order cook and I learned to prepare and serve the daily specials.
I took Home-Ec throughout my high school years, under the teaching of Mrs. Joanna Pankoke, who taught me even more tricks of the trade. During my high school years, I continued to work at the Tower Cafe being a waitress and cook as well as working at The Country Kitchen and McDonald's in York, Nebraska.
During this time, I also had my mother and two grandmother's that were all excellent cooks and taught me some of their skills and special secrets-from making Tapioca and Fried Chicken to Raisin Pie. I have some of their original recipes that I have vowed only to give out to my own children, in hope that they will pass them down through the generations to come.
I went to college and graduated with a Associates Degree in Practical Nursing and became a Licensed Practical Nurse. I decided to go back to college and start towards a Bachelor's Degree, so I moved to Omaha with my daughter, Celeste, and put myself through school. While working a full-time job in a nursing home, going to school, and raising an infant on my own, I still found time to do some part-time small catering and cake decorating jobs to help bring in a little more income. In the apartment complex I lived in, there was a Vietnamese lady that I babysat for and she taught me how to do egg rolls while I taught her how to make American food.
As time kept moving on, I found myself not having the time to do as much cooking and baking as I would have like to do except for the frequent family get-togethers that we had on the weekends or special occasions. I got married, had two more children, and worked full-time in a nursing home.
Over the years I have taken up part-time jobs, like at Pizza Hut, The Iron Skillet, and other restaurant type settings, doing serving, cooking, baking, and supervisory positions, while being married and raising 2 girls and a boy. Some skills I have learned over these past years without going to college or culinary school include, but not limited to bookkeeping, managing servers and cooking staff, inventory/ordering food, proportioning, balancing menu items, and cutting steaks by hand.
I remarried in 2001, to my soul mate, Kim, and to this union, I added three grown daughters, making for a total of six children (5 girls and 1 boy). Now that all of our children are grown up and having their own families, I have more time for small catering jobs, making and decorating cakes, and making/baking, candies, cookies, desserts, and pies for other people to make a little extra money. I work full-time in the law enforcement field and do not have a schedule that allows me to have a second job, so my hobbies are my second job since I can be very flexible about my availability without the hassle of having a second schedule to work around. My husband, Kim, and I have 16 grandkids, which will keep growing, but I always find time to help everyone out and still do my hobbies. All of our children and grandchildren live no more than 60 miles away and we get to see them all often.
I have catered three of our five daughter's weddings. Now, talk about stress (catering AND being the mother-of-the-bride). I also made the wedding cakes for our youngest daughter's wedding, making for triple stress.
In my own home kitchen I make everything from scratch and from the freshest ingredients possible as long as the ingredients are available in our small rural area. I have not attended any college or had professional training as a cook/chef, under a "professional" chef and I am not a licensed caterer. Not all of my goods are perfect, but they are homemade which means with love; hence my motto-"Where homemade is from the heart, but not always perfect!"
Over the years, I have found myself catering for our family and very close friends during birthday, wedding, and anniversary, and showers. I figured that now is the time to start back into a hobby that I love to do and earn some extra money while doing so. I may not have "official" reviews or references on my cooking and baking skills, but to me, the best compliment that I can receive is from the look of the faces of my family and friends as well as the verbal compliments that I receive from them. In addition to cooking, baking, and catering, I also do a wide variety of crafts including making personalized baby wedding memory/photo albums, baby quilts/pillows, baby/toddler bibs, casserole dish carries, cross stitch, embroidery, sewing, and numerous other crafts. I also do macramé, yes I know this is a craft from the 70's, but I have never lost my passion for this unique craft.
I am self-teaching myself how to create and make floral arrangements for weddings as well as wedding veils. My first attempt of these crafts was for our youngest daughter's wedding, making all of the flowers and her veil. I literally spend hours doing a lot of research on-line in reference to recipes, tips, and crafts. Once again, this is all done in order to teach myself what I need to learn and to continue with the current trends of what people are looking for. There is nothing that I am not afraid to try as long as I am able to find the materials I need.
I want to thank you in advance for reading my story, considering my services, and hope that you have a truly blessed day.
Teresa M. Johnson, Owner