Sunshine, Moonbeams and Snowflakes (Lots of Snowflakes!)

Sunshine, Moonbeams and Snowflakes  (Lots of Snowflakes!)

I promised myself I wouldn’t do a clichéd begin-of-the-year post about what I plan to change over the next year.  Sure, we all are busy thinking about our New Years Resolutions; losing weight, getting a new job; being a better person, blah, blah, blah…But this time it’s just circumstance and a good case of good timing that brings me to this post.  You see, I need to catch you all up on some things that have been happening lately.  I was going to bring them up rather subtly, painstakingly alluding to these happenings over a series of posts.  But it’s just too exciting to hold back.  So I’m just going to let you all have it at once.  So hang on tight!

As you all know, I’m pretty miserable in my job and I need a change. I could draw out the thought process on how I came to my life’s passion but I think you can already figure that one out yourselves.  Over the last few months, I’ve decided to log out of my job as an IT Consultant and to dish up a new career in the Culinary arts, Pastry Arts in particular. I know it’s not a big shock to any of you, but for me, it’s was an epiphany.  It was a ray of sunshine.   I ran it by Marko. For years, I’ve always (semi-) joked with him that my life’s ambition was to be the “Cookie Queen of the Netherlands”, so the news that I wanted to re-invent myself to be a Pastry Chef did not side swipe him at all.   The only big shock would come financially. It would be a huge cut in salary for me. Making cookies is not nearly as lucrative as putting together bits and bytes.  Figuring it out, I’d have to sell an extra 35,000 cookies a year to make up the difference!  That’s about 100 cookies extra per day! 

When I told my sister about my decision, we immediately began daydreaming about opening our own restaurant, just like we did when we were teenagers.  Let me tell you a bit about my sister. She is going to totally hate me for writing this but in short, my sister, Dr. Christine, is my idol.  She is the most dedicated and driven person I know.  When she was 11, she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes, an affliction that haunts her to this day.  After High School, using her natural talent for cooking, she attended and graduated from Johnson and Wales University in Providence Rhode Island with a degree in Culinary arts.  A few years later, she decided that she needed to make a bigger impact on the world and enrolled in a medical program to become a doctor.  Even though she was severely plagued with health problems, she pushed herself through the punishing Internship and Residency programs.  At over 100 hours per week, these programs are challenging even for a healthy person. But she not only made it through, she excelled with top grades!   Currently she is the Director and Chief Physician of the Veterans Clinic in Littleton in upstate New Hampshire.  That is definitely quite an accomplishment for a recent graduate. I couldn’t be prouder of my sister! 

 In late October of last year, I get a call from her. She found this lovely little café nestled at the foot of Mt. Washington that is for sale about an hour drive from her. It’s The Moonbeam Café. She wants to buy it.  “What do you think?” she asks me. Personally, I didn’t think it was such a good idea; after all, she works 6 days a week at the clinic.  I’m 3500 miles away.  How can she swing it alone?  “Aren’t you afraid of this?”  I asked her.  “Lisa,” she explains, “It’s my dream. I don’t have time to be afraid.  I don’t know how much longer I have.  It could be 4 years, it could be 40.  I just don’t know.  I need to make every minute count.”.  Brave girl she is.  It could be so easy to be afraid and take the easy route.  But that just wouldn’t be her.  

 Suddenly the pieces are falling into place.  The café has a full bakery in the back that’s not being used. “It’s all yours if you want it”, she says.  I can hardly believe my ears.  My own bakery!  The only caveat is that I have to be in Gorham. This isn’t something that I can do remotely.  No telecommuting for me.  That would mean moving my family from the over-crowded Netherlands to the sparsely populated mountains of New Hampshire.  I can already feel Marko going into culture shock.   I’m never going to sell it to him sight unseen.

The next step is to pay a visit.  While we are in the states for our yearly Christmas vacation, we’d spend a bit of time getting The Moonbeam ready for inspection and opening day.  “Don’t forget,” my sister says, “Winter is WINTER here.  Cold and harsh, but stunningly beautiful.”  So we make our plans to be there the 26th through the 29th of December.

 Ok, Mother Nature.  It’s show time!  I need to dazzle and impress Marko. I’m putting in my order for perfect sunny skies and bejewelled snow capped mountains. Unfortunately, that wasn’t to be.  On the exact day we going to leave, Mother Nature decided to pitch a doozy of a fit… now affectionately known as “The Christmas Blizzard of 2010” that crippled the east coast for days. No, dear Readers, we didn’t get stuck in the snow.  We left on the road early in the morning and were at my sister’s in plenty of time before the storm.  But when it hit, it hit hard! 

 The following morning, we experienced just how professional New Hampshire is about snow removal and I got my wish.  A perfect glittering Winter Wonderland!  Thanks Mother Nature. 

The Moonbeam Café is located on Exchange Street in Gorham, NH and will be open on her birthday, January 4th 2011.  Those in the area, is sure to stop in for some great eats and to wish her a Happy Birthday!  Congratulations and Best Wishes, Dr. Chris!

 This weeks recipe is another jelly recipe that I developed just for The Moonbeam’s  grand opening.  It also makes a very impressive gift.

 White Zinfandel Jelly

 1 ½ Cups White Zinfandel Wine

2 ½ Cups white sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 pouch of liquid Certo pectin

Over med-high heat, bring wine, sugar and lemon juice to a boil.  Add pectin.  Boil for about 5 minutes or until able to set.  To test if the jelly is set, put a tablespoon or so on a saucer and put it in the freezer for about 3 minutes. If it’s not runny and looks like jelly, it’s done.  If not, boil another few minutes.  Pour in sterilized jars. Seal tightly and process in a water bath for 10 mins.  Makes about 1 quart.

5 Responses to “Sunshine, Moonbeams and Snowflakes (Lots of Snowflakes!)”

  1. Millie Says:

    What a great description of both your sister and New Hampshire…. enjoyed reading it all.

  2. Marie Says:

    Fantastic news! Wishing all good luck to Dr. Chris with the Moonbeam Cafe and to you in whatever you choose to do! I would be willing to drive up from NJ and indulge when you get there!

  3. christine Says:

    Lisa, thanks for the reminder of how much i hate reading blogs about myself. Can’t wait until you come and reopen the bakery!! We have already listed you as the pastry chef on The Moonbeam Cafe facebook page. OHH, the smell of french bread and croissants!! I can’t wait.

  4. lisa Says:

    Hey, you told me to feel free to poke fun at you…. So, there’s MORE blogs out there about you? Hmmm….

  5. Jo Says:

    Lisa! BAKE, but you MUST keep on writing too. Think about building a website for shipping pastry, cookies, cupcakes??? Too far away for me and I don’t drive in SNOW! LOL! Best wishes for you and your sister.