Thursday, July 11, 2013

Coffee Comes With A Smile & A Great Purpose

I come from a Swedish family and growing up my grandma Miriam would always have a bounty of sweet treats for everyone to enjoy and the coffee pot was constantly running. I've heard stories of how she would top off everyone's cup just so she could empty the pot and in seconds she had another fresh pot brewing. I remember sneaking sips of coffee as a young girl when we'd go to my grandparent's house while all the adults were crowded around the corner booth table in the kitchen eating the above mentioned treats and talking away.  Those little sips here and there began my life long love affair with coffee. 

(This was from my wedding in 2000 & Grandma passed away a year later.)
I share that story to paint you a picture of how important coffee is in my world and how as a young girl, coffee made a HUGE impression on me.  Not only was coffee something I acquired a taste for, but it was the centerpiece of our family gatherings, family conversations, but it was there in times of laughter, tears, joys & trials as well. 

As an adult I'll be more than likely to meet friends for coffee rather than lunch and I'll generally meet them at the same place all the time, but a few weekends ago I met my friend Maggie at a new coffee shop called Fresh Grounds in St. Paul.

I was really just looking for a coffee shop that would be a great place for us to 'meet in the middle', but what I found is a coffee shop that has an incredible mission behind the coffee shop doors.  

See Fresh Grounds is not just any old coffee shop, rather they are a " a non-profit social venture, that provides trainees critical employment skills!"   I also love that according to their website they put 100% of their profits back into their training program. 

As the founder of a non-profit myself, I was more than happy to meet my friend at this location and I'll tell you, I'd go there again and again.   It was not just a coffee shop, not just a "non-profit social venture", but to my surprise it was so much more.  Here are a few great tidbits I gathered from Anne Mayers, the Fresh Grounds manager: 

Their Food
  • Eggspressos:  Fresh Grounds is one of a few rare breed coffee shops that “blow” steam into two eggs with the wand of the espresso machine. Yummy scrambled eggs are the result. Plop them on an English muffin or a St Paul Bagelry bagel with a slab of ham or  sausage and we’ve got converts from down the street at McDonalds.  We make that breakfast sandwich look really really pathetic.    
Their Program
  • Our training program is going gang busters. Most of the kids we train at fresh Grounds have no cooking experience and love the food part of the program. We bake scones cookies and banana bread every day. Oh yea- THERE is a difference between baking powder and baking soda ( a life lesson).   
  • The most important part of being a trainee is up front at the counter interacting with our wonderful customers.  Good customer service is a skill that will lead to other jobs and that is our mission. We want all our kids to move on to employment and become self- supporting in jobs they like.
 Their "Extras" 
  • We have a small garden (thanks to Bachmans) and do a garden to table dinner once a month call 27 Plates (that’s all we have). It’s by reservation only and the dinner always sells out. We’re always looking for unusual entertainment for that evening.
I also happen to know that if you like artwork, their walls are lined with ready to purchase paintings and while you wait for your coffee and food, you can look around! 

Seriously though, how cool is that, a coffee shop that isn't just a coffee shop, it's offers so much more than one would ever imagine.

If you are like me and your heart is for organizations that use food as a way to reach out to others, please take some time in the coming weeks or months to book an hour long coffee date with a loved one or a friend and head to Fresh Grounds. 

You'll be so glad you did!  

From my heart to yours,


Sunday, July 7, 2013

Loving My FOOD Focused Life!


Those of you who know me know I'm generally a busy person.  I don't mean like busy just doing "things", but I'm always busy with different projects outside of my normal schedule of cleaning the house, doing laundry, cooking and working at Valley Natural Foods a local co-op in Burnsville.   (You can see my recipes on my Pinterest page.


Most of my projects, if not all of them, revolve around food and that's not a surprise to anyone!  Today I wanted to share with you a few exciting food related events/activities I've got going on.

Tonight I'm super excited to watch the premier of a new show called Food Court Wars on the Food Network and normally a premier of a new show wouldn't elicit a blog posting except for the fact that this past spring my brother Aaron and I competed in this new show for team Slum Dogz

 (This photo is a few years old, but I love it!)

Now our episode is on for a few weeks, but I can't wait to watch all of the other episodes and teams compete because those of us on the show now share a special bond....we were incredibly blessed to be a part of this amazing experience.  For me personally, it was by far one of the most incredible competitions I've ever had in the world of food/cooking and to say that I learned something is an understatement.  I learned SO much and am grateful for the opportunity we were given. 

As soon as we can post more information and we get an official air date, I'll be sure to fill all of you in. 

Until then you can find me sharing some of my favorite corn on the cob toppings on Twin Cities Live on Monday, July 8th during their live show from 3-4pm.

From my heart to yours,