Jennifer Pettit has managed to turn a couple of negatives into a positive and rediscovered herself in the process.
In September 2009, one month shy of 20 years at her job, the Andover resident found herself unemployed. Despite her best efforts, Pettit continues to be unemployed. In 2010, she was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor.
“Just all kinds of bad stuff” is how Pettit describes that time in her life.
It was during this time that Pettit found herself struggling personally.
“Being unemployed, you lose sight of yourself,” she said.
But Pettit began finding herself again as she went through the process of writing and publishing her own cookbook, “Beyond Boxed Macaroni and Cheese…The Economic Crunch Cookbook: Easy and Affordable Recipes for When the Economy Takes a Bite Out of Your Pocketbook.”
“It brought joy back into my life that I just didn’t have anymore,” she said.
Pettit self-published the book, which came out in June 2011, after inquiries into other publishing options went nowhere. She said a small publishing company in Iowa is currently interested in publishing the book, although a final deal has yet to be reached.
The book includes a wide variety of recipes as well as personal stories and other helpful hints.
Each page contains a single recipe, with plenty of white space for individuals to make their own notes.
“I did that really specifically,” Pettit said.
“That’s what cooking is, you make it your own.”
Pettit encourages those using her cookbook to make the recipe according to the directions the first time, then experiment by adding their own ingredients and unique touches to make it their own.
Compiling her tried and true recipes had been on Pettit’s to do list for a while. She wanted to put everything together for her children and other friends and family.
“I’m not a fancy cook,” she said. “It’s very simple, family oriented things.”
Her favorite recipe out of more than 200 is a chocolate chip cookie recipe. It earned her fourth place at the Minnesota State Fair and countless accolades from her children and their friends.
Writing a cookbook was also a way for Pettit to combine some of her favorite activities together.
“I love to cook and I like to bake and I like to write,” she said.
Pettit began cooking and baking as a young girl growing up in Ham Lake. She said she comes from a family of accomplished cooks, including grandparents who owned a cafe in the city in the 1950s.
“Cooking is a happy feeling,” Pettit said. It is relaxing and a way to bring the family together, she said.
In addition to her state fair accomplishments, Pettit was a cookie caterer and entrepreneur, owning Cookie Blossoms, a cookie bouquet business.
As young as seven, Pettit was creating her own books, colorful stories on pages bound together with yarn or tape.
“My mom always told me to write a novel,” she said.
Pettit said she loved the process of putting together the cookbook, which took more than a year to compile.
She cooked every recipe that she included in the book “to make sure it worked.”
Pettit encourages others who are unemployed to look at their talents and try to use those in new and different ways, like she did with the cookbook.
“Everybody has something they can do,” she said.
They could take that passion and “do something besides being sad,” Pettit said.
To purchase “Beyond Boxed Macaroni and Cheese…The Economic Crunch Cookbook: Easy and Affordable Recipes for When the Economy Takes a Bite Out of Your Pocketbook,” visit amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com. Books are also available by contacting Pettit at [email protected].
Kelly Johnson is at [email protected]