Julie Lindstrom is an independent cottage food operator in Minneapolis.
Minnesotaâ€™s new Cottage Food Law, passed in the summer of 2015, allows Minnesota residents to produce unrefrigerated baked goods at home for direct sale to customers. For Julie Lindstrom, itâ€™s an opportunity to supplement her income and express her creative self through food. Her first commercial order was delivered on August 7 â€” a poppy seed cake and sugar cookies decorated with freehand renditions of Sasquatch and the Loch Ness monster.
â€œMy first memory of baking has always been around Christmas and Christmas cookies. I remember baking with my mom, who passed away when I was a child, and then with my stepmom ever since,â€ Lindstrom said. â€œWhat Iâ€™m remembering as an adult is baking with my kids. My kids have always liked science. We would make baking a science experiment.â€
As part of the Sussmanâ€™s Bakery cottage food consortium, Lindstrom expects most of her work to be custom orders. â€œI want to find what people miss from their childhood and bring that back. Rugelach has been a hit with Jews and non-Jews alike. A friend whose mom is almost 90 brought over a Norwegian cookbook with some of the things that her mom really misses. Pfeffernuesse was one of the recipes. When we made it, the first thing I said when I tried it was, â€˜This tastes like Christmas.â€™ I had never had pfeffernuesse in my life! I gave it to my daughter, and she said, â€˜It tastes like Christmas.â€™â€
Lindstrom also has specialties. â€œAround the holidays itâ€™s going to be the Christmas cookies and apple cake for Rosh Hashanah, and I think blueberry muffins and sugar cookies,â€ she said. Sheâ€™s discovering that even standard items can be customized. â€œPeopleâ€™s idea about what makes a really good cinnamon roll is all over the board. Icing, no icing. Raisins, no raisins, orange zest. Whatâ€™s nice about being a small home baker is if you say, â€˜Make me some cinnamon rolls with no nuts but with raisins,â€™ or â€˜make me sugar cookies with sugar sprinkles, or no sugar sprinkles,â€™ I can do that.
Lindstrom has a degree in social work and recently completed a radiography degree â€” another field that combines science and art. â€œCottage food is going to be more of a creative outlet for me, a supplemental income,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s always been a dream of mine to work part-time in a career and not be so tied to a business and company all the time.â€
How do you know what to charge?
Weâ€™ve got spreadsheets and software that weâ€™ve been using. You can plug in ingredients, time in doing it.
Do you have to bake things that you donâ€™t personally like?
Weâ€™re doing some gluten-free recipes, but itâ€™s not something I particularly enjoy. We havenâ€™t had any other requests for things that I donâ€™t like.
Whatâ€™s your biggest challenge?
Not eating everything. The business aspect of getting things started, thatâ€™s been a challenge. Getting organized, getting the ingredients. Itâ€™s been a lot of work, a lot of hours online.
Whatâ€™s the best part of the job?
I like the recipe aspect of it. I love the precise measurements that are needed and what makes the dough feel amazing and bake up and rise. It combines my two favorite things â€” art and science. You do the science part to make it do what you want to do and then have the creativity to make it pretty.
Photo Credit: Tom Witta