word of mouth- by way of food.

This has been a very exciting week for me and Plan to Plate.  Though my primary focus in my business is helping people to cook fresh foods in their home, every now and again, I am asked to cook for a small crowd of folks.  A few months back, my husband and I provided most of the food for our friends’ wedding shower.  We created appetizer platters that were crowd friendly, and my festive genius friend decorated for the 80’s themed shower and made flashy name cards for each dish.

That’s a little balsamic vinegar gone wild on the side of the dish.

A simple but pretty platter of fruit to pair with cheese and to cleanse the palate.

A plate filled with a wide variety of cheeses always gets devoured by the end of a party.

Those are homemade pita chips in the background too!

The chicken salad bites went like hotcakes!  

Did you see those dayglo gummy bracelets?!  So fun. 

In addition, we made bacon rollups, of course, and a Mexican queso con carne…and people were really talking about how delicious the food was.  That made me so incredibly happy and proud.

Well, all these months later, a woman who was at that party was planning a wedding shower for a couple of her best friends.  She contacted me about catering the event.  I was totally flattered that she remembered my food so fondly and thrilled to be able to cook for folks that I have never met for such a special event.  We decided that I would contribute three side dishes to serve alongside amazing barbeque from Fox Bros Bar-B-Q in Atlanta.  My food— next to such incredible and well-respected barbeque?!?!  Absolutely fabulous. 

Naturally, I created dishes that I love to eat with barbeque!  I made my almost famous slaw, one that always has slaw-haters surprised and coming back for more.  Cabbage, carrots, apples, my own spiced and candied pecans, purple onions and a smoky, tangy dressing.

I also concocted a smoked gouda and spinach macaroni and cheese. 

And I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a photo of the corn and tomato salad with fresh basil.  Sometimes, I’m so busy with the cooking part, I forget to take the photos.  But I am getting much better at that!

My fingers were crossed that the wedding shower guests enjoyed every bite of my food.  I was biting my nails waiting for feedback for a few days over the New Year weekend, and then I saw the email from my client who had arranged the catering.

“Hi, Ashli!  Thanks again for making the dishes! They were delicious and I, along with everyone else, loved them. I gave your business card to a few people. The bride to be was wondering if you have the capability to do any large events (weddings) — or can you recommend a business?”

Can you hear me smiling?  Yay!  I am so delighted that they loved the food, and what a fabulous compliment from the bride to be!  Positive feedback like that encourages me to keep taking steps every day on this path and continue forging ahead with my food business. 

Also this week, I began serving two new clients who found me through my “Sweet Deal” on Mamapedia.com last month.  One woman just employed me to do her menu planning.  She is content to do her own shopping but really has difficulty planning and finding recipes to suit her family, which includes a child with egg and nut allergies and an aging mother.  The second client afforded me a new challenge- researching Kosher foods.  I love my job!  How interesting to learn about different people’s goals, beliefs, and needs and then help them to eat fresh, simple, delicious foods in their homes.  In the weeks to come, I will be consulting with more new clients, and I could not be more stoked about the adventure! 

Lastly, I rang in 2011 with a little volunteer work!  Decatur Farm to School is an organization working to help Decatur City Schools’ cafeterias serve healthier, more balanced, and when possible, locally grown foods. 

Being a former teacher in Decatur and a lover of fresh, local food, I signed up to volunteer to aid in this endeavor.  When I noticed a request for someone to grocery shop for a cafeteria employee training facilitated by Decatur Farm to School and Georgia Organics, I jumped at the opportunity.  Now, I’ve shopped 3 times at Whole Foods (which donates all of the ingredients!) for these trainings, and Monday, I attended the workshop.  It was extremely rewarding to see the final products created by local volunteer chefs and sampled by all of the cafeteria employees, using the ingredients that I selected and transported for the training.  I was able to put names with faces of community members who have been hard at work making positive changes in City Schools of Decatur’s kitchens.  I became even more of a part of the process, and I must say, it feels super excellent to be a part of something so progressive and positive.  

That’s the word for now, friends.  I am inspired, motivated and encouraged. 

Happy cooking and eating Y’all!



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