Hi - for those who don't know me - I'm Katherine. I make all kinds of condiments - jams, chutneys, sauces, pickles and cordials. I learned to make these things in very early childhood from my mother, great aunts in the country and Russian grandmother in Melbourne.
Many happy summers were spent picking and preparing fruit to make into various preserves. Without realising, I learned about seasonality, how to set jam without pectin, organic farming, vacuum sealing, Fowlers jar preserving, a whole lot of family stories and more. When I think back to those times, I remember feeling a strong sense of specific seasonal activity. There was always something very safe and predictable in the set activities of each season. Cupboards and shelves were filled with beautiful produce to last through the coming months. With this came a strong ethos of hard work, not wasting anything and 'making do' with things at hand. I'm grateful for all of these skills and values, and hope some of these have been passed to my daughters.
As I grew up, I continued to make these things and my interest in cooking spread to many other areas. When all my friends were asking for dolls as birthday presents, I remember asking for a specific kids' cookbook I'd seen in a bookshop. That cookbook was my favourite 7th birthday present. Hopefully I'll unearth it one day at my mother's farm. The first thing mum and I made from that book, was "Croque Monsieur". And so my love affair with cooking began. Around that time, I decided to make and write my own cookbook. I hand wrote favourite recipes, drew pictures and put it all into a dark red folder and called it "My 70's Cookbook" - another item to be unearthed one day from the farm !
As an adult, I have often given handmade gifts for Christmas and birthdays. I don't think I've ever made just two or three jars of something. There's always been batches of numerous jars. Some years back, at the encouragement from friends, I started to sell condiments in small, local events - church fairs, school fetes and community events. Right from those early days, I made some really great friends. Soon I started to attend a few small events here and there. At that stage, I didn't even have a business name. One day an organiser called me and asked me "What is your business name ?" I hesitated and thought that sounded very serious and official. And I said the first thing that came to mind - and so "Made by Katherine" started.
This hobby got busy. I had a full time office job and found myself cooking in the evenings and selling on the weekends - usually both Saturday and Sunday. Events got bigger, quantities increased and it became clear that there were decisions to be made. I took the big, scary step of leaving a secure job to build my hobby into a full time job. This is actually the topic that I have written about in my eBook, recently released on Amazon - details below. I felt so nervous in those early days. There were, and still are - highs, lows, laughter, tears, new experiences, amazing roadtrips and more.
The picture in this post is from the early hobby days, not so long ago. I think it's important to look back and see where you started, and to remember why you started. So much has happened since those early beginnings - literally blood, sweat, tears, tenacity, joy and one incredible exhilerating ride. There are times when it is still tough. But when you are doing something you are really passionate about, you can find a way to 'push through' and keep going.
Find the thing that you really love doing or making. Don't wait for the perfect time, the right amount of money, the right relationship, the perfect home office studio, a gleaming commercial kitchen (I wish !) and so on. Life is punctuated with some really big moments, both good and bad, but it is the small things of everyday life that make up an existence. Life consists of our daily activities - so you may as well love what you do, everyday. If you keep waiting for the 'right time' or the 'right situation', life will just keep on ticking by.
As a favourite musician of mine, once said -"Better to die on your feet than live on your knees......oh....oh.....the power and the passion.....Peter Garrett / Midnight Oil classic 80's !
"Full Time Hobby" by Katherine Chernov, available on Amazon Australia, UK & USA.