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Spreading joy through carbs

contributed photos Jules McGrew’s customers love the meals she provides through her business JAM. Her cakes are also a favorite of many.

Jules McGrew has been cooking most of her life and sharing her food with others for just as long.

A job she had as a teenager sparked her love for baking and led her down the path of working in the culinary field.

“My first job was a bakery called Carmines in my hometown Middletown, NY when I was 15,” McGrew said. “I loved the smells of the fresh baked breads, cookies and especially the bagels. That’s where my love for carbs started. Pretty much every job after that was in the culinary field.”

McGrew had a job in banking for a bit but quickly returned to her greatest love — cooking. She has been in the food industry for more than 19 years.

McGrew’s favorite part of cooking is making people happy with her food.

“What I love the most about making food for others is the emotions behind it,” she said. “Whether they are sharing it with family or friends, or trying something new, it’s all very exciting to me. I love how much joy it brings others.”

McGrew loves to make pasta, breads and cakes. She said the worst part of the lockdown was when she ran out of yeast.

“I’ve been so blessed to be able to cook for others and love what I do everyday,” she said.

It has not been all smooth sailing through the years, though.

McGrew said she has seen her fair share of kitchen disasters during her career. Possibly the worst was when she was working as head chef at a golf club. While moving a buffet chafing dish, one of the lids slammed down on her finger. She was afraid her finger had been severed, but thankfully it was just split down the middle from the nail to the knuckle.

Jules McGrew loves to make pasta, cakes and bread.

McGrew has owned a meal prep business called JAM since 2018. Every week she has a different menu with delicious dishes like shrimp scampi, orange chicken and fish tacos. McGrew’s customers love her salmon salads and cakes.

Soon she will be sharing her cooking with even more people.

“I’m looking forward to teaching at Marshalltown High School this upcoming fall as the new family consumer science teacher and to be able to teach others the skills I’ve learned along the way,” McGrew said.

Challah

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast

2 to 2 1/2 cups of warm water

1 teaspoon white sugar

4 1/2 cups unbleached bread flour

2 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt

In a large bowl mix together yeast, water and white sugar. Let proof for about 15 minutes.

Mix flour and sea salt with a fork in a separate bowl. Mix together and knead until it forms a sticky malleable ball of dough. This will take about 10 mins by hand. You can use the mixer if you prefer. Lightly coat a clean bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in a bowl and allow the dough to rise to double its start size, which will take about 1 1/2 hours.Separate the dough in half. Divide each half into three pieces. Braid the three pieces. Place the two braided raw loaves on a pizza stone or cookie sheet. Cover the raw loaves with a clean towel and allow them to rise for another 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees. Cook the loaves for 20 minutes then reduce the temperature down to 400 degrees and cook for another 10 minutes. Each loaf should sound hollow when tapped from the bottom. Let the loaves rest on a wire rack or wooden cutting board. Serve with an olive oil dipping sauce or butter.

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Contact Anna Shearer at 641-753-6611 or ashearer@timesrepublican.com.

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