Las Vegas, Nevada (PressExposure) June 02, 2009 -- JoAnn Jagroop whips up a quick snack made of tomatoes and goat cheese wrapped in prosciutto and red leaf lettuce while in her Spring Valley kitchen. Jagroop writes a blog on her Web site This Dame Cooks Blog, thisdamecooks.com, where she passes on some of the recipes she has created throughout her career.
Unemployment may be at its peak in Nevada at 10.4 percent, but that does not mean itâs time to throw in the towel, according to JoAnn Jagroop.
âIt is time to get creative,â she said.
Jagroop moved to Spring Valley in December after she was laid off from her job as an accountant in Colorado. The 61-year-old branched out from her dual chef and accounting background to apply for any job opening she could find.
After three months without work, Jagroop began to think outside of the corporate box.
She had worked in kitchens in several different countries including New Zealand and the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, so she thought, why not write about her adventures in cooking?
âIâve always loved to write, but I didnât know how to do it online, let alone make money off of it,â she said. âBut I knew I couldnât sit around and wait for a job to show up.â
Jagroop took a class on how to blog, and in March launched This Dame Cooks Blog - named for her âsaucy side,â she said. The blog, thisdamecooks.com, tells of the recipes she created as a charter cook on sailboats in the Caribbean, as a restaurateur in the South Pacific islands, a sous chef in New Zealand and a cooking show host in Tonga.
Every day, she writes a new blog with a new recipe that often is paired with a personal story. For example, her May 14 entry offers a recipe for pickled habanero chilies, a snack she discovered in Polynesia, and May 5 offers a recipe for poached squash blossoms, an hors dâoeuvres from her cooking show series âMeaâ kai Fakatonga.â
âThe whole idea is to give people easy, healthy recipes with a little flair,â Jagroop said. âHere is something you can do for your family that theyâre going to love.â
Some of Jagroopâs best writing material comes from her time in Tonga when she turned her carport into a commercial kitchen and made homemade yogurt, cheese, chutney and jam. She then opened her own restaurant on the island called Cocoâs Deli Cafe, which she operated for 12 years.
Grocery stores on the island carried few ingredients, Jagroop said, so she had to, once again, get creative. She settled for cocoa powder instead of chocolate chips and powdered milk instead of cream.
âI had to do with whatever I had,â she said. âIn all that experimenting, I came up with new recipes.â
Jagroop, who grew up in Washington, said some her earliest memories are with her parents in the kitchen. Both her parents were talented cooks.
âMy mom loved to cook anything unusual,â she said. âSo, I guess it comes natural to me.â
In less than two months since its inception, This Dame Cooks Blog draws an average of 150 visitors a day. Jagroopâs goal is to draw traffic to the blog and eventually launch her own recipe-heavy Web site where she will sell her books, kitchenware and other products.
Barbara Schiffers, a former chef from Washington, said she logs onto This Dame Cooks Blog weekly for new recipe ideas and laughs.
âThe authorâs personality really shows through,â Schiffers said. âSheâs tongue in cheek, funny and educated about her subject. Itâs a good read and inspires me to try something different.â
As part of her plan to âget creative,â Jagroop is also writing two e-books â âSorbets with Spiritâ and âPolynesian Cookingâ â that she plans to publish on ClickBank.com by September. She also is a freelance writer for Sierra Home Health Care, Reno, NV and online at Suite101.com and EzineArticles.com.
âIâve learned that you canât wait for things to come to you,â Jagroop said. âYouâve got to take action. If you know about a topic that others donât, you have a niche that you can share.â Contact Southeast and Southwest View reporter Danielle Nadler at firstname.lastname@example.org or 224-5524.
By DANIELLE NADLER VIEW STAFF WRITER