PB Kitchen Design visited Susan and Katie Kritzberg, the mother/daughter team of Two Wild Seeds Baking Company in St. Charles, Illinois, to talk about their home kitchens, and get a better sense of the self-sustaining life they both live at home (and in their completely dedicated gluten-free facility).
This family business of “homemade living” really started when Susan was raising her children to appreciate the life cycle of food and used the power of connection to gather in the kitchen to create fresh, healthy meals.
Q – Tell us about your home kitchen.
Katie – For me, it’s extremely small and simple, very minimal. I have a blender, toaster oven, and stove. My hands and a good set of knives are my most important tools in the kitchen.
And after a really long day at Two Wild Seeds, I want the least amount of thinking possible when I go home and cook.
Susan – In my kitchen, I currently have seven orchids blooming and I must say, these days, my kitchen space is more of a haven for living things than cooking! But when the kids were still in the house, we always had a busy kitchen. I’d send the children out to the garden for vegetables, or off on our Yorkville farm to forage for mushrooms, and then we would all gather to prepare our meals together. While the kitchen is small, it’s very well organized.
I do have to boast about my Sub-Zero refrigerator (with no freezer). When you are all about gardening and creating the freshest meals possible, the more fridge the better. Now that everyone is gone, however, the kitchen seems like a remnant of a time passed, so it might be time for a little remodel…
Q – Your approach to Two Wild Seeds and it sounds like, for life in general, is very self-sustaining. How do you use that mantra in the kitchen?
K – Mom really raised us to live “full circle.” We try to have very little waste, for example, if we have leftover batter it’s repurposed into cupcakes. We don’t pitch the squeezed lemons, apple cores, or the egg shells, they travel back to mom’s house for composting or for her chickens to enjoy.
S – Yes, I’ve always believed that everything has a purpose and we want to use our resources to their fullest extent. This even applies to working with local producers and farmers (when we can) to support our local economy and help build other small businesses like Foxtrot Organic Farm in St. Charles and Heritage Prairie Farm in Elburn.
It’s all about keeping that cycle going, and it’s nice that we can do that at home in our own personal lives and at Two Wild Seeds.
Q – What’s on your wish list for your home kitchen?
K – I’m working on getting away from having an overload of packaging in my kitchen and would love to really maximize jar storage in my pantry. The combination of having a busy lifestyle and being a vegetarian makes me want a Vitamix! It’s so easy to create smoothies and soups, having them at the ready for on-the-go meals.
S – At the moment, I would like to really streamline my kitchen and get rid of excess items. Oh, and new pots and pans!
Q – What is the best tool a baker can have in his/her kitchen?
Katie and Susan (at the same time) – Instinct.
S – You can’t strong-arm something when you are baking. You must be flexible with a recipe and develop a feel for it.
K – Plus, you need to fail a few times and get a sense of how the recipe looks, smells, and feels. You can learn how to follow a recipe, sure, but it’s an art form that needs to be developed.
Q – Your business name, “Two Wild Seeds”, is rooted in authenticity and connection. What kind of emotion and connection happens when you are cooking in the kitchen?
S – Cooking is a very satisfying thing to do because it one of our basic needs to live. We always take great joy in preparing and cooking meals in our kitchen that we can share with others. Bringing nourishing ingredients from the garden and making a meal really feels like I am doing one of the best things I can do as a mother and just a human being.
K – Cooking is one of the most basic skills that you can learn that’s self-sustaining. I have such an appreciation for my mom and how she taught us about food and where it comes from, (and) where it’s been. She taught us to recognize the effort that goes into the planting of seed, the caring of the crop, the harvest, the cooking, and then finally, the gathering of people to enjoy the food’s journey.
Food has always been a means of bringing people together, and our gathering place has always been in the kitchen.
Q – What are your thoughts on the “baking station” in new kitchen designs today?
K – Oh, yes, I love the idea of a baking station. Very mise en place, which means “everything in its place” in French. In baking, a lot of your ingredients are not used for everyday cooking. I have always seen baking to be like magic. You’re taking elements that usually don’t stand to be eaten on their own (salt, flour, baking soda, etc.) and weaving them with other ingredients into a tasty end result like an apple pie or a chocolate cake. The baking station is almost like an artist station in a way, allowing you to create your art with your supplies at the ready!
Q – What is your favorite thing to bake/cook at home? Got a recipe we can share?
K – I love a super fresh and easy caprese salad in summer months, with heirloom tomatoes from mom’s garden, some basil, sliced cucumber, a bit of avocado, and topped with mozzarella cheese.
S – My favorite is to pick an apron full of things from the garden, and then bring it in the kitchen to eat it! Fresh beans are my favorite…
More about Two Wild Seeds:
Susan Kritzberg & Katie Kritzberg are a mother-daughter team, and after years of demand for their gourmet desserts and specialty cakes, they decided to open their baking company in September 2012.
Self-proclaimed “sweet tooths,” Susan and Katie are not afraid to admit that they’re pretty picky when it comes to finding a good dessert, let alone one that’s gluten-free. While they didn’t begin their careers as gluten-free bakers, Katie’s personal gluten intolerance paired with the growing need for freshly baked, GF items – not frozen or prepackaged, full of preservatives — set the ball in motion. Without hesitation, they got busy testing and developing a variety of recipes, which have now resulted in a full line of pastries and cakes that are so delicious, even those who don’t eat gluten-free are coming back for more!
Susan’s 30-plus years of entertaining and catering for large crowds combined with Katie’s professional culinary training at Le Cordon Bleu-Chicago and hands-on work in some of the city’s top restaurants and bakeries has spelled a true recipe for success. Their refined palates, customer service, attention to detail and unapologetically high standards have allowed them to create products that are wholesome, decadent, and above all – safe to consume. You’ll discover that many of their desserts are actually family recipes that tell a story, inspired by fond memories of their rural, Midwest upbringings, travels around the world, and life’s simplest pleasures … which keep them busy baking new creations every day!