Former top-producing Realtor and REM columnist Carolyne Lederer-Ralston recently released Gourmet Cooking – At Home With Carolyne, an Amazon Kindle ebook that also can be used on smartphones using a Kindle app.

Story continues below

The Kindle cookbook, now available for $5.99 (US), is a collage offering of her newspaper gourmet cooking columns that she began writing in the mid-1970s, long before gourmet cooking became the buzzword it is today, she says.

Lederer-Ralston is a home cook food writer who studied home economics. She is an original recipe developer who taught gourmet cooking. She also worked as a scholastic, academic and textbook copy editor and indexer and dictionary editor. In 1980 she entered the real estate industry and captured a 24 per cent market share in her trading area west of Toronto.

She never gave up cooking, creating new recipes and writing real estate-related consumer education articles. For the past decade has been a columnist at REM, writing Recipes for Realtors.

Lederer-Ralston says her readers say they enjoy her unique storybook personal writing style and say they often feel she is right in their kitchen with them.

To order, click here.


  1. “Cook-o’clock”
    International clocks around the world tell us that right now it’s “Cook-o’clock” somewhere in the world. Preparing for eating happy hour.

    Whether working from home during Covid lockdowns, or back to work in a somewhat changed workaday world, there’s always a need to eat, personally, or feed a family.

    If you check out my REM gourmet cooking column you will find many suggestions: some instant treats, ways with terrific leftovers, single living cooking for one suggestions and many make-ahead dishes for large family meals, along with pot lucks and take-aways. Even picnics. An international selection.

    For those who simply choose not to cook, some say the manuscript material provides an interesting read.

    Check out REM’s Gourmet Cooking Columns with the REALTOR in mind.

    Here’s the REM newspaper new website recipe link for my gourmet columns:

    Scroll way down to “comments” at each recipe. Loads of add-on recipes.

    I always enjoy hearing from our readers. Feel free to comment or contact me personally.

    NYC publisher is trying to finish my upcoming hardcover, soft cover and their eBook version. The first of a 12-part gourmet cookbook series.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” – Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    It’s been a horrific experience. A massive undertaking.

    Apple has forbidden Amazon to sell Kindle books an Amazon support person has just told me. But they are allowed to sell Kindle-formatted as eBooks that work on any smartphone.

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

  2. Just a head’s up to would-be REM authors:

    People trust Amazon and people trust Apple. But that’s because they don’t know what they don’t know.

    No matter how much research you do there is apparently information they don’t volunteer.

    Here’s the current discovery: Apple allegedly parted company with Amazon, disallowing Amazon to sell Apple Kindle books. But Amazon continues to allow hired Kindle-formatted manuscript uploads to be marketed, knowing full well that Kindles are not permitted to be sold on Amazon. I am not criticizing but I am merely asking a question as to how this can happen.

    I lost two years trying to get my “Kindle” “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne” sold on Amazon. First the American formatting was prepared by contract and loaded to Amazon, having been explained to me (apparently incorrectly) that Amazon would be selling my “Kindle” cookbook. Surely he must have known that Amazon is forbidden by Apple to sell Kindle books?

    The formatted manuscript can be sold as an eBook on Amazon and can be read on any smartphone as such, with no need to have a physical Kindle machine.

    But allegedly Apple forbids Amazon to market and sell “Kindle-formatted” manuscripts. I still don’t know the full information about the Apple/Amazon legal matter.

    So if REM readers are thinking of selling their own (Kindle) manuscripts on Amazon, best to investigate fully first so as not to misrepresent in marketing. Authors simply just don’t know what they don’t know.

    You can order my “ebook cookbook” at Amazon, but it will be an eBook that can be read on your smartphone, but it won’t be a Kindle per se.

    Many thanks to those on REM who placed their successful orders. When buying as a gift do not refer to my cookbook as a Kindle so as not to misrepresent. I think Apple/Amazon should have made full disclosure.

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

  3. Canadian Cooking – there’s really no such thing…

    I have a European palate although born in Canada. I grew up and spent most of my married life among Europeans. There is no particular “Canadian” cooking style, or dedicated Canadian foods. Historically there were European shops in many Canadian cities. But over the years they have dramatically diminished in number or have disappeared entirely. European friends often said I was more European than they are/were. As the immigrant diaspora in Canada has changed remarkably in recent decades, often not assimilating in full but rather enclaved in cities of their own making within existing cities, there’s less and less marrying of foods, how they are prepared and presented it seems. Less sharing.

    One of my hopes with the REM Recipes for REALTORS Gourmet Cooking column is to introduce to the new Canadian immigrants some “everything old is new again” eatings as we grew to love over the years. Sometimes formal, others not so much; clearly casual. I am happy to receive email private questions as well as recipe comments on REM.

    Sometimes I forget that other people are often not familiar with certain foodstuffs, although many are who have access to deli foods and fresh markets in areas where they live. And some even have access to wonderful fresh air farmers’ markets within walking distance or a short drive.

    If you have local seniors or new immigrants living near you who can’t get out, perhaps you might offer to get for them a couple of fresh tomatoes in season or a couple of fresh peaches locally grown. Or make one of my recipes and deliver as a Canadian surprise to a senior living alone, or to new immigrant family.

    Or offer to take a new immigrant grocery shopping. A niche opportunity for a REALTOR?

    In the days of doing typically 35 referrals annually contributing to my regular 24% market share, all split about 70-30 sellers:buyer ratio, I always tried to introduce the new to town buyer to our local grocery stores where I mostly shopped; I took them shopping.

    I arranged for them to get a discount at local paint and wallpaper shops, and sent a laundry hamper to their hotel:motel, full of things they might not have thought they might need while waiting and shopping for their new place. Lists galore including laundry facilities and dry cleaners nearby. Local restaurant delivery services. Automobile dealerships and car rentals.

    I kept busy introducing them to school principals and secretaries. I provided local doctor and dentist referrals if requested, and some specialist medical connections when required. But for social butterfly activities they had to find their own companions. And I knew minus nothing about sports.

    I allotted diarized appointments on my daily calendar activities to make room for these introductions. It was never a problem. Sometimes I did wish I had a clone but I always made myself available for these business duties. It was never time wasted. But for me it was strictly business not a friend-making procedure. Just a little give-back to people who supported my business

    Perhaps check out my ebook Kindle. As such an inexpensive item it makes a small gift gesture for maybe a new immigrant, even just to read; they might even find an item from back home: at
    “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne”

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston 🍁

  4. “Kitchen Smartphone HINT: ”

    At some point in time you will find yourself in your kitchen, with your smartphone in tow.

    No matter how clean you are or how clean your kitchen is, housekeeping in general, you can’t avoid “clutter in the air.” Bits of flour, sugar, dry spice residue flitter around in the air (in the bathroom think about daily face shaving hair fragments).

    Then there’s always cooking steam to consider…

    As I wrote ages ago about protecting cell phones in the bathroom by wrapping in a dry clean facecloth, here is a best smartphone kitchen tip.

    If you don’t have one, invest in a covered butter keeper box (avoid plastic as it “sweats.”) Doesn’t have to be expensive, but there are some extraordinarily beautiful decorator ones for sale online. Be sure the size is sufficient to accept your phone, when the lid is on. Keep the butter box within easy reach on the counter but away from your immediate cooking area.

    Park your phone in the covered butter box whenever you are working in or even near your kitchen if you have an open concept floor plan. It was actually an Apple tech person who, when I shared the bathroom shower cell phone tip with him, who said they receive so many problem cell phones and discover “kitchen air clutter” is the culprit.

    Think about it: a simple pizza flour scattered counter… the residual flour is absolutely airbourne, and that’s just one example. (Do you use baby powder in the bedroom or bathroom? It gets in your mobile phone.)

    The “air clutter” even gets in your charger cord connectors. Blow them fragment free occasionally. If your wall plugs (often near dusty floors and baseboards) are full of dust and you plug your charger cables in, you deflect your connection having dirty ports and connectors.

    The air we breathe is the same distributor of lung “air clutter” affecting your smartphone. Maybe provide a covered butter box in other areas in the house. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

    And as well, apparently cell phones harbour more bacteria than anyone could guess. Maybe spray the butter box, not the actual phone, with Lysol? (If you are not allergic to chemicals or have sometimes life-threatening chemical sensitivities.)

    Carolyne L 🍁

  5. I just bought Carolyne’s ebook cookbook. If you need a bridal shower gift or a wedding present, or even a closing gift for your clients, her ebook cookbook makes a great gift during lockdown or isolation time. And the price is right for the times we are all living in, less than a fancy Starbucks drink! I already tried a few recipes – amazing detail and you can’t mess-up the outcome! Always delicious and looks like it was made by a chef! Highly recommend it- great job, Carolyne!

    • Thank you so much, Alina. Much appreciated. A chef I am not, just a home cook, self taught like Ina Garten was. I read magazines, books, and researched continuously, and even though always holding down a full time job, put a full-course meal on the table every day. When I look back I don’t know how I multitasked long before that term was coined, consistently paying attention to finite detail.

      When I offered to write a “Gourmet Cooking with Carolyne” weekly newspaper column, the term Gourmet mostly wasn’t used or even heard of in some areas; a new thing in 1976. Clearly I was way ahead of my time. Someone read the gourmet recipe column and I was contacted by the BofE and asked if I would teach an adult education gourmet class. Ultimately I ended up teaching in my own kitchen twice each week as the school kitchen was not equipped sufficiently.

      But I was driven to be my own person and do my own thing as was my personality. I didn’t use recipes as such, but rather used concepts, and developed my own recipes. There’s no such thing as defined Canadian cooking. Mine is a mix of our multicultural diaspora. Largely I enjoy continental European cooking, and back then ingredients were difficult to source at times. But that accentuated the need to have a good pantry at the fingertips. (Always stock up when on sale.)

      But my attention to detail pervades my kitchen as it did in my prior career that took me to the top of the business world years before I became part of the real estate field.

      Sort of like the carpenter admonition: measure twice, cut once, I was always very careful not to waste.

      But what good intense grounding for being a REALTOR ® that got me off to a good start back in 1980 when I made a giant career move into real estate and never looked back. I had no idea how much real estate agents are often disliked and disrespected. I was blessed to have the best clients in the world. And I networked extensively. I had no less than 35 referrals annually, coming and going from cross-Canada agents.

      If I had known how dark the industry is often alleged to be, often mis-defined by the press who doesn’t seem to know the industry is led by government rules and regulations, I never would have considered joining the industry. But there are so many good agents out there.

      Currently I have now more than 2000 original recipes developed over the years. And the NYC cookbook in the works is a massive undertaking, taking much longer than anticipated. A whole n’other new experience. Hard to imagine approaching 80, and starting life again. I never could have predicted it.

      Thanks to all for your continued support… and, yes, Alina, the ebook REM so kindly supported is a great inexpensive gift. In Canada can only be ordered at Amazon using a real computer at not dot com. For those who don’t know, there’s a “look inside” tab at the top of the graphic cover at “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne” when viewers Google it.

      I hope your Kitchener market is opening up and that you will have a giant market share as the world recovers and gets back to some definition of normal.

      Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

  6. “Amazon education” update for would-be Kindle authors:

    Disclaimer that should appear on Amazon: anyone intending to purchase a Kindle at Amazon must place their order using their local Amazon location url such as or

    Kindles can be read on smart phones and do not require an app. But actual “orders” must be placed using a real computer, not using a smart phone or tablet, and the buyer’s Amazon account. Amazon is a store. This information directly from an Amazon off-shore support team.

    I was, after a year of discussing with Amazon off-shore support staff regarding problems people were having placing orders for my “Gourmet Cooking – At Home with Carolyne” finally advised of the above information.

    In fairness, any author wanting to sell their books on Amazon (or buy one) should be told the above information. I have lost a whole year because no Amazon support person apparently knew what one support staff finally told me.

    Amazon doesn’t publish books per se. They “sell” books, like any other store. As an author you must alert your would-be buyers to the process and to place orders “only” using a real computer. Orders cannot be processed otherwise.

    And authors must either load their material in an Amazon acceptable format or pay someone to load the manuscript to Amazon.

    I paid an American company to format my material who allegedly have cookbook experience. My material only required copying and pasting my Word docs recipes into appropriate format was to take only a few days. No editing required, requested or paid for. A few days became a few weeks, and then months due to many errors in the formatting.

    I initiated my order between Christmas and New Year and my manuscript did not get loaded to Amazon until the first week in April the following year.

    For those who were not able to place orders for my cookbook, kindly retry. Much appreciated.

    The NYC publishing house that is also in London UK, UAE, and Australia upcoming hardbound and softbound books is a massive undertaking. We are making progress on © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks” | Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

    I love to read your comments and private emails. Many thanks.

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston


    If you were to Google the name of my Kindle cookbook you would see that Google has taken it upon itself to spell my name with a “i” instead of a “yne” even noting that they have changed my name!
    in their search results and no one can fix that.
    And after a year of talking to Kindle support trying to discover why would-be buyers were not able to place orders, the support person today just explained:

    Here is his take on why…

    Just talked to Amazon and discovered what the problem with the kindle cookbook ordering is…

    People can ONLY order from a fixed real computer, not from any kind of smart phone or related App. People can “read” a kindle on smart phones even without an App, but cannot purchase Amazon books Kindles or any other books using smart phones of any kind.

    Go figure! And Amazon is part of the high tech world!!! ???

    Hard to believe. I have spoken to dozens of tech people at Amazon in the past year!!!, and no one told me that. Buyers have to “open an Amazon account” using a desktop or laptop in order to purchase a Kindle! Not just my book but any book.

    The younger set, many don’t even own a computer anymore, and only use their smart phones. He said send them to a library or someplace where there’s a real computer, to buy your Kindle cookbook from Amazon, or any book written by anybody.

    That should be a disclosure for anyone publishing using the Amazon Kindle System??? In all fairness, that is not full disclosure???

    Needless to say it has been a tiresome process for a whole year of wasted time and effort. And it’s only fair to tell anyone you know who is thinking of publishing through Amazon Kindle, since it seems to be some big corporate secret because even their own KDP support staff didn’t know this.

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience


    I have received many messages from people unable to place orders for my Kindle cookbook.

    After several discussions with Amazon tech support literally outsourced around the world in South Africa, India, Jamaica, and Seattle WA, and AZ, and other locations, I have received this current instruction from Amazon as follows…

    Copy and paste the whole link provided in each case if clicking the link doesn’t work.

    If you are in Canada you must order from this link:

    If you are in USA you must order using this link:

    • US Kindle Store : United States

    In other countries you must use your local domicile Amazon extension in your browser line to activate your country, such as “.de” in Germany.

    The price conversion is relative to the currency exchange rate on any given day based on USd.

    Thanks. This is beyond crazy, with more than a dozen people letting me know they unsuccessfully tried to order as many as five books for friends and family.

    To those who managed to order, once again: thank you sincerely. And yes, you can send it as a gift to a friend.

    Let the cover picture load and just above the graphic it says: LOOK INSIDE (click here to read sample).

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

  9. [I wrote, just above: The milkman delivered glass bottles of milk (here locally even right up until the mid 1960’s and builders built-in a milk box cupboard right at the side door of houses, and the cream separated as the milk sat untouched, and occupied the top third of each bottle, just like in the 30’s and 40’s and likely before. That cream was then saved in the icebox, whipped and used for strawberry shortcake. Anyone old enough to remember?]

    Everything old is new again (maybe?)… Check out the return of the glass milk bottle, below (overseas)…

    Scroll down to the comments where I wrote about the delivery of milk in glass bottles, and that builders supported the concept at the time…

    A little synchronicity?… I few times over the years I have written about “top milk” as saved when milk was “delivered” in glass bottles… now here is a perfect example to what I referred… for me, it was quite interesting to trip over this topic in the UK Telegraph…

    Copied and pasted as viewed at the UK Telegraph:

    Friday morning. 7am. I open the front door and retrieve two glass bottles from the step. It’s our first local milk delivery, part of an ongoing attempt to cut down on single-use plastic.

    Memories of granny letting me skim cream off the foil lid come flooding back. It’s an exciting moment – well for me, anyway. The children look bemused: surely milk comes in a plastic bottle from Sainsbury’s Local? Not anymore, kids.

    We’re not the only family to make the switch. Since David Attenborough’s Blue Planet II highlighted the destructive effects of single-use plastic on the oceans in 2017, and the War on Plastic aired on BBC1 in June 2019, milk…

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston


    If you ever have the opportunity to scrounge for wild berries, don’t ever pass it up. And by all means introduce children to searching for wild strawberries and point out their delicate little yellow flowers. And then there’s raspberry canes that often could take over a whole yard fence line. And mint, likewise, will propagate uncontrollably in some yards.

    But if you find yourself in a farmer’s field, memories are made. I was blessed incredibly as a child to be introduced to farmland and surrounding peat bog; that so black soil that has natural root fibres running though it, it never dries out completely. Wetlands black soggy rich soil.

    A walk in the woods where one’s feet crush pine needles.
    There’s no perfume in the whole world that can replace the fragrances of wet woodlands.

    I had a distant uncle who didn’t like children but with his sister owned a family dairy farm. Every child’s delight. He was also the main river in the area, fish and game warden. I recall, as a child being driven (imagine 1948 and a widow woman driver in a sparkling new 4-door maroon sedan who wasn’t pleased with the dust from the roads) through dusty unpaved roads along the riverbanks and seeing him standing in knee-deep gentle rivers, dressed in his rubber top to bottom work outfits, flashing his rod line. Never ever saw a boat on those gently rushing waters. But I do remember walking in the low water, walking on loads of pebbles large and small, and the water was shallow and drinkable and so clean and clear you could see the bottom of the tributary streams as run-offs from ice jams only months before. I will always see those pebbles in my child mind’s eyes. They were so special. The adults cooked their rod and reel caught fish and fried it over a rock mounded open flame well away from any woodland, and made tea in a blackened tin pail. A one-time memory that lasts forever and is nearly indescribable.

    Several years ago when driving in rural Vermont, I saw water replicas. I was awestruck. In Woodstock, Vermont there was still a wooden covered bridge.

    I learned in my childhood that a wasp sting was treated immediately by packing it with the black, rooted soggy peat soil.

    And in other parts of the surrounding area, fresh tiny wild strawberries grew in abundance.

    And time spent in Maine farmer’s fields yielded buckets of wild plump ripe blueberries growing among very very wide low to the ground, evergreen cluster bushes. You could walk for miles in those days in farmer’s fields and no one cared. I was just a child but I could pick several buckets of blueberries and never eat one. And then I did. And then I couldn’t stop. I ate too many. Too much of a good thing!

    And raspberry canes at home were on the fence line, even in town, for the picking. And mint grew by incalculable amounts, although I don’t recall ever having eaten it. I never heard of thyme, parsley, or sage until I was an adult, and never ate a salad till I was an adult, much less herbs and spices; cinnamon was available for apple pie and sometimes nutmeg only for the pies, and once in a while I recall hearing about allspice (a mix of cinnamon, nutmeg and ground cloves). No one at home ever made a salad. I only saw a tomato at a farmer’s market. Only maybe one time, a tomato sandwich. There were tins of tomatoes after the War, sometimes used in soups. Likewise I never saw a celery stalk. There were lots of potatoes, carrots and onions used in abundance.

    Growing up, there was always homemade soups, stews, fish, toasts: mainly beef and pork Sunday roasts big enough to have lots of leftovers for sandwiches during the week, and the occasional large chicken that memory recalls tasted nothing like the chicken we eat today (of course they were free range chicken), and homemade cakes or pies for dessert. After the War, cake mixes appeared and apparently haven’t changed much in the interim. I’ve never used them but friends who didn’t cook or bake per se had great success with the packaged goods full of preservatives.

    Lettuce was for putting on a sandwich occasionally even so it grew in a small garden row with a few carrots, green beans, and peas, and a few cucumbers. Cucumbers were grown for pickling, but some sort of cucumber was sliced paper thin on crustless buttered sandwiches. Very English. I love the fragrance, bouquet, of cut cucumber, but I can’t eat it to this day. I use cut cucumber to have sitting on the kitchen counter or the rim of the bathtub as an air freshener.

    Fresh cucumber, once sliced has a wonderful fragrance. (Keep a few cut pieces of raw cucumber on your kitchen counter as a magnificent air freshener. Toss it after a day or so, and replace with fresh.) You simply cannot buy anything in an air freshener system or spray can that will be as beautiful or as wonderfully fresh.

    Likewise if someone in the household is sick, to help the germs from spreading, position a couple of split open onions here and there. Toss every day. Make sure no one eats the onions. They are then full of poisonous bacteria air particles. Always keep kitchen prep cut onions covered for this reason. Fast food places leave cut onions open to the air. You can’t imagine what is consumed.

    The onions absorb all the bacteria in the air. This really works. An old wives’ tale. Along with airing out the house by opening all the windows often, creating a cross-breeze. Young people have never been taught these things.

    When growing up. I never saw a mushroom, and spaghetti came in a can, introduced after the War, when tins of canned foods appeared. I was twenty years old when I first ate real, freshly cooked, spaghetti with only the most minimal amount of some sort of tomato sauce, possibly from a can, and I remember where; at Bathurst and Spadina at a family style restaurant among the street vendor green grocers.

    A walk along the area Italian street markets in the late 50s and early 60s was an opportunity to discover what the new Italian immigrants enjoyed from back home.

    Again, another kind of fragrance experience. Lots of fresh citrus to be had. They trucked in produce to the city from the country family-owned farms outside Toronto boundaries. Nothing was wasted.

    That was typically Canadian at the time. A big introduction to the wonderful world of Italian foodstuffs.

    After each childhood outing in family farmers’ fields there was jam and jellies to be made; strawberry shortcake made with freshly homemade biscuits that seemed to appear from nowhere in no time, and served with what was commonly called whipped “top milk.”

    The milkman delivered glass bottles of milk (here locally even right up until the mid 1960’s and builders built-in a milk box cupboard right at the side door of houses, and the cream separated as the milk sat untouched, and occupied the top third of each bottle, just like in the 30’s and 40’s and likely before. That cream was then saved in the icebox, whipped and used for strawberry shortcake. Anyone old enough to remember?

    Although I later learned to make these things in school, at home I was not allowed in the kitchen. But I was allowed to eat the magnificent spoils of the day that taught me the scents and flavours and the fragrances that would become part of my personal life, encounters that could never be replicated on a store shelf.

    So when I eventually had my own kitchen, I set about doing my own thing. Sadly there were no more field trips or squelching feet through the soggy black soil. Such is not found in city limits. And of course in the big city-inter-nation-al, there are no stars to be seen at night. Be sure to make time to visit places like Kincardine, and drive home at night when you can see the stars and seemingly could pick them like cherries from a tall tree. I had to drive to Kincardine to get offer papers signed on property sold here. The owners had taken their yacht to the vicinity and met me to sign the accepted offer there. And I can still see those stars.

    But having visited those farmer’s fields and family-owned dairy farms growing up built in irreplaceable memories. And working full time very long hours didn’t let me schedule such revisits trips. But no one can ever supplant those memories that formed nearly eight decades ago.

    People can steal everything you own, but there’s no way for them to steal your memories. Memories are a forever gift. Make good ones that are keepers.

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

  11. Has anyone out there in REM reader-land ever sold a Bed and Breakfast to somebody – or for somebody?

    My NYC publishing house is entertaining the idea of possibly publishing a niche market cookbook as part of my possible series, to help Bed and Breakfast owners with a little homemade creative cooking recipes.

    It’s a very small market, even so international, and there’s loads of books for people thinking of starting a bed and breakfast venture but not such as a dedicated recipe collection possibly. I drafted this copy below and would appreciate hearing any comment from our REM readers across Canada and possibly beyond. Maybe even from our immigrant community as to how things are done back home re the food arena topic.

    Savoir Faire Bed and Breakfast ©
    (Possible Preface to upcoming special niche cookbook – copyright protected)

    In many of my collection of now more than 1500 original recipes, I have drawn special attention to that Bed and Breakfast owners might find some of my ideas useful.

    People have been known to give up a real job to follow their dream of opening a Bed and Breakfast. Never realizing it’s an even bigger job, this undertaking.

    Professionals, staff at professional offices, and general workers or even retirees, have set about opening such a business.

    Many have no business experience as a fallback plan. Have no knowledge of running a business, how to make a business plan or write a mission statement. How to prepare marketing specific to their identity and location or how to get it into the right hands. And how to attract and appeal to a special kind of guest. There’s as many possible descriptors as there are types of people.

    There’s an HR knowledge requirement. Who to hire, how, and what sort of duty expectations are in place (or not), and again a fallback plan. Just one example, as with running a restaurant, how much and what kind of, foodstuffs to make available. How to order and how to plan. How many guests will be needed to support the business financially, including but certainly not limited to, the structural upkeep. Is sufficient parking available, on-site or nearby?

    Knowledge of how to acquire suppliers and supplies at best prices so as to affect the profit margin. An understanding of the law of diminishing returns vis a vis the law of economies of scale.

    How to know how much to charge per stay or per day/night. Include food, yes or no. There are university hospitality courses but best guess is would-be owners don’t invest in such before entry into the guest accommodation field.

    And certainly many wishing to run a Bed and Breakfast often have no housekeeping knowledge or special business-related training (for their dream) or how to prepare special meals that would entice guests to come back again, either for a holiday or even for just when passing through on business trips for a one or two-night stay.

    How to handle a weary traveller and one who is obnoxious.

    A Bed and Breakfast is different from an Inn, generally. And although the premise might intend to replicate a hotel status, the atmosphere is most likely very different, mostly like being a guest in someone else’s home.

    Sometimes even located off the beaten path. How is laundry service applied, or not. Is there a hair salon service nearby (a business man or woman might need such if just passing through and might expect you to know), or a dry cleaner? Or even a florist. Not all guests are experiencing a camping trip in mind.

    Copy service centres and Internet cafés access might be needed? Will your guests even expect such services to be within reach? And will you offer such, directly? A desk in a room with working space for a laptop? And printer, fax facilities?

    There are hosts that appeal to truckers passing through. Others appeal to high-end guests. Some Bed and Breakfasts welcome pets and children. Others prefer not and offer no facilities that would appeal to such guests. Other guests might prefer to avoid other people’s children, crying babies needing feeding, and having the family pet at the dinner table.

    But every guest has to eat. Either at the Bed and Breakfast or elsewhere. Some provide breakfast only, others, whole day’s meals. At specific or random hours. Some provide a near formal dining area, others an at-home low key self-serve environment. Even maybe directly in the kitchen. Hungry? Make your own toast. Late night bedtime snacks? Help yourself to whatever’s in the cupboard or the refrigerator. If something is marked “don’t touch,” then of course, don’t.

    Will you offer food room-service on a tray? How often will the linens be changed? and individual trash collected. Small things seemingly unimportant. Not so.

    There’s so much planning that goes into setting up that dream world, and that’s all before the first guest ever arrives. And of course horrifically expensive insurance to think about.

    To take some pressure off the food arena, I have put together some everyday gourmet recipes that might be of interest to Bed and Breakfast owners and their guests. Recipes could even be printed out so guests who are interested could take them home. Perhaps print out a recipe that matches the guest-ordered food, roll the paper into a tube shape and tie it with a simple ribbon. Your take-away gift. Offer the guest the opportunity to take the recipe home to make it themselves.

    Good food, like people, comes in all shapes, sizes and colours (and prices). Some guests more easily pleased than others. As an owner you might want to offer that little something extra special; that “je ne sais quois.” Some reason to stay with you again, or refer friends, family or business associates to you. Offer Christmas or other holiday greetings in several languages. Build a contact list and at least once each year, communicate.

    Choose from some of my original recipes created randomly since the mid-1970s when I first started writing weekly gourmet newspaper columns and teaching gourmet at the invitation of the local school board adult education system of the day, along with non-participatory private group cooking classes in my home. Just watch and learn created great feedback.

    I was only in my mid-thirties, a spotless housekeeper who had three teens still living at home. We lived in the days when we all sat at the kitchen table together for dinner every single day; but in a European background where no talking or table interaction was allowed. Keep your hands on the table, eat and ask permission to leave the table when finished.

    And I long before had learned to multitask. I held down a full time job, that allowed me mostly the opportunity to work from home long before telecommuting was a buzzword, as a freelance academic textbook copy editor and index creator while some projects meant working with linguists and lexicographers preparing dictionaries. I had the best of all worlds, including creating a new family meal plan every week. And deciding what to teach evenings twice each week and what to write about in my weekly newspaper gourmet cooking column.

    I had no extended family who might arrive as uninvited guests. But I could understand those who did, because they often read my columns, and let me know their family and other guests really enjoyed the meals prepared, even just to feed their own families.

    So the thought came to me that I had never seen a cookbook expressly dedicated to the needs of an upscale Bed and Breakfast operation or for any support system to an owner of any description.

    So here you have a collection that might fill that hole in the system; a series of ready to make recipes, mostly using things that would already be in the pantry, supported by daily or weekly trips to the market, the green grocer, the supermarket, and or the local butcher shop. You will need to get to know your suppliers. Who you can trust for quality outlay.

    You would have a large freezer most likely; ideally an upright one with easy access. You might even have storage for such things as homemade jams, jellies, and sauces (ideally homemade ones). Are you a quasi-chef? Or do you have one on staff.

    If it is your dream to own a Bed and Breakfast, have you considered any of these noted things simply in an overview?

    Hopefully these recipes will lighten the load in the food-service arena. Cook, eat, enjoy – along with your guests. Perhaps even share samples with other nearby business owners and their staff as a means of subtly promoting your business. Will you be able to take holiday time of your own? Are you planning to be a specific seasonal business? Is there any local competition nearby?

    So much pre-planning that has no end in sight. Take that into consideration before you invest in such a property. There’s so much more than bricks and mortar to consider.

    And like with any sort of real estate, the most important thing? Location, location, location. Closely followed by food and cleanliness.

    Thinking of starting a Bed and Breakfast? In Ontario you will need to contact – FOBBA is the Professional Association in Ontario. If not your domicile, check with your own city and or province for redirects.

    And among others: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA). And AGEO, the Alcohol and Gaming Commission in Ontario.

    Do you need a liquor licence to cook with alcohol even so you do not intend to serve drinking alcohol to guests? (They seem to monitor wine-use only, and seem to recommend using only “cooking wine” in the preparation of foods.) Gourmet cooks highly recommend against such, stating only to cook with spirits you would drink or serve to a guest.

    And then there’s Statistics Canada where you can investigate other related topics.

    But this niche market isn’t just Canadian.

    Yesterday I received this nice comment:

    “I can only imagine the dinners you prepared, I’m sure they were exquisite! …. It’s a passion and you’ve definitely got it!”

    I find when I read your writing I’m intrigued, picturing all the uses in my head, imagining how it would look on a plate! ”

    © “From Lady Ralston’s Kitchen: A Canadian Contessa Cooks”
    Turning everyday meal making into a Gourmet Experience

  12. Spring is such a short season here in Canada, followed by several months of hot, sometimes very humid weather in some locations.

    We have REM readers all over the world and some even think we are part of the United States, often the confusion coming from the use of the continent name “North America,” applied to both countries.

    To see where I am here in Toronto, Canada, if you have access to a globe, or a map, locate with your finger New York City on the east coast Atlantic Ocean, in the American ‘State of New York.’ Then moving your finger to the west and ever so slightly north you will see Toronto Ontario at the bottom the ‘Province of Ontario.’ In Canada.

    We are located very far south in our country and have similar weather conditions as NYC, due the being on such a large lake, Lake Ontario, that some days seems to be the size of the ocean.

    Canada and the USA share the longest undefended border in the world, us back to back with our American neighbours to the south of the 49th parallel, many who read our national real estate newspaper magazine.

    Summertime, and the livin’ is e-a-s-y … ♪ ♪ ♪

    A perfect time to choose from a variety of my cold soups, an abundance of my salad dressings to choose from, and of course homemade ice creams, granita’s, sorbets and semi-freddo recipes. Each an original developed over the years. Served alongside any of your favourite BBQ meals, you will surely enjoy preparing lunches, dinners, and even breakfasts: inside or outside.

    REM provides a useful search field box at the top of each screen, or simply scroll through the Columnist button marked “Carolyne’s Recipes” earmarked “Recipes for REALTORS®” now available in an ebook Kindle, and look for hardbound and soft cover cookbook recipes on international bookstore shelves in the coming year.

    It’s a gigantic project, undertaken by a NYC publishing house, possibly in a series, due to over the years I have created more than 1500 original recipes starting back in gourmet teaching days in the mid 1970’s, even so I had cooked for years prior. I had saved all my old newspaper recipe columns of the day, revisited and rewrote them to update, drawing the memories into today’s gourmet world.

    Here is the ebook link connector that is representative of many recipes REM has provided over the past decade; scroll down through the “Comments” to see additional related recipes.

    To order the ebook, “Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne,” it is available here for $5.99 US.
    Email Carolyne

    If you have had difficulty connecting with Amazon to place your personal order, please send me a private email.

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston

  13. Carolyne,

    You continue to be an inspiration.

    There indeed is life beyond real estate.

    I do not know of any other mature woman starting a new venture like this. You are utilizing technology to distribute your book and that excites me. You always were a forward thinker.

    Thank you for your initiative to share your recipes, your experience, and your encouragement to your readers.

    • I hardly know what to say, Tina. Sometimes thank you doesn’t nearly cover it.

      As a septuagenarian (nearly an octogenarian, in real terms) I expect I’m well enough advanced in years to be your mother.

      When I asked editor Jim to seek to bring you back after a noticeable absence following a rude comment posted by an abominable colleague, I was happy to once again read your well-meaning, spirited, stories. Your own career provided a wealth of opportunity to show an agent side not seen often enough; sometimes reminiscent of pioneer days with your servicing clients far removed from home base, in a clearly neglected market arena specialty within the industry that requires a special kind of personality.

      You might consider turning your blogs into a book? Real estate tales in the real live world.

      There was a story in the Ottawa area news about an older senior couple I think perhaps in their 80’s, each in a different seniors’ care residence because there was no facility available where they could be together. They were still much in love after decades, missed each other dreadfully, and could no longer physically care for one another. The story broke my heart, and I knew if you were nearby you would have been quick to help figure out a better arrangement. There’s something to be said for “angels unaware.”

      I was thinking one of the passion-care agent groups might have been able to offer a rental property house assisted accommodation, using some sort of fund. And maybe OHIP could have covered the required medical care using at-home services. Many agents contribute towards programs showing large value cheques’ pictures being presented to multiple organizations. There was no Ottawa follow-up story that I could see.


  14. If you just go to and type in Gourmet Cooking – at Home with Carolyne, you can see I had them reload the whole cover picture.

    Click “look inside” as it shows at the top of the loaded picture, and you can read the “Synopsis,” the “What Our Readers Say,” and others, for free, along with the first several recipes.

    Or, just click this direct link:

    Many thanks for all the nice comments. And also special thanks to those who have copied and pasted and passed along the cookbook link to their friends. Someone even added it to their real estate newsletter. Cool!

    For those new to REM, perhaps check out Editor Jim’s link: “Recipes for REALTORS”


  15. Congratulations on your new cook book Carolyne. May you sell millions to gourmet food lovers everywhere.

    • Shelley M wrote:

      “Thank you so much for sending this to me!
      Unfortunately we don’t have kindle here but I was able to read the sample offered by kindle this morning. [You can read the cookbook on your phone or the Kindle App or use iBooks.]

      I will definitely pass on the link.

      [I’m hoping all our REM readers will pass it on, too.]

      What lovely recipes!”


      Thanks to Tina in Manitoba for putting my cookbook onto her social media. And to Ross for a nod on FB. You don’t have to cook to buy a cookbook. You can always buy a gift for a friend? Not many gifts can be had for only $5.99 (US) at and it’s an instant purchase for those people who forgot a birthday, or such.

      And thanks, Brian. Maybe you can find something in the cookbook that your mum will enjoy when you cook for her.
      Always remember gourmet is often just in the presentation. Nothing esoteric in my easy recipes. Most things people already have in their pantry.

      When your book is finished I can’t wait to read it. With Peggy, Ross, you, and me and who knows who else, maybe we could start the REM reader’s book club.

      Have fun reading the test pages.

      “Gourmet Cooking at Home with Carolyne”

  16. Thank you to REM’s editor Jim Adair and owner William Molls (and dad, Heino Molls) for a decade of support of my exclusive Gourmet Cooking column – “with the REALTOR® in mind.”

    And to all the REM readers who comment here and privately off line.

    Thanks for your continued support…

    Much appreciated. (Still on medical leave, my licence on hold).

    Carolyne Lederer-Ralston
    Going where tomorrow is… Hope to see you there.
    [email protected]

    • It has been suggested that I need to tell our readers that they don’t need to have a Kindle machine to read Kindle books.

      You can read my book directly on your iPhone, or you can install the Kindle “App.” Also you can read Kindle Books using iBooks that apparently comes with all phones and computers. Please correct me if I am wrong.


      “Gourmet Cooking at Home with Carolyne”


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here