FORT WAYNE -- In 2007, Tammy Luce -- along with two-thirds of the workforce of Albion – lost her job at a local company.
With 25 years of accounting experience and two children to care for, Luce wasn’t sure what her next step would be, so she began to pray.
“I was trying to decide, if I was gifted and talented in one area, what would it be? What can I do and get paid for it? Every day I would get up and pray,” says Luce, proprietor of Brick Ark Inn Bed & Breakfast.
Working as the general contractor, Luce, along with family members and friends, worked 18 months on the home before opening for business. Before taking on the project, Luce said she had experience only in painting and wallpapering.
“That’s why it’s called the Brick Ark Inn, because for me, it was like building an ark,” she says.
Luce says the bed and breakfast, a home previously owned by Susan Prickett, the grandmother of actress Anne Heche, has been open for 2 1/2 years. She also runs Luce Accounting Services, a bookkeeping and tax business.
The kitchen cabinets are maple, according to Luce, 49, and were custom-made with wood from her property.
“I love my kitchen. I had to take down a sugar maple tree in my front yard, and I made my cabinets out of it. I designed the cabinets, and Merlin Miller from Topeka made them. I wish I had two more trees, because I would have put one in the floors and the other in the doors and trim,” she says.
Asked why she decided to go into the bed-and-breakfast business, Luce says: “There’s no place to stay in this town, and I love hosting people. I do like to cook. Even before the bed and breakfast, I was the host for parties and special occasions. I have hosted several exchange students.”
Q. Do you have certain dishes you serve for breakfast?
A. I’ve never decided what I’m making for breakfast until after I talk with (the guests). I ask what they want and what’s a special treat for them. I have 10 of my favorite recipes – everything from Belgian waffles to baked french toast or the hash brown potato quiche. But sometimes they just want ham and easy-over eggs. I make what they want and serve it at their schedule. Also, I’ve learned to make English, Mexican, German or Chinese traditional breakfasts.
Q. What vegetable do you eat most often?
A. Probably mushrooms. I love mushrooms in whatever I’m making: pizza, lasagna, stir-fry or omelets. I like to hunt mushrooms. There are several kinds that are edible. I hunt those in the spring. I love fishing, too. My favorite meal would be fresh-caught bluegills, fresh asparagus and fresh mushrooms – and strawberry pie for dessert.
Q. Who’s your cooking idol?
A. There’s two. One would be Julia Child. One day I watched her make omelets on television, and in one half-hour she made eight omelets. Now every time I make omelets, I can hear her. (Imitating Child’s voice:) “Now you crack the eggs like this.”
And I also like Steve Raichlen, the master grill chef. I love food on the grill.
Cream Cheese Pastry Puff
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sugar
2 packages refrigerated crescent roll dough
1/2 cup raspberry or apricot jam
1 egg, beaten
4 ounces sliced almonds, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix cream cheese, vanilla and sugar in a bowl. Unroll one can of crescent roll dough on a cookie sheet, sealing perforations. Spread filling on dough, leaving 1/4 -inch edges. Top with jam. Unroll second can of crescent roll dough and lay on top of first layer. Seal edges with fork. Brush with beaten egg. Sprinkle with sliced almonds. Bake for 30 minutes. Makes 8 servings.
Raspberry Streusel Muffins
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 egg, beaten
1 cup fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons melted butter
Combine flour, sugar and baking powder. Blend milk, butter and egg. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; stir just until moistened. Spoon 1 tablespoon of the batter into each 12 muffin cups. Take 1/2 cup of raspberries and divided that among the muffin cups. Top with remaining batter. Add remaining raspberries to top. Combine topping ingredients. Mix until they form moist crumbs. Sprinkle over muffins. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes and carefully remove. Makes 1 dozen.
Hash Brown Potato Quiche
3 cups frozen hash browns, thawed
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup cooked ham, chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/4 cup chopped green, yellow or red bell peppers
1/4 cup finely chopped onion, optional
1 jalapeño chili, finely chopped, optional
1/2 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Spread the potatoes on paper towels and press out any remaining moisture. Pat the potatoes over the bottom and up the side of an ungreased 9-inch pie plate. Drizzle the butter over the potatoes, making sure the edge is totally covered. Bake in a 425-degree oven for 25 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees. Layer the ham, cheese, pepper, onion and jalapeno over the baked crust. Whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper in a bowl until blended and pour over the prepared layers. Bake for 25 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Refrigerate any leftovers. Makes 8 servings.