20 Questions Tuesday: 260 - Ann Marie McCallister


About the same time that we were able to start walking with Little Man in the neighborhood, there was this other kid with curly curly hair newly walking around with his dad.  After passing each other a few times hellos were exchanged and then we found both our kids in the same pre-school.  It was at this pre-sch0ol that I met this delightful little boy’s mom.  Ann Marie is delightful.  She is gregarious and engaging.  Not only is she fun to talk to, but she is also quite insightful.  While all this is interesting information about her, everyone knows someone who is delightfully engaging and wonderfully insightful, the main reason that Ann Marie is different from those gregarious losers you know is that she makes the best baklava known to man.  Your gregarious fun to talk to insightful friend has trouble dealing with filo dough, so suck it.  For those of you in the Greater Columbus Ohio Metro area, go find Glad Annie’s Old World Baklava and thank me later.  Onto the questions!

As many know, I was born near Oklahoma City, moved to Montgomery, AL when I was 3, moved up to NE of Birmingham, AL for 15 years, went to college in NorthEast Ohio, went to grad school in Columbus, Ohio, and settled down there.  Question 1:  What is your geographic story?


Yikes…there’s a lot of pressure built into that intro! I am a born and raised Ohio girl. Originally from the Cleveland area where much of my extended I’m-not-yelling-I’m-Greek-and-that’s-just-how-we-talk family still lives. We moved to Columbus when I was in Kindergarten, and I spent the next 12 years never dreaming I’d actually end up staying here. I went so far as do my student teaching in Liverpool, England and came back ready to move to a “real” city. But when I “temporarily” came back after college, I found this city evolving into a damn fine place to be!  I don’t know that Cbus is regarded as progressive and, dare I say, cosmopolitan as it really is. It’s like people think “Ohio” and it’s cows, John Boehner and “Supersize me!”

Columbus is definitely becoming more and more cosmopolitan.  You can tell that just because the food truck situation in Columbus is getting better.  Liverpool you say?? Interesting.

Here is the thing, I know you somewhat and this doesn’t make much sense. Question 2: You had to do student teaching?  I thought you were a freelance designer/Baklava generator?

Ah yes…student teaching. I had always loved art, but my parents wanted me to have a more liberal arts based college experience than an art college like CCAD. I suppose their thinking would be that I would be more employable afterwards. But I showed them! Majored in Peace and Global Studies for a year at Earlham College for a year because I thought it sounded cool, and then transferred to Baldwin-Wallace to get an Art Education degree. Sadly, Art Education might be one of the least employable fields ever. So I ended up going back to CCAD to study illustration and graphic design. I still don’t think they entirely understand the design part of what I do for a living. They know it has something to do with magazines and it’s not the writing part, but it gets a little nebulous after that!

Hmmm, art ed wasn’t the most lucrative  employment choice? Quell suprise…

You have traveled, and you have lived outside the borders of Ohio. Question 2a: So where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

Tough question! The reality is it’s hard to imagine being anywhere other than where we are with the strong community ties we have here (insider tip: the neighbors are way cool!). But at the same time, living overseas even for just awhile changed my view of the world and my place in it, and I would love that for my kids. I don’t know if it’s the sheer size of the ol’ U.S of A. or what, but I feel a lack of connection and objective awareness of what’s happening elsewhere in the world. So I suppose I would definitely go back to England if given the opportunity. And it would have to be northern England because that is where you can get chips and gravy, and therefore my true spiritual home!

I have never found the combination of gravy and fried potatoes that alluring.  I will take any kind of gravy you have on mashed potatoes, but chips/fries just doesn’t work for me.  Question 3: So, have you had the ultimate in Chips/gravy before with the cardiac malfunction inducing poutine, way up Quebec-way?

On paper, poutine should be amazing…you can’t really gild the lily of french fries and gravy with anything other than cheese, can you? I want to love poutine…should love poutine, but somehow it just doesn’t really do it for me I’m afraid.

I have never had the poutine, so I have no opinion on it truthfully.  It does, however, seem to be gold on paper, but games aren’t played on paper…. and I guess food isn’t either.

So here it comes, the question all 5 people who read this have been waiting for… Question 4: Cake or pie? which kind and why? Be devastatingly specific.

Oooh…that’s hard! I think I have to go cake, and ideally it would be the richest, dense dark chocolate with a perfectly balanced cake-to-icing-ratio, possibly with a raspberry filling. Or a Ho-ho which I didn’t really appreciate until I couldn’t get them anymore.

There is still a hole in my heart where Hostess used to be…  not really, but I get it.  So you are a chocolate cake lover… interesting.  I find it fun how many people feel that chocolate and raspberry pair together so well… but we aren’t here to talk about no chocolate and raspberry pairing, there is another delicacy/confection that should be chatted about.  Question 5:  So, why did you choose Baklava as your product?

That’s the easiest question so far…it’s really the only thing I make well! I don’t really enjoy cooking or baking. We all have our gifts, and that is just not one of mine, with the exception of baklava which people had told me for years I should sell. So when we were looking to move to a bigger house at the same time I was leaving a regular job to freelance, I decided to see if I could do this on the side and maybe lessen the slightly panicked look Jeff would get when we talked about adjusting to a new monthly budget! So after finding out how to be all law-abiding as a food producer, I busted out a sample batch, some business cards and promo materials, and we were off!

well, I can attest that your baklava is amazing.  Question 6: How did you realize that baklava was your thing? One does not typically sidle up to baklava randomly.

I suppose it’s not as random if you grow up in a Greek family! After a friend had been impressed with the Greek pastry table my family put together at our wedding, she asked if I would make baklava for her wedding that was upcoming at the time. I figured I’d give it a shot despite my aforementioned  lack of basking prowess, and turned to the person I knew to make the best baklava, which strangely enough was my dad’s non-Greek secretary. She showed me how she did it, and over the years I tweaked the recipe and started using local honey that Jeff would bring home from the OSU honeybee lab and local butter. I’m pretty much a one-trick pony, but I do it well, and when it stops working for me I guess I’ll have to find something else!


I knew the Greek connection, but there are many people who have Greek heritage and still cannot combine the ingredients for baklava in a meaningful way.  I love, love, love the fact that you use as much local as you can.   So, Question 7: What is the most surprising thing that has happened so far since you started up Glad Annie’s?

Really, all of it has been more than I ever thought it could be. I will have to cheat and give you a top three, though they aren’t in a particular order. I suppose the first thing is what a hit it has been at Dirty Frank’s. Elizabeth Lessner was opening Dirty Frank’s as I was starting Glad Annie’s, and wanted to try the baklava on the menu. I initially thought it seemed an odd combo, but that’s that’s why she is responsible for some of the best restaurants in Cbus…she sees how things can be! Second was being contacted by Ashley Yore from ABC 6 and Fox 28 to film a segment for her Made Local, Stay Local series. So many great independent businesses in this town…couldn’t believe she’d want to feature a boring baklava baker, but she edited it so well, I didn’t even have to cringe while watching it when it aired! The last was seeing my baklava show up on Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams’ Facebook post. I had supplied some baklava for one of their company lunches, and when I was delivering I hoped I might go in and confirm my dream that there is a Salty Caramel river running through the factory and Oompa Loompas. I didn’t get a tour, but some of my baklava found its way into Jeni’s test kitchen and I like to imagine it rode a tiny waffle cone boat down the caramel river past the goat cheese and cherry trees…

Goat cheese cherry trees sounds like the name of a 90’s alt band from Kent, WA.  I have felt that your baklava could pair nicely with a few of Jeni’s seasonal flavors.  Providing a sweet/warm textured undertone to a more smooth, rich, and cold flavoring.  Specifically I could see it pairing with the Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet, but flavor combo’s are not what we are here to chat about.

Question 8: How soon until you have to rent kitchen space because your entire house is becoming a baklava factory?  

Just trying to comprehend the amount of baklava needed to be produced regularly to justify that kind of move makes my brain sweat uncomfortably! So while I will never say never, I think it is far more likely that I would limit my outlets rather than jump to such a high level of production and keep my accidental second career exactly that. Though we’ll see what I’m saying when the west side Dirty Frank’s opens!

Well, I know of no one who has partaken of the baklava and not wanted more.  Delightfully addictive stuff.

Onto one of my more dreaded questions. It is more of a fill in the blank than a questions so much.  Question 9: Fill in the blanks.  I find that I am mostly _________.  Others find that I am mostly __________.  (Feel free to ask others for this second part).

I find that I am mostly way too concerned about what others think about me, but it seems to be lessening as I get older so I suppose I really won’t give a damn by the time I’m ninety. Others find that I am mostly that loud, short lady with curly hair who makes the baklava.

I think most people relax their concerns of other people’s opinions as we get older.  That is completely unsurprising.  As for the “loud, short lady with curly hair who makes baklava,” I have only experienced the short, lady, curly hair, and baklava portions of that statement.  To tell the truth I think the first part of your answer has over-informed the second part of you answer.

Question 10: Do you have a goal set for your “side” business? Or are you just riding where this baklava wave is taking you?

I will concede that “loud” is in the ear of the beholder! As for Glad Annie goals, I made a specific choice when I started the business to go against my natural instinct of trying to plan and control everything, and instead just go in with no expectations simply because I had no experience in this sort of business. I’ve been lucky enough to encounter folks who DID know what they were doing and benefit from their experience and expertise. And since it has worked out as well as it has, I will continue to just enjoy it for what it is and will see what happens in the future!

I have a hard time allowing for my professional life to not have a scripted direction.  I think this is one of the things that is hampering me from being happier professionally.  I consistently hamstring myself by needing clarity for my future self.  Question 11: How difficult was it for you to cede control and let things happen for Glad Annie’s?

Not as hard as it is for the other aspects of my life. I was so completely outside of my comfort zone, I didn’t really have a choice! Plus, I wasn’t as invested in the outcome as other areas like my design career, which even at this point I’m thinking “What’s next? What’s next?” instead of allowing it to unfold. I hadn’t spent years dreaming and preparing to be a baklava fairy…it was just a happy accident!

I hope your business cards include the title, “Baklava Fairy.”  If they don’t they should.  

Question 12: Is there a particular aspect of design that you enjoy more than others?  I am personally a bit partial to color theory and creating movement in the layout, but I specifically suck at typography.

My current business cards do not list me as “Baklava Fairy,” which was a title coined by my former co-workers, but when I reorder that is the plan!

When I am working digitally, I love working with photography and I think I have an eye for images and what works together to create movement and tell a story. I like to combine things in unexpected ways. When I have time to do my art quilts however, it takes the same qualities I’m looking to combine in my digital work (color, movement, storytelling) to the next level by adding a tactile and handmade element that is far more satisfying. Every stitch is intentional, every button and bead…I love it and I can control it all! My least favorite part of design is when the text of whatever I’m working with crowds out the images. All those editors and their WORDS…I hate trying to have to make it all fit. blah blah blah

Words do get in the way.  Stupid words and the stupid space they take up.

Ah, the dreaded Question 13… So, as a kid I had superstitions and rituals associated with getting ready for a soccer game and later as a method to get ready for a fencing tourney.  Question 13: Do you have any superstitions and/or rituals associated with you currently?

Superstitions or rituals? I suppose with any design project, I avoid saying “This seems like it’s going well!” because invariably that works as an invitation for soul-destroying mayhem like an external hard drive that dies with all the files on it, or an eighth round of changes on a piece that only warranted one or two (both have happened)! I suppose for “big stuff”, the things that truly worry me and keep me up at night, I have a little decorative teapot on a makeshift altar in my studio. The altar has pictures and thing that are important to me and if something is really on my mind, I write a little note about it a drop it in the teapot….the idea is to help me let go and not obsess over the things I can’t control, which of course is everything, but my brain lacks a certain rationality at 3 in the morning!

As a kid I had some ritual associated with getting ready for a soccer game.  It was not steeped in any sort of superstitious belief that doing something in a specific sequence would cause a positive result.  I used the ritual to get myself in the right head space and mentally prepare  myself for the game I was going to play…

Baking is different from cooking.  I am a good cook, but I bake for shit.  It reminds me too much of chemistry where you are trying to generate some experiment that creates a stable and delectable foam of varying bubble sizes.  So, you have probably made a quadrillion batches of baklava, Question 14: Do you still need the recipe to make sure your experiment comes out correctly?

I see what you mean about ritual. I am a compulsive list maker so I suppose that is my ritual for everything. Today I had “Email Scott R-H” between “Order dog pinata” and “Invoice Dirty Frank’s.” If I don’t write it down, it does not happen!

I do not have the recipe written down anymore…it’s pretty much in my head but I don’t stray too far from it either, unless I’m making a batch of the bacon baklava.

I imagine that after a while it would become memorization by rote. Question 15:  Baklava is the most recognizable greek dessert, (I understand it is also found throughout the Mediterranean, but it is the most recognizable Greek dessert… get off my back, persnickety readers!) do you gravitate to Greek food in general or is it just the deserts?

Well, I don’t cook any Greek food other than baklava if that’s what you mean. Interestingly enough I leave that to my Scotch-Irish mother who has mastered all the important family recipes from my dad’s family. The baklava is the only thing I’ve got over her! At some point, I know we’ll need to have those recipes for the next generation, so I’m hoping my Scotch-English-German husband (who is a damn fine cook) can rock the Spanikopita, Pastichio etc!

Scotch Irish Pastichio? Interesting… and oddly unappetizing.  I would have thought that the baklava would lead to Greek chicken, which would lead to souvlaki, which would lead to pastichio…

Question 16: Is there a question you were expecting me to ask that I have not asked?

Well based on my enjoyment of the work sketches you share, I had thought (hoped?) that there would be a line of superhero-themed questions. And my answers would have been 1.) Wonder Twins (and specifically Gleek) 2.) Wolverine and 3.) Omnipotence!

Omnipotence is the wrong answer… I keep telling people this. There is a slim chance that you are currently omnipotent, but do not have the knowledge to enact the omnipower issues.  Omniscience is the way to go.. that way you could smurf out how to be omnipotent.  

Question 17: Concerning the Wonder Twins, which form of water and what shape of animal is the best combination?

You Omniscients are always soooooo smug!

As far as the Wonder twins go, as a kid I had a lot of concerns with the whole eagle/splashing-bucket-of-water mode of transportation…where was the episode where some poor citizen was stepping over a puddle that suddenly morphed back into a hand? I could never figure out why they didn’t just get a bigger bucket. I do think Lowland gorilla combined with ice spear/shield could come in handy in a number of scenarios.

Lowland gorilla with ice spear is a great combination.  I like it fine.

Turnabout is fair play, Question 18: What question/s do you have for me?

Well, seeing as how we got to know each other as we walked our wee ones up and down the street in our old neighborhood, and we are now about a decade into the whole parenting journey, I’m curious what about having children has been the biggest surprise for you. I mean we are all pretty much clueless going into it, but what specifically really caught you by surprise?

What has caught me off guard as a parent is just how much time and energy the wee ones take up.  No matter how much you give them, they will take more.  That is what they do… suck you dry of all your energy and come at you relentlessly with demands and requests.  As a parent, there really are not many “down times” when the wee bairns are around.

So, Question 19: What are you taking from these 20 questions that you did not come in with?

I think I am taking away a renewed commitment to getting us together more over a beer, and less on email and social media! Kilts optional!

Get togethers are in order.  With kiddos and without should both be in order.

Question 20:  What is next for you? Be as concrete or as nebulous as you want, be as philosophical or tangible as you wish, be as soon or as far in the future as you want to be.

Well, tying into the time-suck theme of your answer (and a big “Amen” to that my friend!), as my guys are getting older I am for the first time considering what my life is going to look like as the kids start to not need me as much in the future. Lord knows we aren’t there yet, but it’s to a point where I can actually even conceive of it!!! I can mostly put the baklava on auto-pilot, and it’s going to be steady which is nice. I’m in the process as we speak of trying to get my design portfolio all nice and updated, Linkedin page, website etc. to see what’s next for me in that realm. So, y’know…if anyone’s hiring a part-time designer who brings baklava into work from time to time, I know someone! There’s no timeline for all that really though. First thing is having the Ryan-Hart’s over sooner rather than later! And Happy Anniversary BTW!

If I know of any part-time designer/baklava fairy positions (if you get an interview at a place, mention the Baklava… it seriously might help) I will let you know.  A get together is long over do.  Let’s make this stuff happen.(click here employer types)


To recap:

Last week the wife and I celebrated 16 years of wedded bliss

Thanks for all the well-wishes from those that wished us well

This class I am taking is kicking my ass

So much more work than previous ones

Mainly reading

Not super-exciting reading mind you

I have at least 1 more chapter to read tonight

So, have a great weekend everyone