How We Came To Be

About Rustic Kitchen: Rustic Kitchen is a Certified Gluten Free Bakery located in Oshkosh, WI. We bake bread and pastries products and are well known for our fresh Pizza Dough. All of our grains are GMO Free and come from a Mill in the Midwest that we have a great relationship with!  
I picked Rustic Kitchen because some day I would like it to grow beyond a bakery and provide all sorts of tasty gluten free options, many healthy but some indulgent. We distribute our products to co-ops, grocery stores, and specialty food stores around SE Wisconsin.

About Me: Many people have asked why I have decided to open Rustic Kitchen. While this is not a short, easy answer I think there is some importance to telling the story. It is a rather personal one; however I know there are others who can benefit from knowing that they are not alone so I am happy to share it.

About 7 years ago I was out west with a friend camping in Wyoming and Montana. One day while hiking began having horrible problems with my stomach and was taking regular trips to the bathroom. I have had bouts with Giardia parasites a number of times starting in my late teens. The symptoms seemed to be the same so I figured I would tough it out and take care of it when we got home. However unlike the times before it wasn’t getting better with time or anti-biotics.

After visiting a number of doctors, homeopaths, and acupuncturists I was still without answers and things were getting worse. On most days I would be in the bathroom 15 times or more. I was now loosing weight and loosing the strength and energy I used to take for granted. About 2 years into it things had reached an all time low. I was down from 200 pounds to 150 and I could hardly stand up without blacking out. Making it through my own wedding was a challenge and most days I couldn’t wait to lie down after any type of exertion no matter how small.

Within months of being married I ended up in the hospital due to my weight loss coupled with chronic dehydration and malnourishment. We had to cancel our honeymoon to Alaska and instead spent two weeks lying around my parents cabin while I tried to recover. In the hospital I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and put onto a combination of steroids and anti-inflamitory drugs. These did very little to help my condition and in many ways made things worse. After a year or two of working with doctors and various drugs I had a change in my mindset. I decided that I was rejecting my diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, to me that is a symptom and not a disease. I set off and a journey to figure out what was causing my colon to be inflamed and treat it with minimal or no pharmaceutical drugs.

The first thing I found out was that I did indeed have Giardia and likely had it for over 4 years. That did need to be treated with drugs but this was one of the last times I have taken any in the past 2 1/2 years. Things improved considerably after the treatment but I was still having a number of digestive issues, trouble keeping my weight up and was chronically fatigued. I had tried a number of elimination diets in the past including gluten but upon a friends suggestion I tried it again. My energy increased dramatically in a few days and over the next few months I was noticing other improvements as well.

Things were steadily improving however the years of battling my health were finally taking there toll on my personal life. My wife and I had just bought our first house and that stress coupled with my health and constant travel for work proved to be too much. We separated and were divorced a few months later. All of this proved to be too much for me and my health, both physical and emotional started to deteriorate. After more than 6 months I knew that I needed to change my life but didn’t know exactly what that would entail.

I decided to rent my house and leave my job and had faith that life would provide the answers I needed. Feeling the need to reconnect with my spiritual life I went and spent a month at The Himalayan Institute in Honesdale, PA. While I was there I had a number of realizations. This was one of the first times I had given my self the chance to stop and listen to what it was I needed. Over the last 10 years I had really strayed from my path and it was time to start finding my way again.

Over the years I have been fortunate to meet so many great people who have helped me in my path to health. I knew that whatever I was going to do needed to help repay that debt while keeping me moving on my own personal journey. I had the idea for Rustic Kitchen in November of 2010 and it is amazing to me how quickly everything has continued to evolve from there. I have come to find in the first month that the baking I do is bringing joy to others dealing with various dietary restrictions and in that I have found such a deep satisfaction. As I mentioned earlier I believe this is just the beginning and I have dreams of so much more. Someday I would love to have a small cafe providing salads, sandwich’s and other healthy dishes along with the baked goods. Additionally I would like to work toward making Oshkosh and The Fox Valley a model for what gluten free living can be. I have a number of ideas on how this can come to be, it will take time but that is just fine with me.

As for me I still suffer from a number of health issues related to my digestion; at times this has placed constrictions on my social life and this can be frustrating.
If you don't know anyone with chron's/colitis it is an extremely humbling experience. Among many other issues there is an ever present anxiety that looms over daily life due to incontinence. Being more than a minute or two from a bathroom can be extremely problematic. This along with other complications causes many to restrict their lives and cut off much of their social life. 

One thing I am learning is to be accepting of where I am at any moment in time, realizing that good or bad that moment is only temporary. I used to really identify myself with my illness and I have learned that is not who I am. While I have confidence that I will gain my full health again someday soon, I have come to see condition as a blessing. I have heard Rham Dass refer to his stroke as a fierce grace, and really like that idea. Without it my life would not be as rich, and I would have never have grown as I have.

If you have been suffering from any related issues and need someone to connect with please feel free to get in touch. I may not be able to help but I hope that maybe I can lead you in the right direction. If nothing else I have always found that being able to relate and know you are not alone can do wonders in itself.

Thanks for reading!

PJ Ramstack