“In no time, the [cookbook] seminar had taken on the air of a comfortable, kaffeeklatsch and the questions began.”

Family Circle Magazine

Ellen is a passionate, prolific writer who uses word “pictures” and personal storytelling in the introduction or epilogue of the cookbook titles she has developed. It is the same when working with non-profits, as she is always trying to find their community story. She believes it is the essence of their mission that they need to communicate to a target audience and the public at large. Often she uses a technique she developed called “The Adult Teaching Tale.” These are almost childlike stories that speak to adults in metaphoric language, help them grow in deeper meaning of the organization’s purpose and relate to the institutional community story. Ellen has also developed many trade cookbooks and written numerous speeches, presentations and educational curriculum using the power of storytelling. On this page are just a few excerpts from her writings and conceptual work. 

To view the full text, click on the links provided.

A_Gracious_Plenty Epilogue – A Gracious Plenty

The three of them, spoke to me in their own way, using the language of food. Each of their messages was very different, but as I look back on my days as a little girl, the threads come together to create the fabric of my life. I recognize now, perhaps all women do, the importance of what these three women taught me. In the setting where food is grown, prepared and served, there is the sacred. I learned, too, that in the mystery of the meal table there is a priceless truth: I had a safe place where my family’s values, beliefs and traditions were passed on. 

To View the Full Text of the Epilogue as a PDF, click here.



Graceland’s Table – I Think I Fell In Love

Introduction It happened rather unexpectedly one Saturday morning – the day that Elvis Presley re-entered my life. My daughter and I were laboring to move a rickety, antique dresser with an attached mirror that I’d had since childhood from my attic to her new home. I notice some yellowed fragments of Scotch tape left on the glass by something I’d taped to it long ago, and in that moment I again “saw” Elvis staring back at me from those fragments. Instantly I remembered, as if it were yesterday, consciously deciding to put away my Terry Lee dolls forever in order to take a giant step toward becoming a “grown-up.” At the age of thirteen I was still miserably torn between my two worlds – playing with dolls while simultaneously trying to relate to my more sophisticated friends who were already wearing bright red lipstick. I had long been ready to leave the little girl behind and begin the alluring journey into womanhood, but I’d needed a special person to help me take that difficult first step. 

To view the full text of the Introduction as a PDF file, click here.



The Healer’s Chapel – An Adult Teaching Tale

-By Tina Hahn and Ellen Rolfes

Written for the Methodist Healthcare Foundation

In the midst of a crowded urban space along a mighty river, there lived a grove of old oak trees that shared deeply woven roots. For many, many years the branches silently protected the soul of a healing center, a venerable hospital really. It was a different kind of place because it celebrated life and focused its forces on nurturing life in all people in order to make them grow stronger and more vibrant.

It was in the family care center of this very hospital that our story began – a waiting room where a man and woman stood in a corner, trying to comprehend the news that their daughter was there with a critical injury. Shocked into a fearful silence, the couple fought to breathe and fought to form thoughts about the next moment or the long future if their adult child were not part of their physical existence. They felt helpless. They were told all they could do was wait. 

To view the full text of the Adult Teaching Tale as a PDF file, click here.


Rose logo.1The Rose Garden – An Adult Teaching Tale

-By Tina Hahn and Ellen Rolfes

Close your eyes and imagine an extraordinary land with rolling hills, a sacred Grove, and an exquisite rose garden. Those who pass through this land repeatedly tell of its rare beauty and friendly inhabitants to all who will hear. Others choose to live in the land, where they seek knowledge, explore ideas, develop talents, and feed their souls. These caretakers relish the work to which they are called.

The primary mission of the caretakers—both men and women—is to tend the roses in a spacious, lush garden positioned at the center of the land. The fragrant blossoms are lovely and healthy, and the bushes grow proud and strong. The colors of the blossoms are many hues—red, pink, and yellow. Others are white, coral, and purple. But each individual rose blossom is exquisite and full of vitality, so much so that word of the roses’ beauty has spread to other lands. 

To view the full text of the Adult Teaching Tale as a PDF file, click here.