HELENA — Shea Conley of Helena recently created a website where people can find vegan and vegetarian recipe ideas to bake at home.
Conley said she never thought she would be a business owner, let alone a baker: "I never picked baking, it kind of just found me, and it demanded that I take that as a career. And I just really ran with it."
She said it started when she was living in Seattle. A bake shop pulled her in and asked her to work the morning shift; from there, she was hooked.
When the pandemic shut everything down, she lost her job and found her way back to Helena, but she didn't want to put the rolling pin down.
Conley started a site called DearPotato.org, a name that has a personal meaning.
"I am a vegetarian, so I eat a lot of potatoes, and I joke that potatoes are my favorite food. And then it is also a term of endearment, kind of, because my mom and I, or my husband and I, are like, 'You sweet little potato!'"
Conley says readers shouldn't assume her recipes are just about potatoes. While her baked goods are about 90% vegan and include some gluten-free options, she adds that the goal is not necessarily low-calorie.
"The goal is it's not healthy. The goal is that everything is vibrant, really flavorful, colorful, weird, stuff like that," she said.
Her goal is to open people's eyes to what is out there: "Nutritional yeast is like an inactive dry yeast, that may be a lot of vegans know about, but maybe a lot of newer vegans or vegetarians don't know about, and it's like a really good cheese supplement."
Among the offerings on her site: Perfectly Crispy Tofu; Vegan Southwest Shortcake; Vegetarian Scotch Egg; and Vegan Maple & Rosemary Muffins.
You can find Conley at the Helena and Capital Square Farmers' Markets.