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Alyssa Cremeans: A Legacy of Family, Faith and Baking

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Sweets from a true sweetheart! That is the gift Alyssa Cremeans presents in her new cookbook, The Happy Mason Jar: Quick, Easy Mason Jar Desserts and Wine Pairings. Her vivacious spirit radiates from each colorful photo and her personal stories bring joy and warmth to every page.

Why Mason jar desserts? Because making desserts can be daunting for some, but who can’t layer ingredients in the classic Mason jar!

“I’ve wanted to do something with my baking for a long time. I’ve always had such a passion for creating my own recipes, and I wanted to share those with people. I loved baking with Mason jar desserts as soon as I heard about them, because they last for up to ten days,” Alyssa noted. “There’s nothing worse than the feeling of making a beautiful cake and having it dry out by the next day. So whatever kind of cookbook I did, I knew I wanted to use Mason jars.”

It’s a Natural!
On her honeymoon in Hawaii in May 2016, she told her new husband, Devin, one of her goals in their first year of marriage was to put together a cookbook. “It just felt like the right time. Instantly the name came to me: Happy Mason Jar, because I believe baking with the convenience of Mason jars truly makes your life happier. Originally it was going to be a cookbook of appetizers, cocktails, dinners, drinks and desserts. But I found myself stressing about every section but the desserts; the desserts just came so naturally!” she smiled. “My husband told me my cooking is great, but my desserts are on another level, so I should focus on that. I knew he was right and I took his advice.”

The book offers 30 recipes and wine pairings, and it’s now available in 16 countries to over 39,000 retailers through the IngramSpark self-publishing platform her husband found. She explained they have a great print-on-demand program that allows her to sell her book without making an investment in inventory, and recommends the best editors, proofreaders, book formatters and other publishing professionals.

Alyssa has been cooking in the kitchen as long as she can remember. She has fond memories of spending hours with her mom creating mouthwatering dishes for her two younger brothers and father. “I have an awesome family of five! My dad is a second-generation German-American, and he’s one of the hardest workers I’ve ever met. He and my mom met in college and have been together ever since. I have two younger brothers, Ryan and Matt. My dad owns a family development company, and every winter he and my brothers would go out and shovel and snowplow.

“That’s probably why winter is now my favorite time to bake. I remember they would leave the house, and my mom and I would bake for hours while the snow came down outside,” she reminisced. “We’d fill the home with all these amazing flavors and scents. Those were some of my favorite memories growing up. I had my mom all to myself and we would just laugh and bake, and bake and laugh. My mom was the one who taught me how to bake. As early as I can remember, she would have me stir cake batter, shape cookie dough, really anything I was old enough to help with.”

Baking with Heart
She realizes how blessed she was growing up, with plenty of food, clothes for school and presents at Christmastime, and her parents made sure she knew that not every child had the same advantages. In the fifth grade, she told her mother she wanted to bake to help other children who didn’t have all the same blessings, so she started H.E.A.R.T.S. Kids, the acronym representing Helpful, Eager, Always Ready To Serve.

“My girlfriends and their moms came over after school and we dipped fruit in chocolate. We sold them to other families and gave the proceeds to a local charity. It was such a rewarding feeling to not just talk about the bad things that are happening in the world, but actually do something about it,” she recalled. “My mom always made the kitchen such a wonderful experience for me. Even as a five- or six-year-old, I would try to make up my own recipes, or inventions, as I used to call them. You can imagine a five-year-old’s invention probably wasn’t that delicious but my mom always told me what an amazing baker I was anyway.”

Developing Her Palate
She has grown into those words and since learned what tastes good and what doesn’t. She’s not one to stick to a recipe; she makes changes along the way to make it her own. By middle school, she began using recipes as guidelines, adding her own flavor and flair to everything.

“Chocolate cake would turn into chocolate peanut butter brownie cake and mint brownies would turn into crème de menthe brownie sundaes. I think that’s why I love baking with Mason jars so much; all the layering gives you so much room to be creative,” she explained. “My recipes are my art, so each means something different to me. The stories describe the memories behind each recipe and the inspiration.”

Of course, she didn’t drink wine with her mother in the kitchen; that came later when she was dating her soon-to-be husband. She realized wine enhances the flavors of food, and she has partnered with over 20 wineries to match perfect pairings for each dessert. She worked with George Ryals from All Star Wine & Spirits in Latham, New York, and received permission to feature wine from all over the world in the book, including the United States, Italy, Germany, Australia, Spain and New Zealand. Popular brands include Josh Cellars, Bartenura, Pine Ridge Vineyards and Saraceni Wines, plus the Capital Region’s own Saratoga Sparking Rose.

Making Her Way
Alyssa attended Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois, near Chicago, and earned her degree in applied health sciences with a minor in communications. She went on to work in the communications  department at Northway Church in Clifton Park, NY and now works at Baker Public Relations in Albany.

“I’ve always had a passion for causes related to women. Society puts pressure on women to be a certain way, and I hope to create avenues for women so they don’t have such heavy expectations,” she continued. “I love to help people; that’s what keeps me going.” She is passionate about pressing causes including diabetes, which her grandfather passed away from, scleroderma, ovarian cancer and eating disorders. She has spoken at the Chicago Bears Stadium, U.S. Annual Tobacco Summit and schools across the United States.

She had Lyme disease for three years in high school, and she was debilitated by the disorder. While recovering, she found solace in her baking. She was in and out of the hospital, and felt she was a 17-year-old in a 75-year-old’s body. “I prayed, ‘God, I can’t do this anymore. If you heal me and get me out of this, I’ll dedicate myself to helping others.’ I was okay just five months after that and I consider myself a miracle. Baking helped get me through that season,” she mused. “I wanted to write a book and come up with something that would bring joy to people’s lives and be accessible.”

She expanded her repertoire of cooking through her travels around the world. She has visited the Caribbean several times, including Puerto Rico, the Bahamas, Haiti and Tortuga. She spent some time in Guatemala doing mission work and exploring their rich culture, and she has been to Mexico, Canada, Iceland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria and Italy.

“But as a third-generation German-American, I would have to say my very favorite was Germany for its foods! The street pretzels, the Wiener schnitzel, the Rahm schnitzel, the Ritter Sport chocolate; my mouth is watering thinking about it!” she laughed.

Friendship and Marriage
Alyssa and Devin have a storybook love tale. They met at age seven in church. His family had moved to the area, and they quickly developed a childhood crush on one another. They reconnected in high school and began going to his parents’ church; the pair hit it off and became close friends. Devin was quite persistent.

“I was heading off to college, and he wrote me letters. He sent me creative gifts every year for my birthday, and one year he even made a donation in my name to the Just Water charity in Africa. Then my senior year came around and he called and truly expressed his love for me and said he saw our future together,” she shared. “That year for my birthday he sent me a massive teddy bear, a wine voucher and a Team Devin hoodie!”

It worked! His father, Buddy Cremeans, pastor at Northway Church, married the lovebirds last year. Devin works at Northway Church and also does real estate development. Both are very involved in many facets of the church.

Of course, her hobby is cooking and baking and she and Devin enjoy hiking, camping and being outdoors. She is also an avid animal lover and has had many pets, from bunnies to birds to dogs. They live in an apartment now, so the couple enjoys taking her parents’ dogs and hiking with them.

“My advice to women would be to practice gratitude. It’s so easy in our fast-paced culture to get stressed, but life is all about perspective. Every time I feel my heart rate begin to increase and my thoughts begin to race, I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and think about the biggest blessings in my life. My faith in God, my loving husband, my parents, brothers, in-laws and friends. Then I look down and wiggle my fingers, my toes, and think how blessed I am to have every limb on my body and to be in such great health,” she smiled. “Then, from there I keep going down the list of all the things I’m thankful for. Sometimes if I’m having a really bad day, I play what I call the ABC gratitude game, where I go down the alphabet and thank God for my life. For example, A-Alyssa, I’m grateful for who God created me to be! B-Baking, I’m thankful that baking is my outlet; you get the idea! I usually barely make it halfway through the alphabet before I sense my spirit lift, and I’m overcome with the powerful feeling of hope that I can do anything in the world. I’m a firm believer that success in my family, relationships and business comes out of a grateful heart.” ■

For more information or to purchase a copy of the book go to