Minnesota-made utensil Sharon Busch of Akeley, Minn., just wanted to find a utensil like the melamine ladle her mother always used. After 45 years of kitchen duty, its handle broke, but she couldn't find anything similar on eBay or elsewhere. While talking to a former neighbor who is a plastics distributor, he suggested that she make a new one herself. She found a designer, learned more than she ever imagined, and founded MeMo's Kitchen with its first product, the Soup Saver Scoop.

"People ask me if I want to make a lot of money from this, and I say 'No, it's just a good product,'" said Busch, 68, who's retired from a career in office administration.

The scoop is part ladle, part spatula, with a triangular shape that scrapes a pan's bottom and also makes pouring easier. She's gotten it into the Ace Hardware in Park Rapids, Minn. Fingers are crossed to get it in more Ace stores, but it's also available through her website, www.soupsaverscoop.com, for $7.99. It comes in four colors, is made of food-safe polypropylene, and is heat-resistant and dishwasher-safe.

Le Cordon Bleu for all If you've always wanted to take a class at Le Cordon Bleu Culinary College in Mendota Heights, but worried about the cost and time commitment, chef Todd Anderson has begun a series of shorter (three-hour) classes that cost from $45 to $87. The mini-courses include tapas of Spain; artisan breads; egg cookery and egg basics; cake decorating; and grilling and chilling. To learn more, e-mail Tanderson@twincitiesculinary.com or TAnderson@MSP.Chefs.edu.

Va-va-voom for veggies The Eastside Garden Corp of the Community Design Center, which helps kids from less advantaged parts of St. Paul learn how to grow vegetable gardens, is the beneficiary of a fundraiser on April 12 sponsored by the local chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier. The event, "Global Flair for Local Treasures," will feature authors Dara Moskowitz Grumdahl and Raghavan Iyer, who is the menu consultant for Om, where a steady stream of exotic dishes will emerge, from lentil wafers with avocado-tamarind chutney to lobster tail with black pepper, cinnamon and coconut milk.

The event begins at 6 p.m. at Om, 401 1st Av. N., Minneapolis. Tickets are $85 and include wine, taxes and tip. Send checks made out to LDEI Minneapolis and the names of those attending to Ingrid Gangestad, 2160 Oriole Av. N., Stillwater, MN 55082.

Crappy little kitchens unite Props to Jennifer Schaertl for an eye-grabbing cookbook title. "Gourmet Meals in Crappy Little Kitchens" (HCI Books, $18.95) is meant to show that a tiny, ill-designed, outdated kitchen shouldn't keep you from turning out great home cooking. Schaertl speaks, or cooks, from experience, sharing CLK tips about gear storage and food prep, in addition to great recipes. She also posts Crappy Little Kitchen videos at www.crappylittlekitchens.com. As she likes to say, "Just because you cook in a crappy little kitchen does not justify a crappy meal!" Hey, better than, "Yummo!"