Business is Cooking Along

Meadballs opened its doors – officially as an inspected and certified kitchen – on August 4, 2017. Bits and pieces of construction continued for another month, and I had a lot of kinks to work through.

Anyone who has moved will be familiar with some of this story. And anyone who has started a business will be nodding as well. First, I had to put everything away. And then I had to move it after I didn’t like where it was. I still can’t always locate things – and the kitchen is less than 1,000 square feet.

There were things I found I needed along the way. Like all new pots and pans. I don’t have a range – or open flame – because I didn’t want to have to vent with a kitchen hood (think $10,000). So I have induction burners. Which are great – but require a particular material and pot bottom to work. 

Then I bought the wrong sized sheet pans for the ovens.

Then it was soooo hot that the freezer kept sweating – even more than I was.

But after about 6 weeks, I started to get the hang of the place.

From a business standpoint, there are always things to work out. And from a personal point, I know it takes a minimum of six weeks to learn a new routine. Indeed, it took about six weeks to figure out what that routine was.

Originally, I thought I would deliver food on Thursdays and have the weekend to myself. Hah. Most people go out on the weekend. They want food for the week – meaning Monday. So that means cooking on the weekend.

Do I go to the farm on Thursday, or Friday? When do I get the other stuff? How do I know what I need? 

There’s a big difference between sometimes cooking for 20 people (family gatherings), and always cooking for 20 people. My sister didn’t mind sometimes getting the short-end of the salad bowl. People who pay do mind.

Then there were the times I would load up the bags and just cry. I was tired. I was dropping things. I had to reopen containers that I thought were finished and add the finishing touches that I found in the refrigerator just as I was about to leave.

Then there were the dishes. Loads of dishes. Mounds of dishes. Piles of dishes. And no dishwasher, except me. Because dishwashers for commercial kitchens are expensive. And I am not. And I would still need a 3-bowl sink whether I had a dishwasher or not. Sometimes I cried just looking at the dishes.

And then there is the farm, Post Farm, in North East. Where they are incredibly generous with their knowledge. And helpful. And pretty much anything you could ask for in a farm. But it’s a farm and there are things on the farm that I am allergic to. Only I didn’t know that. So one week – the first week they trusted me in the fields by myself – I had on shorts and a short-sleeved shirt. By the time I finished with the broccoli, welts covered me. Up my arms. Down my legs. And I was crying again.

Keep in mind, I am 54 years old. I have started 4 magazines. I had to close one of them. I have done financials. I have done budgets. I have cooked since I was 9.

And I’m crying.

Because being in business for yourself is hard. You can put something off until tomorrow, but it is still waiting for you then.

But I love it.

I love the freedom to  paddle board on Lake Erie when I have something i

n the oven for an hour. I love that I can walk the dog along Walnut Creek each morning before I start business. The dog does not go into the kitchen.

I love my customers, who look at my menu sometimes and ask if I really meant to add cheese to every single dish. Politely. And with concern – that perhaps I might be clogging all of their arteries and then I would have no customers. And then I can laugh. And adjust. And thank them.

And crying is OK. And hard work is OK. And washing the dishes is OK. And mopping the floors is OK. Cutting myself is not OK, but now I put down the knife when I realize I am too tired. And I make bread. Because making bread is about the most relaxing thing I can think of some days (after walking the dog on the beach).

And you realize the world doesn’t end when you have welts all over your arms and legs. Take 2 Benadryl and go to sleep for 14 hours. You will be amazed at how you feel. And how thankful you are to have a lovely 15-year-old daughter who brings you a ginger ale. And who doesn’t think you are crazy for starting a business. And incredibly supportive parents who let you convert a basement space into a business (that you paid for out of your retirement stash).

And you are thankful that all these people believe in you. Indeed, they actually pay you to make them dinner. And deliver it.

I am blessed.

Thank you all.

And if you want to order, just message or e-mail me on Facebook from Meadballs Meals.

Best

Marnie

Marnie@Meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Business is Cooking Along
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
pancakes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
pancakes
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Quiche it Simple During Lent

The Lenten season is upon us. This exercise in meatless Fridays sticks with me even though I am no longer a practicing Roman Catholic.

Culturally Catholic, I am. So the guilt about eating meat remains with me to this day.

Skipping meat on Fridays wouldn’t be that big a deal if I could serve the grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner. I love grilled cheese. Any cheese melted between two pieces of bread slathered in butter or olive oil is pure heaven.

Except my daughter doesn’t eat cheese. And she has a nose that can smell it several rooms away.

If I crave a melted cheese sandwich, I eat in the middle of the night when she is asleep. Then I burn candles to get the smell out of the house.

Sometimes I will order one when we are eating out for lunch. But she is relentless in her ongoing commentary about how much she hates cheese.

Yes, this is odd. I am the mom. It is my house. But when your child is on the autism spectrum, however mild, this isn’t a battle anyone is going to win.

Fortunately, she likes most vegetables. So on many meatless nights, it’s just a plate of roasted vegetables and pasta or rice.

But I’m trying to find add a little more protein to her diet, which would consist largely of chocolate and chips if left to her own devices. We eat a lot of chicken.

When Lent rolls around, it’s time to cook more creatively. We live just a couple of miles from a chicken farm, so we always have fresh eggs in the house. That means frittatas, quiches, and omelets.

The beauty of any of these is that you are free to improvise. Throw some spinach in for some extra veg, add or change a cheese, and use fresh herbs if you have them.

I keep a box or two of frozen pie crusts that I buy at Trader Joe’s in Cleveland on hand. It’s one of my favorite crusts, and it saves time.

Today, I had some extra smoked salmon, green onions, and potatoes. If I had baby kale, chard, or spinach, it would have gone in too. I was finished in less than 45 minutes. Plus the leftovers can do double duty for breakfast or lunch tomorrow.

This is #whatsfordinner tonight.

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Salmon, Dill, and Potato Quiche
This is an easy dish for dinner or lunch. Pair with a cucumber or green salad. Depending on appetites, and whether it is lunch or dinner, this can feed from 4-6 people.
Course dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course dinner, Main Dish
Cuisine American, French
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out pie crust so it will fit into a 9-inch pie pan. Place crust into pie pan and trim off edges. Top crust with parchment and pie weights or beans. Place on baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and beans and cook another 5 minutes.
  3. In the meantime, cook potatoes in salted boiling water until tender. Drain. Slice.
  4. Beat together the cream, eggs, dill, lemon zest, salt and pepper until the eggs are lighter and there is a bit of foam on top of the batter.
  5. Place cut potatoes over the bottom of the pastry. Then put half the salmon strips in the gaps. Sprinkle with half of the green onions. Pour over the egg mix.
  6. Bake for 25 mins until the top is firm. Allow to cool. This is best served at room temperature. Before serving, top with the remaining strips of salmon, some dollops of creme fraiche, sour cream, or yogurt. Sprinkle remaining green onions on top and some dill.
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Spring Closet Cleaning

Spring cleaning consumed the past two weekends. The warm weather is partly to blame. My daughter shares the rest.

Sometimes she helps me get dressed. A teen with a keen fashion sense of her own, I run outfit combinations by her from time to time when I’m trying to burst out of my uniform of leggings, tunic sweater and turtleneck. It’s the perfect way to hide the winter calories.

But, come the start of spring, the layers give way to … muffin tops and insecurity when getting dressed. My winter uniform hides a myriad of sins that spring strips away. As a result, I stand in front of not one, but two, closets filled with clothes.

And I have nothing to wear.

So I proclaim.

My daughter got tired of having her head bitten off when she dared say I looked “just fine.”  She politely suggested I call “that lady you interviewed who helps people with their closets.”

She was referring to Marian Taylor, owner of Simple Solutions for Living.

Clearly, I needed a closet intervention.

Marian not only assists the closet impaired like me, she specializes in downsizing. She helps people move into smaller homes (or new homes), especially empty nesters transferring to new digs without kids and seniors moving into assisted living.

If you have a parent moving – she’s the best. She makes the move so easy – and takes the stress off the the children by acting as an impartial arbiter of what stays and what goes. She doesn’t throw anything out unless you want her to, but she does have the tact to inquire just why you are keeping it.

She used this approach with my closet, which was filled with trips down memory lane: the skirt from Greece that I’ve worn once; the dress I bought when I didn’t have anything to wear to a funeral; the pants I bought on sale without trying on. Then there was the stuff that didn’t fit. And the stuff that looked great when I was a brunette, but does’t look so hot now that I’m a blonde.

By rehanging all my clothes – in order or color by category – we also discovered I had quite of few of the same items in the same color – just hanging in two different closets. Did I need 4 black skirts ? No. I don’t. Other people may have a different answer.

She also took the time to show me pairings of clothes. She took a blouse I liked, but had never worn, and matched it with a sweater I already had. I wore it this week. Now, when I head into the closet, I don’t stand there staring. I can see immediate outfit ideas.

Marian has a nifty app that allowed us to total up the charitable value of the clothes headed to the City Mission.

When we finished, she suggested a new organizer from ClosetMaid that would give me twice the space for the shirts and sweaters using a double rod system.

Marian is also a rep for Cabi, a clothing line that makes capsule dressing easy and fun. The colors coordinate from season to season. After cleaning so much black out of my closet, it was time to replace it with navy, which is much more flattering for me.

That was the weekend of Feb. 25. During the week, I ordered the closet organizer for my clothes. And other one for my shoes.

So the following weekend, I installed the closet organizer. It only took about 4 1/2 hours – it would take a pro a lot less. I think I spent an hour trying to find the studs in the closet wall. I spent another hour  to 90 minutes hanging and organizing.

The shoe organizing took another 90 minutes, 45 of which was assembling the new shoe rack. It is designed to hold 50 pair of shoes. Fifty should be plenty. I had to discard about 30 pair of shoes – some I could only wear for an hour or two because they hurt so much. Turns out I have a lot of black shoes.

Again – I’m a blonde now. Blue and beige are better choices.

But the new rule is: One in, one out (preferably two).

All this organizing means dinner hasn’t been particularly organized this week. Fortunately, I subscribe to one of those home meal prep delivery services. I’ve been trying out Hello Fresh (I’ve also tried Plated, Blue Apron, and Home Chef). I’ll write more about these later.

So I had a box with pork chops, sweet potato, and Brussels sprouts. I wasn’t fond of the recipe and directions, so I winged it. In less than 20 minutes, we had dinner. I pan seared the pork chops and finished it with a peach glaze from some peach preserves I had in the fridge. The Brussls sprouts were easy – they just went into a 400 degree oven with olive oil, salt and pepper, for about 10 to 12 minutes.

I hauled the Kitchen Aid out and attached the spiralizer and had sweet potato noodles in minutes. You could blanch them, but I tossed them into a skillet with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a pinch of sugar. They could have gone into the oven with the Brussels sprouts if I had been thinking.

Sometimes we all need a hand with the basic tasks of living. Thanks to Marian, getting dressed takes just minutes. And thanks to the various meal services I’ve been trying, I was able to get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.

Now, if only those meals arrived already made …

XOXOXO

marnie

marniemead@gmail.com

Print Recipe
Pork Chops with Peach, Whiskey and Mustard Glaze
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Cook Time 15 minutes
Passive Time 5 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  2. Pinch ground black pepper
  3. 1 teaspoons garlic powder<
  4. 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  5. 2 boneless pork chops, about 1/2-inch thick
  6. 1 tablespoon olive oil
  7. 1/4 cup chicken stock
  8. 2 tablespoons peach preserves
  9. 2 tablespoons bourbon or other whiskey
  10. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  11. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
  12. In a small bowl, combine the salt, pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Season each pork
  13. chop generously on both sides and rub the mixture into the meat.
  14. Heat a nonstick oven-proof skillet on medium high heat. Add the olive oil and the seasoned pork chops. Sear on each
  15. side for 2 minutes to get a nice crust. Remove pork chops from the pan.
  16. Return the pan to medium heat. Add the whiskey and bring to a boil, then add chicken stock and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for about 2 mintues then stir in peach preserves, and mustard. Whisk to combine. Turn off heat.
  17. Return chops to the pan and turn several times to coat with the peach glaze. Place pan with chops in oven and roast until done, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  18. Let the pork chops rest for 5 minutes before serving, then spoon some of the glaze from the pan over the chops.
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Make It Easy Monday

My introduction to the pressure cooker came about 30 years ago when one of my podmates, a reporter who covered a lot of rural Illinois, was telling me about the hot water he was in with his wife.

An avid outdoorsman, he caught a snapping turtle and was cooking it in the pressure cooker. Unfortunately, he hadn’t removed the turtle from the shell and the resulting pressure build up blew the lid off the pressure cooker. And blew turtle all over the kitchen.

His wife was not pleased.

Knowing I was a cook, he then shared the proper method for prepping a turtle for the pressure cooker. I won’t go into details. It’s not pretty, and it involves nails.

I haven’t been tempted by a pressure cooker since.

So, like a turtle, I had my head in my shell for the past 18 months as blog and food writers would go on about the joys of the pressure cooker.

All I could think about was turtle spatter on the ceiling.

Reminder that things change a lot in 3 decades.

It was fellow Fairview resident and Vegan Cheers founder who dragged me into the moment. Lisa Rose hosted a pressure cooking class at Whole Foods Co-Op. Suitably impressed, I did some research and found the Instant Pot.

It meets my criteria of a multi-purpose device – meaning it needs to be more than a one-trick pony. The Instant Pot can saute, slow cook, pressure cook, make eggs, cakes, etc.

The first experiment was to make a bone broth. This is a rather tiresome exercise even in the slow cooker. It takes me from 4 to 8 hours. The whole house smells like chicken soup. Not a bad thing. But it’s like living above a restaurant. A whiff is fine. A couple of hours is OK. Go to bed and wake up the next morning – not good.

The Instant Pot made beautiful broth in less than 2 hours. I was officially impressed. (This is not a paid post, BTW).

Next up, chicken salsa verde. Why? Because on Mondays my daughter has tennis practice. And she’s starving when she gets home. And because I drive her there and back, so I’m not home to make dinner.

This is easy-peasy. Chicken thighs, some seasonings, and salsa verde go into the pot. Less than 30 minutes later, dinner comes out of the pot. You can serve with tortillas, rice, as a salad. You get the idea.

So my lesson has been learned. Don’t let your past dictate your future. And clean out your cupboards when you find a new device (say, bye-bye rice cooker).

XOXOXO

marnie

marniemead@gmail.com

Print Recipe
Salsa Verde Chicken
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Passive Time 20 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Place the chicken in the Instant Pot or pressure cooker. Add the cumin, paprika, and salsa verde.
  2. Set cooker to high pressure for 25 minutes or on the Instant Pot press the meat or poultry button.
  3. When the chicken is done cooking, quick release the pressure or allow it to naturally release (can take 10 to 20 minutes). Release the lid. Shred the chicken in the pot with two forks. There will be a lot of liquid in the beginning. Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before seerving.
  4. Season with salt and black pepper, to taste. Serve with tortillas, rice, use in burritos, quesadillas, tacos, salads, etc.
  5. You can make ahead and freeze.
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