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
Share this Recipe

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3

Meadballs is in full-blown under-construction mode. I’m testing recipes and the all things online are testing my patience.

Fortunately, the contractor are busily working away in the basement doing their thing. The lights are in. The plumbing is, well, plumbed. The painter will be here this weekend. The floors will be done next week.

Curtze Foods has me set up as an account. And the equipment ordered by A. Caplan should be on the truck tomorrow.

Food and construction I can deal with. All things related to the Internet, web sites, e-mail lists, marketing, etc., are making me crazy.

Yes, I am already crazy to be starting a business, especially one in food. But anyone who knows me knows that is my kind of crazy. It’s creative. It’s uncertain at times. But I make making something.

With most things technology oriented, I know enough to make a mess. I broke my own rule and didn’t check whether the subscribe button actually worked. I put all the links it. Looked at it on the page, but never checked.

As a result, I cannot subscribe to an e-mail update to my blog. And neither could my mother. Or other people who politely asked me if I had stopped blogging.

Six hours online with various help desks yielded what I hope to be a fix. At one point, a helpful chat assistant asked me if I was the web developer. I just about spit out my Diet Coke. Of course, at that point I kind of looked like one. I hadn’t showered. I had been mainlining coffee and Diet Coke nonstop for hours. My eyes were bloodshot. And the pinched nerve in my neck was throbbing again.

If websites weren’t so useful I would have shot mine. And chucked the computer out the window.

But this is a new week. And I have close to 16 hours into trying to fix this thing. Yes, I am the web developer. And chief cook and bottle washer. And marketing director – which involved another 4 hours uploading logos for merchandise to see how it would look. And half the time the resizing tool wouldn’t work, so my bags were all going to read Meadballs, without the website or phone number.

Sigh.

Eventually, I got it. The merch should arrive next week. Patience. Try a new browser. Refresh. Walk away and water the tomatoes. Go to yoga. Lots of yoga.

As a result, this website won’t be an e-commerce site until I can be sure it will work. You will have to either talk or text me and I will have to talk or text back. I will be able to take payments via PayPal or using the Square (weekend project) so debit or credit will be available. But I’m not going to leave you hanging on trying to load a credit card on this website.

Because I tried that last week with both LECOM and the New York Times, when my automatic payments failed due to a new debit card. But after 90 minutes trying to load my CC # into the LECOM site, and another 30 with the NYT – I gave up. Two days later the NYT site took my card. I had to go to LECOM and hand it to a person to finally get my membership paid up.

My parents did not raise a fool. If two respected businesses have hitches in their online card services, I can only imagine mine.

And as web developer, chief cook, driver, and I have no desire to be the online accounting manager too.

So we will start small.

In the meantime, I tested a new salad with friends Rebecca Styn and Kate McCune-Nash (who runs a gorgeous CSA for flowers in Erie out of her lovely home, 402 Nectar).

It makes use of a bounty of bok choy from Post Apples CSA in North East.

 

Stay cool. Enjoy your veggies. And think about heading out to the Cherry Festival in North East this weekend for some of the best pie you’ll taste this summer (unless it’s one of mine).

Marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Bok Choy Ramen Salad
Course lunch, Salad, side dish
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
Ingredients
Course lunch, Salad, side dish
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Dressing: In a small bowl whisk together combine brown sugar, olive oil, vinegar, tahini, and soy sauce. Allow flavors to blend at room temperature for about 30 minutes.
  2. Salad: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large sauce pan over medium heat until shimmering. Reduce heat to low. Add ramen noodles and sunflower seeds. Toast, stirring so they don't burn, for about 5 to 10 minutes,
  3. In a large bowl, combine baby bok choy, scallions, and ramen mix. Drizzle salad dressing over the top and toss until uniformly combined. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from CulinaryHill.com

Share this Recipe

When Erie is Like Florida

Weather and distance have been a recurring theme in the past week.

I left Erie to visit Florida for the President’s Day weekend … and then the temperature was warmer in Erie on Saturday than it was in Clearwater, Florida. Today, Erie will only be about 5 degrees cooler than where the some of the Erie snowbirds are flocking.

Erie has its own micro-climates as well. I knew this growing up, just didn’t know what to call it. In the summer we’d head to the beach from our house in Millcreek. When we’d leave the house, not far from the Millcreek Mall, where it would be sunny and warm. By the time we got to the lake, it could be 10 degrees cooler and cloudy.

Taking the kayak out onto Lake Erie in late February 2017.

This morning, I left my house by I-90 in Fairview and it was 57 degrees. I drove 5 miles down to the lake and it was 42 degrees, courtesy of the easterly wind coming off the 35-degree Lake Erie. As it shift to the south today, the temperatures will come closer. And I’ll be paddling on Lake Erie for the second time during the month of February.

It’s crazy.

I’m worried about the fruit trees being fooled into budding. As much as I love a 70-degree day in February, I love peaches throughout the month of August even more. And cherries. And plums. And apples.

I don’t dare dream of actually having spring in March in Erie. That’s just out of the question. Then we would really know the world was out of whack.

Before leaving for Florida, I had the honor of hosting a group of women called the Black Diamond Divas, a mastermind group of women who are part of the Coffee Club Divas. They are a fantastic group who are taking me to the next level of developing a business. More will come on that at a later date.

The challenge for making them lunch is the diversity of diets – namely gluten intolerant and vegan. Neither of these comprise my typical meal – but I do love a challenge. This Thai Quinoa Salad, adapted from FoodieCrush.com was perfect. Indeed, my daughter loved it the night before (I made early before so it could marinate in the dressing). I didn’t mention gluten free of vegan. She just declared it delish.

Hope you do too.

XOXOXO

marnie

marniemead@gmail.com

 

 

Print Recipe
Thai Quinoa Salad
For me the secret to the salad is two-fold: make your quinoa in a rice or pressure cooker and marinate the whole salad the night before serving. You can add protein, such as roasted chicken or shrimp if you feel the need for a more substantial dish.
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course lunch, Salad
Cuisine American, Asian
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Rinse quinoa under cold water. Cook according to package directions. Remove from pan and allow to cool.
  2. Add vegetables, quinoa, cilantro, and basil to a large bowl. Toss.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk soy sauce, Braggs, limes, sugar, vegetable oil, sesame oil and red pepper flakes until the sugar has dissolved. Taste and adjust to your liking (mainly checking for more heat or sweet).
  4. Pour the dressing over the salad and stir to combine. Can serve immediately or refrigerate overnight.
  5. Sprinkle peanuts over the salad before serving.
Recipe Notes

I like to use the multi-colored quinoa, just for color.

Adapted from FoodieCrush.com

Share this Recipe

Add Heat to Cool Days with Soup

Cold and rainy days call for soup. As a kid that meant the kind with the red and white label, preferably served with a grilled cheese sandwich.

My brother Kevin liked tomato. I was a chicken noodle or chicken and stars girl. My father, as we got older, made soup for Sunday night dinners. He would slave over a perfect French onion or a Manhattan (tomato-based) clam chowder. It was an all-day affair that typically involved making the stock and then the soup. Which is great if you have the time because the taste can’t be topped. French onion soup out of a can or an envelope just isn’t real – even if you do try to put the lovely cheesy crouton on top, which is doing nothing more than hiding a bowl of sodium pretending to be flavor.

I will get off my stockpot now. Sometimes you have neither the time nor inclination to spend all day making soup. In that case, this Thai Coconut Squash/Sweet Potato Soup is for you. I made it with a roasted sweet potato and acorn squash. You can do canned pumpkin (not pie mix), roasted butternut squash, or all roasted sweet potato.

I started by cutting an acorn squash in half, removing the seeds, and placing it in a nonstick roasting pan along with a large sweet potato, pierced, and placing it in a 350-degree oven for 45 minutes. If you are making sweet potatoes or squash for another dish, just throw a couple of extras in so you have leftovers to make this soup.

The soup requires no broth, just water. You will need a can of coconut milk – I prefer the full fat kind. The Thai red curry paste is essential. You can find the paste in the Asian food aisle at most supermarkets. I started with just 1 1/2 tablespoons, but eventually added another tablespoon. Err on the side of less because you can always add more.

Print Recipe
Thai Coconut Squash/Sweet Potato Soup
Course soup
Cuisine American, Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Course soup
Cuisine American, Asian
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a nonstick roasting pan, place large sweet potato and halved acorn squash, cut side down. Roast for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. In the same baking pan, deglaze any drippings from the squash with about 1/2 cup of water over medium heat until almost evaporated. If the drippings are too burned to be tasty, skip this and just rinse the pan out and go to the next step.
  3. Add coconut oil to the pan or a large saucepan over medium heat. When melted, add the onions and cook until soft and tender, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add Thai curry paste and stir in until totally incorporated (about 30 seconds).
  4. Scoop out sweet potato and squash into the onion mixture and mash together (use a potato masher if you need to). This will be thick. Add 1 quart of water and stir to combine. If really thick (like mashed potatoes thick), then add remaining water. If the mixture is still very thick (this will depend on the size of your potato and squash), then add more water about 1/2 cup at a time. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  5. Remove from heat. Stir in coconut milk and lime juice. Use an immersion blender, or, work in batches in a blender, to puree the soup until smooth. Garnish with coconut flakes.
Share this Recipe