Spring brings change to Meadballs

Meadballs is undergoing some changes. The weekly delivery service is finished. Instead I plan to offer fresh salads using seasonal greens, veggies, and grilled protein at area farmer’s markets. The locations and dates will be posted here, and e-mailed out to subscribers of my newsletter.

Why the change?

The main reason is that I will be going to nursing school full-time at Mercyhurst North East, graduating in 2020. Ideally I will be taking a couple of classes this summer to get back into the groove of the classroom – a place I haven’t spent any serious time since graduating from Boston University more than 30 years ago.

In the time since then, and even during college, I was a journalist. When the time came to leave the newspaper business two years ago, I was looking for my part 2.0. I applied to nursing school then – a different university – but didn’t get into the program.

So I stuck to what I knew – writing, freelancing, blogging. That worked for nearly a year, until my income source ceased accepting my freelance pitches.

Why? The company knows the answer. It wasn’t shared with me.

That meant it was time to consider 2.1, which included a food truck selling baked goods. Given the negative health effects of sugar, I switched it up to something healthier, which eventually became Meadballs. Three meals, featuring regionally sourced foods – delivered once a week.

My customers were/are great. They were incredibly supportive. They suffered through some of my experiments (some items don’t travel well, or work well in large quantities); and I learned about the many underserved health and dietary concerns  – such as offering gluten-free foods (like salad dressings, soups, etc), and vegan prepared foods that don’t star tofu- or soybean-based impersonations of cheeses, meats, etc.

My business model was built on this being a 15-hour-a-week job, with a related income. This was to give me time to travel, be a mom, and enjoy hiking, kayaking, and the like (in no particular order). The the plan to deliver Wednesdays (like Blue Apron) was replaced by demand for Monday (who wants to cook on Monday?), and limited weekend getaways.

January is always a time to look forward – so I looked at where I wanted to be in 2020 when my daughter graduates from high school. I needed work that could go anywhere in the country – or world. And that was in high demand (not true of journalists). And I was back at nursing.

And that also meant taking an entrance exam. For three weeks I  immersed myself  in algebra and biology. I can’t tell you how incredible Khan Academy and Crash Course were. Combined with a print study guide, I relearned subjects that  hadn’t paid any attention to in 35 years (and I swear some of the stuff I never learned at all, clearly). In February, my score was high enough to get me into the RN program, instead of the LPN program I originally applied for.

So here I am. I will be starting version 2.something just after I turn 55. I will graduate from Mercyhurst at the same time as my daughter does from Fairview High School.

And then we will both be packing our bags for the next chapter.

Pledge to Bake an Apple Cake

bucket full of ripe apples is in the garden grass in the rays of sunset

On my recent trip to Kansas City, one of the non-culinary adventures was a trip to the Escape Room. The concept is fairly simple – you choose a room from which to “escape” by solving the clues. The rooms have varying difficulties, but the task is the same. Find the clues in the room, determine if they are helpful or misleading, and, ideally, you will be among the 20 percent who get out in the allotted time.

We had a choice between prison break, which involved handcuffs, and secret agent, which meant finding a spy. One of our team wasn’t into the handcuffs, so we played secret agent. We didn’t get it solved in time to “win,” but we did have a group of strangers cooperating in what seemed like a team-building exercise.

I left it at that until today. After a meeting with some “teammates” in a women’s networking/mastermind group, the clouds cleared in my head. Thanks Tammy and Linda. The Escape Room seemed more like a metaphor for life. There are clues all around us – and sometimes there is a higher power to gently guide – and it’s up to us to figure out which of them are useful and which can lead us down a dead-end path.

Sometimes the only way to figure out if the clue is relevant is to wander. Some of us have the fortune or clarity to see the clues for what they are, and follow the path to the right job, the right spouse, the right future. Some of us follow what seems to be the right path, only to find ourselves wandering off in a field, distracted somehow along the way. Others walk and walk, only to find the path eventually blocked. Sometimes it can be a wall blocking the way, which can be scaled. Other times it could be a cliff, and your choice is to figure how to bridge the divide. Or you can simply turn around and look for a fork and try a new path. And hope you find the clues to unlock the door to the future.

In March I decided it was time to find a new path. I’ve been picking up little clues along the way. Some have been helpful, like getting my master certification in life coaching. Others took me down a path I’m not sure have much to do with my future – other than to prove I can pass all the criminal clearances to be around children.

What clues are out there? I’m looking to the past – my many years of baking and writing. I am fully embracing my present with the wonderful Coffee Club Divas networking group and the Black Diamonds mastermind group. And what about the future? I’m working on it.

Until then, I do what I have always done when looking for clarity – I bake. Today’s recipe for Grandmother Royce’s California Apple Cake is a tried and true one that my sister-in-law Jenna Mead sent me in 2015. This is a real keeper and perfect for apple season.

I also made it as part of King Arthur Flour’s Bake and Share Initiative in October. For every pledge they receive to bake and share, King Arthur will donate to Feeding America.

Print Recipe
Grandmother Royce's California Apple Cake
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Course dessert
Cuisine American
  1. Combine apples and sugar. Mix well. Add oil, nuts, eggs, and vanilla and blend. In a separate bowl, blend together flour, baking soda, salt, and spices. Add to apple mixture and blend.
  2. Pour into greased and floured 9x13 baking pan. Bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees. Check after 30 minutes.
  3. Note: I made this in a Bundt pan. To make it a little fancier, slice 1/2 of of your apples instead of dicing. Don't put the sliced apple into the cake, instead place the slices and a sprinkle of the walnuts in the bottom of the pan. Then pour the batter on top. Bake. When cool, invert onto a serving plate.
Recipe Notes

Best when eaten soon. Cover very loosely for storage as it can get soggy quickly. Freezes well.

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