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.

Taste Testing in Business

The vegan menu launched in January. Better salads came in February. The beginning of 2018 is shaping up to be a time to retool.

Which is perfect for a new business.

Anyone remember Facebook when it first came out. There were no photos, let alone videos, emojis, etc. And Google was second to …. just about everyone. Anyone still use Bing? FIrefox?

If you are  in business, any business, you must be attuned to what the audience wants. Nut-free was always in my business plan (my father has a nut allergy), so when the request from a celiac suffer for gluten-free came in, I did my best. I can’t say every dish is a hit. There are some restrictions to GF foods – the replacement flours still have a gritty taste so they don’t work with all baked goods, for example. There are some professional baking companies – such as Udi’s – which does a wonderful French bread. You need to know when to turn to the experts.

But for some GF offerings, nut flour is the way to go. Hazelnut flour, almond flour, coconut flour, are all great. They aren’t really “Flour” in the way that wheat flour has gluten, which gives it an elastic quality that traps air bubbles and gives cakes and breads their rise (not just the yeast).

For my vegan customers – flour is just fine. But eggs and dairy are not. Once again, some of the nut flours and milks are the secret ingredients to a lovely sweet. That and flax-seed, which you crush and mix with water. I don’t know how it does what it does, but it works.

So some weeks making a chocolate cake involves 3 different recipes. Good thing I like cake. And the funny thing is some weeks the vegan cake may taste the best of the three. Go figure. The GF cakes, now that I use a lot of nut flours, are also very good. They have a dense and rich quality that traditional wheat flour doesn’t.

And then there was the real surprise recipe – tahini brownies. The recipe below is adapted from Ambitious Kitchen – and made vegan. I love the flavor meld of the nutty tahini and the chocolate for the brownies. It’s a more adult flavor than adding peanut butter.

Meadballs is still a work in progress, but I like to think each week is another step in the right direction. There are other requests that I haven’t been able to meet just yet, but I’m working on it.

A year ago, this wasn’t even a blueprint. So I know that things can change quickly. You just have to adapt.

And, this winter, wear snowshoes. I can’t believe I picked the snowiest winter on record to launch a business that involves delivery! Beats the year, I launched a magazine, that was followed by a stock market downturn and housing market “collapse.”

That magazine is still  in business.

Sometimes good ideas can outrun bad markets (or winters).

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

 

Coming soon – Meadballs in Ireland.

Print Recipe
Tahini Brownies
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
squares
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9x9 square baking pan with foil or parchment. Coat with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the tahini, coconut sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and flax eggs.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, almond flour, salt and baking soda.
  4. Add dry ingredients to wet, mixing to combine. Add chocolate chips into the batter.
  5. Spread batter evenly in prepared baking pan.
  6. Bake for 22-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Do not overbake.
  7. In the meantime, make chocolate drizzle by melting coconut oil and chocolate chips in a glass bowl in the microwave. Start with 30 seconds and stir. If chocolate is still chunky, microwave another 30 seconds and stir. Everything should be melted together.
  8. Drizzle over warm brownies. Optional: Sprinkle sea salt on top.
  9. Cut into 16 squares.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

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Thankful for a “Renegade”

The sun is shining and for that I am most thankful today.

I am thankful every day just to waking up and greet the morning. I am thankful that I see my daughter every morning (except those when she doesn’t come out from under the covers until afternoon). I am thankful for walking the dog with my mum on the shores of Lake Erie. I am less thankful when it is snowing or in the driving freezing rain – but it sure beats the alternative of not being able to go out in the snow or freezing rain.

The list could go on and on – dad, brothers, sister, nieces, nephews, friends, Coffee Club Divas, Heidi Parr Kerner … but you have your own list. And we don’t have all year.

So thank you for reading this.

And I would like to introduce you to someone else I am thankful for. Her name is Tammy Lyn Fox, and she helped guide me toward creating Meadballs. Tammy has her own catering business, Taste of Zion, and a vision to create a community kitchen where all the little foodies around town could start their businesses.

In the meantime, she has launched a Kickstarter campaign for Renegade Butters, which are outstandingly delicious compound butters.

Here is an outtake from her Kickstarter:

“My name is Tammy Lyn Fox and I’m a reckless renegade. A renegade goes against the grain, breaks out of the box, and blazes a new trail. Renegade Butters rebel against the plain butter experience and gives you something that is at once both very old and very new — Beurre Composé, the compound butter.”

She has both sweet and savory butters – her garlic Parmesan is divine, as is the Mediterranean, which has sweet peppers, Kalamata olives, herbs, and feta cheese. You can spread it on bread, or toss with pasta, or just eat it out of the jar.

Just kidding. Sort of.

You can read more about Tammy’s Renegade Butters project at Kickstarter.    You can also check out her Facebook page.

If you are a Meadballs customer, you will be sampling some of her products after the Thanksgiving break. Since I started making breads, I will include samples of her butters for you to taste.

I hope you enjoy your holiday. See you in December.

XOXOXO

marnie

marnie@meadballs.com

Print Recipe
Cranberry Apple Ginger Relish/Chutney
I love this yummy fresh cranberry relish/chutney. It is just the right balance of sweet, spicy, tart, and the balsamic adds just that mystery. I use it on top of yogurt in the morning with granola. But with the turkey is good too!
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the ingredients, including orange juice and zest, in a nonreactive saucepan (I use an enamel pan with a blue interior; if you use one that is white, you may need to bleach afterward).
  2. Cook over medium-low heat for 18-20 minutes, until the fruit is tender and the liquid has thickened. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Remove cinnamon stick.
  3. Best chilled. Can be kept in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks.
Recipe Notes
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Crazed Chef Craves Squash (really!)

Things have been a little hectic here in the Meadballs kitchen. Big news is that I am finally certified. This seemed liked the hugest hurdle back in the spring. But when the day finally came on Friday, Aug. 4, it really was just he beginning. Because of three things:

  • Most of my pots and pans didn’t work with induction. So I had to buy new ones.
  • I have to wash dishes now. (Dishwasher not in the budget).
  • The ventilation project wasn’t totally finished.

The last is probably the biggest issue because it is August. And while it has been pretty chill so far, it isn’t all that cool in my basement digs with three fridges, two freezers, two ovens, and three induction cooktops going. Sometimes all at once. So the electrician returned to install a big fan, some vents in the ductwork and a cooler for the wine room. As a result, my shiny new kitchen is a mess of dust, dirt, power saws, and electrical things. It is loud and dirty. So I haven’t been in the kitchen much since I picked up my lovely certificate.

But, never fear, it should all be done by tomorrow morning and I’ll be cooking away. If you have signed up for my newsletter – there is a sign-up on this website – you will find the specials for next week. They will also be posted on the Meadballs Meals facebook page. Order by e-mailing marnie@meadballs.com, messaging me on Facebook, or by texting 814.470.8688. Orders need to be received by Sunday at noon for Monday delivery.

In the meantime, I’ve been in my home kitchen working with what to do with a truckload of yellow squash. I love this bread with blueberries. Don’t skip the glaze, it makes the cake and helps keep it fresh.

Print Recipe
Lemonade Blueberry Squash Bread
Course breakfast, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Course breakfast, dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
loaves
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease 2 regular loaf pans.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl.
  3. In another large or medium bowl, combine melted butter and sugar. Add lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla. Whisk in eggs.
  4. Add wet ingredients to dry. Mix thoroughly.
  5. Add squash and stir just to blend. Toss blueberries with the remaining flour. Add to mixture.
  6. Pour into prepared pans and bake at 325 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes.
  7. Allow the pan to cool; remove the bread and place top down on a serving plate.
  8. In the meantime, make the glaze by combining all the ingredients and mixing until smooth. Pour over top of bread.
  9. Serve.
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