Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Moving Right Along

OK, so this is a blog about our company, FolkFoods. And the company is really about people and community and good food and all of the benefits of bringing these things together. Most of our recent posts have been about food and gatherings and such, but what about the business??

Starting a business is time consuming. It is stressful and resource consuming. It is also a lot of fun. I think it's cool that we have to make decisions about what size packaging to use or how much Veggie Crumble we think should be in each package, "to feed a family of four." More and more, it is requiring that Shana and I work together to guess at the best answer to those questions. Thankfully, we are getting a lot of help and support from Brian at the Vermont Food Venture Center. That guy knows a lot about the food business!

Last week, we officially went into production! We now have samples of all three products! (And most importantly, we know that the large scale version of our recipes work) Our products: Veggie Crumble, Veggie Breakfast Patties, and MasterSauce (A Spicy Cooking Sauce and Condiment). More on these as time goes by, but I can tell you that they are excellent, versatile, healthy, and really good. (Approved by our meat-eating and veggie friends alike.)

Some of you know how fond I am of the household immersion hand blender (I use it often, sometimes for Kefir Smoothies!). Well in the picture above, I got to use the mother of all immersion blenders! So freakin' cool! Shana, well, she got to play with A LOT of garlic!

There on the left, that's Brian, our food expert! He's showing us how to use and calibrate a filler (that's a simple name for a very complicated machine). Yes, you may have guessed it, that big conical stainless steel thing-ama-jig is now holding many, many pounds of FolkFoods MasterSauce. On your right, you will find both Shana and I hot-packing the MasterSauce into jars. We made 12 cases! Product? We got Product!

Well, that's about it for now. But, first, here's a little look into the beginning process of FolkFoods MasterSauce:

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Country Folk, City Folk

Asher, Tamara and Eran!
Welcome to Vermont!
My sister, her husband and their 3 month old son (Tamara, Eran and Asher) have come to visit! They drove up from New York City on Friday and we've been talking late into the night and eating ever since! (And of course spending a lot of time cuddling and cooing over Asher!)

It has been really fun sharing my Vermont family with my New York family. On Saturday night most of us got together for a pizza fest and baby-filled evening of conversation and laughter. It was Awesome. I learned something, however. I have no idea how to cook for a specific number of people. We had 8 adults and we made enough food for at least 12 (which isn't an altogether bad thing, I now have 2 whole frozen pizzas ready for the next time!)

Tamara and Eran tried some FolkFoods products for the first time as well. I used some of our Veggie Crumble on the pizza, and it was a big hit! To be honest, it is a big thing to me that both Tamara and Eran were such fans; they are veggie friendly, but are certainly bonified meat eaters. They raved about the crumble. So much so, in fact, that we decided to experiment and try to replicate one of Eran's mother's recipes, which is a sort of Turkish, middle-eastern spiced ground meat baked roll-up. On Sunday night we made two of these roll-ups (recipe to follow in the next short post) and did a side-by-side comparison of the crumble version and the ground beef version. We fed 8 adults and all of them loved the Crumble version (3 even claimed that it was better than the ground meat!) I am becoming more and more confident in our FolkFoods products and our vision. After the weekend that we've just had, I am so excited to share recipes, community, experience and practical strategies with people!
Oh, and before I finish this post, I have a new endorsement that I would like to share with you:

Stay tuned for:
- More from our Urban Family! (Perhaps a guest blogger?)
- More Recipes
- Major Business Updates
- Making and Using Stock (Have you been saving your scraps?)
- Reading Suggestions!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small Steps to a Food Revolution

Hey there! Remember this picture from awhile back?
I had asked people to give a guess as to what it was and its importance.
Well, guesses were abundant. The two main guesses were compost or soup stock.
In some ways, both answers were correct.
Its importance, however, was never mentioned.
It is quite important. Read on, please.

Making stock is a small revolutionary act. Raise your hand proudly if it is something that is already a part of your kitchen process! I am sometimes amazed at the lack of people who do not make stock. It is easy, time-efficient, crazy frugal, healthy, and adds such a depth to all of the rest of one's cooking! But why revolutionary, you may be asking??

Increasingly, prepared and pre-packaged foods are being used by families and individuals who cannot or will not take the time to cook meals from whole foods. This is not a judgment, it is an unfortunate (in my opinion) result of the culture in which we live. Preparing meals with and for one's family is placed on the back-burner. Other activities have replaced the centrality of the dinner table, the hearth, and the kitchen in general. I feel that this is an unfortunate turn of events for a number of reasons that I won't go into right now (this would become way too long of a post!)

I feel that I must mention one Consequence of the decreasing amount of traditional home cooking. The distance that is being created between people and the food they eat is growing exponentially! I just read a great quote from the book, Coming Home To Eat, by Gary Paul Nabhan, that said something like, "Most people today who eat poultry, beef or pork have never actually met a chicken, cow or pig"! (The book is absolutely fantastic, more on that in a later post, I actually want to quote about 2/3 of the introduction!!) Increasingly, individuals and families have no idea at all about where food comes from, how it gets to their table, and with what processes it has gone through to be presented as beautifully as it needs to be in the supermarket. Meat does NOT come beautifully packaged on Styrofoam trays! Fish fillets do NOT simply separate from their bodies, ready for poaching! (I know, I just gutted two fresh tilapia this evening, what an ordeal!) Vegetables, do NOT grow without blemishes, irregularities, dirt and decay! I think that the further that we move from our food source the less connected that we become with one another and our communities. There are people who kill, clean, butcher, fillet, and care for meat and fish. There are people who spend hours of time caring, growing, and harvesting vegetables. (I hope to highlight some of the local individuals who do these things. They are real and they work HARD!)

Anyway, this has gone way off topic from stock and compost!

And I am tired. So I have a request to make. Bear with me. Read over this rant and see what it may bring to mind for you. Post a comment about it. Maybe you'll help me to organize my thoughts around this topic and write more coherently in the future! But also, from now until next week sometime, I ask one thing. Every time that you do cook something, be it vegetable or animal, save the scraps (separate bags for vegetable and animal, please) If you are cutting up an onion or some garlic, the ends and the skins can go into a bag. If you are peeling some vegetable, those peels can go right into the bag. If you have some chicken, fish or steak the bones can go into a bag. Keep the bags in the freezer in between cooking times. You can put fresh scraps right into the bag with frozen ones. Try it, please. For one week. Maybe two. I will get back to stock and its revolutionary power. I will suggest some cool ideas for using stock.It will be worth it, I promise. (As a notes though, you might want to keep broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts and other cabbages in a separate bag altogether. I'll tell you about that in 1-2 weeks.)

Thanks for the indulgence. It has been a long week.