Input, please

March 23, 2012

Okee dokee….here’s the first pass of my business structure. How much would you pay (for a monthly membership and delivery services)?

Per Person
vegetarian – $X.00/month (most items available vegan)
omnivore – $X.00 a month, gets you one meat entree a week

[Edit – I am working offering smaller packages – I’d love to hear how much you’d want to order per week.]

Delivery – how much would you pay? (Discounts available for bulk deliveries and individuals who are willing to pick up and deliver or act as a drop-off location within their neighborhood).

Most items also available a la carte, price variable.
I intend to announce each week’s menu one week in advance and require ‘orders’ 4 days in advance of pickup.

I am more than happy to work with dietary restrictions. I intend to be able to offer gluten-free variations on all items.

Ingredients are highly seasonal and while the type of dish may remain the same, flavor profiles and ingredients are expected to change frequently. Animal products sourced from humane and sustainable farmers. Organic certification is preferred, but not required. Produce is as organic and sustainable as I can manage. Where possible, Fair Trade items will be used.

All items delivered in resealable glass or metal containers; plastic lids will be BPA-free. A deposit will be required. Please return containers for re-use each week (or get charged!)

one bread product a week (all avail gf)
choose from loaf of bread, 1 lb cheddar crackers, 1 lb soft pretzels, 1lb english muffins (I might consider breaking up items for 1lb total weight)

2 entrees a week (approx 6 servings per entree or 1.5 lbs pre-cooked meat weight each)
Choose 2 from a list of 6 or so options (Omnivore Plan allows 1 meat entree per week):

roasted meat of the week (pork, beef, lamb, chicken)
braised meat of the week
Link Labs pigs in a blanket
salmon and tuna, as available/affordable
calzones
enchiladas
roasted tofu
fajitas
stuffed veg
gyoza
shepherd’s pie
tamales
moussaka
lasagnas
pasta dishes
quiches/fritattas/egg-based entree

3 sides each week – 1qt each
Choose from 10 to 15 available sides (*indicates always available):

Mixed greens with choice of dressing*
Braised greens*
Mashed taters*
Roasted red taters*
Roasted mixed seasonal veg*
Seasonal salad*
Yams with rosemary
Yams with hazelnuts
Slaw*
Beets o’ the week
Veg gratin
Spicy roasted squash
Crudite with dips*
Chana masala
Red lentil daal
Quinoa pilaf*
Rice pilaf*
Lentil salad
Bean spreads (by the pint, chose two)
Ryeberry risotto
Arborio risotto
Plain pasta, rice, quinoa*
Bean dish of the week*
Cheese of the week – 3 ounces*

Soups – 1 qt a week:
choose one from 3 available each week:

chickpea and carrot soup
chili
lentil soup
oxtail soup
split pea soup
chicken noodle soup
fresh mushroom soup
caldo verde
spring greens soup
caldo verde
summer green pea soup
black bean
potato leek
pacific seafood chowder

Sweets – 4 servings (sweets should be a treat, not a daily indulgence!):
Choose 1 of an assortment each week:
assorted cookies
cake
fruit tarts
brownies
puddings/custards

and on and on and on

March 22, 2012

Yesterday and today I’m obsessed with thinking about what my company would look like, when I launch it. I think I’m narrowing down ideas and feasible options. It is important to me that my food is healthy for us, for the farmers, and for the planet, is delicious, and is affordable. I’m brainstorming weekly meal plans, monthly meal plans, lunch service….what would you expect from a weekly meal service, and how much would you pay? What do you typically pay each week on food prepared outside of your home? What is your total food budget, and how much is the convenience of someone else doing it worth to you?

Meanwhile, I have a day off from work, and I’m playing in the kitchen. I was recently gifted with a 5 litre fermentation crock: my inaugural batch of sauerkraut has been started. I have some yogurt setting up, some beautiful yellow and chiogga beets roasting, some root veg braising, and I’m playing around with a new recipe for gluten free pasta. I rather like these kinds of days.

Thursday, March 8th

March 8, 2012

Today was a low-key day with leftovers for family meal:

coq au vin
spicy beans
polenta
quinoa
spring mix salad with apple cider and orange tarragon vinaigrette
biscuits with blood orange zest and mayan chocolate powder

I spent much of the day today cleaning arugula and chickweed. After yesterday’s hectic day, it felt both very slow, and rather meditative to stand and detail clean each small piece of lettuce.

Well, Hello There. What’s For Dinner?

March 8, 2012

I’ve graduated.

I’ve gotten a job. In food. Cooking, even.

The first month and a half of my job was all about getting ready to cook: I helped open a restaurant. Now, we’re open, and I’m the day prep cook and catering lead.

Part of my job is Family Meal – the staff sits down and eats together before service starts. It gives us a chance to reflect and plan, and feed our bodies and hearts. The sad joke in the restaurant world is that Family Meal is slop: even at the best restaurants, the staff often don’t eat well.

I aim to change that.

I’m not interested precisely plated entrees for Family Meal, but I do intend to give my team wholesome, nutritious, and delicious food. I also get to have fun making it affordable, and often by utilizing items on our menu that we haven’t been able to go through as much as we thought we would, or that we’re pulling from the menu and won’t be serving any more. It’s a very fun puzzle, and I take great pride in making it happen.

Since I’ve been quite remiss in the past several months with this blog, I thought…hmm, maybe if I blog about Family Meal, I can keep up with letting the world out there know what I’m doing in here.

So: perhaps a change of direction.

Today for Family Meal we had black beans, polenta with pimento butter, and mustard greens with mushrooms (the polenta and greens were left to us from a visiting chef’s Monday night pop-up dinner). I also had a batch of coq au vin simmering away all day – we found a source for roosters (I’m sure I’ll light up the boards if I use the colloquial term) and wanted to try them out before adding them to the menu.

Some previous dinners have included spaghetti squash fritatta, quiche lyonnaise, red lentil and spinach daal, hummus and onions with cheese on toast and a hearts of napa salad, warm quinoa salad with braising greens and house ricotta, roasted pork with apples and sauerkraut. Biscuits and quick breads show up fairly frequently, as do egg dishes. We have a gluten-sensitive person on staff, so I try to be cognizant of how much gluten I’m offering, too.

Dinners are quite often vegetarian: meat is expensive, and we don’t often have extra. Plenty of restaurants bring in lower-grade meat for Family Meal, but I have ethical qualms about that. I’m thankful that we’re not going that route.

In the “Chef Gone Mad” series…

September 9, 2011

I’m awake at nearly 3am with visions of some fairly big changes to my Chef of the Day (COD) meal. I’m not interested in changing the substance of the dishes so much as the form of some of the dishes….

Since summer quarter has ended, I’ve been relaxing, canning, working, baking, and experimenting with a lot of gluten-free goodies (one of these days I’ll post up a day-by-day list of what I’ve made and done). Some of my daily cooking has been working with the materials I’m using for my COD. The lentil-flour pasta in my entree continues to be a thorn in my side – I’ve hit upon a recipe that I can roll to a good thinness, but the cooked texture isn’t quite right, especially if you’re expecting traditional wheat pasta on your plate. However, a week or so ago, I made a layered pasta and mornay sauce casserole (read: mac and cheese using flat pasta sheets instead of macaroni tubes) and the lentil-flour pasta seemed to work well in baking.

So moments ago, I had a vision: instead of ravioli or agnolotti, could I utilize the pate mold I made my chicken and leek terrine in earlier this summer and make a lentil-flour lasagna? Form, bake, slice, finish under the salamander for some lovely crispness. I’m very tempted to spend the $50 online right now to get a mold and play with it.

This change will likely mean a change in my dessert – I don’t want two mostly soft layered and molded dishes in row. Earlier today at work I made cardamom-pluot snickerdoodles and thought that the cardamom would also work nicely with pear. Could I do something like that with my gingered pear and hazelnut tian? I must go research gluten-free snickerdoodle recipes……

My lasagna vision followed a vision of my dolmas being much more like sushi: use the grape leaves like nori, roll it up in a mat, nice and tight (a problem with my dolmas was that they were loose and liquidy). Then I can slice on a severe angle and serve the way I had originally intended.

On The Farm

July 26, 2011

A rainy Monday trip to Hedlin Farms and La Conner Flats.

At La Conner Flats we had a lesson on harvesting and then applied our new theory to potatoes. There is nothing quite like a gaggle of cooks getting very giggly over pulling food things out of the ground. It’s a bit of a high. I also got somewhat obsessed with the lettuces and cabbages (and close-ups!). They’re gorgeous, aren’t they?

Bacon!

July 22, 2011

All you carnivores and your bacon mania….

Yesterday’s rotation was smoking and curing. My team smoked off some ribs, made some North African-inspired sausage, and prepped coppa, pancetta, and bacon for curing.

I started making a Spanish-spiced bacon: smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, fresh thyme. I bet it’ll be yummy once it is cured and cooked:

Street Food: Shiitake Mu Shu

July 20, 2011

Braised Shiitake Mu Shu

I’m particularly happy about the quick pickle:
farm cucumbers, mango, rice and apple cider vinegars, thai basil, mint, thai chilies, tamarind, aji limon chili. It was yummy.

Summer School: Street Food

July 20, 2011

This week has been Street Food week. Yesterday was Middle Eastern: chickpea fritters, boreks, onion parsley salad, grilled vine-wrapped feta. The fritters were amazingly good: light, airy, crispy.

Garde Manger 2

July 15, 2011

Thursday’s rotation was Garde Manger 2: my team was responsible for a tossed salad with three dressings for student lunch, a 30 lb fruit platter for student lunch, 20 servings of a tableside salad (Pacific Rim Salad with marinated flank steak) for the public, and 10 6.5 ounce fruit plates for the public. The Garde Manger 2 team (responsible for 20 portions each of 3 salads) was short people, so we were asked to take on additional dishes: we added on a beet and blue cheese on mixed greens salad and Skagit Valley strawberries with honey yogurt.

I had thought that this week might be a somewhat relaxing one, or at least less stressful than Show Platter week: I ran my hiney off yesterday! I joked with my Chef that if he had told me in 1st quarter that I would be able to pull off everything that we managed yesterday, I would not have believed him.

It feels lovely to be able to produce so much food in a couple of hours. This quarter is turning into the “Self-Confidence Quarter” for me: I feel capable, I feel confident, I feel like I have come into my own and that I am pretty handy in a kitchen. My dishes are getting compliments, I can get more done than I ever thought possible, and my head is exploding with plans on how to improve even more. This is a lovely, lovely change from the grind and doubt of 4th quarter.

We are encouraged to push ourselves in the Garde Manger station and add some fruit or vegetable carving to our days. My lovely teammate created this watermelon whale while the other two of us were slicing and dicing for the fruit plates and the salads (that isn’t us in the background):