No Big Dill!

July is very appropriately National Pickle Month.  Who doesn’t want a dill spear on the side of their sandwich or a bread and butter slice on top of their burger or a pile of relish on top of their grilled hot dog? With these summer staples, pickles are the perfect accompaniment as they are crisp, fresh, light and add a lot of flavor.  Pickling began as a way of preserving foods for out-of-season use and also to keep foods fresh for long journeys.  With refrigeration, we don’t have to worry so much about keeping foods fresh for long journeys, but pickling is still used for keeping out-of-season foods fresh for the off-season. I have memories of making five-gallon buckets of pickled ramps in the spring when working at db Bistro Moderne.  They were served with a duck pate and we had to have enough to last until the following spring. It was not easy feat but somehow, we made it work.

We can’t talk about National Pickle Month without talking about Rick’s Picks.  Their Phat Beets are my favorite… I love beets for obvious reasons, and these are made with just the right amount of rosemary and garlic and are just delicious.  Their recipe for Phat Beets Happy Appy makes lots of appearances when I entertain. While Ricks PIcks Classic Sours are delicious, you cannot go wrong with adding some Mean Beans or Hotties to your Bloody Mary.  Homemade pickles are a great way to use up that load of vegetables you got from  your CSA and can’t possibly eat before they go bad, but pickling isn’t just for cucumbers and vegetables anymore.

Pickle juice has become as popular as the pickles that are inside it.  A few years ago the pickle back, a shot of pickle juice, paired with a shot of whisky became extremely popular. And this recipe for pickle-brine chicken is so delicious and flavorful.  Pickling liquid could also be used as part of a vinaigrette on a salad.  I’ve also read that a few sips of pickle juice could relieve heartburn or make that hang-over go away. The good news is that pickles aren’t going anywhere so let’s celebrate them in all of their glory this month and beyond!  We’re offering 10% off our collection of Rick’s Picks Pickles through the end of the month with code PICKLEMONTH10

Happy Friday,

Julie

The Thrill of the Grill

I just got an email from the management company of my building reminding us that it is illegal to have a propane or charcoal grill on your terrace or in your apartment.  While having an open flame grill inside your apartment sounds crazy having one outside isn’t so crazy.  But rules are rules and when we renovated our apartment we tried really hard to get the building to allow us to have a legal gas line barbecue but, in the end, didn’t succeed.  So we have our indoor grill on top of our range and it does a pretty good job.  The email got me thinking about why grilling has such an appeal that people are breaking these rules to have grilled food.

Grilling outside is a social way to cook. The stereotype is mostly true that men love to grill. I think a big part of that is the fact that they can stand around with a drink in their hand while ‘manning’ the grill.  There are obviously varying ways to ‘man’ the grill. I have memories of grilling with my grandfather where he would set a timer on his watch so we would know when to turn the steaks so they were evenly cooked and also had perfect cross marks on them.  On the other end of the spectrum is the set it and almost forget method where you simply watch for a lot of smoke or flames and then check in on what is cooking.   Both ways are satisfying for the grill master and also produce delicious food.

Cooking over an open flame also provides sense of adventure.  A gas grill is pretty easy to turn off and on, but you still have to watch out for flames firing up onto your meal.  Lighting a charcoal grill or even cooking over wood is something that requires skill and should be rewarded with a delicious meal.  The charcoal chimney is an amazing invention but there is still an amount of skill and luck to getting that fire going.  Unless you grew up as part of the boy scouts or girl scouts, starting a wood fire is tough.  Having the challenge of starting the fire and creating the environment to cook is one of the appeals of grilling.

Finally, there are the health benefits of having your food cooked over an open flame.  First off, you actually eat less fat because the fat is dripping off of the meat through the grates on the grill.  Foods retain more of their nutrients when cooked over an open flame.  This includes vegetables and proteins and happens because of low water content in the food.  You also eat less fat because you only need a little oil to keep the food from sticking to the grill but otherwise most of your flavor comes from the smoke of the grill and not from adding fats to your food. 

With summer in full swing, grilling season is also in full swing. I hope you are able to enjoy the social and health benefits from grilling. Most importantly be safe when you grill and certainly don’t have an open flame grill inside the house!  

Happy Friday,

Juliie

Food Trends from the Fancy Food Show

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Summer Fancy Food Show here in New York City. The show can be overwhelming as it covers most of the Jacob Javitz Center with literally 1000’s of booths.  With the right game plan, I was able to see what I wanted to in just a couple of very productive hours. One of my strategies is to visit the show on Tuesday, which is the final day.  The number of visitors is far fewer making it easier to breeze up and down the aisles.  On the flip side, the vendors have been talking and talking for two days already and some are just plain tired!   At the end of the day, the Fancy Food Show is a great opportunity to connect with some of our current artisans and also to look for new products for our marketplace.  On top of all of that I also enjoy poking around to see what the current trends are in the gourmet food world. 

Here are the trends I found most prominent at this year’s Summer Fancy Food Show:

Plant Based Everything: From oat milk to almond milk to cauliflower pizza crust and even some ‘meat’ products, there was a BIG emphasis on eating from foods we can grow.  While we know this type of diet has many health benefits including reduced risk of some cancers, I am a purist is most areas. I want my milk to come from a cow and my beef too for that matter. I do try to keep a low-carb diet so am on board with things like cauliflower pizza crust and pasta made from chickpeas. It is good to know these products are available for those who choose this lifestyle and also opens a lot of options for people with allergies to certain foods.

Allergy-Free Items:  To my last point, there is an increased awareness to allergies and more products are available to benefit allergy sufferers.  It doesn’t surprise me that these products are often created by parents who are looking for something delicious to feed their child who has a gluten/nut/dairy/soy allergy.  While my children, luckily, don’t have any food allergies I find these products have a place in our home because schools are super sensitive to allergies and a lot of packaged items are not allowed due to the allergens they contain.

Cold Brew Coffee:  I remember it like it was yesterday… making batches of cold brew coffee at Bouchon Bakery almost 10 years ago.  We had to let the coffee sit in the water overnight to brew to the proper strength.  It was not an easy feat.  Clearly times have changed as cold brew is becoming very main stream and in a good way.  A great bottle of cold brew in your refrigerator means fewer trips to the local coffee shop and for those who don’t live near a coffee shop, you can still have your gourmet coffee.

While most of these trends don’t align with the philosophy around the products selected for our marketplace, it was great to see how the food scene is changing.  I did find some wonderful products from smaller producers t that I hope to bring to our marketplace in the fall. I look forward to telling you more about the products and the stories behind them soon!

Happy Friday,

Julie

How to host a party, fun for kids & grown-ups!

Yesterday was the last day of school for my two oldest boys. It has become a tradition that we host a party  to mark the occasion, inviting all of the children from each class as one last get together as a group.  While it may sound daunting to host 22 children and their families with enough planning and preparation it can be a breeze.  Here are some tips on hosting an event that can come together easily and is enjoyable for both grown-ups and children.

  1. Plan an appropriate menu for the age groups – For us this means having choices that are approachable to children while also having something fancier for the grown-ups. I always follow the rule of making at least one home-made dish and fill in the rest with open and serve items.  I’ve been looking for an excuse to make this Chicken Alfredo Ring so that was my home-made dish.  We also had a cheese tray, pretzels, chips, a fruit tray, veggies and hummus and home-made cookies for dessert.
  2. Have a special beverage station – Keeping the drinks separate from the food makes people move to different rooms in the house. Having a special drink makes the party more fun for kids and grown-ups. At this age, the kids get pretty excited about juice boxes or lemonade.  We have wine and beer for the grown-ups because they deserve to relax a little as well!
  3. Plan a menu that can be made ahead – Everything we served could be prepared ahead of time and set out on the buffet for all to enjoy. This meant that during the party I didn’t have to be working in the kitchen to heat something up and could chat with the other grown-ups or keep the kids out of trouble.
  4. Have an activity to engage the children so they don’t destroy your home – We had a cookie decorating station set up where the children could frost and decorate their own cookie to take home or enjoy on the spot. This kept their attention just long enough that the selection of toys that were out were interesting and kept my home relatively clean.
  5. Prepare your toy selection – I highly recommend putting away toys your kids don’t want to share to prevent any arguments. We also put away noisy toys(think musical instruments) and toys with lots of pieces(legos!). This keeps the noise level down and makes clean-up a little bit easier.

I have always enjoyed entertaining and while it has changed since having kids in the mix, there is a way to still make it enjoyable.  The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by a big event look at my tips and you’ll surely be able to sit back and enjoy at least a glass of wine!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Running for a Cause

This weekend I’ll be participating in my 7th race with Moms in Training.  Moms in Training is a group of Moms that train together to run a 10K while also raising funds to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  I started with this group in the fall of 2014 when my son was 4 months old.  He would sleep in our running stroller while I trained in Central Park.  I’ve always loved running but once I became a mom it became more difficult to find time to run.  By participating in Moms in Training, I have an excuse to go for a run each week and can feel good about it since I am supporting a great cause at the same time. With three boys now, I am finding it even more difficult to find time to run. I upgraded a few years ago to a double running stroller so now can push two of them while I train. That leaves my supportive husband with just one to look after.

This season has not been an easy one for me as far as running is concerned. I was formally diagnosed with Plantar Fasciitis the week before the Moms in Training Season began. That didn’t stop me from going to the team kick off where we met this season’s team honoree, Jackson.  There wasn’t a dry eye among the crowd gathered there listening to Jackson’s father tell the story of Jackson’s battle with cancer.  Jackson is now 11 and has been cancer and treatment free for 5 years.  The one comment that resonated with me with was when Jackson’s father said that beating cancer was one of the easier challenges Jackson had to overcome.  Jackson was already challenged with numerous health and development issues that accompany Down Syndrome nonetheless Jackson persevered and overcame the challenge.  What I am facing is far less severe compared with Jackson’s story and it puts it all in perspective.  I’ve been going to physical therapy to work through the heel pain and it has helped. I have been running a little ahead of the race but not as much as I would have without the heel issue.

As I head into the race tomorrow, I’ll remember what Jackson’s father said and think about the millions of people who are affected by blood cancers.  I’m not likely to win the race, but I do hope to have a good time running it.  If you’d like to support my run with Moms in Training you can donate through this link, https://pages.teamintraining.org/nyc/mit19/JRosenberg

Go Moms!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Spring into Summer

After Memorial Day, I really start to feel the transition from spring into summer.  Spring is one of my favorite seasons. Everything starts to turn green and we get to be less bundled as the temperature begins to creep up. Produce also begins to turn green and there is a new variety of vegetables and fruits to use in the kitchen! Now that we have passed the unofficial start of summer, I can dig out those white pants from of the back of my closet(Just kidding!) and embrace even more produce.  These days we do start to wear shorts more than pants and there are more days when I go out without a jacket.  School is slowly coming to an end and we can all look forward to the care-free fun of camp during the summer. 

One of my favorite parts of summer is the ability to serve something that requires little to no cooking.  Salads become staple on our dinner menu. I dare you to count the number of times I post a tomato, basil, and mozzarella salad this summer. I’ll be changing them up slightly each time by using different sized tomatoes, perhaps using a dressing from Farm House Labs one week and the following week simply drizzling the salad with 5 Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  I plan to cook vegetables ahead of time and serve them with a light vinaigrette to greet the freshness of summer.  The wine in our house also begins to change from red to white and maybe with a rose mixed in.  With the summer heat, a chilled wine is always appreciated and this summer we are ready for drinks on the terrace with plastic wine glasses!

One downside of the heat is that we need to ship some of our products express to make sure they arrive in their best condition.  You can check out all of our summer shipping guidelines here.

Whether you spend your summer in the city, at the beach or somewhere in between I hope it is as relaxing as you want it to be.

Happy Friday,

Julie

C is for Chocolate Chips

This past Wednesday was National Chocolate Chip Day, a holiday I can support without question.  If it were up to my children we’d probably sprinkle chocolate chips on everything… needless to say I am a huge fan. It all got me thinking about where Chocolate Chips came from.  As you might have suspected, the creation of the chocolate chip came about for a cookie recipe.  Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts added cut up chunks of a semi-sweet Nestle chocolate bar to a cookie recipe.  They were an immediate success.  Wakefield reached an agreement with Nestle to add her recipe to the back of their bags in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate.  That was in 1939 and Wakefield lived until 1977.  That is a LOT of chocolate.  It was around 1941 when Nestle began producing chocolate chips, before that they added a cutter to their larger bars.  This creation changed cookie making as we know it.

These days it is difficult to find a traditional bakery that doesn’t have some sort of chocolate chip cookie on their menu. While the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe is  a staple at home, here are some of my favorite chocolate chip cookies to eat when someone else is baking.

Bouchon Bakery Chocolate Chunk – This cookie is crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle. I had my fair share when I worked at Bouchon Bakery in the Time Warner Center for over two years. Sometimes quality control is part of the job and I wasn’t complaining.

Levain Bakery Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies – These cookies are HUGE and sinful.  They are pretty gooey on the inside with just the right balance of richness from the chocolate and crunch from the walnuts.

Jacques Torres Chocolate Coated Chocolate Chip Cookie – This chocolate chip cookie is coated on the bottom with 60% dark chocolate… WOW!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Shots from Dominique Ansel Bakery – Cookies and milk are a great combination and this one allows you to have your milk in your cookie.  It literally is a cup made of chocolate chip cookie. 

If you missed National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day do not worry, there are chocolate chip cookies made everyday.  Pick one up at your favorite bakery and let us know why it is the best!

Happy Friday,

Julie

A Mother’s Job

Messy Kids

                                                                                                                                   

Motherhood and parenting definitely comes with some positives and negatives. I love when you see a job posting for the position of Mother. It may read something like this:

Title: Mother

Description:

  • Long term, energetic team players needed, for challenging permanent work in a busy and often chaotic environment. Candidates must possess excellent communication and organizational skills and be willing to work variable hours, which will include evenings and weekends and frequent 24 hour shifts on call.
  • Successful candidates are given a few hours sleep per night for the first few years increasing to more as you remain in the position. Even during sleeping time, successful candidates should be able to wake up and resume normal duty at a seconds notice.
  • There are ‘bathroom breaks’ permitted but these will be accompanied by small people. Be prepared to answer any questions they may ask while doing this task.

Responsibilities:

Must be willing to be hated, at least temporarily, until someone needs something. Must be willing to bite your tongue repeatedly. Also, must possess the physical stamina of a lion and be able to go from zero to 60 mph in three seconds flat. Must be willing to face stimulating technical challenges, such as small toy repair and stubborn zippers. Must maintain calendars and coordinate production of multiple homework projects. Must have the ability to plan and organize social gatherings for clients of all ages and mental outlooks. Must be willing to be indispensable one minute, and an embarrassment the next. Responsibilities also include floor maintenance and janitorial work throughout the building.

Compensation:

None! You pay! Offering frequent raises and bonuses. A balloon payment is due when clients they turn 18 because of the assumption that college will help them become financially independent. The strangest thing about this reverse-salary scheme is that you actually enjoy it and wish you could only do more.

Benefits:

While no health or dental insurance, no pension, no tuition reimbursement, no paid holidays and no stock options are offered; this job supplies limitless opportunities for personal growth and free hugs for life. There is one day per year allocated for you (it is marked in the calendar as Mother’s Day)

Needless to say being a mom is really hard and so is running your own business. I am very proud to be a mother and business owner. I have even more pride in the fact that Julie’ Beet supports other women entrepreneurs who are also mothers. 

Chantal Coady founded Rococo Chocolates well before she had children. Now she is the proud mother of two and is still running a very successful chocolate company.

Lucy Benjamin started Lucy’s  Granola due to the overwhelming response to her granola at her daughter’s bake sale.  Lucy is the proud mother of three and makes way more granola compared with the back to school days.

Stefanie, from Due Celucci is the proud mother of two sons and one dog.  She makes her sauces to taste like home-made so the only work you have to do is opening the jar and cooking the pasta.

Daniela, from Farmhouse Lab, also had two children. According to Daniela, her children are excellent taste testers.  We have them to thank for all of the delicious dressings

Leah, from Semolina Artisanal Pasta, is also a mother of 2.  She loves to bring her children with her when she is out ‘working’. Leah is `a renaissance woman often switching gears from mom to pasta maker in an instant.

 

I want to wish all of the mothers out there a very Happy Mother’s Day.  Take some time for yourself today… fingers crossed the children will agree with that plan too!

Happy Friday

Julie

Do Your Kids Eat Veggies?

Everyone says kids are picky eaters and sometimes that is true.  Since my children were born, all three of them, I have put a lot of time and effort into introducing them to healthy foods and preparing them healthy meals. From breast milk to home-made purees, I started them early.  They all liked their vegetables, some fruits and for the most maintained a healthy diet.  Sometime about 2 years ago that slowly started falling apart, especially for my oldest son.  He now doesn’t eat any fruits or vegetables.  When he turned five he made the bold statement that he would start eating vegetables but I’m still waiting for that to happen.  My middle son, who is 3, is the best eater of the bunch. He loves fruit, specifically berries, and will eat greens like kale and spinach(not always but sometimes). My little one who is 1 ½, has started in the right direction and I’m really trying to hang on.  He does get macaroni and cheese and chicken fingers with French fries but he also eats yogurt, nuts, applesauce and a variety of other healthy items.

As a parent, and a chef, it disturbs me that my children don’t want to eat everything in sight. Also, that they don’t appreciate the effort I put in to prepare their meals but that could be a whole other issue.  I’ve turned to the internet many times for tricks to get my kids to like a variety of foods and most say exposure is key.  All of my boys like to cook with me, so they are exposed to everything from spinning kale in the salad spinner to making banana chocolate chip muffins and everything in between.  Because we cook together, it isn’t so easy for me to ‘hide’ fruits and vegetables in their food.  In an effort to get out of our weekly cycle of meals, I’ve turned to the internet again for suggestions.  Here are some good ones I found.  Follow our Pinterest Board, Kid’s Meals, where I will add more tips and recipes as I find them.

Choices: Kids love being in charge so instead of saying we’re having carrots with dinner tonight, offer a choice…  “Would you like carrots or cucumbers with your dinner tonight?” By being ‘the boss’ of what they eat, mealtime is more likely to be successful.

Serve a family meal: It is really nice when a family can sit down and eat together and even nicer when you all eat the same meal.  Kids look at their grown-ups for cues so if you are enjoying something sitting next to your child, there is a  higher probability they will try it and like it too.

Reward ‘good’ Eating:  My grandmother used to say “There is no such thing as I don’t like” and if we complained we would get more of whatever we didn’t like.  We got smart and started complaining about dessert.  She didn’t fall for that one but it is true that kids like sweets and treats.  Offer dessert for finishing dinner or even tasting their vegetables.  You’ll be surprised how motivated a child gets over a small treat like a chocolate chip or a mini marshmallow.

Do Your Best:  Don’t get frustrated if a meal doesn’t go as planned. Kids are unpredictable at best so what gets eaten one night might get turned down another.  Keep trying and something will stick.

If you have any other tricks that work for you please let me know. I’m all ears when it comes to getting kids to eat something that isn’t sugar coated or fried! On that note, have a great Cinco di Mayo this weekend!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Four Years(Plus) in the Making

This week Julie’s Beet celebrated its 4th Anniversary.  It is hard to believe that it was just four years ago that I had boxes of products stacked in our apartment.  And when the weather warmed up and all of the chocolate moved into our bedroom(for the air conditioning) my husband suggested I move Julie’s Beet to its own location.  I moved into our showroom on 80th Street shortly after Julie’s Beet launched online.  Since then we have continued to grow and change.  A few of our products have come and gone but it is nice to see friendly faces(items) remain on the website year over year because you love them as much as I do! I’m proud of how we have grown at Julie’s Beet but also proud of the way we have maintained what is important to us…

We have posted to our blog weekly since Julie’s Beet began.  The blog is a just one way we add a personal touch to the website by telling you family tales and sharing some of our favorite recipes.  It is not an easy feat to come up with something new and interesting to talk about week after week.  Please let me know what you’d like to see up on the blog. And if you’re reading this you’ve found our blog.  You can also follow the blog by simply adding your email here and you’ll get our blog posts sent directly to your inbox.

I’m very proud that we continue to support smaller producers from around the world.  We’re constantly looking for the next artisan who will join our roster of talented producers.  I continue to love telling the stories behind the products to anyone who will come in and listen. I also love sharing the joy when our artisans are recognized for all of their greatness. 

My love of food and cooking has never been stronger. Nothing brings me more pleasure than putting a smile on someone’s face through the gift of food.  Whether it is something home-made or a beautiful gift set or a bite of a really special bar of chocolate, food has a power over people and I love being able to spread that joy. Being a business owner has its fair share of challenges but the return on the investment is well worth it.

As I look ahead to the next four years, I get a little tingly thinking about all of the possibilities for growth. I cannot wait to try what you or your neighbor might be cooking up and I cannot wait to tell the story behind that very special product.  Here’s to more culinary adventures around the world!

Happy Friday,

Julie