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

This is 40!

Today I am celebrating a milestone birthday… forty years!  It is amazing to look back on the journey that got me to where I am today.

In my 20’s I graduated from college and headed off to culinary school.  Originally, I thought I would be a chef on a cruise ship. That dream quickly changed after having an instructor that had worked on a cruise ship.  She and I didn’t get along and that made me question the whole cruise thing.  Last year I went on my first (and maybe last) cruise and I have to say I am glad I didn’t pick that route.  Then I set my goals higher, I was going to be the head chef of a catering company by the time I was 30.  I moved to New York City at the age of 25 to learn from the best chefs in the world and with that came a bit of a reality check. I worked at some great restaurants, db Bistro Moderne and Eleven Madison Park were the big two.  I did some catering work on the side and quickly realized maybe the kitchen, or the catering business weren’t for me.

When I turned 30, I was a manager at Bouchon Bakery and Café in the Time Warner Center. Basically, I was doing everything there but cooking. The hours spent at the bakery gave me a lot of exposure to what happens behind the scenes in a food business.  I learned a lot and after a few years I was eager to get something of my own started. I was used to working really hard and thought who better to work really hard for than myself.  That is when the seeds of Julie’s Beet were started.  The concept originally had a prepared meal delivery aspect to it along with all the wonderful artisanal food.  Everything changed when my soon-to-be-husband got transferred to London.  (I met my husband at 29 and we got engaged when I was 31 and married at 32).  We moved to London together less than a month after we were married and stayed there for about two years.  I put Julie’s Beet on hold for the time being and explored some opportunities in London.  I landed at Rococo Chocolates in the fall of 2012 as their Events Manager. I over saw the chocolate school where I taught chocolate lovers of all ages about making and enjoying chocolate.  If that hadn’t happened, I probably would not be working with Rococo Chocolates today.  When I returned to New York, I knew my business had to have Rococo Chocolates as part of it. 

The rest of my thirties were a bit of a blur.  Our family grew from two to five in under four years. But somewhere in there I knew I needed to get Julie’s Beet up and running. I wanted to keep my mind sharp and have something else to talk about outside of poopy diapers and the newest stroller on the block.  I officially launched Julie’s Beet at the age of 36. I was finally my own boss.  The business is more than I could have imagined. I love working with the amazing artisans we have in our market place. I love telling you all about the wonderful products and working with them in my home kitchen.  I also the love the feeling of accomplishment every time an order comes in and is shipped out successfully. We’re a few weeks shy of our fourth anniversary and that makes me smile a lot!

As I look ahead to my forties, it is hard to predict what the future will bring. On a personal level, I hope my boys continue to make me proud in and out of school.  On a professional level, I hope that Julie’s Beet continues to grow and mold into an amazing business.  I want to continue spreading the stories of amazing artisans and delivering quality gifts to you and your loved ones. 

Happy Friday,

Julie

For the Love of Cooking

I love cooking and my favorite part of cooking is watching someone enjoy what I made for them.  I think that is why I had such a difficult time working in restaurant kitchens.  I was cooking plenty of food for the guests to enjoy but unfortunately wasn’t getting to see the smiles on their faces when they enjoyed it.  Granted I never worked in an open kitchen but I think that would have come with it’s own set of challenges.  One of my favorite jobs was working at Rococo Chocolates and running their chocolate school. I got to interact with people, teaching them how to make chocolate and other recipes with chocolate in them. I also got to see them enjoy the chocolates! 

My husband’s birthday was last week and we have Valentine’s Day coming up next week.  I typically cook him a special meal for his birthday and then again on Valentine’s Day.  It can be tough to figure out two amazing meals to cook just weeks apart as I try to make them completely different but still filled with the foods he loves.  One of his favorites is when I make pasta from scratch, I’m talking the actual noodles here.  Tonight we’ll be celebrating his birthday with a belated birthday dinner and I’ve decided to make some pasta.  I use the recipe from Thomas Keller’s French Laundry Cookbook.  It comes highly recommended from two chef friends of mine and always turns out perfect.

I found some recipe inspiration from Instagram on the feed @howsweeteats  I’ll be making the Cozy Lemon Pasta.  You can find the recipe here, And I’ll put the pasta recipe for you down below.  I cannot wait to see the joy on my husband’s face when he digs into this delicious meal.  A dream come true!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Pasta Dough

From Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 ¾ cups all purpose flour

6 large egg yolks

1 large egg

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil

1 tablespoon milk

Method:

-Mound the flour on a board or other surface and create a well in the center, pushing the flour to all sides to make a ring with the sides about 1 inch wide.  Make sure that the well is wide enough to hold all  the eggs without spilling.

-Pour the egg yolks, egg, oil and milk into the well.  Use your fingers to break the eggs up.  Still using your fingers, begin turning the eggs in a circular motion, keeping them within the well and not allowing them to spill over the sides.  This circular motion allows the eggs to gradually pull in flour from the sides of the well.  It is important that the flour not be incorporated too rapidly or your dough will be lumpy.  Keep moving the eggs while slowly incorporating the flour.  Using a pastry scraper, occasionally push the flour toward the eggs; the flour should be moved only enough to maintain the gradual incorporation of the flour, and the eggs should continue to be contained within the well.  The mixture will thicken and eventually get too tight to keep turning with your fingers.

-When the dough begins thickening and starts lifting itself from the board, begin incorporating the remaining flour with the pastry scraper by lifting the flour up and over the dough that’s beginning to form and cutting it into the dough.  When the remaining flour from the sides of the well has been cut into the dough, the dough will still look shaggy.  Bring the dough together with the palms of your hands and form it into a ball.  It will look flaky but will hold together.

-Knead the dough by pressing it, bit by bit, in a forward motion with the heels of your hands rather than folding it over on itself s you would with the bread dough.  Re-form the dough into a ball and repeat the process several times.  The dough should feel moist but not sticky. Let the dough rest for a few minutes while you clean the work surface.

-Dust the clean work surface with a little flour. Knead the dough by pushing against it in a forward motion with the heels of your hands.  Form the dough into a ball again and knead it again.  Keep kneading in this forward motion until the dough becomes silky smooth.  The dough is ready when you can pull your finger through it and the dough wants to snap back into place.  The kneading process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes.  Even if you think you are finished kneading, knead it for an extra 10 minutes; you cannot over knead this dough.  It is important to work the dough enough to pass the pull test; otherwise, when it rests, it will collapse.

-Double-wrap the dough in plastic wrap to ensure it does not dry out.  Let the dough rest for at least 30 minutes and up to one hour before rolling it through the pasta machine.  The dough can be made a day ahead, wrapped and refrigerated; bring to room temperature before proceeding.

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

We all know Thomas Jefferson as one of the founding fathers of the United States of America and the third president of our country.  Today, April 13th, marks his birthday.  While Jefferson was a very influential in writing the Declaration of Independence and made many great contributions to our country, he is often overlooked for his influence on farming and his love of food.

As a farmer, Jefferson was obsessed with new crops, soil conditions, scientific agricultural techniques, and garden designs.  His main cash crop was tobacco, although it was rarely profitable.  Jefferson tried to achieve self-sufficiency with many vegetables, wheat, corn, hogs, and cattle to supply his family, slaves, and employees. Unfortunately, he was always in debt due to his other interests.  Among other interests, Jefferson was an inventor.  He is credited with making the moldboard plow.  This plow allowed farmers to turn the top soil on their fields and greatly reduce the time needed to prepare a field.  This in turn allowed farmers to work a larger area of land.

Thomas Jefferson was also interested in wine and considered a gourmet of his time.  As president, Jefferson, is remember for his elaborate entertaining.  Meals often consisted of wild fowl including pheasants, partridges, and wild pigeons.  Even when he wasn’t entertaining President Jefferson often began his day with Squab baked in a flaky crust or beef tongue.  He loved exotic fruits like pineapple and always had a supply of fresh-baked bread.  Jefferson continue to enjoy these foods beyond the end of his term.

As you can see Thomas Jefferson wasn’t only important in the founding of our country but was also a key player in adjusting the social norms around growing and eating food!  I can relate to his love of dining and entertaining. I also see that he set the precedent that our nation’s leaders should be a renaissance man with many different passions.

Happy Birthday President Jefferson!

Happy Friday,

Julie

Happy 2nd Birthday!

Today is a very special day at my house, it is my son’s 2nd birthday. I was feeling very nostalgic this week and took a trip back to when he was a baby. Looking at pictures of him just a year ago, it is amazing to see how far he has come.  On his first birthday he wasn’t even walking… now’s he is running, climbing, and jumping! He’s starting to use lots of words and showing us just how smart he really is.

The growing pains of starting a business are very similar to those young children experience.  While Julie’s Beet isn’t learning to walk or talk, I am still discovering a lot about the business world.  Like a one-year-old, I am learning about likes and dislikes.  Instead of learning what I like and dislike, I am learning about what you all (my customers) like and dislike.  I am working to build a marketplace to support other new businesses but need to stock it full of products you like to make it successful. I am working to streamline the offering to make your shopping experience even better.  I do feel like we are gaining our balance and running legs as we continue to master our customer service and marketing plans.  We also continue to learn how to engage our following through recipes, promotions, and contests.

While it is great to see that changes that have happened with my son over the past year it is also amazing to see that he still has the same cheerful disposition and outgoing personality.  He is going to be the life of the party wherever he goes and I’m glad he brings that excitement to his everyday life. Julie’s Beet continues to be a marketplace supporting smaller artisans and following our goal of expanding the audience of these specialty products.  I’m not sure what he is going to wish for when he blows out the candles on his Elmo cake tonight, but if I could wish for him, it would be that he continues to enjoy a happy and healthy life.

Happy Friday,

Julie

 

Spellbound

Gus & Grey has been a featured artisan in our marketplace since Julie’s Beet launched in 2015.  We’ve just acquired a new jam from their collection, appropriately titled Spellbound.  Made with fresh blueberries and just the right amount of lavender you will think you’re under a magic spell from the time you open the jar.

I used this amazing jam to make this Sour Cream Coffee Cake taste even better. I hope you’ll enjoy this recipe as much as I do. It is great with a cup of coffee or tea in the morning but fancy enough to double as a birthday cake.

Happy Friday,

Julie

Ingredients:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tablespoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 cups granulated sugar

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

2 eggs, beaten lightly

1 cup sour cream

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 jar Gus & Grey Spellbound -Blueberry Lavender Jam, stirred well

Method:

-Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F.

-Butter a 10-inch bundt pan and lightly dust the inside with flour.

-Sift together and set aside the flour, baking powder and salt.

-In a mixer, or by hand, cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, blending well, and then add sour cream and vanilla. Mix until combined.

-Gradually fold in flour, baking powder, and salt into creamed mixture until just blended.

-Reserve 1/2 cup of batter and mix with 3/4 of the jar of blueberry jam.

-Pour 3/4 remaining batter into the prepared pan, smoothing to the edges and creating a slight “trough” with a spatula.

-Gently spoon the blueberry mix into the batter trough, being careful not to touch the side of the pan. Spread the remaining batter over the jam and smooth the top.

-Set pan on middle rack in the oven and bake for about 60 minutes, or until the sides of the cake pull away from the pan and a cake tester (or toothpick) inserted in the center comes out clean.

-Cool on a wire rack for at least 30 minutes. Turn onto a plate, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar, drizzle with remaining jam and enjoy!