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!
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
Growing up in the Midwest, meatloaf was a staple comfort food during the long and cold winter months. The combination of ground beef, sweet onions, bread or crackers, salt, pepper, and a sweet and tangy ketchup glaze seems to make every midwesterner that I know very happy during the winter time. I feel that it is almost customary that every midwestern mother has her own meatloaf recipe, or at least her own unique addition or adaptation of one. In my house, my grandma Carolyn’s meatloaf recipe reigned supreme, and no matter how hard my dad and I tried, regardless of the step-by-step handwritten instructions given to us by my grandma, our meatloaf never seemed to taste as good as hers… she just has the magic touch in the kitchen, where muscle memory and eye measurements outperform numerical metrics.
Whether served hot right out of the oven, or cold between two slices of buttered bread, a basic meatloaf comes together in minutes and provides the hearty and stick-to-your-ribs satisfaction that most individuals crave during the winter months. I no longer eat meat, and I haven’t for years, but I vividly remember the delicious comfort that meatloaf provides, a comfort that is both filling and warming, as well as nurturing.
In hopes to provide you with the best possible meatloaf recipe, I called my grandma this afternoon to request verbal instructions of her exact procedure. Of course, as mentioned above, she reiterated that she relies only on sight rather than measurement, but she was able to provide me with a quantifiable recipe that is similar to hers. Thankfully, it’s quite easy, as any meatloaf recipe should be, containing only a handful of simple ingredients. Of course, because I can never leave well enough alone, I’m going to swap out saltine crackers for The Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers and Heinz Ketchup for D.a.T. Ketchup which I think will provide a more unique and complex flavor, as D.aT. Ketchup boasts a few additional spices that Heinz Ketchup doesn’t contain. I’m leaving everything else alone, so please rest assured that this meatloaf will be nearly as good as my grandmas.
First things first, it’s all about the beef. Not all ground beef is created equal as it can contain various amounts of fat, so when choosing ground beef for your meatloaf, choose something with a higher fat content to insure that your meatloaf doesn’t get too dry during the cooking process. 70/30, which is the ratio of lean meat to fat, is a good choice, as the higher fat content will keep your meatloaf moist as well as add additional flavor and richness. Second, a ketchup glaze is key. A tangy and sweet glaze is not only delicious, but is also needed to cut through the fatty richness of the meatloaf rounding out the flavor to make it even more palatable. Lastly, chose your additions wisely, as simplicity lends to the best final result.
I hope you all have had a wonderful start to the new year! Cheers to lots of love, laughter, hugs, happiness, and of course, delicious food this 2019!
Happy Friday, everyone!
Classic Meatloaf, Amplified
1 lb 70/30 ground beef
1 c crushed Matzo Project Salted Matzo Crackers
1 c minced white onion
1/2 c whole milk
1 large egg, whisked
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tbsp D.a.T. Ketchup
1/4 c D.a.T. Ketchup
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1 tbsp white vinegar
-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-to a large mixing bowl, add ground beef, crushed crackers, onion, milk, egg, 2 tbsp ketchup, and seasonings. Mix until just combined, being careful not to overwork the meat
-gently compress meat mixture into a 9”x5” loaf pan
-meanwhile, combine 1/4 c ketchup with brown sugar and vinegar and then spread on top of meat mixture
-bake for 1 hour, uncovered, and then remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 15 minutes before slicing
I’m sure that it’s no surprise to any, but I love baking. At times, I find myself dreaming about sugar and sweet creations. Seemingly infatuated by the all-encompassing world of pastry, I find the combination of sugar, flour, fat, salt, heat, and other flavor components to be something of a magical science. As a child, instead of watching Saturday morning cartoons, I found myself enchanted by the cooking shows on the Food Network, and nurtured by a family of wonderful cooks and bakers, I find much comfort and joy in creating in the kitchen. The realm of pastry is vast and endless, and I quite love exploring it.
During the holiday season in general, more over as soon as the weather begins to cool, my urge to bake begins to intensify. Cold weather plus the joy of the holiday season creates the perfect baking environment, as being surrounded by friends, family and warmth makes the experience all the better. Sugar cookies are by far one of my favorite things to bake for the holidays, with gingerbread cookies following in close second. My grandma makes the best cut-out sugar cookies, which are thin and crisp, yet they surprisingly still melt in your mouth, that she decorates with vibrant holiday colors — which I attribute to the reason why I love to bake them. I recently purchased a rolling pin embossed with a holiday scene that I’m so excited to try out on this years cookie creations.
Every Christmas morning, I find myself baking cinnamon rolls for my family and myself. On occasion, they come from the Pillsbury can, other times they are scratch made. I made cinnamon rolls the last time I was home in Minnesota which I plan to recreate this Christmas. This time, however, I plan to add more of a pecan pie element to the rolls — I’ll let you know at a later date how they turn out. I also recently made lemon scented Belgium Waffles which were quite fluffy and airy due to the addition of a high quality Italian lemon soda that I can’t wait to make for my family!
Since the holidays are soon approaching, and since both National Cookie Day and National Brownie day were celebrated this week, I wanted to share with you two amazing recipes that you can wow your friends and family with! The fi-rst recipe is my take on a traditional peanut butter blossom cookie — which my grandma always makes for Christmas as well — in which I subbed Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels for Hershey Kisses. These cookies are so moist and pack a serious peanut butter punch! The second recipe is for fudge brownies featuring Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and a Gus and Grey Spellbound infused cheesecake swirl. The combination of rich chocolate and blueberry and lavender cheesecake is truly irresistible!
If you’re anything like me, you love baking with friends and family for the holidays. My wish for you is that you’re able to find some time in the kitchen surrounded by those you love and together create your favorite holiday treats. The recipes below are a great place to start! I wish you all a safe and happy holidays!
And most importantly, happy baking!
Classic Peanut Butter Blossoms with Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels
Yields 2 dozen cookies
1/2 c granulated sugar, plus extra for dusting
1/2 c firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 c creamy peanut butter, I prefer natural
1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 box Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramels, unwrapped and cut in half
-preheat oven to 350 degrees
-cream butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and peanut butter in a stand mixer until light and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes. Add in the egg and vanilla extract and mix until well incorporated
-Meanwhile, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a small bowl. Add to the wet ingredients, stirring just to combine. Be careful not to over mix
-Using a 1 tablespoon scoop, scoop the dough, roll into a ball, roll in granulated sugar, then place the dough onto a parchment lined sheet tray approximately 2 inches apart
-Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly golden and set. Immediately place a Jacobsen Salt Co. Salty Caramel in the center of each cookie and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Fudge Brownies with Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate and Gus and Grey Spellbound Infused Cream Cheese Swirl
Yields 1 8×8 pan of brownies
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 c granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 c Rococo Chocolates Organic Drinking Chocolate, plus additional for dusting
1/2 c all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Cream Cheese Swirl Ingredients:
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/4 c granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 c Gus and Grey Spellbound Jam
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees
-Butter an 8×8 inch cake pan, then lightly dust with drinking chocolate, making sure to tap out any excess
-Combine melted butter, which has been allowed to cool slightly, with sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, drinking chocolate, and salt, whisking to combine. Gently fold in flour and baking powder until just combine, be careful not to over mix, then pour into prepared baking pan
-Meanwhile, make cheesecake swirl by combining cream cheese, sugar, egg, and Gus and Grey Jam, whisking to combine. Dot the surface of the browning batter with the cheesecake mixture, then using a wooden skewer, swirl the cheesecake mixture and brownie batter together
The 2018-2019 school year is freshly underway, and although I’m not a parent, I know the chaos that a new school year brings. Growing up in rural Minnesota in a town, moreover village, with a population of 1,300 people, a lot falls on the eldest sibling — which is me — when it comes to helping out with the younger siblings. Having two working career parents who often traveled for work didn’t help lessen the workload, either. From the age of 12 or 13, I was responsible for not only getting myself up and ready for school in the morning, but I was also responsible for getting my younger brother and sister up and ready, too. It wasn’t always easy either, as I liked to be to school by 8am so that I had time to socialize with my friends before class, but my brother and sister prefered sleep much more, so I rarely hit my 8am target. I was an alarm clock, wardrobe stylist, hair stylist, personal chef, and chaperone on the walk to school — which granted was no more than a block away from our home — so believe me when I tell you that even though I’m not a parent, I know the chaos that a fresh school year brings.
On duty before school, as well as after school, I was responsible for finding my brother and sister after school and getting them to their numerous evening programs and sport practices, usually with the addition of my younger cousins, too; only to be amplified once I got my drivers license. This may sound like a lot of work, especially for a young kid who was also juggling school work, but I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss those days, as I really do miss them. Although I haven’t had these responsibilities in a number of years, this new school year is hitting me harder than most, as my youngest sibling just started her senior year, and being the sappy, sentimental, and overly emotional person that I am, I can’t help but feel sad when thinking back on the younger days. But alas, change is inevitable, and the excitement and awe of witnessing my sister blossom into a beautiful young woman far outweighs the sadness brought about by change.
While on duty as an older brother made live-in nanny, I learned the invaluable lesson of being organized and overly prepared. I’ve always enjoyed cooking, and being the overachiever and natural nurturer that I’ve always been, I found much joy in batch cooking and meal prep, which alleviated a lot of unnecessary stress when trying to feed my siblings before and after school, or when trying to pack them a lunch on days when they didn’t like the lunch option. If you’re struggling with a lack of time when trying to get your kids up, ready, and fed before school in the morning, meal and snack prep could really help you keep your mornings and days on track and running smoothly. Start with basics like vegetable packets — maybe carrots, celery, and blanched broccoli — and your favorite veggie dip, fresh fruit packets — including berries, melon, and grapes — and trail mix packets. If possible, please try to use reusable bags or BPA free tupperware containers. For breakfast, which was rarely eaten at home but rather while running out the door — I would prepare large batches of baked breakfast sandwiches, which usually included eggs, cheese, and breakfast meats, sandwiched in between two english muffin halves — that is until I discovered how to create syrup infused pancake muffins — that I would wrap in parchment paper, label, then place in a sealable container and freeze. Because I’m a sugar junkie, I would also prepare large batches of pancakes, french toast, and waffles that I would freeze and then place in the toaster oven for quick reheating making for a simple yet delicious breakfast in a pinch. Having a few snack and breakfast options on hand really does make a world of difference.
My mom always kept our refrigerator and pantry stocked to the brim, so on days when my brother or sister requested a packed lunch, throwing together a simple and filling lunch was quite easy. If I were to pack them a lunch today, however, I think I would forgo the deli-meat sandwich with a side of chips and instead send them with a hummus and veggie wrap with the addition of roasted chicken and a side of fresh fruit, or something slightly more healthy and nutrient dense than a sandwich. You could also batch cook a few different types of burritos, wrap them in parchment and then again in foil, and freeze — that is if a microwave is provided at the school for reheating purposes. A simple veggie lasagna with whole wheat pasta noodles would be lovely as well, and requires very little time to prepare ahead of time and it also freezes nicely.
The favorite of my creations, hands down, had to be my homemade chocolate chip cookies. I would make triple batches of these cookies once per month — they were a favorite of everyone in my family and the most coveted snack, more like treat, to bring with you to school. The secret, which I’m sure I picked up while watching the Food Network, was a mixture of white chocolate chips, semi sweet chocolate chips, and milk chocolate chips, as well as a heaping scoop of peanut butter, and last, but most definitely not least, a packet of white chocolate pudding mix — I know, quite odd, but let me tell you, these cookies are magical! The white chocolate pudding was the star of the show, not only adding another level of chocolate flavor, but it also created the best chewy texture. I will write and share the recipe for these cookies on the Recipe Box page of our website in the coming days.
Conclusion. The school-year does not have to be chaotic, and can actually be quite fun and enjoyable if well prepared. Try planning a weekly or monthly menu with your family, and after you have a menu set, give batch cooking and meal prepping a go to give yourself more time during the week. Simple, make ahead meal and snack options will save you so much time in the long run. Cheers to reducing chaos this school year!
Last week I brought you on a journey to Roanoke, Virginia, where the food culture is not so vegan friendly, and this week, we’re off to Spring Grove, Minnesota, a tiny Norwegian settlement in the Southeast corner of Minnesota boasting a population of 1,200 people… a modern-day village that I am proud to call my hometown. Not unlike Virginia, most restaurants in Minnesota are meat and dairy forward, and finding delicious vegan options, especially in my hometown, is nearly impossible. For the longest time, my grandparents couldn’t grasp the concept of veganism and had no idea what I ate to survive — they have since come around, and are now trying to adopt a more vegetable forward diet. Thankfully, Spring Grove is a farming community, so fresh produce is abundant in the summertime.
In terms of food, the thing I look forward to most when visiting home is drinking a Black Cherry soda from Spring Grove Soda Pop Company — I never drink soda, but I allow myself to have one during my trips home. The company was founded in 1895 by pharmacist G.G Ristey, who served soda from a soda jerk counter that was a staple of his pharmacy. To meet customer requests of having soda that they could bring home, Ristey and his brother-in-law purchased bottling equipment and began producing soda that was sold at local venues. The company has changed owners throughout the years, but the original recipes have gone unchanged, and the company continues to produce nine, pure cane sugar, old-fashioned sodas, to an expanding market of consumers, a network spidering far outside of Spring Grove. The soda is rich, nearly syrupy in consistency, but so delicious. For me, it’s a taste of childhood.
Outside of soda, when home, I cook many of my own meals, in part due to the lack of vegan food, but mostly because I love to create in the kitchen. Thankfully, my mom is a heath food junkie, and frequents a food coop near her office in La Crosse, Wisconsin, a beautiful 45 minute drive through the bluffs from my hometown, so she always stocks the pantry and refrigerator with beans, whole grains, and fresh fruits and vegetables before I arrive home. The sweetest and most thoughtful mom, she always requests that I send her a grocery list a few days before I fly home to insure that I have everything that I need to create in the kitchen. The food coop also has a plethora of vegan options at their cafe, so when in a bind, or when I don’t feel like cooking, my mom stocks up on cafe items as well, my favorite being a toasted almond and quinoa salad with supremed orange segments and spring peas. They also sell Dandies marshmallows, a vegan marshmallow, at the coop, so I’m able to enjoy a s’more at the fire, using Endangered Species vegan dark chocolate of course!
Finding vegan food while traveling is not always easy, especially when traveling to areas of the country that rely heavily on meat and dairy products. I was in Roanoke, Virginia during the 4th of July week, and finding vegan food at restaurants and markets was really quite challenging. Aside from a beautiful array of fresh produce at roadside farm stands, fresh and delicious vegan food was nearly nonexistent. Thankfully I’m a chef, and I enjoy a challenge, so I was able to whip up quick and delicious meals on the go, to be enjoyed at the hotel, on the road, or before going out to dinner with my family. It’s a little awkward sitting food-less at a table of dining individuals, but when the majority of restaurants have no vegan options, there are only so many french fries one can consume in a weeks time, so it’s better to just pass. With a little planning and willpower, it’s really no effort at all to create beautiful and nutrient dense vegan meals with little to no kitchen equipment in a hotel room — you just need to be prepared. When shopping, remember balance, knowing that each of your meals should contain greens, carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Choose fruits and veggies that need no kitchen equipment to prep for consumption. If craving melon, opt for the pre-cut and packaged options — not something I would normally advocate for, but when you’re in a bind, it’s okay to use. If preparing a salad, like mentioned with the melon above, chose pre-cut and packaged produce that can simply be added to salad greens. A simple vinaigrette can be made with vinegar — like red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar, olive oil, dijon mustard, salt and pepper, whisked with a fork in a plastic bowl. Fresh fruit is always a delicious add-in to a salad, so feel free to add whichever fruit you desire, and maybe add some roasted nuts and a protein rich canned bean like chickpeas, and boom, an easy and delicious lunch or dinner. For breakfast, I enjoyed either avocado toast with roasted red pepper hummus and a side of fresh fruit, toast with raw almond butter, a smear of coconut yogurt, and fresh berries, or a bottled organic protein shake. The moral of the story is, whether traveling near or far, finding vegan food at restaurants may be a challenge, but creating beautiful food doesn’t have to be. With a little imagination and preparation, you’ll have an amazing meal in minutes flat.