Fathers & Daughters

Running a small business is often an All Hands On Deck endeavor. But we also see it as a way to get B's teenage daughter to put down her iPhone, tell her friends she'll hang tomorrow instead, and spend some one-on-one time with her dad. We love being able to offer a "summer job" where we get to connect with her, hear the latest High School gossip, and share the art and business of pickling.  

Released

Despite a few bumps yesterday -- broken pH meter, hit 'n run on the way to buy a new one, last minute paperwork snafus -- our state inspection went off like a champ! We can now legally sell our 2,000 jars of pickles...as soon as we label our 2,000 jars of pickles.

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soledad goat farm

A few weeks back, standing in line to pick up jar samples, we started chatting with another customer who turned out to be the lovely co-owner of Soledad Goat Farms. Let's just say, my heart began to flutter because I Covet Their Cheese...fresh balls suspended in a bliss of olive oil, herbs, and spices... There's not much else that compares. We exchanged stories, Carol gave the most helpful advice along with an invite to drive up to their Mojave animal rescue farm to see the operation and chat more. Yesterday we did just that.

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Carol had to make deliveries but her wonderful cohort, Julian, spent about an hour showing off their processing plant and farm. He bowled us over in so many ways. For one, Carol and Julian were so willing to share their story and advice to us new entrepreneurs, which can be surprisingly hard-to-come-by nowadays.

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Secondly, all the cheese they sell goes into feeding and caring for their 600+ rescue animals – 500 goats, 100+ chickens, 12 dogs, a few horses & donkeys, 1 pig, and 1 new sheep. Julian told us story after story of how they came together – from being dumped on the tarmac at Edwards Air Force Base to left at the pound because they ate too much to abandoned on a side road in the desert – he knew everyone's name and story.

Carol and Julian are gaining notoriety for their cheese but they don't live in a fancy house or drive expensive cars. They live for two of their passions, their farm full of adopted animals and making incredible, thoughtful cheese.

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They're in a plethora of farmers markets and shops but for an extra dose of cuteness, look for Julian at the Hollywood Farmers Market every Sunday with a cuddly baby goat or keep up-to-date with their cheese and rescue efforts on their Facebook page.

hatch chiles 101

On Saturday, we joined a cult – the Hatch Chile Cult. Don't worry, Mom, this cult revolves around the iconic New Mexican chile that brings thousands of followers to its Hatch Chile Festival every Labor Day weekend. So beloved is this chile that families send pickup-driving ambassadors to fetch hundreds of pounds worth while others line up at 4am in supermarket parking lots to score freshly roasted bagfuls. Master Food Preserver & Road Less Traveled goddess, Delilah Snell, organized this class, taught by a veritable who's who of Southern Californian Hatch, food, and preserving connoisseurs. OC Weekly editor and author Gustavo Arellano manned the roaster while sharing the cult of Hatch; founder of LA's Master Food Preserver Program and The Farmer's Kitchen chef, Ernest Miller, showed us how to pressure can the roasted chiles in water as well as vacuum-seal in freezer-ready bags; Delilah walked us through making chile jelly, mustard, salt, and pickles; OC Weekly food blogger, Dave Lieberman, finished the day by preparing an undeniable feast of Hatch chile dishes.

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OC Weekly Editor, Gustavo Arellano, and his Hatch Chile Roaster

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Founder of Los Angeles' Master Food Preserver Program & The Farmer's Kitchen Guru, Ernest Miller, explains how to pressure can hatch chiles

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Organizer & owner of Road Less Traveled, Delilah Snell, & OC Weekly Food Writer, Dave Lieberman, prepare an enlightening hatch-focused meal to end the day

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cocktail crafting 101 @ greystone mansion

The first in a series of classes from The Institute of Domestic Technology to be held at historic Greystone Mansion – in the bowling alley cum hidden speakeasy, no less! In 2 hours, we learned the intricacies of concocting our own bitters, tinctures, liqueurs, and cocktails from famed mixologist Aaron Stepka, lead bartender at 1933 Group (Thirsty Crow, Big Foot Lodge, Little Cave, Oldfields).

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Whole Foods Market's Meet The Forager Events

Last Saturday morning, Whole Foods Laguna Niguel hosted a Meet the Forager event for 50 SoCal artisans who hoped to one day have their products grace the WFM shelves. "Foragers" are the fine folks whose job is to seek out unique products grown or produced in their store's backyard. Their mission is to support local family farmers and artisans, reduce fossil fuel consumption, stay connected with the community, and preserve our connection with food. Highlights from the Q&A below.

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BEFORE YOU BEGIN

  • 1 in 20 prospective local vendors make it into WF
  • It's a slow, slow process and even after approved can be another 4 months before you're on the shelves. Be patient and persistent – show them that you're dedicated and passionate.
  • Although the Local Forager finds and cultivates the relationship, it's the department leader who makes the purchasing decisions. Make them and their team members your #1 fans. (Show up at Team Appreciation Days with goodies!)
  • Communication is key. Don't expect, make sure.
  • Criteria for Local: Your business is based here AND product is grown, raised, made, or finished here
  • Questions for your Business Plan – How much can you lose/spend, have to make? What happens when you run out of money?

APPLYING

Potential Vendor Info

What WFM Seeks:

  • Labels – make sure front panel claims match ingredient list, etc
  • Facilities – local when possible
  • Ingredients – sourced fair trade & local when possible; avoid unacceptable ingredients
  • Attributes/Claims – minimal
  • Mission-driven – what is your role in the community?

What Sells:

  • Appearance – professional, not homemade looking
  • Variety – at least 3 SKUS
  • Unique or Saturated – new/old, barbeque or bbq
  • Story – customers want to like your products, give them a reason
  • New Trends – what is the customer looking for that isn't on the shelves

Requirements (all verified by WFM Forager):

    • Labels – must meet FDA/CA specs. (California Dept of Public Health must approve all labels, packaging, etc.)
    • Facilities – County, State, Federal permits & 3rd party audits (e.g. Silliker Labs, Everclean)
    • Ingredients – must meet WFM Quality Standards
    • Attributes/Claims (organic, gluten-free, etc) – certified, verified, lab-tested. (Better yet, keep your labels simple!)
    • Recall System – accountable, source material verification – Where did ingredients come from? Where did final products go? Batch numbers? How do you receive complaints/feedback? Where is your complaint log? What is your HAACP plan? Do you follow Good Manufacturing Practices?
    • Insurance – liability, auto (usually covered under liability), demo

WFM LOCAL PROGRAM

After meeting local criteria & are approved by local store & forager:

  • Start 1-3 stores
  • Self-delivery allowed (WFM doesn't pay for delivery – include in your costs)
  • Shorter payment terms
  • Case discounts are not expected or requested
  • In-store demos – Building your brand is hard work and takes dedication. Once on the shelves, support your brand with active product demos every 1-2 weeks. WFM doesn't charge fee for demoing, but LA County does – $200+/yr. (Demoing company might be more economical in LA.)
  • Shelf-positioning/Sliding – decided by buyer only
  • Local Profile – in-store & website
  • Can apply for local loan program
  • One-on-one personal attention

Spices, herbs, oils & vinegars

Highlights from our class @ PREP Kitchen Essentials

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HERB BUNCHES – parsley, dill, cilantro, etc:

  • Washing: (1) dunk upside down in water, (2) straighten and rinse under runningwater, (3) wrap in towel to dry, (4) bang against leg/counter to dry even more
  • Slicing: (1) Roll bunch to tame strands, (2) slice from top and discard stems, (3) form chopped bits into pie shape and chop with 5 strokes, (4) repeat until bits are desired sizStoring bunches in fridge: Wrap in paper towel, place in ziplocStoring chopped bits in fridge: Wrap in paper towel, place in ziploc
  • Storing chopped bits in freezer: Put in ziploc, cover with water to avoid freezer burn

THICK-STEMMED HERBS – basil, mint, rosemary etc

  • Slicing: Pull leaves off, roll, slice
  • Storing chopped bits in fridge: Wrap in paper towel, place in ziploc
  • Storing chopped bits in freezer: Put in ziploc, cover with water to avoid freezer burn

HARDY HERBS – sage, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, etc

  • Storing by drying: Dry in oven at 200˚F for 20 mins, store in mason jars. To remove leaves, roll btwn hands.
  • In cooking: 1/2 dried = 1 fresh

SCRAPS

  • Store leftover pieces such as mushroom stems, herb extras, etc in ziploc bag in freezer – "stock bag." At stock-cooking time, dump entire bag in.