Monday, June 27, 2011

Random Question

Does anyone know why gasoline prices are always 20 cents higher per gallon in Durham than Chapel Hill?

Jam Economics 101

I've been attempting to make some jam the last couple of weeks. Here is the breakdown on what it costs to make jam (or in my case, syrup, or candied fruit).

Blueberries:
Ingredient Cost: $25 (for 12 pounds of berries)
Jar Cost: $15
Labor: 3.5 hours
Yield: 28 jars
Potential Market Value: $112
Net profit: $72
Profit Per Hour Labor: $20.50

Peaches:
Ingredient Cost: $10 (for 25 pounds of peaches)
Jar Cost: $15
Labor: ~6 hours
Yield: 28 jars
Potential Market Value: $112
Net profit: $87
Profit Per Hour Labor: $14.50

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Week 20

Week 20 went strong. We had a diverse product offering (6 different items, a high for us) and a lot of fun crowd reaction. We managed to sell, give away to friends, or barter everything produced except for some blueberry syrup which I can continue to sell in the coming weeks. It seems like many vendors at the market have canned goods, so we will have to work to differentiate our jams, syrups, sauces, and pickles. Anyone with a jar-marketing ideas, holler at me. Bread products in a basket are an easy sell. Once the item goes in a bag or a jar, it's like a whole different sales strategy; the food loses its message that says, "This is immediately perishable, this is special, buy me!"

Thanks to William and Friedrich, Maria, Nate and Elizabeth, Vanessa, Alicia, Lili, and Jalin, Amiri, and Jenny for coming through. You guys are the best.

Thanks to RML, SZ, and GP for working the stand - you guys brightened the day and held it down like the pros that you all are. GP, your bilingualism was put to good use yesterday and I thought that was dope. "How do you say cardamom in Spanish?" was the quote of the day.

I saw DD and Durham Farmer's Market got a shout recently in the Times. Go Dirty Durham! Peep the photo op of the charming NS and JS.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Newbies

To all the newbies to the blog who were referred by Victoria Bouloubasis' article in the Now Serving section of the Indyweek: We have a weekly bike delivery CSB for residents of the Old West and Watts-Hillandale neighborhoods. We also set up a stand near the Durham Farmer's Market Saturdays 8AM to noon at the corner of Foster St. and Hunt St. (across the street from the Piedmont). We update our Facebook every Friday with our items for the following day at market. Hope to see you all tomorrow!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Raleigh Farmer's Market

I went this morning to the Raleigh Farmer's Market to pick up some cheap fruit for canning. I got some SC peaches ~50 cents/lb and some NC blueberries ($2.00/pint). The wholesale market opens at 5AM (I got there at 5:15AM), and in those early pre-dawn hours, it feels like the closest thing we have to an area night-market or something like the Fulton Fish Market in the Bronx. Truckers were still unloading and organizing their crates on forklifts when I arrived. Later in the day, more consumer-friendly conventional stalls open and there is a country restaurant for those in search of an egg breakfast. I plan to go periodically through the summer to pick up inputs for pickling, saucing, and jam-making.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Culinary Apocalypse

I went traveling last week on an unfortunate death in the family. The funeral was in Alabama, but our travels brought us all around the Midwest and Appalachia (total milage: ~1,500 mi; total hours driving: ~26 hours). Here is the driving map:


















Along the way, yoyo and I sampled some of the most authentic local spots available to us, chain or otherwise:

Amsterdam Cafe
, Auburn, AL
Barleys Taproom, Knoxville, TN
Montgomery Inn, Cincinnatti, OH
Graeters Ice Cream, Cincinnati, OH
Skyline Chili, Cincinnati, OH
La Rosas, Cincinnati, OH
Tudor's Biscuit World, Huntington, WV
Stuart's Hot Dogs, Huntington, WV
Jolly Pirate Donuts, Huntington, WV

I wish I had better things to say about food choices in Middle America. But unfortunately, it's not much better than any town on the interstate in North Carolina. McD's, Arby's, Wendy's, you know the drill. And in the midst of this culinary apocalypse are these languishing gems (like those listed above), hanging on (sometimes by a thread) next to their corporate competitors, relying on a devoted fan base built up over the decades to keep their underpaid workers on the books. The heartland ain't pretty. Knoxville, Cincinatti, Huntington, all had large swathes of destitute, delapidated structures either inside or surrounding a once-venerable downtown. this is how I imagine Downtown Durham of the 1990's. The hollowing out of America through the export of manufacturing and other medium-skilled, middle-class jobs in the 80's and 90's is the true face of trickle-down economics. By making our economy more lean, competitive, and productive, we've increased social stratification. The resurgence of Durham as a foodie outpost of the South has improved our fortunes overall, but have the gains been distributed equally?

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Gluttonface: Asheville, NC

I mentioned in this post that I deplore gluttony, but I should qualify that by saying that gluttony is entirely permissible while traveling. This weekend while in Asheville, NC for a wedding, yoyo and I dined at three of Asheville's finest eating establishments and quaffed beers at two local breweries.

Highlights: 1) yoyo and I had tried to get into Early Girl Eatery twice before and each time didn't have time to wait ~45 minutes for a table. EG has a great logo and a lot of nice touches (blackberry jam in a pot on the table, homemade banana bread served warm from the grill-top, freerunning Sugar in the Raw for your coffee), but the biscuits were subpar (dense, the result of a pasty dough), and the banana bread far outshone the trademark tomato gravy (which tasted like a bland puree (why are organic hothouse tomatoes usually watery and tasteless?)). 2) Wedge Brewery -- a cool little watering hole by the river -- possibly where the "real" people in Asheville drink. The beer was flowing freely from $11 pitchers and kept our whole post-wedding crew in a good mood. Recommended: Iron Rail IPA (7.0% alc.). 3) The Admiral. I'd read so many quotes on the internet attesting to the Admiral's "hipsterness" that a perverse sense of curiosity and boredom drove yoyo and I there latenight to sample General Tso's Veal Sweetbreads (unremarkable - the glaze was ketchup-y). The vibe was good though, the soundtrack excellent, and the quasi-hipsters of Asheville were balanced by thrill-seeking boomers and senior citizens....Williamsburg the Admiral is not. Yoyo adds that the brownie dessert we shared was deliciously underbaked and the blueberry cream topping was tres bien. 4) Sunny Point Cafe -- yoyo and I had tried to get in here three times, and always passed because of the 45min-1hr wait. Recommended by yoyo: Fruit and cream cheese-filled french toast. I'd go back for: The biscuit that looked like a gigantic popover.

ToDoList

Thai Iced Tea
Thai Iced Coffee
Nutella Babka
Banana Bread
Ice Cream Sandwich Cookies

Week 19

I had to skip out of town for a wedding so SZ and RML held it down at the stand for me. Thanks guys! Here is SZ's account of the day's action:

The chocolate chip Mandel Bread was a big hit this week. We sold out
of the 12oz bags fairly quickly, and nearly moved all of the
individual slices. The granola also got many compliments, although a
few people felt that it was too sweet. For whatever reason, none of
the usual coffee sellers were at the market today, so Berenbaum's had
a monopoly on coffee at the Market, which helped us to sell out
quickly. The weather was beautiful too, very sunny and hot, typical of
NC summers. Becca and Mike of Pie Pushers baked a fresh "Pace Car"
pizza (which was absolutely delicious) for the stand in return for
some baked goods. And as usual, every patron who stopped by
Berenbaum's left with a smile, thanks to Rufus' great customer
interactions.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Peak Oil

When I lived in Carrboro, I used to participate in a Meetup Group on Peak Oil.

Peak Oil predicts a future where transportation is more difficult, more costly, and the energy supply chain is more often disrupted than it is today.

Peak Oil does not have any prescriptions, or any immediate solutions. It's difficult to prepare for a future which has many unknowns.

Possible plans of action that I have brainstormed:
  • Network with people to create a broad base of skills and interests.
  • Make a bunch of money.
  • Lead an organization.
  • Get into politics.
Can the bake stand help me do any of these things?

Week 18

Big up to Hilary S. on the new blog banner. Contact me if you would like to contract her for graphic design/logo work.

Sales were good this week. We sold everything save for 4 breads that we bartered with other vendors. The weather was amazing. About 75 degrees and sunny at 10AM.

Thanks to Billy for contributing his sourdough recipe to Berenbaum's. We started a 2-day starter-feeding process on Thursday night that ended with a delicious white bread with an awesomely fresh tang with a little bit of sweet in it. It was really fun to go through the process with you man. Next up, let's work on some French bread together.

Thanks to SZ for frying donuts for 2.5 hours in the wee hours of Sat. morning.

Thanks to Nate, the Marvelles, RG, EC, SG, and yoyo for coming through.

Thanks to RML and SZ for working the stand. You guys are always so good with the customers, answering their questions about why we do what we do; you always amaze me with your patience and hospitality.

Thanks to Becca and Mike of Piepushers for bartering baked goods for slices. We love what you do.

Recipes:

Thai Orange Juice

To each cup of orange juice, add .5 teaspoon sugar (large pinch) and 1/16-1/8 teapspoon salt (small pinch). Stir well to dissolve.

Billy's Englewood Sourdough (Adapted Version)

Start with 3 cups of active liquid starter.

In the evening, add 8 cups of flour, 2 cups of water, and .5 cup of sugar. Mix.

First thing the next morning, add 16 cups of flour, 11 cups of water, and .5 cup of sugar. Mix.

By that evening, the starter should be foamy, bubbling, and active. Add to the accumulated starter 20.5 pounds of flour, 4 ounces of instant yeast, 14 cups of water, 4.5 cups of sugar, 4.5 cups oil, and 14 T salt. Mix and knead. Allow 3 hours to rise, then divide into loaves, proof, score, and bake (for 1-lb loaves, bake at 380 for 29 minutes, using steam to aid the oven rise).

Billy with Sourdough in oven
video