Sunday, November 23, 2008

utilization dreams come true

I had two huge food wins this week that I pulled right out of my ass...

the first:
harvest vegan soup

I wanted to make a roasted sweet potato soup. My natural inclination is to saute applewood smoked bacon with mirepoix and add pureed sweet potatoes, finish with heavy cream and sprinkle on some sharp cheddar.

But things took a turn at 7 am. The last of my gifted apples from Petoskey's Jennifer Eis (of Ward & Eis gallery) which were picked over at Bill's Farm market starting getting braised with the mirepoix (no bacon yet) and then I hit them with some crushed red pepper and cinnamon and molasses. And then some apple cider and white wine to deglaze. And then, and then... a butternut squash was roasted and pureed along with the sweet potatoes. Combined them all together and thanks to Stef's suggestions, we cut the sweetness with some lemon juice and a little salt. It was so full of flavor and the texture was outta sight- though the base of the soup was pureed, the chunks of carrot and apple, as well as the rough puree of the sweet potatoes (no thanks to me not having a commercial food processor yet!) made it less baby food textured than squash soups often come out to be....

The second started out as a series of losses.

I make the caramel sauce for the espresso drinks/cider/chai whathaveyou- and the first recipe Sami pulled- I didn't think reading the recipe that it would turn out as sauce, but I gave it a shot anyway. What I ended up with was more of a burnt sugar syrup, close to butterscotch. Very very tasty, but not thick and saucy like I wanted for the drinks.... so I stored it and it had been floating around since a week or so before we opened. I knew I'd find a use for it, but....

On Tuesday my bananas were finally ripe for banana bread. I make, what I believe to be the finest banana bread on the planet- hand mixed and wickedly banana-y, but not sweet. I crust the pans with cinnamon sugar and the loaf comes out airy and dense at the same time.

But at the shop, I doubled the recipe. Only to recognize that my bowl was much too small and there was no going back- I couldn't divvy it into 2 bowls because the ratio of ingredients would be off, etc. So Genevieve suggested I use a bucket- it was difficult for me to think outside the bowl, but I went for it. And the results were what I would expect- there is a certain hand and wrist motion that occurs working with a bowl... a bucket lend itself to shovelling- something quick breads don't love so much.

Once it was baked, I had what felt like 5# loaves of sunken banana mash. boo. But I sliced a loaf and put it out for sale by the slice and I didn't feel good about it, so I covered the other loaves and put 'em aside until I figured out how to deal with my mess. All the while :this is so good:best banana bread:tell me when you make this again comments were floating around. I shrugged and said it was alright, but not how the recipe was supposed to turn out. meh. (food depression isn't pretty)

But... I thought maybe it would make nice french toast. A good baked french toast casserole (I love casseroles) a good saturday breakfast & brunch special... and then the wheels started spinning. Bananas foster... rum, lime, yeah.

walked over to Dos Hermanos to get some whole cumin for the homefries and black bean veggie soup, my apartment to grab the ol' mortar and pestle, called my daughter's dad who was once a pretty renowned chef (Andante, opening chef at Chandler's, Douglas Lake Bar amonst others) around the Petoskey area and starting laying out my idea- he offered some helpful tips regarding cooking off the rum and a plan was born.

later that day while Christine from the Ypsi Citizen was interviewing me, my idea took another level... (oh and thanks to the beer cooler for that rum, it really was for the french toast). I had some egg nog from Calder. I don't really enjoy eggnog, but it would mean that I could cut the amount of egg in the recipe, plus I'd get a nice, rich, perfectly spiced custard out of it. I mixed the egg nog, some extra vanilla, some rum and a few eggs and poured that over 3 loaves of sliced banana bread, covered it with foil and said, "see ya in the morning, drunken monkey bread to be!"

the topping spread was going to be shredded coconut with butter and toasted almonds, and then I'd make a lime rum sauce to serve it with.

Once the morning came around, I saw my burnt sugar sauce sitting on my prep table... and another bunch of bananas. And the pan of soaking banana bread. pow! sliced the bananas and poured the sauce over the bananas in the pan. Let it bake for about 40 minutes... it crisped and caramelized the bananas beautifully. Then I spread the topping on and let it bake another 20 minutes, until the top was golden brown. As that was going down, I started whisking brown sugar with water and lime juice over the stove, then chugged the rum, I mean, poured the rum into the pan and got a little flame (fire at 6 am is a beautiful thing!), it coated the back of a spoon and voila, I was done. Took a spoonful out of the french toast pan and my first bite made my knees buckle.

It sounds like a lot of work- and maybe it was- but it was just a succession of work and experimentation that turned into a happy accident. And it will probably never turn out as deliciously as it did this time, but thanks to my fine obsessing, I recall every detail and it will undoubtedly translate again, likely with a subtle nuance due to humidity, the ripeness of bananas, my hungover and sleepless state or some other astrological pattern I won't be able to put my finger on til after the fact!

all in all, a great week- steady sales and lots of new faces, but even better, lots of the same faces daily and so many wonderful comments....

"I want to move to Ypsi so I can eat here every day!"

"We like your place a lot- [other guy chimes in] No! We LOVE your place!"

"I haven't a soup this good in I don't know when"

Really?! Me?! Us?! We're doin' it!

Yesterday Anna worked on a mini menu in 'veganeze' which could also be adapted for gluten free in the coming weeks.

Almost all the dressings are made from scratch ('cept the ranch and caesar) and I have the ingredients on hand, same with the soup. And the bread. But I just learned about someone having a soy lecithin allergy (I'd not run across that in my years in this business) which is a concern since I use a pan spray that contains it- and I couldn't tell you where I don't use it. The salads are safe. But anything that has touched a pan in the oven or on the stove has likely been hit with it. Hmmm.

end of week 2!

beezy's: out of survival mode, the ICU, and starting to settle into being and growing and progressing...

if you've talked to me through the summer, you know that basically the work of two people amounted to the majority of the transformation of the space. One of those people was not me. That not me person was my fiancee. I'm still there. And the restaurant is terrifically unfinished. Does that cover it?

There's lots of big and little buttoning up to do- but all our guests seem to either find it charming and real or offer their tools and hands in exchange for lunch. It's amazing. I had harbored fantasies that we wouldn't be as steady busy as we are and would be able to get more done during the day- aside from caulking, attaching base coving around the counters and trying to catch up with all the rock dust and building debris it's a slow going process. I feel a little like a superheroine- soup & breakfast girl by day, contractor girl at night and best mom in the world through it all. (delusions of grandeur anyone?)

but it's working. and we haven't burned the building down yet. In fact, it seems to be working really, really well:

ypsi food bulletin

best cafe ever

beezy's runs on ...

beezy's buzzing with business

and my first Yelp! review

pretty sweet stuff!

and my crew is amazing- strong personalities, strong sense of caring, and a huge support to me during my difficult personal problems.... I'm amazingly lucky that I have them in my life! thank you jon, erin, nick, jamie, stef, jess, emily, genevieve and my daughter, sami for working so hard and being so awesome!

Friday, November 14, 2008

5 days down (er, or UP!)

Sunday night, midnight? 1 am? I am freaking the fuck out. Been up since 7 am or so and busting ass and brainsorting all day. This picture does no justice to how trashed it was.

then here we are, 3 am. about ready to set up the tables in some reasonable and inviting formation. No more metal shavings on the floor. But everything. everything. is crusted in a fine layer of dust.

4 am. it's hazy, my hands are shaky and if I'm gonna be any kind of worth a damn in an hour, I better go home and shower. And let the dust settle for a second. Sure the menu isn't up on the chalkboard, the menus aren't printed and we have nothing to hold ice in, nor is there any ice in the building yet. But every single menu item is available.

then Robyn was our first customer! just after 8 am- we took down the opening soon sign and signed it for her to keep. She keeps coming back and emailed to say it's her new favorite place. (thanks SO SO much!)

it's only Tuesday but all these people I know start showing up, and suddenly I'm putting smiles on faces while frying chorizo and flipping homefries and washing dishes and cartwheeling through the cafe.

more later, I gotta be at the shop in a few hours... thanks beyond thanks for the tremendous support already, it's AMAZING.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


that is all

see you soon

more soon

check out:

far more eloquent than I can muster right now!

thank you to all who've stopped by, who are stopping by and will stop by!


Sunday, November 2, 2008

torches and pitchforks

I forced the staff to shop at the Downtown Farmer's Market. Then, they prepped stuff so I could make the first supper (maybe the second?)

cheesy pumpkin soup, sourdough toast and rockin' little salad. mmm. housemade tongue and groove table :D

but really?

who thought (ok, I did, I reallllly reallly did but I've been accused here and there of being an overachiever) we could actually open a restaurant in 2 months? I mean, even if the joint were in perfect shape it'd been difficult. But still, we're verrrrry verrrrrrrrrrry close, so put away those pitchforks and quit rioting outside and sending me threatening emails.

The reality is, Bennett is working with some challenges... the least of which is my being hyper organized and having held the vision in my bosom for over 5 years now, the bigger part of which is dealing with a 140+ year old building that has suffered a bit and is hesitant to be restored and well, that's bennett's rant, for I could never ever do it justice.

It looks so easy on paper. It does, I can show ya. But the results are gonna be worth it.

here's a peek at what's happenin':

emily, nick and me in the first aprons.

jamie rockin' calder cappuccinos instead of spraypaint!

stefanie holds deli meat near and dear

gratuitious leaning shot of exhaustion

building happenin':

here we have bennett- not only an expert in mangenuity,
but also unicorn catcher of the jigsaw sea

the bennett floor money shot

when you see it, it'll have a rug on it, so appreciate it here, alright?

this is what you see when you walk in: go right on up to that purple counter and place your order!

money shot #2 notice the light grained ash, the walnut inlay, and then the darker ash? meow.

room to grow...

barista area coming together

floor grain beauty

sometimes I forget that natural light actually comes in and it's freakin' gorgeous

look for open doors very very soon.

beezy's will be open at 7 am and close at 6 pm
(and I'm still debating being open on Sunday; I keep going back and forth...)

in fact, we're hosting the space tuesday "after hours" for a nice little test run private party

the health inspection granted us operational status on Friday, now I just gotta have everything squared with the city and all before we're totally legit.

So a soft opening with little fanfare, and then on into a nice grand opening party later in the month- thanks for all the support, kind emails, gentle nudges, leads, opportunities, staff leads, hugs, smiles and I look forward to serving you!