Sunday, December 16, 2012

Stuck-Up & Sometimes Pickled

Here at, Shadow Creek, we have had a great time capturing the summer and autumn 2012 seasons in various ways other than our vinegar. Originally, all of our edible wares started with making jam and pickled items.
A batch of Dapple Dandy jam
family recipe

In the summer of 2011, I got into a jamming fever. An obsession which led to gratuitous holiday gifting and breakfasts laden with our own jams. At this time there was no outlet for the jams, which were simply made in our home kitchen, but the seed was planted that if ever I were to go on making seasonal goodies it might be a worthwhile plan to make them a product legitimately sales worthy.

That first season I made old favorites of mine, choosing my ingredients from the abundant local farmers markets. Just the best produce we could find and very simple traditional recipes.
Pickled Yellow Wax Beans
recipe adapted from Chez Panisse
Vegetables Cookbook

The sound of glass jars clanking and rattling as they were pasteurized filled my house through the midnight hours. Depending on the harvest, my family would be greeted in their dreams with either the sweet aroma of fruit preserves bubbling on the stove or wafts of vinegar and pickling spice creeping from under their door. In any event, a tradition was practiced and a tasty addition to a start-up shop was realized.

The next step would be refinement. In regard to the varieties of items, the quantity of each, and which flavors were most favored; decisions were made to regulate consistency, quality, and obsessive compulsion. I am proud to say that restraint was observed with regards to jamming and preserving in 2012 (this may be directly related to the introduction of making vinegar). Ultimately, the batches were kept small and the variety and flavor was left to the season's offerings at the moment that I had the time to create. Although this method worked well, and the flavors made were well received, I was sad to say goodbye to a couple of my favorites. I would like to take a moment to remember those who cannot be with with us this year.
Tomato Jam

Pickled Okra
with curry

Pickled Yellow Wax Beans
Going into the second year, Cherie and I received some beautiful gifts from our own little farm. Our fruit trees, which were barren when we first moved to the property, all blossomed and grew fruit. A loquat tree led the way in early spring, followed by plum, nectarine, figs and pippin apples. We ate as much of the fruit as we could but some of the abundance found its way to the kitchen.
Fig Butter 2012
Nectarine Salsa 2012

Transforming our pippin apples into
Apple Butter
So by the time the holidays were upon us we had a modest collection of preserves in stock. Being the first year and holiday season for Entropy the shop, we waited in anticipation, wondering if our offerings would find their way into homes. We were happy with our creations and had enjoyed eating our own reserves but hoped that our vision would be received by the public. There are so many delicious and inspired handmade items out in the market now and we were excited to represent the cottage industry tradition.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, my cousin, Heather John Fogarty, included some of our Stuck-Up creations in her blog, The Foodinista. I was so surprised, and very honored, to be featured in her writings and critique. Although she is a relative I believe her fondness of good food and tasteful insights run thicker than blood. This is why her comments on our preserves were such a huge compliment. Needless to say orders quickly started to show up at the shop. It is obvious that Heather has a following and a reputation of knowing good foods. And we are most appreciative.

Now, in the middle of December, Cherie and I have done our share of gift wrapping and shipping. Although this added activity can be tiresome while keeping up with our lives' own demands, we have been so happy to find homes for our handmade goods and vintage finds. We both get a sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that we are helping to supply those in curious need with beauty, pleasure, and taste. I think the hardest task we have is allowing ourselves to let go of some of our treasures.
Jams and Butters waiting for a wrap
All snug in one of Cherie's gift wraps

Cherie and I feel very good about our progress with our shop and our customers. We have stayed true to our vision and honest with our offerings. And, through all of the progress and growth, we find that we are enjoying it more and more. As we learn on this first year of business, we continue to create new elements and experiences for our customers to enjoy. This continual flow of creation and sharing is something we are both drawn to and the best return we could hope to receive from our efforts.

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