Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Changing Gears

There's this fantastic Yo La Tengo song I get in my head sometimes when I'm driving called Little Honda-I think it's a Beach Boys tune (sorry for my ignorance, Dave).  The chorus goes like this:

First gear, it's all right. Second gear, hang on tight.
Third gear, ain't I right. Faster, it's all right.

It's been in my head since last Friday, when it was rainy and really cold and I was very much in first gear. It didn't feel all right. Then I realized it was time to change gears. The cold is going to be too much. There's this whole water freezing thing that happens in the winter, and it was never part of my plan to run the truck into November as I've worked outdoors in the winter and everything takes twice as long and costs twice as much, plus the hands start to hurt. A lot. And as much as people might want soup in the winter, they won't walk through slush to get it.  And then stand in slush to eat it. My soup's amazing and all, but people are in some ways, totally sane.

Second gear, hang on tight.

Plan B is about to come into play, and come into play quick. I gotta start serving some soup. I gotta cook or I'm gonna lose it. So, I'm looking to rent a commercial kitchen space while finishing the truck. I've got a couple of leads and am gonna check them out Thursday...
Third gear's gonna be some mad juggling as I get the truck ready and put a cooking and distribution plan into play- fast!

It's all right.

Lots of awesome stuff is happening, though.  See? Lots of hours down at the paint and printing shop this week so far.  But it's gonna look cool. Or hot. Or warm limey green. 
Painter to paint seller, after asking about drying times, "Well, SHE seems to like it."

And I'm definitely getting some buzz, like an email from Ottawa Magazine, which is cool. Which I'm not ready for, but is pushing me to have more momentum.

Faster, it's all right.

I'm in discussions with Winterlude, and though that'll be cold, I'll be cooking in the commercial kitchen and using the truck as a sales space with floor insulation and some extra heat. Just gotta get me a kitchen and some minions child labour employees. And some sales!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Thai'd Up and Squashed Down Soup Recipe

Totally missed the pictures on this one- but there'll be film coming soon!
I made this recently for the kitchen portion of the film my friend Rob is doing for a Transition Ottawa film contest.  It worked out really well, with just enough spice and loads of flavour.  Roasting the squash saves active cooking time, as well as chopping- plus it brings out a lovely deep flavour.

If you don’t feed vegetarians, you can use a Thai red chili paste in this.  It contains minute quantities of shrimp and fish, so I skip it (even though it’s oh so good).

Serves 6-8

1 tablespoon (+) olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 inch of ginger root, minced
1 stalk lemon grass, minced
Juice of two limes
1 medium butternut squash, halved, seeded, roasted and peeled
1 can coconut milk
1 tbsp. sambal oelek (to taste- it’s spicy)
1.5 tbsp. tamarind paste
1 tbsp. honey
6 c. warm veggie stock (or a liter plus water if you are using a box)
Toasted coconut and sprigs of Thai basil or cilantro to garnish

Heat the oil on medium in your soup pot. 
Add the onions and a good pinch of salt, and sauté until they are golden and starting to caramelize.
Add the lemon grass and ginger and sauté two minutes more. 
Add the garlic and ½ the lime juice and cook for two minutes, scraping up the tasty bits at the bottom. 
Add your tamarind and sambal oelek and stir thoroughly.
Add your squash puree, the coconut milk, the stock and the honey.
Use your hand blender and blend to a lovely smooth consistency.
Heat through.
Check your seasoning and add the remaining lime juice, perhaps more honey or sambal oelek.  Adding the lime juice at the end brings a bright flavour to the soup.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Keep on truckin'

The truck is at the painter's, empty and (nearly) clean. I drove it across the Ottawa River by myself today (there's only the one seat) which was kind of fun (okay, it was totally amazingly fun to be driving something with a 20" diameter steering wheel) and took it on down to the soda blasters.  Thanks to Pierre for giving me a ride to the truck and to my amazing sister and brother-in-law for letting me keep it there for nearly a week while we got the fryers out (and sold- yay!) and the second stage of cleaning done. The third stage is tomorrow, when I drive it from the painters to a drive in bay and pressure wash the heck out of it.  Lard. Is. Only. Good. In. Small. Quantities. (I'm still unwilling to entirely forego lard, but I won't be eating at any chip trucks for quite some time).

The logo is ready to get printed for the side of the truck and I have four kids willing to work for me. This says something, right?  I don't have any adult employee potentials (somehow the small truck/dishwashing gig ain't super appealing to the realistic folk) but the little ones are pretty excited about being the child labour that keeps our high end food affordable.  So far, the jobs that they have created for themselves include a clown and a soup taster, and all have indicated that they would be pleased to "help" in exchange for food, and would be more than pleased to work rather than go to school. Ha!  No wonder we need to have laws.  Only one has asked for wages, and those would be five dollars a day.  Pesky, pesky laws. But really, it heartens me to know that I could (and do) have all these children working (oh, sorry, "helping") me in my non-Dickensian mini kitchen.

Community garden harvest
This afternoon, I'm putting the finishing touches on a Thai Butternut Soup recipe that's been rollicking around in my the taste buds of my imagination since trying a rather watery one at Bridgehead, and getting a lovely butternut from the community garden.  I'll post the recipe.

My gardening pal R. is coming to film me for a video he's working on for Transition Ottawa-very cool- and I need to get a good stock pot on the go and some stock into the freezer.  Still gotta get the solar panel stuff worked out... And some meals to deliver for a family- maybe soon my food can be made for children, by children (as my sister always says about the cheap t-shirts at the box stores).  Pesky laws. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Simmering Stones: It's taking longer than I ever thought possible

Simmering Stones: It's taking longer than I ever thought possible

It's taking longer than I ever thought possible

So, when my second cousin, who's been working with start ups for a couple of decades told me about the two and a half rule, I have to admit, I thought to myself that this was likely for other businesses, and not necessarily for mine.
The two and half rule goes like this: Any new business will...

1. Will cost twice what you estimate
2. Take twice as long to launch, profitably
3. And produce 1/2 what you project.
So far, number two is really where I am feeling the crunch the most.  Well, alright, number one is also becoming more and more feasible too- especially with the mechanic's bill coming up.  The truck is roadworthy thanks to the magical networking for parts done by my mechanic Hani at Paradise Auto and a pretty big bill.  It drives beautifully, and tomorrow will do so legally, crossing the bridge to Gatineau where we'll plunk it in my sister's driveway and rip out the interior crap (by which I mean grease-laden deep fryers) before it goes to be stripped down at the painters and painted it's beautiful colours.  All of which is costing more than I thought...  I'm thinking about taking an accounting class at Algonquin on weekends in November as I simply can't seem to wrap my head around managing the money- it's so different from the household, and I frankly feel a little lost with it.
The solar system is being designed (this sentence really makes me think of Slartibartfast who designed Earth in the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy), I think the ventilation is figured out, and the fridge is on hold until I get the energy budget worked out.  The solar really is going to be on the awning, just like the funny little Sanyo truck I posted so long ago. It'll be awesome. It'll be ready just after the winter solstice, when there is no sun.  It'll be so ironic. 

I do hope to be ready to serve soup before the solar system (heehee) is up and running- I'll just charge the batteries from home, and they'll be linked into the truck engine as a generator as well, and I will be looking for space as the painting is getting done.  Winter approaches, and work is getting done, and I moved in the last week which was a bit intense. Moving is pretty stressful. And I did two community workshops last week too- a preserving one at Transition Ottawa and a fall harvest one for the Good Food Box.

And then, there's this whole way of working that is new. Entrepreneurship is amazing, but it's also really scary to have no one to report to, and to be only responsible to yourself.  It's funny how much freedom can be terrifying- I totally believe in what I am doing, yet I find myself almost breathless from fear for doing it sometimes, and sometimes frozen from fear.  I find myself making this path I've wanted to walk for so long, making something really great and intense, and walking it so slow as though I have to talk myself into walking it all along the path.  It's like hiking alone, or long meditation retreats.  It's as scary to confront the self through work as it is through things that are obviously spiritual- yet somehow I never foresaw how great this challenge would be and how big my obstacles are- I guess over thirty years of school instruction and work instruction have left pretty deep ruts on my brain pathways of responding to what others have to say about how I am to live.  There's a process of unlearning the habits of being evaluated by others, reporting to others.  Seth Godin seems to be writing about this, and I am starting to read his work.
Maybe there's a two and a half rule for the personal and community growth involved with making this path-I just don't know the parameters yet...