Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Here’s my Nutty Partner, Randy.

Oh and he’s married to my sister, Sue! 
So it happened at a family picnic. We have a lot of those at another sister and brother-in-law’s house all summer long. And as it always seems to go, the men were in one section and the women in another. This one was notable in that there was a ‘streaker’ walking rather slowly down the middle of my sister’s street and no less than 9 police vehicles attended to the crisis. So in the ensuing melee (hide the children, etc) the groups, gasp, mixed! And my brother-in-law, now business partner, Randy, slipped me a message – my husband said something unpleasant about my business ‘ideas.’ But it was a bad news, good news message because he also said, he was into the idea of starting a Food Truck, let’s talk. 

We met the next day and went to Fountain Square, headquarters most days at Noon of Food Truck activity locally. We watched the action, discussed my plan, both of our ideas, and we were a team from then on! 

We made one rule. This is it - NO talk of family on the truck! (Food and dogs only. At the time we thought those were our only safe topics. I think we could broaden that, but food and dogs it is) Both of our families have doodles. If you read my bio, you know we have the “cutest dog in America” Bailey, who is a mini-Labradoodle. Sue and Randy have a (full size) Goldendoodle, Murphy, who by default, and order of arrival into our collective families, is thereby the “second cutest dog in America.” 

Randy and I make great business partners. We are both into the details of the business, respect each others’ opinion, and know that to get the right outcome, thought and planning has to start at the outset. Neither of us mind hard work. But he might have out-worked me today, at least physically. While I’m doing the cross-referencing and ordering of a lot of equipment for the inside of the truck, Randy decided he really wanted to see what the effect of adding several thousand pounds of commercial equipment was going to be on the truck. It was going to be easier to make modifications if needed, before the weight was added permanently. So this is what Randy did today:


After over 6,000 pounds of concrete blocks the truck only rode 4 inches lower than before he added them. Randy won’t have to go the gym for a week.  Not all 6,000 lbs are in yet in this photo, but he did distribute the blocks according to the approximate actual location the weight would be in the truck.
'Cause that's the kind of detail we're dealing in here! Thanks, Randy!

Tomorrow he is ripping out the ceiling so we can properly insulate it! No heat stroke for these chefs! (That’s the first step toward that anyway..)

This is our truck after having the exterior prepped for Poly-vinyl wrap. The wrap won’t go on until the very end. But now it will be ready. The ‘lockers’ on the back are for the propane tanks. There are doors for them, they will be vented. Randy and his crew, added the lockers and what we affectionately call the 'swim platform' on the back. We both have boating backgrounds, so everything ends up with a boating term. The left side of the truck is 'port,' the right is 'starboard' etc. That's just how we are wired. So that's obviously a swim platform holding those tank lockers, it makes sense to both of us.

All cleaned up and ready for some pretty colors, some writing on the side, a service window (or two). She leaves for Columbus next week to get everything installed!! Progress reports will be coming your way.
Oh, and back to my husband and the comments, he's climbing aboard the truck. It's taken some time, but sometimes good ideas need a while to grow on people. We're getting there. In the meantime, Randy and I are working out the details, details, details....

Make yours a great day, it's really your best option.

Friday, August 24, 2012

I can show this to you but.....

That's right! I can show my lunch to you, but I can't tell you what's under the egg! I have a deal with my biz partner/bro-in-law, to not show or talk about what we are cooking on the truck! Now this is NOT on the truck...yet! But it really should be.

Yes, I'm one of THOSE people who give social media a bad name by photographing her lunch/dinner and posting it. There are those who think that's all we do on here. ('Here' being Twitter/Facebook/Blogs) Of course, we know better.
However, in this case, this IS what I had for lunch. And under the egg is a few ingredients which are on the 'secret list' including our #1 "no talk" item.  So, mums the word here.

All I can tell you, is my lunch was delicious, if not colorful. It certainly should be on the menu, but right now, no plans. If you visit us, just ask me to fix you the egg bowl, I'll have what I need, and then you'll have what you need. This will be the number one 'off menu' item! And yes, of course that's Rooster sauce on top, to give it that kick. 'Sriracha' to the uninitiated.

Actually, this creation started last night. We didn't have lots of dinner ideas, so my husband and I started getting creative in the kitchen. A future blog post will be about "as we 'mature' the room in which we get creative changes"..... we've moved from one room to others. You should see how creatively decorated our screened porch is. What were you thinking I meant? Anyway, the egg went on this dish last night. Today for lunch I put two items between the layers and added that Sriracha. Now that I've created that, I guess I do still have some creative energies, let's see....

Oh, by the way, this is NOT installment two of how I got from "volunteer to a Food Truck owner," that post is below. This is a 'bonus' post. These things happen.

You know what would go great after a lunch like this?
One of these:

Have a great day.

I heard Andie MacDowell, beauty goddess, speak earlier this year. She was asked to share her best beauty tip. Here it is. "Make haste to be kind to everyone."
I think the interviewer was looking for something else. But Andie went on to explain, your face reflects your heart. Isn't that interesting?
Thanks for reading my blog today.


Defining Moments

When one reaches a point where it is time to make a change, (see previous blog post, ‘Hitting the Reset Button,’) the ideal scenario is to know what that next thing is to be. There are those who have their life all mapped out, and nothing has ever thwarted their hopes or dreams and all their plans always work out just the way they wanted them to.I congratulate those people.

Hmmm. Does that happen a lot? Of course that also means, there wasn’t a lot of room for spontaneity either, so that’s the flip side on that. I’m really only saying I just had absolutely no idea what I was going to do next with the extra time I was about to have. (The word 'Void' comes to mind) ..'to fill the void I was about to have' might fit here.

But I did know a few things, doing nothing was not going to work out real well for me, doing something which didn’t challenge and excite me wasn’t going to do it either. I knew I wanted to keep making a contribution into the lives of others, and I wanted to be out with people, challenge myself, and maybe have some fun.

I thought back to some defining moments. I don’t consider myself a creative person. But there is an area of creativity I can relate to…

Defining Experience #1 
A few years back, I went to Columbus for something and had heard I should try Jeni’s Ice Cream. I’m not one to turn down good advice, unless I don’t feel like following it. I liked this advice though.
I really love the creativity of Jeni’s Ice Cream …. (Small genuflect to Graeter’s in Cincinnati. I bow to Graeter’s.  I’m forever a fan of Graeter’s by far superior to all, premium ice cream. It is hands down, second to none, the best ice cream in the world. Please Cincinnatians no Graeter’s /Aglamesis’ debates.) BUT, for the sheer creativity of flavors, Jeni’s is the best, and the quality is right up there too. When I speak of creativity I’m referring to the mix of salty and sweet, using typically savory flavors in their sweet ice cream and using all fresh, as local as possible, ingredients. I fell in love with Jeni’s flavors, concept, colors, logo. Here are some flavor names in case you are new to this topic: Salty Caramel (their #1 flavor), Thai Peanut, Wild Poached Pear, Limeberry, Wildberry Lavender, Pistachios and Honey. I mean when you walk in they are standing there with a handful of tasting spoons, they know you aren’t trying one flavor and walking out again. It’s an experience!

Defining Experience #2.
I happened to read a Facebook question from someone I follow who is a cook and only posts  about food, I’m a foodie. It was a local person. And the person asked her followers what is their favorite popsicle flavor. People were answering things like ‘cherry, grape etc.’ and so I was going to tell mine. Which until that moment was ‘banana’ if anyone is keeping track of trivia of my life. And then this happened, two people chimed in with answers which befuddled me bing, bing, first one, then the other, and I felt like I must have been living in outer space, because I had no idea of what they were speaking. It was as if a foreign language was appearing. And all of a sudden my little answer of “banana”  was not going to cut it. I had to find out what this thing was they were talking about. Because now people were answering with their favorite STREETPOP flavor. And I just did not know what is a “Streetpop” ????? This was disconcerting and I had to make it my mission to find out.

Guess what I learned ? Streetpops are like Jeni’s Ice cream except NOT in Columbus, NOT Ice Cream, NOT as expensive, and NOT as fattening! Wait this is starting to sound not at all like Jeni’s, maybe I should say what they are. They are popsicles. They are local in Cincinnati. They are where the people are! (This is key, this makes them really part of my defining moment.)

They are exotically flavored in the manner of Jeni’s ice cream, Oh, there it is, that’s what I was saying up there, about being like Jeni’s but not. Same principle in that they use oft-times savory flavors in their sweet popsicles and use fresh and as local as possible ingredients to hand make their popsicles. They sell them from carts wherever what is happening is happening. But also Streetpops has a store at Main and Liberty in OTR. They have about 20 flavors or more, and are constantly making new ones. Usually they have 6-7 flavors with them on a cart if you see them out and around. They are only $3. each, a steal.  How about thai basil lime, raspberry lemon, habanera banana, chocolate chili pepper or just coconut? Go get one….you know you want to try one.

But I was thinking I really really liked that Streetpops thing, I was obsessed until I found them and could try one myself. The idea of those flavors together and the colors, really appealed to me. Here is the other idea which appealed to me. At the time I didn’t know Jeni’s had a food truck. They are mobile now. But I saw that Streetpops could go wherever people are gathered.

There is a store in town selling highly touted sandwiches of bread with cheese and various ingredients in between. These are spoken of highly all around town. But you know what’s wrong with that store? It doesn’t move. If there is an event at intersection x/y and that store is 20 blocks away, people aren’t going to make the trip for that. But if I were rolling in a vehicle and could pull up to where the people are…. But then next week if what is happening is a different location, and I could pull up there, then I’m always going to be where my (potential) customers are. But that store is in a fixed location. I discovered I like the concept of a rolling restaurant. And my own creative (!) juices began to flow. The ones I thought I didn’t have.
As much as I’m a huge fan of the Jeni’s,  Streetpop’s, (and Graeter’s,) of the world, I know my creative bent is toward the cooking side of the foodie world, not the baking or sweets.

So that’s the direction I’m turning my (newly found) creative energies. The idea of putting flavors and colors and new combinations together is something I can do, and with a mobile kitchen can take it directly to where people are gathered!!

It's great to know what I'm moving toward and great to be headed there.
My brother-in-law has become my business partner. We’ll save that story for another post. We are in the process of having our kitchen built into our truck  and there is a story there too. Hint: always check references!

But we’ll be on the road soon! Thanks for following along.

Make the best of today, that’s what I’m doing.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Hitting the Reset Button

Hello everyone,

Hitting the reset, or rebooting, to me means it's time to quit doing that which is no longer working or that which is no longer getting the desired results. Sometimes it takes a loooong time to recognize when you are in a phase where hitting that reset is what needs to happen. Or I should say, 'sometimes it takes ME a while...' Maybe the rest of you know right away when you are no longer being effective and it's time to make a change...

(Here is a GREAT article about getting 'unstuck' )

Here was the issue for me, and I'm not really going to get all the way into the issue, I was still being effective in my many roles on the face of things. On a day to day basis, lots of good stuff was happening... for other people. Sigh!  Unfortunately, I came to see I was never going to be allowed to grow the work I was doing beyond where I had already taken it. (Which by the way, was quite far) I was being evaluated only in the role I was seen in, not in what I could do if I had been invited into an expanded role.

Part of the process of  'hitting the reset' for me was recalling that there is only one person I can change, and only one person who's actions over which I have control and that person is writing this blog post. All else is outside my realm, and people have opinions and reasons which I can't really fathom. To spend more time and energy on it at this point was going to be to my detriment. And so I chose to take my many skills, time, and determination and "hit reset." I'm looking elsewhere. I've already figured out where and what that is, but thought I'd take you along on the journey...

So: Welcome to a new phase in my life as I transition from volunteering a serious number of hours at my church--- to spending my time engaged in a very different endeavor. My hope is any new endeavors will be as rewarding to myself and others as was the time I put in at the previous institution. But with the end result being one in which I chose what is best for me and to what I'm best suited.

So I had to think what would that be? And I was thinking, and thinking...and well it started with a popsicle, albeit a very flavorful one. No, wait Jeni's ice cream. Well, no first, I flunked the DISC personality test-at my church! Then the ice cream, then the popsicle, that led to the Gourmet food truck. Now my brother-in-law is my business partner and I'm testing recipes in my kitchen at home while we have our truck built. Yep that's it!

Okay, I'll explain all that. I knew I was going to need something *B*I*G* to keep me challenged. It took me a while but I found that 'something big.' I started thinking about what I love to do. I love to cook! I also love sharing what I cook - either the recipe or the actual food. (See recipes in older posts on this blog, if interested) And share it is what we are going to do, all over Cincinnati, (and further?) in our gourmet kitchen on wheels. Please follow that truck! We'll be so pleased to have you along for the ride.

A source of inspiration for me, you may have seen this elsewhere, but I like it:

Also I'm going to take you all the way through the process if you care to join me through the transitions. So you need to see the "before" in order to appreciate the "after," it still looks much more like this than the finished product. It is the as yet unnamed Food Truck, so stick with us as we go through the creative process to determine name, logo, colors, theme. etc. It's fun!

It started as a Gutter Truck!! Pretty, right? 27' of splendor!
(Hey, when we're finished even those wheels will be dressed up.)

Make the most of today, that's what I'm doing!
Co-owner of Cinci's next Gourmet Food Truck