Archive for the 'Seasonal Products' Category

Caprese Salad


October 6th, 2013

caprese
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any crazier, they do! It seems like our trajectory here is defying all laws of logic. Like Exhibit A. I just found out that our prices are going up. Which was shocking to me since we didn’t raise them. But apparently, market pressures are driving them up. I didn’t even think that happened, but here we are. Am I in a movie? This feels like a movie right now.

In other news, I just posted a new video to our video page. For a CAPRESE SALAD. I am totally hooked on these right now. And tomatoes are in peak season. This recipe takes 5 minutes to make too. So if you haven’t done so already, you should CHECK IT OUT. You won’t be sorry.

I have much more to tell you, but not enough hours in a day. More updates coming soon!

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Veganmania Aftermath


September 27th, 2013

packedup
We did it! Last weekend, KATY and I packed up a whole lotta cheese in the back of my car and took off down the road to Chicago for our first expo! It was exciting! It was high drama! It was a whole lotta folks! Good times!

earlybirds
We got there early and were all jacked up on juice. My boyfriend and I made 5 quarts of juice the night before for the trip. Here I am guzzling juice while setting up our booth.

buttonsOur NEW PARTNER, HEIDI, made these awesome buttons for our table. Pretty punk rock, right? I thought so anyway.
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level apparelOur booth was situated right next to LEVEL APPAREL, a Chicago based company that makes vegan apparel. I got a really cute onesie for Sonny. And Katy got a cool shirt. Here’s a pic of her HANGING OUT WITH UPTON IN IT. The crowd got pretty crazy pretty much right away. You could barely walk through the room at times. It was so busy! I kinda looked over at my neighbor from Level Apparel with a look of desperation around noon. He said, ‘Don’t worry. It’ll die down by 2. At least it did last year.’ Well, I’m here to tell you, it didn’t die down ever. It was a total mob scene. The whole time. In a good way. But I was wiped afterwards.

north coast organics
Across the way from us was NORTH COAST ORGANICS. They make the best body care products! I got the most amazing deodorant and chapstick. Just in time for the cold weather. It’s funny. They were right across the aisle from us. But I didn’t really see them until the crowd dispersed at the end.

beanfields
There were so many people, in fact, that we ran out of crackers toward the end. We must have given out around 3000 samples. I’m not even kidding. Lucky for us, the good folks at BEANFIELD’S gave us some chips to sample on when we ran out. You should try these. They are yum, for sure.

samples
We did samples of cheese on crackers. And we also made some fancy caprese salads (which I am hooked on right now). My boyfriend just filmed a video of this recipe yesterday which I hope to have up by next week. It’s a good one!

caprese cup
The mini caprese cups were a huge hit. Guaranteed mob scene while we were sampling those. It was pretty hard to keep up even.

sample table
It was so lovely to meet so many people and hear so much positive feedback. It really was a great day. We even got a shout out on NATIVE FOODS CAFE’S BLOG! How cool is that? They’re pretty big time!

booth
My one fatal error was that we didn’t bring any way to accept credit card payments! Doh! Not sure why I didn’t think of that. But if definitely came up A LOT! I was a little bummed with myself over that at the end. Lesson learned, I suppose. All in all, it was a super fun day. Met lots of people. Learned lots of lessons. Met lots of cool vegan vendors. And I am still in recovery mode. Looking forward to the next one!

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Greetings From the Cheese Cave


August 18th, 2013

cheese
Hello out there! How are you? It’s been so long since I’ve seen you.

I’ve actually been having this conversation a lot lately. Just where exactly have I been? Unless you’ve been at the lab, you probably haven’t seen me lately. Not many people have. I’ve been in a cave. I’m not even lying when I tell you that I’ve gotten letters in the mail from two of my doctors wondering where I’ve been. I haven’t had time to keep appointments, be social, fix my hair, do my taxes, or even go to the doctor. This last year has been FULL ON CRAZY.

shopThings have been going well at the shop. It’s running pretty smooth. But I have to say…It’s taken it’s toll. I’m pretty wiped out right now. A week ago, I took a week off from running cheeses because I was so exhausted. I pretty much slept for three days. It was kind of a sign, I think. I’ve been SUBLIMATING a lot of my personal needs to keep this thing going. And I feel like I’ve been doing a good job. But I’ve been going above and beyond for a while now. It’s really starting to make me feel taken for granted. My boyfriend keeps telling me I need to make a change. That this has been eating away at me for months and months. But change is always a tricky proposition.

hrae at shop
The truth is that this is real life. Sure. There are challenges. But there’s a lot more right than wrong. We have such a beautiful collective consciousness brewing at the shop. Everyone who works there is so cool. I just love being there. I love what I am doing. I love the people I am doing it with. And I’m really proud of what we’ve been putting out. But I will admit, it’s a lot. Starting a business is hard, hard work. I’m not gonna lie. And you know what else is really hard work?

sonny and mama
Motherhood! My partner, Julie, just gave birth about five months ago to the apple of everyone’s eye, Sonny. He is quite the thinker. He spends a lot of time deep in thought. And he has a lot to say. Plus, he’s pretty cute.

As you might imagine, we’re a little overwhelmed at the moment. A good problem to have. Business is booming. And although theoretically we’d like to be growing faster. The reality is that we’re going about as fast as we can go.

Some people might call this a difficult situation. And to be sure, it is. But this company was born out of DIFFICULT SITUATIONS. That’s kind of what we’re GOOD AT. The one thing I’ve figured out from all of this is that difficult situations are blessings in disguise. They are spiritual journeys to a better you. We just have to honor them for the lessons they are bestowing on us. And move through them. We have to be honest with ourselves about where we are falling short. And we have to be open to possibilities. When you hit the wall and think you can go no further, remember to stay open! That’s where all the magic is.

Right now, I am learning a couple things. Most importantly, I’m learning that despite the amazing miracle that I’ve been experiencing for the last year, I am only human. I have limits. And I reached mine a ways back. And number two, I am learning to be humble and ask for help when I need it. Ask and you shall receive. A creative solution to my current conundrum coming up! Stay tuned…

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Chicago VeganMania


August 4th, 2013

veganmania
OMG. I have so much to tell you. But I haven’t had any time. This has been the CRAZIEST YEAR EVER! I wouldn’t even know WHERE TO START. Well, I would. But it would take me all day. Though if you happen to be in Chicago on September 21st, I’ll be there all day. It’s VEGANMANIA! It’s all day vegan extravaganza. And it’s Free! We’ll be sampling and selling cheese. But there will be a food court and all kinds of vegan businesses and food demos and speakers. Should be pretty interesting.

katy
I’ll be bringing KATY with me. If you follow us on INSTAGRAM, chances are you’ve run across her before. She’s one of our cheesemakers. But she has a food blog of her own…MN VEG. You should check it out.

Will post more updates soon. Hope to see you around…

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No Wrong Answers


June 5th, 2013

aiko and meHello out there! It’s been a while since I posted. I kinda had to take a step back for a moment and recalibrate things. But I’m doing a lot better these days. Thanks in a large part to what my friend, Janice, calls pet therapy. These little critters have taught me a lot about balance and where to find it.

crybabyWhen I start going off the rails, they sure let me know! This is Aiko. And she sure has opinions about things. But I swear that her sweet little purrs are healing me. The last time I checked in, I was not in the best place. But things have come a long way since then. My business partner is back from maternity leave. And I’ve kind of got things functioning a little smoother at the shop. But beyond that, I think there’s been a big internal change. An attitude shift…towards something more empowered.

Admittedly, when scary symptoms start coming up, I think a person is naturally inclined to run to the doctor.  To try to find an answer. And that has pretty much been my approach for the last seven years. But truth be told, that approach has been FRUSTRATING ME. I mean, let’s face it. Our healthcare system is DYSFUNCTIONAL. Everybody knows that. And it’s getting more expensive by the hour. Nobody knows how much anything costs. And there’s not a lot of internal incentive to be efficient. So a person with a mysterious chronic health problem that nobody understands can easily rack up some big bills and not have a lot to show for it. And I’m not gonna lie, I’m not independently wealthy. I mean, who is? And if I keep going the way I have the last seven years, I’m gonna end up broke and probably, if I were to be completely honest about my experience, not any healthier. So I’m thinking it’s time to shift gears. Change the way I’m looking at this problem.

gymnastCute little Aiko is quite the gymnast. She can get herself into some pretty odd defying places. And she has been inspiring me to look for solutions in places where they might not be obvious on first glance. Fresh eyes.

bookHere she is with my dad (who btw, is reading my friend, Janice’s book FREEDOM TO THRIVE: RECLAIMING OUR POWER TO HEAL). Don’t get me wrong, my doctor has helped me in a lot of ways. But I think the big shift for me is that the things that are happening in my body are scary. Unsettling at times. And I think when these things happen, a person wants to hear something definitive. They want to understand. They want to know what to expect. They want it to be well, less scary. But here’s the truth. The doctor can’t do that. Make it less scary. The only person who can do that is me. I feel like I’ve been hung up that there’s a right way to deal with a health problem. The ‘accepted way’. But there isn’t really one. We are all different. Different people will react to the same situation in different ways. Depending on all kinds of factors. Personality, will to live, support systems, luck, the position of the sun on the day you were born…whatever!

eco-liciousAs my friend, Joshua, would say…’This is my movie!’ I get to decide how it ends. Hell. I get to decide the whole damn plot. And this movie is not about a sick girl who gets beaten down by the world. Hells no! I mean, let’s be real. I don’t have time for that. I’ve got a business to run. (Cheeses at ECO-LICIOUS in Charlotte).

perelandraAnd in cased you missed the MEMOS, things have been BLOWING UP! I mean, things have gotten SERIOUS! (One of my yoga teachers sent me this pic yesterday from downtown Brooklyn – at PERELANDRA!)

noochIf this kinda situation even happens to a person, it only comes around once in a lifetime. You have to seize the day! (NOOCH in Denver).

harley raeThis is Harley Rae. She’s been teaching me a lot too. Especially about seizing the day. This girl has no fear! (Just like YOKO SHOWED ME).

harley raeI’ve definitely been pushing my body to it’s limits lately. But the thing I have to remember. My new mantra is, ‘I’ve got this!’ This situation was tailor made for me. By me. I just need to hang on to the reins. And not be in such a hurry to give them up when I get overwhelmed by some moment that will pass. I need to just chill out and get things back into balance.

lovey catSo that’s pretty much what I’ve been up to. Getting back into balance. And it seems to be working so far. At least, the HIVES have been getting better. So yeah. Bring it, world! I’ve got this..

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No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn


March 28th, 2013

nooch
Woah nelly! Things have been crazy around here. So crazy that I haven’t had much time for posting lately. I have really been keeping my head down and my nose to the grindstone. In a way, I think being sick is really good preparation for starting a business. Looking forward, it looks kind of hopeless most days. Making the impossible happen. Looking back, it looks like a miracle. The hard part is keeping focused when you’re the only one who can see it. I think that learning to be zen in situations that are well, unpleasant, is what being sick is all about. Same with starting a business. You just have to keep busting through barriers despite how it looks on the outside. Keep pushing. No matter what. Until one day you look up. And you realize that you’re whole environment has changed. So anyway, our environment has sure changed alright. We are really starting to carve some marks out on the map of the US of A. We’ve been consistently selling out at NOOCH (an awesome vegan boutique in Denver).

park and vineI am continually amazed that the cheese has developed a following in places where I didn’t even know there was an audience for vegan products. PARK AND VINE is another new store in Cincinnati that has started carrying us. Who knew that Cincinnati was such a hotspot for vegans! I admit that in the beginning, I thought nut cheeses would be too weird to fly in the midwest. Man, was I ever wrong. (My boyfriend who incidentally is from the Midwest is quick to remind me of this).

brainer
The cheeses are even selling in Brainerd, MN at the CROW WING FOOD CO-OP! Brainerd is a fairly small town in central MN. Not exactly where I’d expect to find a hotspot for vegan fare. But that just goes to show how much I know. Thanks for schooling me, Brainerd!

wheatsville
WHEATSVILLE in Austin, TX is another store that has been selling a ton of cheese. I actually went to college in Austin. So it feels pretty satisfying to reconnect with the city.

vegan haven
I used to live in Seattle too. Home of VEGAN HAVEN. Another hotspot for our cheese.

mckinleyville
We even made it out to Humboldt County, CA! We’re at McKinleyville Central Market there.

malt and mold
And of course, New York City! That’s where it all started for us. And it’s kind of an epicentre for us. We have several new stores there. MALT AND MOLD is an amazing beer and cheese store on the Lower East Side.

high vibe
HIGH VIBE is an amazing raw and vegan boutique in the East Village. I think it’s in the East Village anyway. I’ve been corrected on my NYC geography a few times.

perelandra
Last but not least is our newest store. PERELANDRA in Brooklyn. This is a really new development. Like, today new. We’re really excited about this. In fact, if you go there now, they should have some free samples of the cheese to try. I think they might also have the best deal in town on the cheeses. Definitely check it out.

Needless to say, we have been really really busy. I have pushed my body to it’s limits. And beyond. I’m hoping this new development is a sign. No Sleep ‘Til Brooklyn! But now we’ve arrived. Brooklyn! We are in your hood! What happens once you get to Brooklyn? Two days of sleep? That sounds good. Maybe this is the start of a kindler, gentler era of growth. Because I am having a monster flare-up right now. But I digress. There will be a whole other post about this tomorrow. Wanna know how to start a business with no money and chronic health problems? Well, I’m still figuring that one out myself. But I’ll tell you’ve what I’ve learned tomorrow…

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Hitting The Ground Running


October 8th, 2012

Julie and Me
Well, things have been evolving pretty quickly around here. Julie and I have been hitting the ground running. That’s for sure. If you’ve missed the last few posts, you might not recognize this blog. A lot has happened! It still hasn’t fully sunk in as a reality. It all feels like a fairy tale to me. But if you missed the memo, Punk Rawk Labs HAS EXPANDED. It’s been a pretty dramatic change for me. My new partner, Julie, is a dream. If you haven’t met her yet, check out the newest video for PUNK RAWK LABS TV. She takes you on a GUIDED TOUR of our new space.

labels
The retail space is kind of functioning as our office/packaging center at the moment.

buildout in prog
We’re not sure at this point when it will be open. Right now, we are so buried in cheese orders, that we need to get caught up before we can open the retail space.

labs
The kitchen, however, is fully licensed and operational! It seemed at times like it was never going to happen. I have to admit, there were some crazy obstacles on the way here. But miraculously enough, the answers all appeared exactly when they were supposed to. It was a nail biter though!

seward
We haven’t officially started taking orders yet. As we are still getting caught up on our backorder. But we are slowly adding new stores. Our cheeses are now available in Minneapolis at the SEWARD COOP. In fact, Julie and I will be doing a sampling demo there next Sunday afternoon.

sidecar shelf
You can also find us at SIDECAR FOR PIGS PEACE in Seattle, WA! Sidecar is a non-profit store that raises money to support a pig sanctuary. Not only does the money go to a great cause. It also happens to be the best deal on our cheese (being a non-profit).

sidecar front
I just happened to be in town the day they went on sale (for a wedding reception). Friday the 28th. And insanely, I got an email the following Monday that they were already sold out! I couldn’t believe it!!

order boardIt’s an exciting time, to be sure! We’ve been hearing from the most unlikely places. This is our order board. Right now, we are working on orders for Denver, Portland, Seattle, Cincinatti, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  We have a lot of stores to get to.  But when it’s all said and done, there will be quite a few flags on the US map (a full listing of stores which carry us is HERE).  Pretty magical.  I have to say.  But I should quit gabbing for now and get back to work!!  More updates soon…

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California Dreaming


August 19th, 2012

chinatown
Just got back from the most amazing trip to California. It’s funny. For years, things were so UNDER THE WEATHER, that I was mostly just TREADING WATER…just kinda hanging on and waiting for things to get better. But lately, things have been CHANGING DRAMATICALLY. It’s pretty wild. It’s so surreal that I keep thinking I’m going to wake up. But I have pictures. So it must have really happened.

rainbowI actually hadn’t intended for this to be a business trip. I just went out because my boyfriend was doing sound at OUTSIDELANDS FESTIVAL which was pretty amazing in itself. But since I was in town, I figured I’d stop by RAINBOW GROCERY, the store that’s been carrying our cheese. Can I just say how much I love Rainbow? Here I am at the entrance. Rainbow is an amazing worker owned cooperative there, and this is the original collective that started it in the 70’s.

gordon edgarThis is Gordon Edgar. He’s the cheese buyer there. But he’s also a celebrity. I didn’t realize this at first.

cheesemongerI wasn’t aware of this until my neighbor, Erik, pointed it out. He was asking me if I was catching a lot of resistance and flak from dairy folks about my cheese. And I was like, ‘Actually, not so far. There’s this guy in San Francisco who’s a dairy cheese guy who’s been super supportive. And since he’s not really a vegan, people seem to be listening to him.’ And he was like, ‘Oh yeah? Who is it?’ And I said, ‘This guy, Gordon Edgar. He wrote this book called Cheesemonger.’ And Erik was like, ‘GORDON EDGAR?! That guy is famous. He’s like the Anthony Bourdain of cheese.’ One thing you should know about Erik, he’s not vegan and definitely not of the audience that my food would attract. But he’s a great drummer. Coming from Erik, this seemed pretty significant.

cheese section
And it was. Rainbow sells an amazing amount of cheese. I mean, I’ll literally ship them an order, and they’ll run out in a few days. Gordon even showed me that we have our own clipboard. Because they’ve been keeping a waiting list between orders. It’s crazy! Here I am in front of our cheese display.

veg news hqAfter we stopped at Rainbow, we decided to drop by the VEG NEWS MAGAZINE HEADQUARTERS which is actually really closeby.  I wasn’t actually thinking of stopping by.  But the night before, we were having dinner with our friend, Joslyn.  And I was talking about how great Veg News was.  And she said,’You should stop by and say hello.’  And I thought, ‘You know.  That’s actually a great idea.  I hadn’t even thought of that.’  But it’s not something I would normally do.  Being a little nervous about things like that.  Well, when we got home from dinner there was an email from Veg News.  Saying there was a new issue coming out next week that I might want to take a look at.  So that seemed like a sign.

editor's pickThe next day, we stopped by. And what an amazing moment that was. They had the new issue, and it was hot of the presses. Not even on newsstands yet. It should be coming out this week actually. There’s a taste test in there. Comparing our brand with Dr. Cow’s and Daiya cheese. These are two much bigger and more established companies. Our brand got the editor’s pick! I couldn’t believe it! What an amazing day. I’ve been on cloud nine ever since. I even came home to a letter that I was being audited. And that didn’t even bother me. It apparently looks fishy that I didn’t make any money last year. I wonder if anybody at the tax office has ever had a health crisis? Because I think it’s pretty par for the course for it to eat up one’s income. Especially when you lose your job as a result. The numbers just don’t add up. I mean, everybody seems to know that except the IRS and the insurance companies. Right? You’d think they wouldn’t add more trauma to a bad situation. But anyway, I digress. Because even the IRS can’t stop me now! They might be able to bring down the mob. But they can’t bring down a girl on fire!

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On a side note, there’s still a couple weeks left to vote for the VEGGIE AWARDS. We’ve been nominated in the ‘Best Vegan Cheese’ category. We are up against some pretty big guns that are literally available in every store. So, it’s a little like David vs. Goliath. But you never know. Stranger things have happened lately. So, please vote for us!

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Food Fight! Grocery


May 20th, 2012

food fight!

Portland Peoples!! Good news! Our cheeses just got picked up by FOOD FIGHT! GROCERY in beautiful Portland, OR. We sent them four cases of our best flavors (unfortunately, only three of them got there. Thank you, post office!) plus free samples! Go on down and check it out!

nut cheeses
Mmm…Nut Milk Cheese! Check out the latest REVIEW OF OUR CHEESES HERE!

every dayAnd the good news is that if you can’t make it today, you can go down tomorrow. Because apparently, Food Fight! is open every F^&*ing day. So there you have it! In other news, progress on opening our NEW SHOP has slowed. Mostly due to the fact that I am having to continually relearn the lesson that I have LUPUS (OR SOMETHING LIKE IT). Ugh! I was really riding a wave, wasn’t I? Not sure what this means yet other than that train was moving too fast for me. And I might have to get off and wait for a slower one. Don’t know yet. I’ll keep you posted…

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I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide


May 9th, 2012

live live
Woah, Nelly! Things are blowing up these days. And it’s not just me. My boyfriend, Tom, sent me back this picture from LIVE LIVE AND ORGANIC. He was in town twice a couple weeks ago. Once to do sound for TBT at Webster Hall. And once for their surprise appearance on LETTERMAN! They did so awesome! So anyway, Tom checked on my stores while he was there. Things are going really well at Live Live and at One Lucky Duck! Cheeses have been selling so well at the One Lucky Duck Chelsea Market location that they are going to start stocking them at Gramercy Park too! And that’s not all!

rainbow
In my last post, I wrote about MY FIRST ORDER FOR RAINBOW GROCERY in San Francisco. This is a picture that was posted by ECOVEGANGAL (who just unveiled her new, improved site today!). OMG…Did those go over well! They got a nod in the SF WEEKLY and in VEGANSAURUS! Apparently, renowned author and cheese expert (not vegan!), GORDON EDGAR, was singing their praises. And since he’s not exactly vegan, people perked up!

sold out
I mean really perked up! They sold out in a few days. This picture was sent to me by my friend Jonathan. Crazy, right?

waiting
It gets crazier! I sent them another order last week. And apparently, 80% of that order (50% larger than the first order) was pre-sold via a waiting list! And the rest of it sold out in a couple days. So now they’re still on a waiting list! (Thanks to Gordon for snapping this pic for me. He likes to be called Gordon Zola…pretty funny for a cheese guy).

vegan essentials
The same thing has been happening over at VEGAN ESSENTIALS. They can’t keep stuff in stock either. And I’ve been adding new stores! Next order is going out to FOOD FIGHT! in Portland!

Needless to say, things are a little crazy! I’m feeling pretty overwhelmed. And I’m plotting my next moves….

new shop
…which speaking of, did I mention that we got our own shop?!! I just got the keys two days ago. Definitely overwhelmed!! But check out the video I made for PRL TV! It’s a TOUR of our new space! Crazy, huh?

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