Welcome to the blog of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. Pull up a bar stool and experience our Counter Culture!

I'm Andy Meddick, Owner and President of the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. In 2005, I left my corporate I.T. job in Washington DC, to relocate with my spouse's business to the DE beaches. What to do now we live in a state where chicken houses can often outnumber human? Faced with a four hour round trip to the closest decent food market, I opened my first store, Good For You Market, a full service grocery store, focusing on organic, natural, and gourmet foods. In the worst economy since the 1930s, I won Best of Delaware awards three years running. After four years, I decided to simplify the business, re-aligning to focus on what we did best. The result is the Rehoboth Beach Cheese Company. We sell (retail and wholesale) artisan/farmstead cheeses, charcuterie, organic produce,and other specialty foods such as spices and seasonings. We also teach cheese classes, cater, sell online, and consult with other businesses to build their cheese programs.

I've learned much since starting out. For example, staffing was a steep learning curve, and I discovered that a savvy sales and marketing professional lay dormant in an I.T. geek! Systems analysis, business analysis, database design and development, data architecture, web design, specialty cheeses and foods, organic farming, catering, and cooking. What do all these threads have in common? Curiosity! It begets technique, which in turn begets better solutions to commond needs. Why complain about lack of choice, if you're not willing to offer an alternative? Our move, and my business development has taught me to participate in life, and to be ever curious! Enjoy!

Dec 31, 2009

Here's 2 new ads we have running starting next week. I had to include a link to the G4UMarket Facebook page since I couldn't find a way of uploading audio files to blogger. Anyone know how to do that?

You'll need to become a fan of the G4UMarket page to listen to the ads...

G4UMarket Cheese Ads

Dec 30, 2009

G4U Market's Picasa album

Check out our new Picasa album for Good For You Market. We're adding more daily. I'm still getting used to a fancy new camera and can't use it yet, hence the wobbly nature of some shots.

Dec 29, 2009

Thanksgiving has come and gone, but I have two things to be thankful for, besides Faithful Spouse and good health, of course!

These things be:
  1. Kitty Litter (no we do not have cats, for that I'm thankful for also!).
  2. Frozen ground (sorry farmers!).
Why? I finally got the G4U truck out of the mud out back store. Faith and patience pay off. Also W.L. Bateman's quote comes to mind, "If you keep on doing what you've always done, you'll keep on getting what you've always got." This metaphor I like much better!

As Ginger Rogers sang:

"It's a brave new day, be thankful you get to start all over again.
Nothing's impossible, I have found.
For when my chin is on the ground,
I pick myself up, dust myself off,
Start all over again."

"Pick Yourself Up" music by Jerome Kern and lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Film, "Swing Time" 1936. RKO Radio Pictures.
In my case not dust but mud, nothing but mud...

Dec 27, 2009

Reading my blog the narcissist that I am. Stunned to see in print the date, "Sunday December 27."

December 27, when did that happen?

To all those in the media currently reviewing the decade that was, nooooooo, I'm not ready. Only seems like yesterday I was trying every excuse under the sun so I wouldn't have to pull an all-nighter at work Y2K baby-sitting. Will we all be doing the same in 2 years for 2012?

Ooops. Too much caffeine.

Wow, I AM read after all. You like me, you really like me!

I got questions. I got questions!

  1. What coffee were you drinking? This particular brew was Jim's Organic Coffee's Happy House Blend. It's a medium-light roast, perfect for a mid-morning break. According to Jim, "Light and well balanced with a clean taste... In a word: Chipper." I agree usually by 11am, I am feeling chipper. At 8am I have to drink Jim's Italian Roast. Intense and very dark! You can purchase Jim's Organic Coffee beans loose by the lb at Good For You Food Market, Lewes, DE. We will grind it for you free of charge.
  2. What china were you using? This is my, "Everyday" china. We bought it on e-bay while in the UK years ago. We have a full dinner service set - 6 places. It is the real deal china from British Airways first class cabin. It's as tough as nails haven been designed for air travel. Funny story. I was sitting on my Mam & Dad's living room floor in Wales. Mam and I were enjoying a cup of tea while wrapping up the British Airways china ready for me to take as carry on (yes on British Airways, but not first class, coach, honey, coach, oh the sad, sweet irony) on our flight back to the States. Anyway an hour later and many yards of bubble wrap and recycled xmas wrapping paper carefully placed into 2 boxes, the BA china was sealed and ready for transport. Mam asks me if I'd like another cup of tea. Suddenly she rolls on the floor laughing, tears streaming down her face. I get it right away and join her on the floor. Dad and Tom look scornfully over since they couldn't hear Corrie on TV. We could not find the cups and saucers Mam had served us tea in. Where could they have gone? We weren't about to unwrap an hour of work to find out!
  3. What book are you reading? It is Robert L. Wolke's "What Einstein Told His Cook: Kitchen Science Explained." It's an entertaining, funny explanation about the scientific changes food goes through in the kitchen, why a sauce browns and all such fun. He's got a second volume out too. I shall review it when I'm done since my desciption does not do it justice. 

Faithful spouse prefers watching a report of dead people on TV (who died this year?) over spending time with me. I guess I deserved that after bringing the mud incident home. So I retreat to one of my favorite indulgences: French Press coffee and a good book. Yes that is one of my French Presses, my everyday china and my book in the photo.

A French Press is also known as a "Cafetiere" as the French, and ironically the British call them. I say ironically since alledgedly the French and the British do not get along. I blame it on public transport. I mean really, who is at their best crammed into a tube of metal hurtling 100 feet underground, or racing around a hypermarket grabbing wine before the last ferry leaves? Many cross-channel grievances are born this way.

Hold the front page, back to my press. A French Press is a glass beaker with a mesh filter contained in the (usually) metal lid. The lid and filter are used as a plunger which fits snugly into the beaker. 

French Presses require a very coarse grind of coffee, much coarser than drip machines. The very coarse grind means the coffee will not surface above the filter. The coffee grounds are placed in the bottom of the beaker, and water, just off the boil, is added to the beaker, upto 1 inch from the top. Never use boling water, you will crack the beaker. The lid, with plunger elevated, is placed on top of the beaker and left in this way for upto 4 minutes to allow the coffee to develop flavor, color, and body. Next, slowly depress the plunger all the way to the bottom of the beaker. Go as slowly as possible to prevent coffee grinds from escaping around the sides of the filter. Serve immediately and drink within 20 minutes.

You'll find that coffee brewed in a French Press will be thicker, darker and stronger, with more sediment than all other methods, with the exception of espresso. With a French Press, the coffee grounds remain in contact with the water the entire brewing time. This, together with using mesh filter over a paper filter means that more of the coffee flavor and essential oils are in the brewed coffee versus being trapped in a paper filter. There is some thought that the sedimentation of French Press coffee can contribute to a minor increase in cholesterol.

Coffee served at table with a French Press is an elegant way to end a meal. French Presses are available in many sizes and are a portable way to get fresh brewed coffee while traveling. Why do I turn to this method of brewing coffee when I want to relax with a good book? It's the same reason I have a tea ritual on a rare day off. Brewing loose leaf tea in a teapot requires work. It makes me slow down, appreciate the art of making the beverage, consider where it came from and say a silent word of thanks to all who made it possible as I savor the taste. After a busy week of looking after others, this is Andy time. Spouse and dogs know well not to interrupt once that kettle is singing!

5:30pm Saturday night. 38F outside, pouring rain and I'm wallowing in mud. Literally. The Good For You truck was stuck in the mud out back of the store, left from melting snow and a days heavy rain. Business had sucked all day which is never good when you're dealing with perishable inventory. As I sit there spinning my wheels, again, literally, jumping in and out of the truck digging myself deeper into mud, a bad thought crosses my mind. Is this a metaphor for my business? I drag my wet, dirty self back into the store to make sure the closing is going to schedule, and am hit with a customer looking for the owner to tell me how much we suck and that we ruined her day. What's a man to do? I did what any mature person does. I went home and yelled at the spouse. Now THAT sucks.

To the person who left the nasty message, I'm sorry we ruined your day. I know we don't suck, sometimes it's just a bad day and we mess up.

Dec 22, 2009

I'm in the Good For You Test Kitchen, we're all systems go, testing recipes for Madeleines and how they fare in silicone pans versus metal. A word stops us. Just one word: Caster. What the heck is, "Caster Sugar?"

I have a dim memory of clutching a shopping list for my Mother at the corner shop as a kid:

1lb Potatoes.
1lb Carrots.
Hairspray (a daily occurrence in the CFC un-enlightened '70s.).
1lb Caster Sugar.

There it is. I never forget anything I write down.

So, must be a British 'English' word.

I hit google. Turns out Caster Sugar (also known as Castor Sugar) is what we Americans call, "Superfine Sugar." Call me unpatriotic, I prefer Caster Sugar. Who gets to define, "Superfine?"

There are three grades of used for cooking. Granulated sugar, which is the coarsest; superfine or caster sugar which is finer; and icing (powdered or confectioner's) sugar which is the finest. So Caster Sugar, used in baking (for example meringue and cakes), is a fine grained sugar which dissolves quickly.

It was an eventful day in our test kitchen. Later in the day it was Bakus Interruptus again. This time we called it a day. Our frozen pipes had burst.

So what did we learn from this?

  1. Wireless internet hookup is an essential tool in the kitchen!
  2. Plumbers are a Test Chef's best friend!
We Know Yum, we no know the Queen's English or plumbing...

Dec 17, 2009

Are You Getting Your Minerals?

I’ve been reading lately about mineral supplementation: of the body and of the soil. Traditionally I’ve been a hard sell for nutritional supplementation of my ‘natural’ diet. I used to think of supplementation as, ‘Crisis Management’ in the respect that conventional medications are to a certain extent, ‘Crisis Management.’ Q.E.D. I made the less than logical leap Supplements Ergo Medications. So what changed for me?

I’m of the belief if you don’t know, then ask. You know the drill, “The only dumb question is the one you don’t ask!” I see dumb people. No, I see dumb questions hanging un-asked in the air like thought bubbles. I consulted with experts in the agricultural, grocery, foods and supplements businesses. I came to appreciate that non-chemical supplementation, whether of the soil, or human body, has a place in our ‘modern’ world.

For most of us alive on this planet right now, we either have lived through, or are living with the direct and indirect effects of decades of synthetic chemicals in our farming and food systems. Everything comes from the ground, water, and air, and by extension our farms. I’m referring to food and non-food products (clothing, soaps, packaging, cleaning products and so on). You’ve seen the bumper sticker, “No Farms, No Food.” Well no farms, no lots of things!

Synthetic chemicals were introduced into our farming systems in the 1950s. The intention seems to be a good one: take the guesswork out of farming by controlling the variables: pests and crop yields. Hence feeding many more people. However, relying on chemical control of pests and growing crops out of balance with natural conditions has given us a legacy of soil depleted in minerals, requiring more and more synthetic chemical management to achieve similar crop yields. This is not a judgment of hardworking farmers who use synthetic chemicals; we don’t walk in their shoes, we can’t understand their thought process without a dialogue. This is a comment on our food system: our plant systems are working long hours under very stressful conditions to put out crops that are much lower in mineral content (nutrients) than just fifty years ago. Not to mention the health stresses of agricultural workers on whom we depend for our food.

To quote a recent article in Organic Connections Magazine (published by the Peter Gillham supplements company), “U.S. agricultural records has found that the nutrient content of fruits and vegetables has been dropping since these records were first taken in the early 1960s—just over 40 years ago. To illustrate the point, you would need to be eating five apples today just to get the same nutrients you would have found in one apple in 1965.” Of course they are talking about conventional apples, not organic. How about them apples? All five of them.

The same Organic Connections article goes on to discuss that modern farming relies on chemical fertilizers that are petrochemical based. The article recommends using cheaper, powdered rock minerals to “re-mineralize” the soil and hence boost the mineral (nutrient) content of crops. “A ton of rock dust costs anywhere between nothing at all and $8.00 and only needs to be applied every 1–10 years, depending on the application. Compare this to chemical fertilizers, which cost over $400 per ton and need to be applied at least once each season.” (Organic Connections).

Many organic growers are using re-mineralization. Cal-Organic organic carrots, for example, are grown using this method. Chef Alice Waters is an advocate of re-mineralization and has up to 70 re-mineralized fruits and vegetables grown for her Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley, CA (Organic Connections).

What can we do? Add powdered rock minerals to our home or community garden vegetable beds. Also, follow some principles of organic farming: crop rotation, and companion planting (planting to attract birds and 'beneficial' insects to eat the bad insects we want to avoid). Lastly, when an area of your garden is not in use, till in compost, and plant cover crops such as winter rye, or hairy vetch to build the soil and deter weeds naturally. I've used all these methods at the G4U Farm, and they work, even on a small scale.

I now believe supplements have their place in the diet, especially if one is depending on conventional produce. However, pick a good supplement that is whole foods based, not bulked up with synthetic fillers. The operative word though is, supplement. Supplements do just that – they supplement the diet, they do not replace fresh, chemical-free produce and foods. That’s the whole story.

Twitter Delicious Facebook Digg Stumbleupon Favorites More