Sauce-a Huh?

We had a store coach. A fellow BNI member, with tons of enthusiasm.  He and Jeff got together once a month to brain storm. Jeff would bring him our ideas, and our monthly advertising budget. How much we spent didn’t exactly have a direct correlation to how much we earned. Mostly, we spent more on inventory than marketing. Some months, we’d spend more on advertising and less on product.

Jeff was super excited when I got home from work that day. In the meeting they had dreamt big. Then bigger; then bigger, yet. As he talked, it became clear he wasn’t really thinking budget.

The idea we had agreed to investigate further was to invite as many local non-chain restauranteurs as possible to a salsa meet-and-greet. Of course, there’d be tastings. Hopefully, some bulk sales, too. Serving salsa wasn’t an issue, we were licensed for that having taken the Lenawee County Health Department’s Food Safety course.  

When Jeff mentioned a local wine-maker and declared we could give samples of that, too, I had to stop him. “Um,” I said. “We don’t have a permit for that.” “I’ll check that out,” Jeff made a note. “Maybe he could do the samples for his own stuff.”

“Anyway,” he continued. “That’s not all of it.” He shuffled some papers around. “Here’s what I think we should do.” The title of the hand-written (almost illegibly scribbled, truly) was Sauce-a-Palooza. “I’m not sure we can use the ‘palooza’ part.” I interjected. “Might be copyrighted.”

“Ok,” he waved his hands. “But, that’s not all of it.”

“All of it” entailed tents, tables for crafters or businesses, a homemade salsa contest, hot sauce eating contest, bounce houses, live music, a live radio broadcast, and 20 different kinds of salsa for a vote-for-your-favorite American Red Cross fundraiser.  Each salsa would have a mason jar next to it. Each vote was 25 cents, but folks could put as much as they wanted over that in, too. The salsa with the most money in their jar would be the winner.

“The winner of what?” I asked. “No, wait… never mind that. Do you have any idea how much it costs just to rent tents? Do we need a permit for that? Live music? Where would we get a power source? I have no idea how much those bouncy things cost.  Do you?”

“Well,” Jeff was getting ready to explain, when I cut him off, again.

“Do we really want to serve homemade salsa from people we don’t know? We can’t just set out jars of salsa and let them sit there all day. We’d need to keep them cool. We’re gonna need to hire help for all this.” I took a deep breath. “Oh, no.” I reported. “We can’t possibly afford all that.”

“Well,” Jeff started.

“Maybe next year.” I emphatically ended the conversation, before adding, “So, what’s for dinner?”

Quote for the Week:

10 29 2018 There are only two types of business people jakorte

 

All Fired Up!

When Jeff had a dream, he dreamt big. He’d laugh and call it a vision.

And it would always begin with, “Suppose…”

All of our Michigan Hot Sauce Club store open house events began that way. We held tastings. Jeff made snappy dips, fiery cheeseballs and poured crab salsa over cream cheese. We’d line up 5 jars of salsa or 5 bottles of hot sauce or 5 bowls of fiery snacks/candy/cookies, labeling each with a heat index. Mostly, to protect the mild lovers from accidentally dipping into anything Blair’s or Dave’s Insanity.

He developed some unique chili – bean and corn, no-bean burger, smoked jalapeno brisket, and an amazing white bean chicken bright green chili, that took its color from an awesome sauce named Swap Scum.

My favorite heated creation was the Spicy Texas Sheet cake.  Such a perfect combination of cocoa and sugar and spice. I tried to make it once without him. It just wasn’t the same. I followed his recipe verbatim, but it lacked Jeff’s magic touch.

That’s not a flighty compliment. I firmly believe everything came out scrumptious simply because Jeff believed it would. Just as I know, he truly meant it when he said everything will be fine, even though it most likely wouldn’t. It was an admirable trait, which occasionally annoyed me to exasperation.

Yes, GOD would provide, but He gave us brains to figure out how we could help ourselves, as well. I was a disaster planner. Jeff was a ‘let’s see how this goes’ guy. Stress begets stress, but Jeff deflected well.

I’d say, “If this… then that.” He’d say, “Ok.”

I’d say, “But, if that, then this other thing.” Jeff would say, “Ok.”

I’d say, “Unless that other thing turns into another thing.” Jeff would say, “Let’s just see what happens.”

His weekly BNI meeting had incubated an idea he was all fired-up about. Pun intended; that was Jeff’s favorite tag line.

In fact, each meeting he would come up with a variation or punny description. “MHSC, the biggest little hot sauce store east of the Mississippi!” On Thanksgiving, it was the biggest little hot sauce store west of Turkey. On Halloween, it was the scariest little hot sauce store in Tecumseh. It became his trademark – members would look forward to what he would say next.

One evening, I came home to Jeff’s biggest “Suppose…”, yet.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 23 theres no reason to dream small jakorte

Gingerbread (Hot House)

I can’t place the timing, which always irks me. I wouldn’t even be questioning the timing, if there hadn’t been that recent ‘50 years ago’ today newspaper story. That startled me into a memory, too.

I know what happened, but I’m not always sure how or why what happened, happened. So, on that note, I confess: I’m not at all sure how I got to the beginning point of the story I’m about to tell you. Obviously, some things had to have happened first.

Like the conversation, Jeff and I had. That’s easy enough to recall, because… Wait, wait. It could have been something that came up in a BNI meeting, but it would have had to occur at the end of September 2006. I can’t help thinking that would have been pretty far in advance. I suppose, though, as area business were looking ahead to the holiday season, it might not have been unreasonable announce plans for an open-house and contest.

It’s something Jeff and I talked about, were excited about and planned to do: enter a gingerbread house contest at a local, main street yarn store. I’m sure they carried more than yarn, but the first time I entered the shop wasn’t to shop. I was there to drop off our creation. Near tears, I didn’t linger.

Physically, it was only my creation, assembled in the weeks following Jeff’s death. I didn’t have much time, and I’d never made a gingerbread house, before. The ideas and enthusiasm were just as much shared as everything in our lives was.

Jeff started it, so I expected Jeff would be making it, too. But, there I was, a few weeks into widowhood, thinking about how much fun it would have been to do it together. Perhaps, well probably, I was still in a sort of shock. Functioning and trying to keep moving along. I decided to keep the plan, and set out into the internet world of gingerbread and patterns and royal icing.

My edges weren’t straight, my technique was terrible. My royal icing either didn’t harden fast enough or hardened too fast to use. Eventually, I baked and sugar-solder assembled on a plain cardboard base something that happily looked like a lot house. I stared at the pile of decorations I’d amassed and the naked shell for a while wondering, “Now, what?”

I decided to let the structural bones set-up overnight and dragged out the top of our Tupperware cake carrier to protect it.

Quote for the Week: 

2018 01 02 A good overnight set could either make a lot jakorte

Bonus Photo & Story:

Tecumseh Herald Gingerbread House Jeff and Eric 1967