Posted on

5 Things: June 14th, 2019

A lot of Things™ happened this week at NWS. Here’s a handful of them.

Wine joined our beverage list.

We’re officially selling beer and wine in our deli. This is huge news for us, as people love to have a beer or a glass of wine—which we’ll be selling by the glass, or by the bottle with the option of corking it to-go—with a meal.

As soon as we received our buyer’s license, we had pallets of beer from our neighbors at Hoops at our door, ready to sell. Our other vendors quickly followed suit, and we were fully-stocked on beer by the evening.

The wine orders operate on a different schedule, so we went through the weekend without it, but as of yesterday, our wine selection has arrived.

Thought about describing our wines to you, but whoops!, I have not tried them & TK already knocked this one out of the park.

Each of our options falls into the category natural wines, or wines farmed organically and made without adding or removing anything during the fermentation . Like the production of our salumi, this is an ancient tradition. While I haven’t yet had a chance to try our wine selection (it’s only been a day—chill), TK has assured us each of them has something special to offer, and will pair well with just about any item on our menu.

The Spring Roll joined our sandwich menu.

Composed of smoked teriyaki tofu, cabbage, cucumber, pickled vegetables, lettuce, Marcona almonds, basil, cilantro, sriracha and sesame oil with rice vinegar all wrapped up in a naan (or on a hero roll, if you’re ISO a vegan option), this sandwich tickles the tongue, and is taking over a menu slot for The Tempest.

Patricia, who comes in at 5 a.m. to bake cookies and pasties before working in the deli, is an absolutely unstoppable force of creativity with food. Within weeks of her tenure at NWS, she already had folks abuzz about the prototype to this sandwich. Just a few short months later, it has arrived on the sandwich board. At the time, we were making variants with pork loin, gravlax, tofu and even skipping the prepped protein altogether—all of which had their strengths, and are available as substitutions for essential carnivores—but we’ve landed on tofu.

One final note on the Spring Roll: Unlike most of our sandwiches—which are best consumed immediately, or at least within the day if you—there is a strong undercurrent amongst our staff that the sandwich is best eaten after a short wait, or even chilled.

I usually can’t wait that long, but it is worth noting: this is a great picnic sandwich, for that reason.

Michael left for Bonnaroo.

Our co-worker Michael—who typically arrives at work with a ukulele in his hands and a song in his heart—left Tuesday to make his way to Tennessee for Bonnaroo Music Festival.

In addition to catching not one, but two Phish sets, he’s also decided he wants to be the Duluth, MN Bonnaroo Street Team. It sounds a lot more labor intensive than it actually is—he’s just taking a selection from several local breweries, and some NWS “buddies” & swag to the annual Craft Beer Exchange—but it is still awesome that he’s chosen to represent our city.

While I doubt most or any of our readership is currently in Great Stage Park, TN, at the festival, or reading this post in time if they are, check our Instagram later today to see how NWS’s first trip to Bonnaroo is going.

Final round of interviews for our Mail Order director position.

If you didn’t know that we’ve been operating sans-Mail Order Director for an undisclosed temporal span, that’s a good thing and doesn’t surprise me. Our team has a knack for filling-in the cracks when they appear. The marketing & media team have taken over the mail order phone calls, an we needed only list the job internally to find a handful of candidates.

The interview process came to a close this week, and next week, we should have a new director in-place. We’re only six months out from the wild, wild West that is late-November through the end of the year in mail order, so they’ll have a lot on their plate to manage in a short span of time.

Thank you for your patience in the meantime. Our mail order clientele are awesome, and a fundamental aspect of our success as a business, so not having someone specifically in-place to handle that job is not a state in which we ever hope to stay for long.

They asked me if I wanted to lead another scavenger hunt.

This was basically my reaction, I think, though I don’t know the context of this .gif.

Last July, we hid twenty sandwiches-worth of magnets around town in honor of our Twentieth Anniversary. With the exception of a few very thoughtful responses I received, the campaign went over well.

This year, we’ll be doing things a little bit differently. The stakes will be higher, it’s going to be more challenging, and it’s going to happen slightly later in the Summer (personal reasons, don’t worry about it), but believe me when I say I’m very excited to get any willing participants into the outdoors, getting their hands dirty—maybe literally—in pursuit of free NWS grub & swag.

Stay tuned for details in the very near future. Until next time, I am Ned, and these have been five things that happened this week at NWS.

Posted on

5 Things: May 3rd, 2019

It’s a big week in town: Homegrown Music Festival is in full-effect.

But this isn’t a music blog, so let’s stay on-track.

A changing of the guard.

We’re going to bloody miss this one.

Another month has gone by, and that means it’s time for a new Sandwich Lab special. On Monday, May 6th, the warm, buttery aroma and savory goodness of the Bloody Mary is leaving our deli to make way for our first ever avocado sandwich, the Wallaby.

Enjoy some different angles of the Wallaby.

Framed with our haus-baked Prince Myshkin rye, the Wallaby also features fresh tomato slices, ramps, lemon pepper, and a balsamic reduction.

Ironically brought to our collective attention by Michael, who is allergic to avocados, the sandwich is inspired by the best-selling sandwich at Creekside Coffee in Sedona, AZ, where he worked for a time.

The Wallaby’s run will span from May 6th to June 3rd.

Beer and wine.

If all goes as planned—which seems to be the case—come Summer, we’ll be licensed to serve beer and wine. This is big news for us. As a company forever growing in our hearts, expanding our business to accommodate such a popular commodity can only be a good thing. While nothing is set in stone, the conversation has revolved around a curated selection of beer in cans and boxed wines.

We hope you’ll join us on our patio this Summer and enjoy an appropriate amount of buzz with your sandwich.

We packaged 150 lbs of smoked bacon.

In individual pounds, to boot!

An online food retail service—which I’m not going to name, since I believe there is an amount of surprise/secrecy implied—has selected our smoked bacon to be a part of its monthly subscription box that may or may not be called “The Best of the Best.” We’re honored that our bacon has been recognized as such, just as we’re stoked every time anyone tells us (or their friends) that one of our offerings is their favorite.

Lamb taco pasties.

Tuesday’s tacos were in a class of their own. Taylor whipped up some Lamb Birria—an adobo sauce originating in Jalisco, Mexico, traditionally served in a soup form, but adopted as a style of taco—which we served on corn soft-shells with pickled red onion, cotija cheese, cilantro, and salsa verde. This savory and mildly spicy delight blends guajillo chiles, ancho chiles, garlic, cinnamon, Mexican oregano and bay leaf, and slow-cooks all those flavors into tender shredded lamb shank.

Patricia, never missing a beat, apportioned some of the special for a limited run of pasties.

Yes, imagine all of the above ingredients packaged together inside a folded and rolled masa pastry, available to be heated in our deli, or taken home and prepared on your own time.

If you love or even casually enjoy stuffed pastries, check our meat case when you stop in for the latest pasty selection.

Workplace drama.

Work. I don’t know who invented work, but I’d like to have a word with them. It typically makes up anywhere from a quarter to just over a third of the hours in the day—unless I’m really out of touch with whom is reading this blog—and oftentimes you’re seeing the same rotation of people when you work. It’s sort of like a family. Needless to say, things can get a bit tense, and even blow up, as they did in this case.

When I sat down at Leif’s desk—which is my favorite place to write the 5 Things™ blog, due not only to the fantastic natural light and eclectic decorations, but equally to the risk of needing to move all of my mess when Leif needs to write a schedule or print a sign—I was appalled, though not surprised to find this remnant of an interpersonal clash.

I’m gone one day and this happens.

Please remember that every person you meet and each of your coworkers is following their own personal path, and struggling with all of their own issues which are not only valid, but also impossible to fully comprehend unless that person is you, and even then those struggles may not be fully comprehensible. Look for the goodness in others and be a mirror to reflect back that goodness. And lay off the demerits.

Bonus Things™.

Mother’s Day is coming up soon and we have a great Mother’s Day Box at a nice price. It features our Smoked Sockeye Salmon and Hausmade Boursin Cheese.


Happy Homegrown.

Bruno says, “Happy Homegrown from Hemlock Preserve!”
Posted on

Can’t eat a whole roast? How about a Ketta Steak?

Generously brought to Minnesota’s Iron Range by Italian immigrants, this boneless pork roast is a showstopper. Talk to any authentic Italian and they’ll tell you exactly how their grandma makes it—and how yours should too. There are endless varieties of porchetta, but ours has gained some serious recognition. High praises from longtime Iron Rangers and multiple features in Bon Appetit are among those regards.

It would be a crime to deprive you of our Berkshire Porketta, so for the month of March we’re sharing it with loyal customers like you! All of March, if you spend $150 you’ll receive one free Porketta Steak! Just fill up your cart with $150 worth of Smokehaus goodies and follow the checkout process to proceed.


Some Boring Details

Free Porketta Steak Offer valid for orders of $150 or more using the pop-up box on the check-out page. Must click YES! in box to receive the free Porketta Steak.
Offer valid through the month of March and expires 3/30 at 11:59pm.

Exclusion
Offer is limited to stock on hand; offer is nontransferable and is not redeemable for cash.
This offer is extended to our MAIL ORDER customers. The free Porketta Steak offer is not valid for customers of our other departments (Canal Park Deli, Delivery, Pick Up or Catering).

Questions?
 Contact a Smokehauser at mailorder@nwsmokehaus.com or call us (218) 724-7307

Posted on

5 Things: February 8th, 2019

UPDATE: CAKE PHOTOS ADDED!!

We’re in the middle of the cruelest month of the year—in terms of weather—but February is a notoriously sweet month as well. Rather than focus on harsh weather, let’s focus on the sugar.

The Sugar Plum Gift Box!

In conjunction with our DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace neighbors, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, we have assembled an extra-sweet treat for two: The Sugar Plum gift box features dark chocolate malted milk balls & sugar plums from Hepzibah’s, and we supply a stick of salamini, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a jar of Fabbri Amarena cherries. All of this comes with a NWS tote bag in which to carry your picnic.

#cute

Make it sweet!

Want to do something special for someone sweet leading up to V-Day? Spread some kindness to someone whom you love, like, or want to show some serious appreciation by sending them a sandwich through our delivery department, and for an extra $2 we’ll Make it Sweet—with a handwritten card and some Swedish Fish tied to the order.
Not to be confused with the “Hey, Sweetie!” gift box.

Patricia’s cookies (and more)!

It might just be my coworkers and I buying all of them (because they are so good), but Patricia’s cookies are continually flying off the shelves.

So far, she has blessed us with carrot cake cookie sandwiches with honey cream cheese, the quadruple-ginger cookies (pictured below), and gluten-free coconut macaroons.

Quadruple-ginger cookies

And this morning, she surprised us again. When I began opening the shop this morning, Patricia was nowhere to be found. Admittedly, I did not put forth much effort to find her. Then, after I disappeared for a minute, I returned and there she was.

I didn’t notice the donuts at first. A few minutes passed before my eyes wandered to the cake pan just a few feet away.

Unexpected Friday special by Patricia

“Patricia, did you make those donuts?”
“Yes.”
“Where?”
“At my house.”
“Why?”
“I thought it might be good to make a Donut Cuban sandwich with the pulled pork.”

Thank you, Patricia, for all you do.

Here’s another surprise by Patricia, available for the first time today:

Ham & Swiss Puff Pastries

Pine Cones & Royale With Cheese!

There’s not much need to pack our deli-cases full of unsliced meats in the Winter. We prefer to focus on sandwich specials and prepared items that highlight our products, so that when the grocery sales pick back up, folks know exactly which smoked meats they want and have some ideas for what to do with them.

But an empty-ish case isn’t great to look at. Our solution? Come up with some “easy” items that customers can pick up and snack on with minimal effort.

When the phrase “meat cone” started getting thrown around, I was thoroughly perplexed, but now I’ve seen the light. In adorable cones made of pine, we’ve assembled little personal charcuterie boards, with salumi, pork loin, Castel Vetrano olives, cheese, and assorted smoked meats (dealer’s choice). It’s sort of like a Salami Basket for one. They’re available in our deli for $8.

Is Somethin’

We’re also on a snack stick kick. Bison Buddies have consistently been a bestseller. If I had a nickel for every time I crushed a customer’s soul by letting them know we’d sold the last Bison Buddies of the day, I would be floating around on a mid-range pontoon boat, drinking cheap sparkling white wine and working one day a week, just to keep a little structure in my life. But here we are.

Last weekend the smokers made Big Jim Buddies—beef and pork adobada sticks made with New Mexican Big Jim chiles. They sold out over the weekend, but the smokers are already making more.

After the Big Jims, there were some early experiments with Sockeye Buddies, which need a bit more tweaking, but will be coming to a Northern Waters Smokehaus near you very soon.

The most recent installment in the Snack Stick Saga is the Royale With Cheese: ground beef, bacon & melted cheese in a lamb casing. If you get the reference, you get the reference, but I think these ingredients speak for themselves. They’re currently in-stock, and we plan on keeping them coming. Never again, we hope, will you have to suffer a NWS shopping experience without Buddies.

Sam’s last day…

This last one’s a tad bittersweet: Our former shop manager, Samantha (or Sam, or Salm, if you have caught the pun on her Dickie’s work shirt) is finally parting ways with us to follow the next great adventure in her life. Sam had been splitting her years between Scagway, Alaska and Duluth, Minnesota for as long as I’ve been at the Smokehaus, then took on the position of front-of-house manager at our briefly lived but beloved Northern Waters Restaurant, before stepping in as our shop manager here at NWS.

Sam is, among other things, hilarious, compassionate, driven, and highly-intelligent, and although I’m going to let her keep her life plans to reveal for herself, I am convinced she’s going to thrive in this next adventure.

Her successor, Leif is thoroughly trained-in and shares all the above qualities, but that’s enough about Leif in this post about Sam.

Sam, if you’re reading this, don’t forget to come visit us from time to time, and bring Brewster.

Sweet, sweet Brewster

To offset the bitter in this bittersweet cocktail, and accentuate the sweet, Mary got an ice cream cake from DQ to honor the occasion. The cake photo is coming. We won’t leave you hanging.

There you have it. I’m sending you all warm & fuzzy vibes from this 5 Things post. Until next week…
One more photograph of the bacon-cheeseburger buddies we’ve affectionately dubbed “Royale With Cheese”
Posted on

5 Things: February 1st, 2019

This year already feels like it’s going by too quickly. Welcome to the first 5 Things of February.

  1. We closed early due to cold!We consider ourselves a pretty hearty bunch around here, but unsafe conditions and general lack of business due to the -100°F or whatever windchill (cold stories are not dissimilar to fishing stories), had us closing down the shop at 1pm on Wednesday.Generally, we try our best to be here for you in all forms of weather, but there comes a point where risking frozen appendages and cars breaking down in parking lots far from home just isn’t worth it.
  2. Experiments with snack sticks! 

    Adobada spices

    partial Sockeye Buddy recipe

    Bison buddies are one of our most popular items. People love snack sticks, it turns out. Presently, we have a lot of time on our hands, and a lot of space in our coolers, so the smokers are going buck wild in development. Today they’re smoking Beef & Bacon Adobada Buddies and Sockeye Salmon Buddies tomorrow. Next week, rumor has it they’ll be throwing together Bacon Cheeseburger Buddies. And I don’t think they have any plans of slowing down. They’re going to keep churning out these new flavor creations until something—please forgive me—sticks.

  3. Porketta special and soup/chowder specials!

    Northern Waters Restaurant Lake Superior Lake Trout Chowder w/ Brule River Brown & Rainbow Trout Roe

    We switched up our Thursday daily special this week. Using the same roll as our hot pastrami special, we topped it with thick-cut hot porketta, sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli. We’re going to be running this special again, so if you’re sore about missing the first round, come down next Thursday.On Monday, we brought a favorite Northern Waters Restaurant recipe to our deli and offered Lake Superior Lake Trout chowder. The frigid weather seems to call for hot soup, so for the foreseeable future we’ll be offering $8 bowl/biscuit specials on Mondays, then $4 cups and $6 bowls until the week’s batch is gone.

    Porketta Stack – Thick-cut porketta, thin-sliced cabbage, and fennel-garlic-herb aioli on a roll. Available on Thursdays for the foreseeable future.

    On top of all that, it seems like every week there are new treats to try around here, whether they be cookies, meat sticks, soups, sandwich specials, sides or sauces.

    To stay on top of our daily experiments, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.

  4. Last week of the Breakfast Club!The first installment of our Sandwich Lab monthly specials is nearing its end. The Breakfast Club, a Clubhaus variant described by its creator as “unctuous and balanced,” will be available through the weekend, and relinquishes its spot on our menu for the next installation in the Sandwich Lab series: The Wagner.While the Breakfast Club might yet make future appearances in our deli, we will undoubtedly pretend to forget about it after Sunday. If you haven’t tried it yet, don’t let the opportunity slip. I’ve heard this Sunday is supposed to be “warm,” and a great day to try something new.
  5. Sugar Plum & Hey Sweetie gift boxes!V-Day is just around the corner, and we’ve got some special gift boxes designed especially for the lovers out there. These boxes are also available for pick-up and delivery in town.“Hey Sweetie!” — $48 + standard shipping. From the product page:
    Let us help you appreciate your sweetie. A little goes a long way. That’s what we’ve learned. Little moments, small gestures grandly received, extraordinary or mundane, they all make up the choreography of your sweet life as two. Send something made slowly, with love and appreciation for the process. Our “Hey, Sweetie” box includes Smoked Lake Superior Lake Trout, Black Pepper & Coriander Smoked Salmon, regional cheese and Croccantini crackers.

    Sugar Plum — $50 + nonperishable shipping. From the product page:

    Our favorites packed together for your delight and convenience. This box features our own Hausmade delicacies, as well as local favorites, for your loved one.

    Here is a lovely photo of an unboxed Hey, Sweetie box

    And here is an adequate photo of a Sugar Plum box, taken by Yours Truly, and not by our skilled visual media team.

    Gosh! That last one was a little vague. Let me tell you a bit more. The Sugar Plum comes with Dark Chocolate Malted Milk Balls & Sugar Plums from Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Fabbri Amarena cherries, Rosemary Croccantini crackers, and a salamini, all packed up in one of our red Smokehaus totes.

     

    They’ll probably update that product page while I’m working in the deli today. Don’t @ me.

Posted on

5 Things That Happened This Week at NWS

The Breakfast Club. 

On Monday, we launched our Sandwich Lab campaign.

The Breakfast Club is a fresh new take on the Clubhaus, and the first of nine monthlong specials we’ll be running this year. Visit the event page for more details.

The Adisalad.

For those of you resolving to eat healthier this year, we’re with you. So we’re adding a new salad to our menu: The Adisalad. Named after Adison, it’s creator, and inevitably a confusing pun, this salad is something I look forward to every shift. Yes, your dear blogging friend is hooked. We’re in the process of training our staff to make it, but the official launch will be soon. Allow these unedited photos tide you over.

More box liners.


I am full of regret for forgetting to snap a few photos, but on Monday we had an awesome time moving nine(-ish?) boxes of box liners. Each box of liners is about 6′ x 4′ x 3′ (source: my subjective memory) so they are obviously quite maneuverable and really more of a job for one person, but we all chipped in anyway. Here’s a throwback photo of the room in which we store them. It is not so full anymore.

This sky over the canal. 

Sometimes the Sun comes out and makes early winter mornings not so bleak.

 

Kimchi. 

Here’s a visual of the size of a kimchi batch. This pile is just about finished. It will ferment for a week before it is packaged. The Adisalad features our kimchi and sauerkraut.

Posted on

10 Things: Mail Order Edition

Mail Order Season has officially begun –for us that means our volume of shipments goes through the roof and this year we’re sending more boxes than ever. A team of about 2 turns into a team of about 10. A once quiet office turns into a loud machine of box making, choice 90s tunes, taping boxes, carefully hand-packing boxes, labeling boxes, and waving at the UPS guy as he takes our boxes into the world. Boxes are crammed in every available place – and we’re restocking hundreds daily. We’re doing everything we can to bring our deli to your doorstep, but there are some things for you to consider during this holiday season.

 

#1. Meats typically ship frozen. When ordering the larger meats, like 7 pound Hams and 4 pound Porkettas, think about the timing of your event. You may need an extra day or two for the meat to thaw before you can lovingly prepare it for your guests.

#2. We do everything we can to get your order to you as quickly as possible, but weather and UPS operational issues are out of our control. Typically, you can receive orders from us pretty quickly. For orders placed by noon Sunday-Tuesday, we ship your order the next day (if product is in stock). For those in Minnesota, we also ship on Thursdays. Food is shipped UPS 2-day so that it arrives cold on your doorstep. From time to time, Mother Nature gets in the way of the 2-day shipping timeline. And every so often UPS experiences technical issues or trucks break down. It’s so unfortunate when this happens, but we’ll be in touch with you, and happily replace an order if it arrives warm, or extend some other nicety depending on your situation. We’re here to help.

#3. Sustainability is very important to us. We understand that shipping our products across the US has a negative impact on the environment. We’re doing our part to help, and we hope you will too. Your cardboard box with our logo on it is recyclable – just make sure to take the packing tape off and dispose of it. All of our boxes are packed with a “Jean Jacket” liner. They’re soft and squishy, and biodegradable! They can be thrown out or you can take the polyfilm off the liner and compost the blue denim fibers inside. As for the ice packs, please reuse if possible. Use them in your lunch box, on a picnic, or keep in your freezer for just the right occasion. If you need to dispose, they are 100% water soluble.

#4. Give us a call when needed. We’re not robots here. We like to think we’re pretty helpful actually. If you have a question regarding an order, just give us a ring. If you’ve got a question about where your package is, also give us ring, we can easily track your package.

#5. Ordering online is the way to go when possible. Our website ordering process is very smooth. And we’re always looking for ways to add new things to the experience. When you order online, you’re more likely to get coupons emailed to you as well! 15% next order? Yes, please!

#6. Use and care of our products is now included in the yellow slip that comes in your box. If you haven’t noticed that bright yellow slip, check it out! Use and care for our products is as follows:

  • Smoked Fish – Fully cooked and ready to eat. Enjoy or freeze within 3 weeks of date on package.
  • Smoked Meats – Fully cooked and ready to eat. Enjoy or freeze within 1 week of receiving.
  • Salumi – Shelf-stable. Best kept in butcher paper, in your cupboard. Discard or eat rind, slice as needed and enjoy within 1 month.
  • Raw Sausages – Not cooked. Cook as desired, ensuring internal temperature reaches 155 degrees. Use or freeze within 1-2 days.

#7. All of our food is hand-made. We are not a factory. We are a small shop. We hand-make all of our products in small batches. The path of the product from raw meat to fully smoked to being packaged up for nationwide shipping is quite a process. We take pride in this process, and we put love and creativity into every step of it.

#8. Many people love to send our food as gifts during the holidays, but don’t send it as surprise! Since the food must remain cold, it’s good to let the recipient know it’s coming. They’ll want to grab that box as soon as it comes and move the food to their refrigerator. It’s also good to point out here, that we don’t require a signature for delivery. It’s important that the food be dropped off and received as soon as possible after drop off. If we required signatures, it’s more likely the transit time could be extended beyond 2-days, and more likely the food would become spoiled.

#9. We vacuum seal most of our smoked fish and meats. We do this for many reasons. It’s a safe way to transport food for shipping and it looks nice too! If the seal breaks during transport, you mustn’t worry, it’s still safe to eat. Only if the food arrives warm should you throw it out, and call us right away.

#10. Check out some of the newly added items in our Mail Order department! We are now selling the a 3 pound Porketta and Smoked Ham Steaks. We also kept our wildly popular Cajun Finn Kit and Northern Bagel Kit. Think of these as the perfect addition to a special occasion, or the creative alternative to a birthday cake! Find these in the “Gifts” section of our website.

Ok, that’s it for now lovely people – those boxes don’t pack themselves! Place those holiday orders soon, and remember we’re always here to help.

 

Posted on

5 Things

Today I feel as though a veil has been lifted from my eyes. As I wandered the three levels of NWS HQ, observing and probing my co-workers with questions about the tasks at their hands, I realized that the small company I began working for nearly five years ago, and the small spaces I have haunted for the same amount of time are expansive and dynamic and chaotic enough that they can still surprise me. Today, I’d like to talk about my impressions and interactions while floating about pestering my co-workers, then hit you with some good ol’ advertisement. Let’s go floor by floor:

  1. 3rd floor: I entered the office and immediately saw two new faces hard at work. I haven’t even caught their names yet, they were so embroiled in their work, digging out items from the deep freeze, vacuum-sealing chunks of salmon, and taping shut fully packed boxes. The mail order department processed 87 orders this week alone, and they are still just at the foot of the mountain that is our holiday mail order season.

    Frozen bison buddies destined for insulated boxes

    The surroundings toe the line of order and chaos. Zip-tied bundles of flattened boxes are piled high in canted and zigzagging stacks top a labyrinthine arrangement of shelves. The wall of product label sticker spools is functional, if disorganized.

    This week, twenty pallets of recycled denim box-liners were delivered to DeWitt-Seitz and our off-site storage area. 4ish- by 3ish- by 6ish-foot boxes of them are stacked in the office, and various corners of the floor. We have even requisitioned a room down a winding path of hallways that I had not travelled before I began researching this week’s blog to stack our boxes and liners, which is filled to the ceiling/skylight.

    This is not my first Winter here. I know what to expect. It still struggle to imagine the extent of the activity that will occur in this small office suite over the next month-point-five.

  2. 1st floor: Upon entering the deli, I was asked to join a mini-band. Unsure exactly what that entailed, I withheld my decision and awaited their explanation. A mini-band, it turns out, is a band of individuals of any size which specializes in small instruments: mandolin, “tiny drums,” jaw harp, ukulele, kazoo etc. I was recruited as the hypothetical toy piano specialist. We probably would have had a song written within minutes had a line of customers not appeared. The future of the band is unclear, but it feels good to be exposed to these sorts of ideas on a regular basis.
  3. Loading dock: Pine bough is easily one of the best scents in the entirety of olfactory stimulus, and this week is the transition time into Winter decorations at DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, so walking through the loading dock behind our shop (a roughly one-hundred times a day occurrence) has gone from mundane task to repeated entanglement with the Sublime. Right outside of our backdoor there is a stack of wreaths. I hope they hold off on hanging those wreaths a few days longer at least, because I don’t want to be the weird guy sniffing them once they have been hung.
  4. Basement: When I made it down to the basement, the production team was setting up to handle a massive volume of cabbage. In less than two hours, they told me, they’d have begun the pickling of 150 lbs of sauerkraut. Three of them divided up into one cleaner and two cutters.

    Cutters cut, cleaners clean.

    In my assumed mode of fascination, I asked, “what do cutters do?”
    “They cut,” was the curt response. “Would you like to know what the cleaners do,” they followed up.
    I bit.
    “They cut too.”

    After a good laugh at my foolishness, I learned that before the cabbage is cut, salted and left to pickle, the heads are thoroughly cleaned so that there are no contaminants in the mix or on the cutting boards. Sauerkraut pickles for a month before it hits our shelves and sandwich line. Our kimchi ferments for a week before we package it.

    Also in the basement, I found the mop closet still under construction, and snapped a photo.

    There are many lessons to be learned in the smokehouse proper, as the folks working down there have countless hours of hands-on experience creating the amazing food we sell.

    I also found a few purple tomatoes among the heirlooms. Purple is my favorite color, so this pleased me.

  5. Good ol’ advertisin’: There is a new mail order porketta option available this season. Previously, our porketta was available online in whole 4 lbs increments. Now it is available in 3 and 4 lbs increments. This is great for those who are shopping with a budget, or simply don’t have quite as many mouths to feed. Our porketta has been featured in Bon Appetit magazine and has been featured on many of my daily sandwich creations lately. It is simple to work with but highly versatile, made with the highest quality berkshire pork, seasoned to perfection and slow-roasted in the smoker.For a very limited time, we have smoked ciscos in stock. If you’ve been craving them, stop in this weekend, because they go fast.

    One final note before you go: Monday, November 19th is the last day of our mail-order turkey special. Any purchase of a whole turkey breast made by Monday will come with a free 8oz tub of crayo.

Catch you next week, Thingerinos.

Posted on

Smokehaus Guide to Thanksgiving

Maybe you’re the person who effortlessly hosts dozens of guests without a shred of anxiety. If you are this unicorn, this isn’t for you. Also, I resent  you a little. This is for the folks simultaneously creating Pinterest boards, flipping through Bon Appétit, and watching the Food Network.

Now, I am that person psychotically researching to prep for turkey day – but let me explain why. My home is 600 square feet (my husband and I used to live in an actual tiny house, so we call this our “big” house), my oven is tiny, my refrigerator is tiny, my dog will be distracting me the entire time I’m cooking and he is NOT tiny, and for the first time in my life … I’m hosting Thanksgiving for my family. EEK.

But! There is hope. I don’t actually know if you can win Thanksgiving, but dammit I’m going to win.  Follow my tips below to avoid the meltdown on game day (I’m talking about cooking … not #sports).

The Turkey:

My teeny tiny oven can’t handle the full bird (and to be honest the thought of attempting to perfectly cook a 10 lb turkey terrifies me). I ain’t taking any chances so I got myself a couple turkey breasts from my favorite Smokehaus (ours – duh).  Here’s a link so you can get your very own beautiful bird.

Smoked Turkey Breast

Bonus! We will be offering a FREE 8oz Crayo for those purchasing their Mail Order turkey breast November 1-19th. Stay tuned! “What is Crayo?” you ask? A beautiful marriage of mayo, dried cranberries, walnuts, and garlic, blended to creamy perfection. It’s what you need for the day after Thanksgiving for leftover turkey sandwiches.

Crayo

Dessert:
I don’t (can’t) bake. I love intuitively cooking and measuring ain’t really my thing. Aka … if you’ve ever eaten anything I’ve baked – I’m sorry. You were kind to lie to me and tell me that it was good but I know the truth. Some of you will also lie to me after you read this and personally tell me that I’m a capable baker. And you’re still a liar.

I plan on purchasing (or maybe even begging  a guest to do it) store bought pies. And I don’t even feel bad about it, and neither should you if baking isn’t your jam.  BUT! I know the perfect way to add a homemade touch – whipped cream! It’s a crowd pleaser and dead simple to make with your stand mixer. Here’s what you’ll need :

-1 cup heavy whipping cream (this is NOT the time for low fat health nut junk, trust me)
-1 cup confectioners sugar
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract (pro tip, make your own! Vodka + vanilla beans + time = vanilla extract doesn’t cost 7 million dollars an ounce)

If you can, stick the mixer bowl and whisk in the freezer for a bit to cool them down. Just beat the cream until stiff peaks are about to form. Beat in the vanilla and sugar until peaks actually form. Try not to over-beat, as the cream will get butter-like and lumpy. Make the whipped cream a day or two before and store in the refrigerator. And … make more than you think since you have no self control and will eat half of it right out of the bowl. Or maybe you’re better than me. Stop bragging.

Entertaining the guests while you finish cooking:
Here’s the dilemma – you’re trying to finish up the last bits of cooking and your guests arrive. You’re torn between saying hi/chatting with your loved ones and finishing your masterpiece in the kitchen. Your guests sense this … and these beautiful morons whom you love (who have NO boundaries or sense of personal space) come into the kitchen, stand in your way, and small talk you to the point of insanity. Mother, I love you.

I’ve devised a genius plan that is kind to your guests and keeps their smiling selves out of your freaking way  Each year I decorate my home with garlands of cranberries around the Holidays. It’s a fun, eco friendly way to add some jazz to your house for the holidays. All you’ll need is a few pounds of cranberries (check your local health food store to see if you can buy them in bulk), thread, and sewing needles.

Set the table with the ingredients each guest will need to make the garlands in a cute lil paper bag (plastic is for tossers) and set them to work. When dinner is ready, recruit the most eager helper (hi mom!) to gather the garlands and set them aside. Then you roll up to the table with all the peacefully executed food and your peeps are already sitting down  (yay for not having to wrangle them). They all say “WOW!” “We were so busy loving our activity that we forgot you were even cooking!” “This is great all over again!” “You’re the best!” Maybe that doesn’t happen, but maybe it does. Either way, you’ve made tasty food and kept your guests happy.

They feel like they’re helping (and they are helping), they’re making decorations for you, they’re out of the way, and everyone is happy. They can even make their own to take home!

Bonus: this encourages community while giving those who are a little more shy something to do with their hands to take the social pressure off.

World peace, one cranberry garland at a time.

^^Actual cranberry garland in my actual house because I am an actual human who is telling you the actual truth. 🙂

And my final tip: say yes to whoever offers to do the dishes. Sit back, sip a glass of wine, gaze lovingly at your fabulous guests, and smile knowing that you are the greatest f****ing host that ever existed. 🙂

 

Posted on

“5” Things

Welcome back. We’re gathered here to address some things. There are more than five this week, since I realized halfway into a drive to Chicago that I hadn’t yet drafted the 5 Things™ post last Friday.

  1. Fall hours! For those who have not yet stopped in for a late-evening sandwich to be met with closed doors, we have moved to our Winter hours: 10am-8pm Monday through Saturday, still 10am-6pm Sunday.
  2. Our “library” is up and running! What is more important: Knowledge or Imagination? I don’t have a conclusive answer, but here at Northern Waters Smokehaus we be
    lieve in a combination of both. Our recipes and business practices are rooted in tradition, but cultivated by that special something that only we, as individuals, can bring to the table. I’m supposed to be talking about a bookshelf here. Bookshelves are exciting enough, easy enough to understand their purpose, but the worlds they can contain are infinite and wonderful and complicated and complex. I think, in a way, that Northern Waters Smokehaus is like a well-stocked bookcase. I’m losing track of this metaphor. Here are some photographs.

  3. Coach visited us! John, aka Coach, a gosh-darn Smokehaus legend, came into town for a friend’s wedding, and we had the joy of serving him and his our Hot Pastrami special. In addition to years of dedicated service and top-notch joking, Coach was also an early tester of our mail order Sandwich Kit initiative after his time at NWS. Thanks for being you, Coach.
  4. We placed an order for 3,000 boxes! Mail Order season is a wild world, and it is almost upon us. To the uninitiated, three thousand boxes likely sounds like a lot. It turns out, the uninitiated are absolutely correct, as it doesn’t take a genius to recognize the masochism to which we subject ourselves each winter. Our boxes come from All Boxes Direct, and are additionally packaged with recycled denim insulation (we add a Jean Jacket to every order).
  5. The Hygge Collection is available! I took a semester of Norwegian in college, but I still struggle with the pronunciation of this word. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good Googler, so I found out the word is Danish and denotes a sense of coziness and comfortable conviviality with feelings of contentment and well-being. This collaborative Dewitt-Seitz Marketplace picnic basket—featuring products from NWS, Hepzibah’s Sweet Shoppe, Blue Heron Trading Company, and Amazing Grace Bakery & Café—might bring a little hygge to you or someone you hold dear.
  6. We’re getting another slicer! It’s no secret that a huge part of our business’s success is our mail order market, but we’re not just slinging whole hams, porkettas, and turkey breasts. Previously, a good portion of the M.O. department’s days would be spent on one or both of the slicers downstairs, but now they will never have to leave the comfort of their very hygge office—even to slice their meats.
  7. The afternoons & evenings have slowed down (temporarily)! Obviously we’re grateful that our business experiences a bunch of endlessly busy days, but from time to time it is enjoyable for those of us on the ground floor to have some shifts to unwind, mess around and convince the restaurant across the hall to deep fry a couple of maple sage turkey & cottage bacon Monte Cristos, tell stories, share favorite music, and give curious customers a little extra attention. It might surprise you, but many humans seek personal enrichment and rewarding experiences, even on the clock. Smokehausers are artists, intellectuals, parents, activists, comedians, scientists, and just genuinely good people, and during the slow season, we have the opportunity to cultivate our own personalities within the context of our workplace.
  8. Sandwich Lab is coming up soon! I’ll write more about this in a future post, but plans are already being laid and sandwich experiments are being refined for our new tradition, the Sandwich Lab, in which we re-learn and re-analyze our techniques, pitch and vote on new potential menu items, and eat a lot of food, and which will be held this year on November 6th. We’ll be closing the shop a little early that day, so we have some space to innovate.

That’s all for this week. I hope none of you lost sleep last week over the missed post. I had sustained no debilitating injuries that kept me from writing, just a bunch of gigs in a row that distracted my simple mind. I’m 99.9% sure I’ll be back here with more Things™ next week, same-ish time.

Oh, and about that Monte Cristo: We made it on our haus-made white bread with swiss and cheddar cheese, and they covered it with French toast batter and graham cracker crumbles before they fried it. We enjoyed it, at their request, with our crayo. The marketing meeting notes inform me our delicious crayo—delicious is an understatement, by the way—will be part of an upcoming mail-order special, so stay tuned for more updates about that.

And finally, Happy Halloweekend, ya ghouls!