This American Life has a television show. I’ve only seen the first season, but, much like the radio show, little things from episodes just stick in my brain forever. In fact, this segment, was one of those things. It exposes a little bit of the failings of the political system relying to much on public perception of the truth rather than the actual truth. Anyway, one afternoon, years ago when I worked at Bette’s Oceanview Diner, Brad Blanton came into the cafe with his daughter! I was starstruck. (I know, I’m a supernerd who gets starstruck by this american life guests, who are, by nature of the show, totally not famous yet totally amazing people.) Now, if you didn’t watch the segment, go watch it, but basically Blanton ran for office against an uncontested super conservative incumbent on the platform of actual (he says radical) honesty. He got 25% of the vote . . . Anyway, thought I might be radically honest with you guys!
I’m new at this whole business owner thing, and I make mistakes. I absolutely hate Yelp. I have emotional attachments to alot of my menu items and I also feel the need to constantly be creative, so my menu is a little too big . . . We started this whole thing with very very little money and sometimes I regret that; though other times we do really well and I feel like a badass for continuing to pull this off with only pennies! I micromanage my employees, constantly. Sorry guys, I can’t help it. I now understand every boss I have ever had.
I want to be open all the time, so I never miss a customer, but its not completely possible right now. We are about to change our hours a bit, but the good news is We’ll be OPEN on SUNDAYS now!! But, we’ll be closing on Tuesday, the super slow (because you decided to be good and bring your lunch to work) day.
Chicken and Waffles is not a Southern thing, at least not a Louisiana or Texas thing, Its a California thing. HOWEVER . . . I love it and we serve it.
Every time I make Chocolate Chip Cookies, I burn some of them and have to toss (or eat) them.
Also, I need your support. It won’t be hard, though. All you have to do is come eat! If you are a fan, a friend or just curious, come get some lunch or BBQ dinner or just stop in for a pastry and a coffee. If you haven’t been in yet, now is the time. Come get a fried chicken or grilled cheese before the hype sets in and we’re standing room only! Our success is actually up to you, customer, so get on in here! Bring friends! Tell your gluten free co-worker about us! My marketing plan right now is word of mouth so get to chatting it up. When you come in, mention this blog and I’ll give you a treat. Bring a friend and I’ll give both of you a treat . . . If you “can’t” make it to the cafe (I’m talking to you SF), order some goodies from Goodeggs.com/greasebox, they deliver!
Some terrible things are being said about Grease Box on this website. I would hope that you (fans of Grease Box) would know these things are not true, but I wanted to clear the air a bit.
So, hello. I’m Lizzy, the chef and owner of Grease Box. I source almost ALL of my produce from the Phat Beets vendors in spite of all the negative and misleading things they are saying about me.
What’s going on with GREASEBOX? Well, alot actually. As you know, we are now at 942 Stanford Ave in Oakland. We now have staff (pictured above) besides me and my grumpy fiancee, Hae. I’ve been collecting dishes, mugs, chairs, lights and so on to give the funky little cafe some sexy ambiance. My dear friend Jenny Yang made some beautiful succulent terrariums for the tables, and another close friend Becky of The Green Experiment is putting a fresh coat of paint on the inside. Little by little we’ll sexify the space. In the, hopefully near, future we’ll build a patio out front, so watch for our kickstarter to help out with that. So, we’re closed this week (7-7-13 until 7-14-13), but the Farmer’s Market will still happen out front on Saturday, we may have some coffee and muffins for you too. BUT, on MONDAY JULY 15TH, we’ll be OPEN!! I’ll have a full breakfast and lunch menu and then FRIDAY JULY 19TH, we’ll have our first BBQ dinner!! I’m working on the menu right now, actually. So, if you have any requests or suggestions, leave them in the comments. I love a good challenge, so get to requesting. And, we’ll be applying for a beer and wine license, so cross your fingers, we all wana get tanked in the patio! Everything we prepare will be seasonal, natural, pesticide free and responsibly sourced. Much of our produce will come from African American owned farms, more on that soon. So come by, and keep checking up on our facebook and instagram (greaseboxoakland) and right here on the website. I’ll keep you updated.
So the cat is out of the bag:
Now let me tell you some *exclusive* details.
Location: 942 Stanford @ 60th street, Oakland
Opening: Monday, June 24th @ 8am for OneNinetySeven Cowboy Coffee and Muffins, then slowly expanding service until our official opening in mid July.
We are going to be working on the space and making it look pretty and so on for the next few weeks. Right now it has a very funky old school under-the-radar anarchist meet up college-y dive cafe look. I just want to give the spot a facelift. We will be applying for a Beer and Wine License ASAP and setting up a patio in the HUGE lot in front of the cafe.
There is a farmer’s market there on Saturdays, run by the food justice group called Phat Beets. They support minority owned farms and are creating a vibrant underground food system with their Beet Box CSA and community outreach on issues concerning our totally fucked up food world here in the US. They have fought deliberate gentrification of North Oakland, provided a forum for combating things like police brutality. . . All in all, Phat Beets is a radical social justice collective that provides affordable, pesticide free produce to the diverse North Oakland Hood. Some of the produce comes from an urban farm on Dover Street that is tended by neighborhood kids (so awesome!). I will be sourcing as much of my produce from them as possible.
So, come by for a coffee and check out the market next week. I’ll keep you updated, promise.
Its been a while since I posted anything here. and I know thats really bad (sorry Jack!). I’ve read all the “marketing” advice about blogs and social media. If you stop posting, people forget about you. Have you guys forgotten about me?? I sure hope not. I’ve just been cooking alot! Goodeggs.com is really keeping me busy these days. I keep adding new things and testing out recipes . . . then all of a sudden its been months since I wrote anything.
Some amazing things have happened, though.
I hooked up with the lovelies that run Daytime Realness, a sunday afternoon dance party at El Rio (every 3rd Sunday, 3pm @ 3158 Mission Street, SF) complete with FAMOUS DRAG QUEENS!! I make a special menu every month just for this party. This month should be an absolute riot because its Pride Month (YAY)!
I’m now popping up at the Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop (51st and Shattuck, OAKLAND) every other Saturday. I usually make some sort of cheese inspired dish, and this is where I debut my newest pastries! The chocolate chip cookies and Rye Whiskey Bread Pudding both got their start here. Come and try what I’ve come up with!
And I’m very proud to say, I’ve been going the distance for Tara Firma Farms lately. These wonderful folks raise chickens, pigs, cows and also grow beautiful veggies all on an amazing farm in Petaluma. They host bands and barn dances and pig roasts . . . Every so often they ask me to come up there and feed the dancing masses. The next event is a fundraiser to save the wetlands, June 15th 4-8pm 3796 I street, Petaluma. I will be frying Tara Firma chickens right on the farm! It doesn’t get any more local than that.
So, these are the regular gigs. There are many more events that I’ll be posting. If you really want the latest, like my facebook page. I can post from my phone, and I do, very often.
*UPDATE* Thanks to you guys, Chicken is doing much much better!! We raised enough money to cover his bills and were able to actually take him to a good vet! We finally let him outside just a couple of days ago to be reunited with his friend Rico. He’s unfortunately got a torn ligament which gives him a little gangster limp and will never heal, but he doesn’t seem to mind one bit.
I have an orange cat named Chicken. Two years ago, he showed up on a friend’s porch and she posted this photo of him on facebook, with the comment “Anybody want to adopt a kitten?”:
My friend, Becky, already had two dogs and was living with some folks who also had pets in a tiny 3 bedroom in West Oakland. So, obviously she couldn’t keep him. I immediately responded to her post and went and got the little nugget ASAP. He was so tiny and cute. He had digestive problems, probably from drinking beer and eating the crumbs from bags of snack food. I’m not kidding. He spent the first few months of his kitty life on the street, scavenging for food since his kitty mom abandoned the litter he came from. Needless to say, he was mean and defensive when we first got him, hissing at us while eating everything that even resembled food and biting, scratching and terrorizing us and our other cat, Copper. But, after he figured out that the food would keep coming, forever, and that it came from us . . . he began to trust people.
He made friends with all of the neighborhood cats, we see them playing (he brings them home sometimes). A neighbor once told us that he took her cat, a lady cat, out on dates at night. He would show up in the evening to pick her up and drop her off, like a gentleman, in the morning. Thank goodness we got him neutered. He’s also gotten into the habit of greeting all of the folks that live in our building when they come home from work. He memorized everyone’s schedule, and he waits for everyone at the door everyday. He takes cigarette breaks with neighbors and sometimes enjoys a PBR with our friend Paul in the courtyard of our building. He loves to play in the rain; which I think is a little odd for a cat. He comes when I call him, no matter where he is; which is also strange for a cat. And, now that he’s an adult, he has become a sort of mentor for other stray kittens. He brought home a stray kitten one day that was malnourished, and by brought home I mean into our house. We have a cat door. He introduced us to the little grey cat, then proceeded to show him where the food is. I like to think of him as a troubled youth counselor, for stray kitties. The little grey cat was adopted, thanks to Chicken, by a neighbor.
Just a couple of days ago, Chicken stumbled in, seemingly drunk (he wasn’t, for the record) and limping. He was holding up his back leg which was swollen and cut up. Since he gets into things all the time, I wasn’t totally worried. Usually, we just dress whatever wound he has and let him on his way. He refuses to let injuries get in the way of his busy social schedule. But, after a couple of days he is lethargic and his leg has swollen to just about the size of his head. I joked that he needs health insurance. . . We took him to the vet for what I thought was going to be a quick visit. Not so. Its unclear how he got injured and what the nature of the injury is, right now. He’s got cuts, for sure, that are infected, and he might have some broken bones, but we need to get him xray-ed to check for that. He was running a 105.8 degree fever, which the doctor told me was dangerously close to giving him brain damage. He’s on antibiotics and morphine, for pain, right now. He is also in seclusion . . . in the crate that we used to take him to the vet. He snuggled up in there because it feels safe to him for some reason. We’ve got to take him back to the vet in a week for a second check up and hopefully not an xray . . .
I’m reaching out to you guys because we are gonna need a little boost, financially speaking, to be able to give him everything he needs. We don’t have a lot of wiggle room as far as money is concerned because I don’t have a 9 to 5 as they say and we’re living off of Hae’s bartending tips while I get the Grease Box business off the ground. Here is how you can help:
I put a special Buy chicken, Save Chicken item on my GoodEggs webstand. Its a set of fried drumsticks to symbolize two healthy legs! It comes with my delicious house made Herbed Ranch Dressing and Chicken’s eternal gratitude. It’s $25, and all the profits will go to pay Chicken’s vet bills. There is also a Buy Vegan, Save Chicken sandwich for the same price. Orders can be picked up at my Sacred Wheel (51st and Shattuck, OAKLAND) pop up on Saturday from 11-4 and at the Uptown Kitchen (22nd and Broadway, OAKLAND) starting Sunday.
*you can get this pie anytime right here*
Hae, my lovely fiancee, always gets on my case about how I sell myself short. She insists that I need to go into great detail about how my food is made, my sourcing practices, my concepts and so on. Though I’m not opposed to complete transparency, I guess I just assumed that folks weren’t that interested in how absolutely nerdy I am. But, I’ve got to tell you about this pie, and in order to do so, I’m gonna nerd out a little.
First of all, I’ve got some ridiculously strict guidelines to follow when creating any new food offerings.
Organic? While organic is a good place to start, it is by no means a way to judge the quality of a food thing. Crappy produce can be grown just as crapily without the pesticides. Also, laws and practices for organic labeling have been screwed around with so much that small food producers can end up paying a shitload of money to have their whole operation turned upside down while large food producers can exchange a series of nods and winks with an inspector to get a passing grade. I mean, Wal-Mart carries organic produce forchristssake. Which, if you are a “glass is half full” kind of person you’d think the organic movement is winning. No, not at all. I’m a “what’s in that glass?” kind of person. And when giant corporate companies catch on to things, transparency and honest business practices fall short. So, I don’t judge food on its standing with a certification organization that I don’t trust. I judge food on its deliciousness, freshness, seasonality and where (and how) it is produced. Which brings me to my next point: the Anson Mills Myth.
Have you ever been to a restaurant touting its use of Anson Mills Polenta? Its Alice Waters favorite mill. Everyone under what I call the Chez Umbrella uses that brand. And why not, its delicious! They also have a beautiful website with pastoral images of the east coast . . . wait WHAT? Thats right people, Anson Mills is in South Carolina. Oddly enough, we are much much closer to this place *cough* mexico *cough* that used to grow lots of corn and its whole food system depends on being able to produce and consume this wonder grain but since the US government subsidizes corn production by giving farmers lotsa money to keep growing it we have basically destroyed the economy of . . . . oh man. I’m nerding out. Not to mention how much bigger is the carbon footprint of shipping all that grain all the way across the country when we grow lots of corn over here in California and Mexico? So, right now I’m sourcing the majority of my grains from Giusto’s, a wonderful mill located in South San Francisco. I also get the most amazing rice flour from KODA Farms, a family run farm that grows and mills the rice right here in California and has been doing so for a very long time. In fact, the Japanese family that started the farm was sent to an internment camp in Colorado during World War 2 and had to start from scratch after the war. And on a celiac note, I am so allergic to gluten that Anson Mills is off limits to me even when I go out to eat because they process wheat in the plant as well, not taking care to keep it separate from the corn.
Which brings me to my next point, being gluten free. So, I’m sure you guys know by now that my food is gluten free. I actually wish I didn’t have to eat gluten free. Its not a good diet; its hard to stick with. It won’t make you loose weight. Its not good for people who aren’t allergic to gluten; in fact its bad to completely cut it out of your diet unless you are like me, celiac. I was born without the enzyme in my digestive system that breaks down gluten, so my body treats it like poison. It makes me violently ill, which is not an appetizing thing to explain to servers when I go out to eat. Nothing that I eat can EVER com into contact with gluten, ever, or else. It doesn’t “burn off” in the fryer, nor does it disappear off of a griddle after the pancakes are plated. ANYONE that is employed in the food service industry has to take a course which explains step by step how to deal with customers that have food allergies. Unfortunately, everyone must have slept through that section because I have to ask every cook to wipe down their station and use clean utensils and pans when making my food. It SUCKS! I am in the industry and I know how much trouble it can be during a rush to have to completely clean your area for just one plate. I used to plate pastries at a nice restaurant (and was probably the best person for the job because I would never snack on the product) and would never let servers come cut bread in my station. I mean, what if a crumb was flung into the whipped cream and I served a pot de creme to another celiac sans cookie garnish but with the offending bread crumb!?! They would be sick for weeks, thats what would happen. And it happens to me all the time. So, I mostly eat at home or go places that I know won’t kill my body. Case in point, I’m tired of tacos. Its the only grab and go food I can really have.
So, another thing about being gluten free: GLUTEN FREE FOOD IS MOSTLY TERRIBLE! not to mention that its filled with overly processed mystery additives that make baked goods mimic their gluteny counterparts. gross. Look on the label of any gluten free product for these gross things: Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Locust Bean Gum. These things are just as alarming to me as High Fructose Corn Syrup. I don’t, haven’t ever and will NEVER use them in my baked goods, which consequently, makes it harder for me to bake. Go ahead, look up a gluten free anything recipe. It will most likely have one of these gums in it. Its because people are trying to make up for the lack of that one protein, gluten.
I am not trying to make up for the lack of gluten in my food. I will not make things that rely only on gluten to stick together. I’ll probably never offer bagels or baguettes, sorry. Yeasted breads are next to impossible without gluten, and the main flavor component is the wheat and yeast. So, I politely decline. What I do make, however, is breads that don’t rely on gluten to stick together: cornbread, and my chickpea flatbread (which is used in Italy to make a variation of Pizza) and millet biscuits.
For a long time, I refused to try to make traditional baked goods. It was always a depressing prospect. I would scour the internet for recipes, try them and all their million ingredients and crazy flour blends just to have to scrape it out of the pan and right into the trash. And, since I won’t use the gums, I can’t use most gluten free recipes out there. If I were to offer sweets, it might be pudding or ice cream or fruit or candy. No cookies or cakes or pie (sad face here).
Until . . . one day, my friend Michelle Lee was talking about cake flour. What makes it cake flour? It has a low gluten content. Uh, WOAH. I had not yet put that puzzle piece into my food brain. Shit, I’ve been overthinking this the whole time. Ok, what now? Lets try a recipe that calls for regular flour and replace it with a few of my own flours and see what happens. No gums, no weird shit. Ok, deeeeeeeeeep breath. I tried the Smitten Kitchen’s Birthday Cake recipe. HolyMotherOfGodinHeaven, it worked. And it is delicious. Millet flour tastes like butter, people, and rice flour has its own ways of holding things together. YUM. So, ok fine. I can make cake. Then, I really put it out there by trying David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and BOOM Cookies! Then I was having dinner with my friend Jenny Byrne who suggested I try out the 3-2-1 Tartine Pie Dough recipe. PIE? no way. Definitely needs gluten. I hate spending all effin day making a pie and then not being able to get a slice out of it because it turns into a pile of sandy mush in the oven. But, I went for it anyway and WHAT THE F*CK HAVE I BEEN DOING ALL THIS TIME? because I could have been EATING PIE INSTEAD! Needless to say, it worked. I made an Apple Absinthe Pie, which I will be debuting tomorrow, Saturday Feb 22nd, outside of the Sacred Wheel Cheese Shop on 51st and Shattuck in Oakland. Did you get all that? I’m gonna go grab some local Pink Lady apples, some clover butter, a bottle of absinthe and head over to my wonderful commercial kitchen in just a minute, aka, as soon as I’m done writing this blog.
Ok, folks. Since, right now, the Grease Box is sort of a rare occurrence, I’m doing at least ONE thing every week. and, its this:
LUNCH every Wednesday at UMAMIMART
its in OAKLAND from noon . . . until there is no more
…more specifically its at 8th street and broadway in the Old Oakland hood. Now, there are lots of really good reasons to be down there right now. One is Piper & John General Goods, a really awesome stuff shop. I say “stuff” because its hard to describe the awesomeness that is this place. They have something for everyone, and most of it is either vintage or handmade. Some great things that I’ve bought there include this really yummy handmade/wildcrafted perfume. It makes me smell like a hipster wood nymph, in a great way. This place is so great that even my girlfriend likes to shop there, and she really hates to shop.
Right next to P&J sits Marion and Rose’s Workshop, a really lovely shop full of art, letterpress things, home goods, and so on. Guess this place is pretty hard to describe as well. I got this soap there. Its made with sea salt, and I hope they never stop selling it because it makes my skin feel like I had a spa day, every day. I could literally spend hours in this space. Plus, the lady that owns the shop is gluten free and ran into UMAMIMART last Wednesday proclaiming, “Its Gluten Free Wednesday!” It was.
There are loads of other little shops and cafes tucked away in Old Oakland and its become quite a culinary destination thanks to folks like Cosecha and Miss Ollies. Both of those places are owned by LADIES, lady chefs to be exact. Cosecha has a great iced horchata latte, just sayin.
Anyway, lotsa reasons. Of course UMAMIMART is awesome. And this Wednesday, I’ll be there with my lunchboxes. There will be fried chicken, and more. See you soon!