Thursday, December 10, 2009

Autumn 09

Well, we ARE doing the farmy stuff we've been yearning for, we just didn't end up quite where we thought we would. There's a very long story here, but to summarize, we gave up everything except what would fit in our mini-van. We had a great voyage south, planning to work on a farm in Mexico. We made it there, and as you may guess from the barbed wire and toilet with no walls, it was very far from what we were hoping for. We weathered an intense tropical storm in our tent. (Thanks REI for making good gear) We had no running water most of the time, no electricity any of the time, very limited cooking fuel. Several kilometer trek through flooded arroyo awash in every type of human and animal waste imaginable just to fetch clean drinking water and dry goods.
So now we are in NORTH North America. We're out in the country, we got to do some harvest activities on a couple farms here. We're surrounded by farms. We're hunkered down until spring.
Happy Winter Holidays to all! A huge thanks to all of our supporters who helped us get out of the city. We lost our contact book and would really like to be in touch with many of you. So if you read this, please drop us a line.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Final Hours/ American Refugees

Today and tomorrow are our last days. Honestly we are giddy with delight. We are so excited to go get on with the life we've been yearning for for so long. That's the good news.
The not so good news is that as of right now there will be no more GreenGo Food, and we will be jobless, homeless people adrift for several weeks until we reach the farm.
Looking at the cold hard facts, we are in a way American Refugees. Things are very bare bones, but there are others in much worse shape than us.
In the classic Fable The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, the lesson is that when you follow your dreams, the Universe conspires to help you. The Universe has definitely conspired to help us with our Farm Dream...we're almost on our way.
Thank You to the folks who've stopped by our Sidewalk Sale and Fire Sale to buy stuff and help us with travel $$. Thank You to our Ballard community who has been so supportive.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Everything must Go!

Part of being the change we would like to see in the world means letting go of all of the material clutter we have been collecting and dragging around, and housing for so long. Six years ago, we downsized keeping only what we could drive cross country in our small pick-up with a small trailer. Since then we've again collected a lot of stuff. Over the past few weeks we've taken massive amounts of stuff to Goodwill, but we still have lots of things which have some value and may be of interest to others.
We had a good friend named Will who we met working at Union Bay Cafe back in 2000. Will was our minister who married us, he was also a great friend, my fondest memories were of many hours spent walking around the city and parks while I was very pregnant. Will waited around to see Cypress born, then took his own life due to an ongoing battle with depression. In his "note" left behind, he left some valuable words of wisdom, as well as most of his worldly posessions to our family. When we cleaned out his apartment, we assimilated most of his belongings with ours. Much of it was good stuff which we've used, but a lot was good stuff which we have not used but only dragged around out of sentimental value. A whole set of lovely dishes, this beautiful Asian Motiff carved chess set, surround sound computer speakers.......
Outside our shop, we are having a "sidewalk sale" of sorts. We're not really selling things, but putting them out and asking people to donate whatever they feel like toward our moving fund.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The sweet and the unsavory

The past 7 months have certainly been a roller coaster ride. We've had plenty of sweet moments mixed in with some crushingly painful times. We want to express gratitude to the people who have really helped us on our journey. (This is by no means a comprehensive list)
A few weeks ago a biker guy pulled up, looked at Felony Flyers Bikeshop briefly, then came around the front of the restaurant. He ended up having a BLT and sitting on the front bench for close to 2 hours reading stories to Cypress. Several times I tried to encourage Cypress to let the man eat in peace, but I was deterred with a firm look and the reply, "We're reading books". Beautiful.
On several occasions the Strachan family from Divine Spine has come to take Cypress away from the shop for some kid time. (The beach, the zoo, a park) Tremendous, lifesaving kindness.
The whole family at Plaka is just heartwarmingly nice. We've borrowed sugar, shared Basil, encouragement...Yannis the patriarch has shared nice business advice...real community people.
Our neighbor Rick at Canal station who did our website for us. Cooklocal for huge support. Sustainable Ballard such an inspiring group of people. Devra for showing up often when I'm sitting in the window, head in hands desperately in need of a perspective shift. Shane the rad mechanic 2 doors down who is helping get our mini-van in shape for our long road trip. Jay and Rosa who met in this very building years ago, they come regularly for fish Friday and share the most warm, understanding energy.
Then we have the unsavory moments where we just say, "I can't wait to get the fuck out of here" like when I come around the corner of the building loading the van and Cypress has a used needle/syringe in one hand, and a broken lighter in the other. When people are speeding and honking and being obnoxious in their city driving rage in front of the restaurant. When some woman is shouting at me from the back of line at farmer's market demanding the ingredient list for the seasonal relish because she is far more important than the customer I am currently waiting on. When I go to Cash-n-Carry for gloves and packaging and see another burger joint owner who looked me in the face and told me her burgers are "Local and organic" and there she is buying massive quantities of meat........and I am still paying sales tax at Cash n Carry because they are so disorganized that after 6 months they still haven't gotten my business info into the system.(Except when I go to the North end location where the nice manager Paul rings me up special) When we're at Farmer's Market and we've paid $333 for a fire permit, we are operating in full compliance, and a fire office guy on a power trip gives us ridiculous hassle over petty paperwork infractions. The King Co. health Department for outrageous gouging and services never delivered.........This could go on and on. We thank the bad stuff for helping us to realize that we are not happy doing what we're doing, where we're doing it. We build strength and determination to get out.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

September will be the end

GreenGo Food is for sale.
We started over a year ago in the farmer's markets. In February, we took over this little kitchen from our friend and mentor Devra of Patty Pan Grill. We have invested every ounce of our being, every cent we could scrounge up into this business. We have always refused to buy cheap food or just have the industrial feed truck drop off our supplies. We've slept well knowing we are doing the right thing. Unfortunately, neither of us have trust funds or family $$, or any savings from scraping by in the restaurant biz for many years. So while we have finally achieved sales goals, are getting a little recognition, and seem to be growing, it's so bittersweet......we have nothing left to give. We incurred too much debt during the first few lean months to recover from. Our family unit has been taxed to damn near broken. Our personal bank account has been empty for a while. (Because all money we pay ourselves goes to our debt. Dev always reminds us that if we're paying our debt, we ARE making it, even if it doesn't feel like it)
I had this conversation with Cypress
"Mama when are we going to camp in Jerry's orchard again?"
"I don't know"
"This summer?"
"Probably not"
"How about camping in the desert?"
"Probably not soon"
"Don't you love to camp"
"I do"
"Why can't we just go camping? Summer's gonna be over soon"
"Because our restaurant owns us, and we can't take the time or $$ away to go camping"
I don't want to be this parent. I do not want to live a life where making money is the primary objective or activity. It's so strange that wanting to support small local farms and artisianal food producers with our business has put us in this situation.
But we have learned many important lessons. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Helping hands

Time again to give some special thanks to a few people who have really been lifesavers. Jami, my stepfather chef from Michigan came and gave us help for 10 days. Joe is driving on Wednesdays so we can put some personal things in order. A few great community people who really put the word out for us. Our farmers who give us good deals. Dustin for being a good low-paid intern. Cooklocal for too much. Bean Fairbanks for making me blog. Dev always. Laura for being a reliable babysitter. Janet Tu for a fair review.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Economic Meltdown reaching Seattle

Here we are approaching the peak of "summer season" and these are strange times. Lately, we have witnessed with shock and sadness the demise of many small businesses. A few months ago, Culinary Communion went under. (But I've heard they have a new plan) The corner of our street in Ballard has soon to be 3 empty storefronts. A corner near our home used to be home to 2 large auto dealers which have now closed. A very dear market vendor is reportedly done. A couple more market people are reportedly barely hanging on.
Yes, our sales are growing, we have a great group of regular customers, public awareness seems to be growing about food sourcing, but we are still not quite making what we need. If we would just order the cheap stuff from the truck, we would probably be doing just fine, but we refuse...refuse to be a part of the wasteful inhumane unsustainable industrial food system. So, by not conforming, we've made our own business unsustainable. Not sustainable in that we can't pay ourselves, we are completely burnt out from working so hard for such a long stretch of time. Our home and gardens are terribly neglected. Our bodies and souls are aching.
There must be a more effective way.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Solstice and the Light

HAPPY SOLSTICE!!! This is our favorite time of the year. We were married in a beautiful park in Skagit County on the Solstice 6 years ago. For the past 5 years, we've always enjoyed the Fremont Solstice Parade. This will be the first year we miss it since we will be working. I'm baking some special Solstice Strawberry (from our Victory garden) Scones. I also made Gazpacho. Cypress will be going with his Grandpa from Michigan.
As we celebrate these longest days of the year, we give thanks to the "Light". Yes, the abundant sunlight, but also to the people who bring light to our life. There have been many days over the past few months where we have wanted to just lock up, pack the van and head to Mexico. But the good people in our community have sustained us and given us the strength to continue. This week, we are stunned by the generosity of our friends at Cooklocal . When they heard about our window being smashed, they started a fund to replace it. It looks like we may have a new window by next week. I am running out of time, we must get to U-District market, but I want to say the biggest THANK YOU TO THE PEOPLE WHO BRING THE LIGHT!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Random acts of unkindness

Being in the heart of it all certainly has had its disadvantages lately. This month, we have experienced about $1200 of property damage which we can not afford to fix. (Yes, we have insurance, but high deductibles mean we would basically pay 90% of the damage anyway, and we don't have a spare $1000) Last week, someone hit and run the front bumper of our van. Sat night someone smashed in the art window of our shop shown here behind Cypress. They didn't come in the building, (we have an alarm) but they ruined art and smashed a large window which would be very expensive to replace. For now it will get ugly plywood and shut out the natural light. Thanks Crack-heads. And I sincerely mean thanks, this is just one more not-so-gentle reminder that we belong on a farm, not in the concrete jungle.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Mysterious Plant activity

This is a retired charcoal grill which we have been gifted and use as a planter in front of the store. Cypress and I started Nasturtiums indoors and watched them grow into hardy plantlings inside on the window sills. Then we transplanted them out to the grill and they began to spread and flourish. We hoped for cascades of trailing bright flowers in a few weeks. THEN SOME MEAN PERSON RIPPED OUT OUR LITTLE PLANTS!!
Stranger still, there were these pathetic little filler flower plants piled in the back portion of the grill. I was really I'm just perplexed and a little sad. Did one person take Nasturtiums and leave replacements? Or did one mean person take Nasturtiums and another kind neighbor saw and left replacements. Anyway, I planted the substitutes, and I'll plant more nasturtiums.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Tomatoes and Buns

Yes, we have Washington Tomatoes! We scored them at Broadway/Capitol Hill Farmer's Market from Kititas GreenHouse. I enjoyed my first very Israeli breakfast in about 7 months.(Bread, veggies and cheese) They're pretty darn tasty tomatoes and we're excited to be offering them on specials, and as a new component to our "Seasonal Burger".
We've added several options to the menu lately including a "Beast Feast Burger" and "Ultra Grilled Cheese" With Spring produce coming on strong, look for yummy specials which change every couple days.
Our burger bun saga continues. The Tall Grass Baguette we've been using is very tasty, but we've had too much waste since baguettes have a very short shelf life and don't freeze well, and they're considerably more expensive than buns, and well, people really want buns for their burger. So after recommendations from customers and other industry folks, and our personal taste trials we'll be using Macrina herb buns. ( If you're not familiar, Macrina was founded in Belltown in 1993. They have 2 cafes and bake lots of yummy stuff. They also do wholesale deliveries.) We'll also be using their Ciabbata for sandwiches, and bringing in a few sweets.
Running an artisan bakery is a really tough gig and we give props to all of the hard working bakers out there.

Saturday, May 9, 2009


Very busy time. We planted peas and beans. Cypress and Dylan made this wall/trellis for the Peas. (We use last season's sunflower stalks for support and structure around the garden. It's almost like bamboo. One more reason to love the sunflowers.) Then these heavy rains came and washed most of our plumped seeds out and the pesky but beautiful Stellar Jays came and ate the seeds. Gotta re-plant the Peas and Beans.
Our neighbors at Market Street Traders had a drumming for fair trade on Sat afternoon. Lot's of fun, Cypress enjoyed a break from his Maitre d' job to go drum in the circle.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Halibut, health dept, Gwen's Buns

So much stuff going on, I can't even organize it coherently! Thanks to our neighbor Sam for bringing the onion starts and making us get out and get to work in the garden. It's been neglected, but we got the ball rolling, our strawberries look great, raspberries too, some herbs.
HALIBUT SEASON HAS BEGUN!! I love Halibut! I feel bad for the Halibuts, being fished into extinction like virtually all of our wild resources. I'm assured that Halibut has been sustainably managed, and they're not in as bad of shape as Salmon, just tastes so good! We're serving it up for "Fish Friday" over some sauteed veggies, very simply prepared. Come enjoy it!! *****The health department has a very bad fee structure which squeezes tiny guys like us....I'll keep this very brief and just say that since January, we have paid $1,271 to King Co Health dept. for fees for service. I have seen an inspector for maybe 20 minutes. Tomorrow we must mail another $226 to them for our Broadway market permit. We never even received the permit we paid for University District. I went to a meeting....they have ways of justifying do most crooks.
Bun situation....a lady named Gwen at the Dahlia Bread Bakery has been responsible for our wonderful burger buns for the last year. The only problem is that someone must go downtown to fetch those yummy buns on a regular basis...Not Fun, often stressful, sometimes trapped in the alley, ticketed. So we've decided to use our neighborhood Tall Grass Bakery for all of our bread needs for the time being. We've always used their Pullman Loaf for our sandwiches, now we're using Baguettes for the burger. Thanks Gwen, for so many great buns! I hope to still get them for catering events. And thanks to Amanda and crew at Tall Grass for the new solution.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Spring veggies are on!

Hopefully, we are turning the corner in many ways. We've got tasty Bloomsdale spinach from Nash's, also some rutabaga. We tried a new Polenta Royale last night which was carmelized onions, Shitake mushrooms, spinach and Queso Fresco. It was super yummy! One issue, we use lots of butter and wine to cook for ourselves. At the shop we only use olive and canola oil on the Polenta Royale. Then there's cooking with wine. Virtually every restaurant does, but you don't see it in the average closed kitchen. I can just imagine the fuss from certain people if they saw wine being splashed on their food. So we're working on a lemon verbena splash instead.
We're also thinking about menu tweaks. Tommy brought us a beautiful and inspiring book called 'Wichcraft all about sandwiches. We'd love to make some fancy pants sandwiches, but given the quality and cost of our ingredients, we'd have to sell $12 sandwiches. Maybe people want that. Which brings us back to the question we always ask, "Are we just setting ourselves up for failure by refusing to compromise on the integrity of our ingredients?" "Should we just sell industrial food and make a big profit like everyone else?" Or maybe just serve a couple really good things and serve the rest "Donkey in a Tutu". Neighborhood places serving dressed up crap are always busy, and we're barely making it.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Check yer Beef !

The other day, a customer ate in our shop, and was talking about a few places that serve organic burgers. HUH? I didn't think anyone else was serving organic burgers. I know Tilth and Taste at SAM also use Skagit River Ranch beef for other items, but not fast food burgers.
The person claimed that Blue Moon Burgers and Geraldine's Counter served organic beef. I've eaten at Geraldine's many times, but I was pretty sure their beef just said "natural". But I'd never heard of Blue Moon, so I started digging. Blue Moon serves Painted Hills Beef. According to the Painted Hills website, Their beef is hormone and antibiotic free, it's from Oregon, they still finish with a corn, barley alfalfa blend for "marbling". So not 100% Grass-Fed, not organic, and not as local as Sedro-Wooley. But clearly a Thoughtful choice.
Next I called Geraldine's Counter in Columbia City. The person who answered the phone said the beef comes from Sysco.
If any other casual establishment is serving Beef close to the same quality as ours, I want to know about it! I love a good burger, and variety is nice.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Lovin the Patio!

Sunshiny days worth living! So nice to be warm! Thanks to CJ for bringing by patio furniture just in time for the warm! You Rock!
Thanks also to the Granparental units for taking Cypress this weekend, a huge help when we need it most!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Soul feeding program

This Tuesday, a different type of feeding program shall benefit.
Last night as I washed many dishes, and swept up food crumbs and rocked out to my favorite radio show, Wo' Pop on KEXP, I felt that We really need to contribute to this public station which feeds our souls. We weren't able to contribute during the pledge drive because we were in the middle of opening our shop.
For many years, I've enjoyed Wo'Pop while I clean my house, now it's while I clean from serving people in our kitchen.
Thanks to our customers and KEXP.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Mysterious ways

Last Wednesday, our neighbors at the High-Life had an unfortunate fire. Luckily, no one was hurt and the building damage was minimal.
We knew some of the bystanders must be hungry, so Dylan took them some warm soup and polenta samples and menus.
The next 4 days were the busiest we've had so far!
We were having some doubts and fears, but this financial boost has given us some renewed confidence.


We finally made the walk-in go away! Now we have a nice little patio, Thanks to Otto Garden Care for massive clean-up and pressure wash and landscaping. When you roll up and say, "Damn this is a cute place!" That's the Otto's work.
Now we're trying to scare up some second hand patio furniture. Little Bistro tables and stools or chairs.

Friday, March 20, 2009

How hard? This Hard!!!

How hard are you willing to work for your dream? 7 Days a week hard. Work until you want to throw yourself down on the floor and cry with the 4 year old hard. Aching feet legs back, cracking fingers hard.
We were warned it would be "like last year on steroids".
Give thanks for lots of hard work, some have none.

Monday, March 16, 2009

First Greens!!!!!

Woo-Hoo! We got first local spicy greens of the season from our dear friends and benefactors at Rockridge Orchards this Saturday! They are so spicy and delicious! So many people have been asking for greens! WE've been begging them to hold off, we didn't want to bring them up from so-Cal or Mexico.
Now we've got them, local and wonderful! But it may not be a regular thing yet. The weather haas been taking a toll on Puget Sound Farmers.
Come and get them while they're fresh!
A million thanks to Wade, Jude, and the farm family!!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

More Rock -n- Roll

GreenGo apparently has an identity crisis.
Many people look at the place and wonder "what is GreenGo food" Many others come in look around and wonder if our meat is real, ask when/why we started serving meat, and are surprised and disappointed to learn that we are not The Patty Pan Grill.
Is it a Health Food store? UUmmm, sort of, but NO!
Our neighbors at the Felony Flyers have pointed out that we need to be more Rock-n-Roll. (Insert huge belly shaking laugh here) But Really, I think they hit the nail on the head. They are our most regular customers, they are business guys and they see a perspective that we tend to overlook in our realm. I personally could not be more rock-n-roll, but GreenGo could broaden it's appeal......
We're talking about a Pin-Up Girl eating a burger, we'll just nail it over the mountain and forest mural on the fence....or something.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Miracles happen, the forces of good are alive and well

Our restaurant opening has been very challenging, but through the toughest times the goodwill of others sustains us and convinces us to keep on. We have received so many "saving graces" and miracles over the past 2 months, I couldn't begin to name them all, but other than the whole restaurant itself, a new neighbor possibly willing to do our website for food, a mural artist, Otto Garden Care, a great U-Dist market...
If you turn to the mass media, all one hears is gloom and doom. Yes, these are desperate times for many, but also hopeful times. I look at our circle of friends and peers and business associates and I see a lot of people doing well. People who do something they care about and take pride in their work seem to be prospering. I don't know anyone "rolling in the dough" or blowing up sales goals, but making it and appreciating a shift in the status quo.
Judging by the people who come into our shop and chat, many folks are ready to support one another here in our community, ready to make the changes ourselves! We'll have our own bailout!
Thank You Everyone

The bleakest time, the most hopeful time.

Here we are again at this challenging food time of year, local winter goods are running low, local greens are still a few weeks out. (But I did see the first spinach at Alm Hill's Ballard Market stand. Very exciting, but not enough to viably serve in the shop. We're going to be missing all of Nash's great roots. Beets and carrots are in very short supply. The snow prevented our cabbage and carrot arrival last weekend.
We've been enjoying hot house tulips from Alm Hill for a few weeks, but our tulips in our yard are just emerging. On these beautiful, fragrant rain washed days, the delights of Spring seem so near..

Monday, February 23, 2009

Mardi Gras

GreenGo "Gumbo" tomorrow. It's not really what a southerner would call Gumbo, but we're gonna serve up Hearty, veggie laden tomato stew with Alaskan Spot Prawns from Zeb Strong, a comrade at the U-District Farmer's Market. We're in the Mardi Gras spirit, we'll have some beads, if anyone wants to flash, they'll get a meal discount too. I only wish we could put something together involving my all-time favorite drum and dance ensemble, VamoLa! Maybe next year.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Still livin' the dream

This photo gives an honest summary of making a restaurant go......bend over.
We've been working harder than I ever thought I could. (I never doubted Dylan)
Our first day of business was good. Chaotic but people came and we fed them. Mission Accomplished.
We ask our neighborhood, "What do you want in a neighborhood lunch counter?"
We look forward to meeting you!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

A day in the life (Careful what you wish for)

Wake up, check awning proof, respond, gobble granola, feed kid, shuffle papers, work on taxes, financial aid paperwork for school, bustle kid to preschool. WHERE is the SIGN ARTIST??
"Let's take cards..the equipment costs how much?"
AAHh, here comes the insidemural artist! Would you paint something wacky like this collage?
City of Seattle is kindly repairing the sidewalk out front with cement cutters, excavators.
--Yes, hello fence mural artist, how do you do?
Dialin Hey stop painting the bathroom, you're late for work.
uuummm, nice awning people, could you please clean it and everything...when the construction equipment moves...I'm just out of time
Back to fetch kiddo from preschool.
How about 6 dozen eggs? And may I get My usual case of beef, and could I get $100 slab of bacon? That local teaAnd the TEA! and 2 cases of JUICE
Now RACE to 2 tire stores...had a flat tire. Quick grab all financial papers, laptop move to meet bookkeeper with kid in tow *%$#! 2 hours of bookeeping with a 4 year old and a 5 year old needing to be mommied.
Yippee! The sign dude quick, go take the sign off the building and over to sign-dude's house. Eat an orange. Back into the tax crap...file it! Use the tax crap to fill out the school aid crap. NOW I NEED PRINTER INK!! Order it.
Any babysitters respond, yup lots, the network is helping.
Must quit. yogurt for midnight dinner.
We're gonna make it

Monday, February 2, 2009

Here it comes!!!

Today we signed the lease and paid the rent. Lots of cleaning and painting. Meeting the folks in the neighborhood. Looking forward to serving it up at our Grand Opening and Birthing extravaganza.
Cypress's birthday is February 3. Four years ago, we had sunny weather in the mid 50s, just like today, I remember walking around Lincoln Park in early labor, letting the sun shine on my belly to "sun the baby out". Now here we are again, appreciating the sun as we birth this new baby.