Archive for the ‘charcuterie’ Tag

Cheese Boards Are Just Small Cutting Boards   Leave a comment

It was a lesson learned early.

I may call these cheese boards – and I do – but to most customers, these are just little cutting boards.

Most cooks have multiple cutting boards in their kitchen. Some have separate boards for meat, vegetables, and bread. Some have a large counter-top, show piece board, and then smaller portable boards to complement the nice big board.

It’s their kitchen. They get to choose.

Some people like to have a small cutting board to slice fruit for after school snacks.

And, thankfully, some people do actually use these small boards as cheese boards. That’s what we do, and that’s why this small-sized board will always be called cheese boards when I make them!

Going Big To The Spring Fling   Leave a comment

Not only have I completed a bevy of smaller items, I also have completed a bunch of large cutting boards.

Some are very large.

One is really heavy.

I got to make a few of my favorite end grain cutting boards, too, though not all of those are finished. I have some waiting in the closet for my next opportunity … which will not be in April. I’m otherwise engaged.

However, these cutting boards did make it to the finish line, and I trust you’ll agree that the boards are worth the effort.

There’s more to come, of course, but I’m happy to say that I’m ready for the Spring Fling!

Special Orders Caught Up!   1 comment

I have this love/hate relationship with special orders.

I love being a part of weddings. Making a handmade wedding gift for a client is truly fulfilling in a unique way. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of some couple’s oh-so-special day?

On the other hand, I hate the time pressure that’s inevitable with special orders. Even if people don’t specify an impossible deadline, I always have a date in mind that I tell them the board should be done by …

And it’s always too soon.

Well, it seems that way, in any event.

The reality of my situation is that I have so much to do, there’s never time to not be doing.

It’s a wonderful problem to have!

So, with these special orders, I’m about as caught up as I ever am. Still in the shop are 2 more that just need feet attached to be done. There are 4 more awaiting construction, one restoration to finish … and then there are the 2 big corporate orders to complete in October. And don’t forget, 2 of our biggest events of the year are in October.

So, yes, I’ve got more to do … even as I celebrate some of what I’ve done.

Big, Small & Cheesy   Leave a comment

Yes, these are cutting boards. Or they can be.

Yes, these are serving pieces. Or they can be.

The big boards are great cutting boards, or course … the Hickory board is particularly fetching, I think. Great cutting board. The dark, squarish board with Pau Ferro didn’t photograph well, but it’s subtlety is not lost in direct light.

And then there are the smaller boards that I call cheese boards. They all can be cutting boards, though they are small if you intend to do more than slice a tomato or cut a lemon. For some, they are perfect for cutting boards. I’m told.

So, adults get to choose in my booth. I will tell them what I call a piece … and then they tell me what they call them.

That’s the thing about being an adult. You get a vote.

The 200th Cutting Board, Again   1 comment

Back again.

It’s simply lovely to have a bit of shop time that lets me catch up. Inventory is once again over 200 pieces, if only for a short while. A bit of creativity can get sparked when I have shop time, thank goodness. And that’s when things can get pretty.

This board was a special order. I was tasked to make an in-counter replacement board, and it needed a splash of Bird’s Eye Maple in a field of brown. It was going to match another piece in its new home, I was told, and the board needed to be just right.

So, OK! I first had to find that perfect piece of Bird’s Eye, and then I had to design a board around it. I take what the wood gives me. And in this case, I’m happy to get this board to an owner who appreciates the uniqueness of the wood.

This is the front:

 

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Black Walnut, Padauk and Bird’s Eye Maple. 16″ x 20″ x 3/4″. Commissioned piece.

And this is the back:

Cutting Board 17 – 129. Detail of the back of the board, including my logo in the lower right corner.

 

When she picked it up, the new owner of the board said that it will never be cut on. With wood this pretty, I entirely support that decision!

More

The 250th Cutting Board (4/18/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 6th Time ‘Round (2/9/17)

The 200th Cutting Board, 5th Time ‘Round (11/30/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 4th Time ‘Round (10/7/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, Third Time ‘Round (8/5/16)

The 200th Cutting Board, 8 Months Later (4/9/16)

The 200th Cutting Board (9/18/15)

“I Start With Lumber.”   4 comments

The garage woodshop has been pretty crazy for the last few weeks.

  • Inventory is down – critically down – and our fall events begin NEXT WEEK.
  • Panic has set in.
  • The new tool is on order, and shop space has to be cleared for it. Unfortunately the shop is bursting at the seams right now with lumber. That’s a good thing … but it’s gotta go. I need to make stuff from the lumber, so I have space for the new tool.
  • Which is on order.
  • Tic. Tic. Tic.

Here are a few boards which made it to the finish line this week. There are oh so many more coming … and some new surprises, too! … but first things first.

Nine boards, humbly submitted for your consideration.

It’s My Birthday: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles   2 comments

The Board Chronicles is an ongoing series of articles about the adventures of Mrs M’s Handmade as a vendor at community festivals & craft fairs. Mrs M’s subsidiary, Mr M’s Woodshop, has been approved to create this chronicle for the good of vendorkind.

2a – It’s my birthday. Why am I awake?

4:04a – Ugh. Cannot sleep.

5a –  Alarm. I’m up. I’m up. Dress. Pack the cooler. Go.

5:29a – On the road.

5:44a – Hello, old friend. Here’s a thought: I could do a diary of my day and blog it, since I think I’m going to be bored today. OK, done. Welcome.

ed. note.: I am doing a solo event today, which we decided was a good plan since Mrs M has to “work” at her “job” and summertime events aren’t good for her since she would melt. I mean the lotions would melt. Or something. In any event, she’s out. I’m in. I decided to do a solo event on my birthday: the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Welcome.

6:43a – Arrival. Found the guy with the clipboard … who has no map to give me. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth. He calls over Joe, who also has a clipboard. Who cannot tell me how to get to my booth.

6:45a – Going for it. Drove through, dodging canopies, vendors and vehicles … didn’t find my booth. Found a guy, who gave me a couple of landmarks and I drove through. In the other direction, still with my trailer. Of course. Dodged canopies, vendors and vehicles again. Also rolling freezers. And trailers. And portable lights. And generators. And barricades. And golf carts. Threaded the needle, and didn’t hit anything. This is what I do for fun. I guess.

6:51a – Found the booth … about 50 yards from the original guy with the clipboard (and he couldn’t tell me that?). Hidden, faded chalk marks on top of the curb marked the booth, but they were not visible unless you are standing over them. But, no worries, they’re putting visible papers with booth numbers taped to the face of the curb for the next guy. Unfortunately, their vendor check-in started over an hour and 15 minutes before I got there.

6:52a – Unloaded the trailer. Drove out to park it, and got lucky. I must be early. Parked on a street 2 blocks from my booth.

6:55a – Setup begins. Opened the bag for the canopy … pieces fell out. This is not good.

6:56a – I know these pieces. This is the same thing that broke in Ridgecrest last year, so I know how to fix it. I’ve got this. I have duct tape.

7:03a – Canopy up. Duct tape in place. First thing I do is move the canopy 18″ away from the curb, and farther into the street. Have to get out of the gutter. Nothing good comes from being in the gutter.

8:15a – Setup ongoing, but mostly done. First walker in the booth. He bought a cutting board just 2 weeks ago, and he loves it. Good for him. He did not buy from me.

9:21a – Set up complete. My neighbors are a chiropractor, and a vendor of imported crap. 2 for $5. Or, 1 for $8, 2 for $15. Like that.

9:28a – Street is empty, so I go walkabout. Vendors seem to be just what I expected: heavy on the imported cheap merchandise. No organization that I can see. A few handmade items, mainly food.

9:38a – Bought 2 massive chocolate chip cookies. Handmade. Of course. Happy birthday to me.

9:51a – First sale … had to break a hundred. Great start.

10:15a – Handed an entertainment schedule for the event … and a map! Come to find out, there’s an entertainment stage and beer garden on both ends of the event, with 5 blocks of booths between. I’m at one end, near one of the entertainment stages (but it’s across the street, in a park, so I can’t see/hear it).

1023a – She said: We will be back later.
He said: I knew I wouldn’t get past this booth.

11:07a – Chiropractor’s assistant is now 2 steps into the Midway trying to grab people to get their posture evaluated. Lovely.

11:18a – He and She came back. Bought 2 boards!

11:24a – “I just came from the gym. I am not here to shop.” That’s fine … she almost bought 2 boards. “Settled” on one.

12:54p – 90 minutes later … no more sales (sigh). Yawning. Time for lunch.

1:12p – Another sale, and the sandwich is now dried out.

1:53p She #2 asked: Are your boards dishwasher safe?
I said: No. No, they’re not … and I kept a straight face.

2:13p –  The worst part of a solo show is the boredom. No Mrs M transactions to fill the time. The worst part of a bad show is the boredom. No quality conversations to fill the time. And when it’s a bad, solo show….

2:20p – Another He said “I still have your board that I bought 3 years ago and I still love it.” Love. This.

3:02p – The battery on the chip reader died. This cannot be from use. I know I charged it. Heat? Bad charge? One more problem to contemplate. Luckily, I have a swiper. The Lady packed the bag bag of supplies (with bags in 3 sizes) well.

3:32p – Most heard comment of the day: “too pretty to cut on.” One lady saw the pic I have of a cheese & cracker server in action, showed her husband, and used the picture to prove her point that the cutting boards weren’t really cutting boards … they were serving pieces that were too pretty to cut on. Geez. Speechless.

3:40p – Open-mouthed reaction to the MBO demo. I own the demo. Didn’t sell the MBO, though.

3:45p – What kind of a crowd was it? I noticed a lady, older than me (on my birthday), who was wearing a Todd Rundgren t-shirt. Not something you see every day….

4:08p – Fun conversation with a couple that came into the booth, and were clearly having fun looking. The guy eventually admitted he was a turner (meaning he’s crazy), and the woman also goes into the shop with him to turn smaller stuff like bottle stoppers (good, they’re crazy together).

Why are turners crazy? They take a perfectly good piece of wood, put it on a machine to turn it at a high rate of speed, and then they stick something sharp into it just to see what flies off. Crazy. But I digress.

4:09p – The couple eventually admit that they’ve thought about vending as they like making stuff … but they’re running out of relatives that will take stuff they’ve made. He shows me smartphone pix of the work, and it’s really exquisite. Great, great looking stuff. I caution them that to vend, they need to figure out how to make things for under $50 that will sell … what he likes to make takes a month per piece and should cost hundreds of dollars each. Difficult to vend with art pieces like those. I point them to this blog to read more of my supposed vendor wisdom. Welcome.

4:31p – Hot. Drinking my cooler dry.

4:37p – Another She tells me she bought an MBO at Champagne on Main (April, Ventura) and she loves it. Her He loves it, and uses it every day. Love. This.

4:59p – A lady in the booth is looking for a charcuterie board. Last year, I didn’t know what that was. Now, I’m so continental. And a year wiser.

5:36p – The only thing I like that’s sold by the importers of crap are the battery operated bubble blowers. Every kid should have one. The 4 year old kid in front of the booth had one, and when he stopped walking, he held his finger on the trigger. Bubble blizzard! You couldn’t see through my booth for the bubbles, and I was all good with that.

5:40p – Bubble blizzard cleared up. First time explaining end grain vs edge grain today. First quality conversation about cutting board-sized cutting boards. It was 7+ hours into the event. Geez. Not good.

6:27p – My new catch phrase: “I start with lumber and I end up here.” Works.

7:04p – Shutting down. Wrapping it up, even though people are still in the booth. Doesn’t matter. It’s my birthday.

8:25p – Home. Quick, quick turnaround & out to my favorite Italian restaurant: Bella Cucina. Yum.

9:43p – Home. Check the tally, which was right. 10x boards sold.

10:10p – Return emails with birthday wishes. Haven’t even looked at Facebook. Not today.

10:18p – In the chair. Ahhh.

10:  p – Asleep.

The next day, today, 2:46a – Awake again, still in the chair. Bed.

More

When Nature Fights Back: A Special Edition Of The Board Chronicles

Cutting On The Edge   Leave a comment

There are 2 basic kinds of cutting boards: edge grain & end grain. Today’s boards are all edge grain.

Today we celebrate stripes. It is Bastille Day, after all!

All of these boards are made with a variety of hardwoods, both domestic & international. They are made to be of use, and with proper care will last for decades. What’s proper care? Check out my post on that topic, here.

All of these boards have non-skid rubber feet, held on with stainless steel screws for long life. All of these boards have routed fingerholds to make them easier to handle.

If you like what you see, all of these – and more – will be on display at this weekend’s solo event for me at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair. Yup, I’m going to the Street Fair this weekend. After all, it’s my birthday. I’m entitled!

Mrs M isn’t coming along, though … she has to “work” at her “job.” She says.

I hope to see you on Saturday & Sunday at the Camarillo Fiesta & Street Fair, at booth # 128.

Small Boards & Cheese Boards … And How They’re Different   1 comment

Mr-Ms-Logo---LargeI have to call them something … even if I know what I call them matters little. In the end, the customer will call them what they want to call them, and at that point my naming responsibility ends.

But I still have to call them something.

I started making cheese boards, and those are, by my definition, small and light weight. Cheese boards are typically no more than 3/4″ thick, and about 8″ x 11″. They may get as large as 12″ x 12″, and may be as thin as 5/8″. I take what the wood gives me, as I like to say, and they end up being the size that they are. I don’t make cheese boards fit some pre-determined size, cutting off good wood to make an artificial standard. That might make it easier on me for packaging & displaying, but I just can’t be wasteful. So, I’m not.

Some people buy cheese boards to use as actual cutting boards because they want a very small, light weight board. That’s OK: I make these boards so that they are fine cutting surfaces. They’re just not big or heavy enough to trim a tri tip. In my opinion.

Small boards  are my transitional board between cheese boards and cutting boards. Cutting boards, in my definition, are 12″ x 16″ x 1″ or larger. Anything bigger than a cheese board, but still smaller than a cutting board … is a small board.

I didn’t say I was creative with my naming styles. Don’t judge me.

In the end, all of these boards look much alike when in use.

cheese-and-wine-2

Many of these boards are chaos boards: they are not symmetrical. Anything that doesn’t fit in my rigidly right-brained perspective is what I call chaotic. Just ask Mrs M. Some people prefer designs from the left side of the brain, so these are humbly submitted.

A final note on these photos. I was fighting 2 time pressures: Mrs M was pushing me to clear everything out of the house as I was prepping the boards for photography, and the sun was moving from a clear sky, to behind a tree, and then back to the clear sky. The result is that these shots have some odd shadows as well as some odd oil smudges in their glossy top coat. I assure you the finished boards are not perpetually in shadow, nor do they have oil smudges on them. Thanks for your understanding, and, please, enjoy!

 

New Cheese & Cracker Servers   4 comments

I like cheese & crackers. I am on a quest to make the perfect serving pieces for one of my favorite edibles.

I started, of course, making very basic cheese boards, which are still rather OK for their intended purpose, IMHO. Nothing wrong with cheese boards like these for small presentations:

Cheese Board 16 - 001. Black Walnut, Purpleheart, Jarrah, Jatoba, Cherry & Hard Maple. 9" x 11" x 3/4".

Cheese Board 16 – 001. Black Walnut, Purpleheart, Jarrah, Jatoba, Cherry & Hard Maple. 9″ x 11″ x 3/4″.

And I know those are OK, as I had a lady that wanted to buy 2 of them on Sunday … but, unfortunately, the 2nd was already gone. So, she special ordered a similar piece.

But that’s just one approach.

Way back when, I made a rather unique set of Cheese & Cracker servers … made 5, and their like has not been seen since. There’s a clue there that I didn’t love making the pieces, though I thought they were very nice in the end.

Cherry server, Black Walnut end grain cutting board insert.

Cherry server, Black Walnut end grain cutting board insert.

I also took another approach, making small routed bowls to hold the crackers, olives & such as companion pieces for my cheese & cracker servers. I made one batch of these bowls, and to my knowledge, not one was purchased with a cracker intent. Haven’t made one since. I am a spiteful maker of bowls, apparently.

Small Bowls 07Finally, I’ve made several of the pieces that I call Cheese & Cracker servers, but the world insists on calling them surfboards. I call them large surfboards (since I also make true surfboard shapes that are called small & medium), and they are rather fabulous for cheese & cracker eating, if I may say so myself.

Surfboard Cheese

Surfboard # 15 - 37. Yellowheart, Canarywood, Cherry, Hard Maple & Black Walnut. 12" x 19" x 1-1/4".

Surfboard # 15 – 37. Yellowheart, Canarywood, Cherry, Hard Maple & Black Walnut. 12″ x 19″ x 1-1/4″.

All of which brings me to the latest attempt to make a perfect cheese & cracker server. Two of these were made, and one sold at its first event. Perhaps there’s a lesson there … should I make more?

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