With just 9 days left in his Kickstarter campaign, Max Feber is more than 70 percent on his way of hitting his financial goal to launch cold-brewing BRUW product. Here is my article from the Dec. 10 issue of the Detroit Jewish News.
The weather might be getting cold, but West Bloomfield teen Max Feber, 17, thinks the timing is hot to launch BRUW, a new cold-brewing method for drinking coffee, which he invented and is now awaiting patent approval.
On Nov. 19, the junior at Frankel Jewish Academy launched a Kickstarter campaign at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/feber/bruw-cold-brew-simplified. As of Dec. 2, BRUW enticed 87 backers contributing $4,195, making Feber well on his way to reaching his all-or-nothing funding goal of $9,500 by Dec. 23. If BRUW hits this milestone, Feber will pour this startup funding into the manufacturing and distribution phase. Feber said BRUW would be made in Michigan and retail online for $30.
The BRUW filter is a double-sided Mason jar lid with a filter in the center. The coffee is cold-brewed for 12-24 hours and then filtered from one jar to the other in a sealed, spill-free environment. And, for those who like it hot, Feber said it could be easily concocted into a warm beverage: just add a bit more water, heat and serve.
“The recipe for cold-brewed coffee has already been invented,” said Feber, who describes himself as a “self-proclaimed coffee snob.” He prefers a medium grind and recommends a four grams of water to 1 graham of coffee ratio. “I wanted to create a method that was easy, inexpensive and required no electricity. You could enjoy the cold brew coffee on a camping trip or at school.”
This is not the budding entrepreneur’s first attempt at starting a business. There was the at-home businesses with imports from China and he briefly tried his hand at creating photomontages for Bar and Bat mitzvahs. This time, he believes that BRUW will be a hit.
Feber conceived the idea for BRUW in a dual-enrollment course in partnership with Lawrence Technological University. Students were required to create a product prototype and pitch the idea to the class. He spent a great deal of time perfecting a prototype with both primitive and professional materials.
“I created countless prototypes ranging from using a 3D printer to making one at my kitchen table with a hot glue gun,” Feber said.
During the Kickstarter campaign, Feber is busy promoting his idea through social media and getting as much support as possible from family and friends. Then, there is also the stuff that the typical high school junior must juggle: class, studying, a part-time job, college prep and extra-curricular activities.
“Let’s just say I am making great use of a color coded calendar these days,” Feber said.
Whether or not BRUW succeeds, Feber said he has learned much from the experience and it will certainly shape his path to choosing a college and career.
“I will always be an entrepreneur, and I am going to study business, no matter what,” Feber said. Starting a business may be risky business, but one thing’s for sure: in his teen social circle’s drinking cold brewed coffee is hot. Still, he is chided.
“Close friends joke with me and say I might fail. But really, everyone is happy and excited for me. And no one has tried to sabotage me, yet.”
My second article in the “Celebrate!” supplement of the March 20 Detroit Jewish News.
Stacy Gittleman | Special to the Jewish News
There are people who eat to live. Then, there are those seeking unique, exotic tastes created with the most superior ingredients chefs can get their hands on. These are the foodies — the people who live to eat. In cities like New York and Los Angeles, it is no longer about the restaurant that just opened, but the foodies who are following the hottest chefs sweating it out in the kitchen of a particular restaurant, which is making it impossible to get that Saturday night reservation.
Local kosher caterers agree; the foodie craze has also caught up to their business as well. The kosher-catered affair is no longer about the stuffed derma and kasha served at your grandmother’s wedding. Unless, of course, for nostalgia’s sake, you know your guests will want an “Old World Eastern European” station with old standbys like knishes and chopped liver spread. Then it will be there. Guests should also be prepared to make room on their cocktail-hour plate for cuisine from India, Ethiopia and Japan.
Daniel Kohn, manager of Quality Kosher Catering in Southfield, was witness to the global gourmet trend as he worked in the hospitality business in New York and Colorado. Now back in Detroit, he keeps the legacy of the business his grandmother started in 1968 going strong for the next generation.
He knows that not all in this generation who seek a kosher caterer keep strictly kosher. In fact, statistics from the industry show that 55 percent of consumers buy kosher products for health reasons, 38 percent are vegetarians, and 16 percent eat only halal. Only 8 percent surveyed said they buy kosher products because they adhere to kashrut.
“There used to be a time not long ago when the food was just one more element at a big occasion, like the flowers or the band,” Kohn said. “Today, as people have developed sophisticated tastes and have become involved themselves with new cooking techniques, the food takes front and center stage.”
It is this sophistication of the foodie’s eclectic palate that is driving chefs to create anything but the standard chicken or beef offerings at catered affairs. At a typical wedding catered by Quality Kosher, food selections may cover “at least” four different ethnic tastes, from sushi and noodles at an Asian station to Moroccan meat cigars and tagines, or Indian curries.
Casual, But High End
Another trend in eating is that party guests still love their casual food, even if they are in sequined gowns and tuxedos.
“You can take burgers and fries and other casual American food to another level and make them high end,” Kohn said.
A fine menu starts with advanced planning.
When Franci Goodstein Shanbom, 38, and Sam Shanbom, 45, of West Bloomfield planned their Nov. 27 wedding — the night before Thanksgiving and the first night of Chanukah — they knew that the food would have to meld these two holidays. Because they married later in life, the Shanboms said they did not want to subject friends and family to just another “sit down chicken and baked potato dinner.”
What Quality Kosher planned was something completely “off the board,” said Franci Shanbom. The evening included four buffet stations with varied types of potato latkes and pareve sour cream, mini turkey potpies in cups made of phyllo dough, a Pan Asian station featuring Asian noodle slaw and orange chicken, a Tex Mex station with steak fajitas and a burger station including sliders made from salmon and portabella mushrooms. “We wanted a fun affair with a cocktail party feel, with lots of casual good food. Daniel is very youthful, and he had great ideas of how to make the party fun and hip,” Shanbom said.
Chef Cari Herskovitz also wants to treat her kosher-observant clients to a meal and a catered affair with international flavors they may not ordinarily have a chance to sample. Herskovitz graduated from the Natural Gourmet Cookery Institute for Food and Healing in New York City in 2000 and worked in the food industry there for many years preparing gastronomical delights for Lenny Kravitz, Ralph Lauren and Elie Wiesel.
She moved back to Detroit in 2003 and founded Chef Cari Kosher Catering, a Glatt kosher company housed at Congregation B’nai Moshe in West Bloomfield. As vegetarian and vegan kosher venues open up in Detroit — such as Gold ‘n Greens at Wayne State University and Herskovitz’s summer pop-up falafel stand at Campus Martius Park — she loves to hear how they surprise the average restaurant goer. They realize that you don’t have to keep kosher, or even be Jewish, she says, to enjoy kosher food. What they are enjoying, simply, is good food.
“I want people to come to me to cater an affair, first and foremost, because they are coming to me for well-prepared food,” Herskovitz said. “I want them to know if they want that vegan wedding that will keep even their nonvegan guests happy, they can come to me. They can also come to me if they keep on the more traditional side and want a meal with beef or chicken as the centerpiece.” Herskovitz said she enjoys offering clients the healthiest food choices, creating vegetarian and vegan dishes as well as more traditional meat or dairy menus for affairs.
For the adventurous vegetarians, she will create entire menus using greens like the ever-popular kale or taking a cue from the trend in using ancient grains like farro, amaranth and quinoa. Herskovitz said that vegan and vegetarian entrees could go beyond pasta and tofu. She likes to experiment with proteins like tempeh and seitan and introduce different grains, all enhanced with fresh herbs and greens.
For one recent wedding, she created an entire vegetarian Indian feast consisting of eight to 10 dishes complete with yogurt raita and naan bread. As health trends evolve, so have the offerings of kosher caterers. Kohn and Herskovitz can attest that they have catered vegetarian and vegan weddings where courses included meatless entrees, such as stuffed manicotti or textured vegetable protein layered with roasted portabella mushrooms and asparagus.
“When we sit down with the clients, we explain to them: ‘You are inviting 350 guests; you want them to come and then leave happy,’” Kohn said. “We round out the vegetarian and vegan offerings with interesting salads, a great sushi bar and velvety vegan soups.”
And what about those pareve desserts?
Back at his kitchen in Southfield, Kohn said David Carris, his pastry chef of 15 years, is constantly working on the ultimate dairy-free dessert.
“Our pastry chef has a way of working with desserts, starting with the finest quality ingredients that you would never expect were dairyfree or even egg-free. How good are they? I tell clients they must try the pareve creme brulee. If you don’t have a dairy creme brulee sitting there right next to it, you could swear you are eating the real thing. It’s that good.”
Here is Part I of a two-part series about strategies for saving with a 529 plan I wrote for http://www.road2college.com.
Know that you can shop around for a 529 plan and you don’t have to use the one from your state. Some state’s plans perform higher than others.
They still might be in diapers and are learning to crawl, which makes it the perfect time to know your savings options. Learn more about how 11 states are offering those with very small children a prePaid plan which allows you to lock in at today’s tuition rates for your future college scholar.
You can read all about it by clicking here.
Never underestimate the impact of a school field trip.
Last spring, Sophie Erlich, 14, of Birmingham took a trip to the Isaac Agree Downtown Synagogue with
her eighth-grade classmates from Hillel Day School in Farmington Hills. There, she learned about the synagogue’s past. There, she also became inspired about contributing to Detroit’s comeback and an urban Jewish future.
This September, Sophie, now in ninth-grade at Birmingham Groves High School, and big brother, Jonah Erlich, 16, kicked off a fundraiser for the synagogue, founded in 1921, with their “Daven Downtown” T-shirt fundraising campaign. They sold more than 35 T-shirts for $36 each on their website designed by Jonah, www.davendowntown.com/ collections. All proceeds go directly to
help the synagogue.
Throughout the whole process, which is earning them required community
service credits for school, the teens also are learning valuable lesson in keeping inventories, marketing for nonprofit organizations on social
media and running a business.
“I am very energized about the idea of Detroit coming back,” said Sophie, who has friends with older siblings who are moving into the city. “It’s where I hope to live and work when I am an adult and out of college.” Jonah echoed his sister’s sentiments.
“If more Jewish young adults move into the city, they will need a thriving synagogue within walking distance where they can pray and just hang out with other Jews,” he said. “I would be so excited to work and live in Detroit someday.”
To create the right vibe, they asked local designer Kathy Roessner to donate her time and talents to create colorful logo with a “V” in the middle. The T-shirts, printed in Troy, are available in crew and V-neck styles and come in gray and white.
To boost sales, Jonah recruited some video-savvy classmates at Frankel Jewish Academy in West Bloomfield where he is a sophomore, as well as local leaders and Detroit entrepreneurs, to film themselves around town wearing
the T-shirts. The “world’s most interesting man,” a character from a Dos Equis beer commercial, provided
inspiration for the video’s only scripted line:
“I don’t always daven. But when I do, I daven Downtown.”
Anna Kohn, the executive director of the Downtown Synagogue and one of only two paid staff members, said the excitement and entrepreneurship of the teens toward the synagogue proves that young people can make things
happen when they are passionate about a cause.
“We were looking for a way to merchandise, and they beat us to it,” she said. Kohn said she has used the logo
on the synagogue’s website at www.downtownsynagogue.org. The egalitarian Conservative synagogue’s Facebook
page has 1,000 fans. It also distributes a newsletter with a circulation of 1,600 informing congregants and the general public about weekly Shabbat services, a Thursday morning minyan and a variety of programs that provide social
outreach for Jewish urbanites and those just curious about Judaism.
The T-shirt sales have become so successful that they are on back order as the Erlich siblings, children of Craig
and Renee Erlich, wait for the next shipment. They also plan to sell the T-shirts through area synagogues and
Jewish youth groups. ■
“Kramer: Ahh, no, no, no. You got me all wrong buddy. I am loving this no refrigerator. You know what I discovered? I really like depriving myself of things. It’s fun. Very monastic.
George: Well what do you eat?
Kramer: It’s all fresh. Fresh fish, fresh foul, fresh fruit. I buy it, I omniga nominga, I eat it.”
Remember that episode? It was funny. But to live a life in the 21st Century with nowhere to put your milk and eggs and cheese, that’s another story.
Thanks to the wonderful folks at Sears, again, I wait for the refrigerator repairman.
For the third time. The right parts, this time, have also been waiting in my entryway for the past two days.
But still, no repairman.
I’ve gotten pretty good at working out a system though.
Every day, I buy the smallest possible container of milk.
Instead of stocking up for a whole week, I buy a maximum of 10 pieces of fruit.
It’s a good thing I live up north, because the weekend’s snowfall provided me with cold stuff to pack into my cooler.
I plot out every meal plus snacks like cheese and yogurt for the kids to take in their lunches.
I have learned that most sources of protein and calcium require refrigeration. I go buy these in small quantities each day as well.
I keep all my produce outside in my cooler. Like this:
Think about this:
How many times a day you go to your refrigerator to eat a piece of fruit, drink a glass of milk or prepare a meal?
Every time I need to do this, I need to put on my boots first and let in the cold air.
But even the Rochester cold is not cold enough to keep my strawberries from rotting or my milk from going sour after a day.
So, it’s almost 11 a.m. now. I’ve been waiting six days and .. three hours for refrigeration. It’s like waiting for Godot.
Sears, do you really think you are doing a good job by letting your customers, those who paid extra for a service contract, to live with no refrigeration for seven days?
Thank goodness red wine does not need to be chilled.
You tell a customer to wait around for you for four hours.
You show up even an hour later than the time window said you would be there.
No mere mortal customer can get in touch with you.
You can charge $250 for 30 minutes of work.
I get paid less than that after I’ve filed two weeks’ worth of columns.
And, as a SEARS repairman, you get paid hand over fist for your incompetency. And then, no mere mortal customer can reach you directly afterwards to complain. Man, I’m in the wrong line of work!
And the work the customer waited around for doesn’t even fix the problem.
AND, you are not even obligated to leave the customer a reachable phone number to get you back the same day. That woeful customer (that would be … me) must once again be thrown into the 1-800-MYSEARS abyss.
Because I purchased – for extra money – a SEARS Home Appliance Service Contract, my family is plunged back to the 19th Century and we have lived without refrigeration for four, going on five days. Most of my food has gone bad. Some of it is in deep freezer storage thanks to the kindness of my neighbors. The squirrels in my yard are fighting over the rest.
My Sears? Well, you can kiss my ……
Last Sunday morning, though I could have slept in, I woke up early. I woke up my family too. I told them we were about to take a trip into the country. No, we weren’t going through a corn Maze.No, there would be no pumpkin catapult contests. But I promised them, they would enjoy it. They were going to have a good time. Because I SAID SO!
Life has been way too hectic lately. I feel like I have barely seen my three children since late June. It seems like no sooner did my older son and daughter return from sleep-away camp and I washed all their laundry, the summer ended and so began the school grind. Homework and tests. Track meets and band practice.
But last Sunday morning, we had this glorious sunny perfect day. And we had no school and no work. I just wanted one chore-free day of me not nagging anyone spent out in the country. One day of me not badgering anyone to stop texting friends while I am talking to them or stop playing games on the computer.
So off we went.
as we whizzed past withering cornfields.
To reach our destination: the East Hill Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farm and Folk Art Guild in beautiful, Middlesex, NY. There, we got a chance to see where our vegetables were grown all summer.
East Hill Farm is a project of the Rochester Folk Art Guild, a nonprofit organization and community of craftspeople and farmers. Since 1967, they have grown food and produced handmade practical folk art on a 350 acre farm. East Hill Farm uses old fashioned, chemical-free, hands-on organic methods to grow fruit, vegetables, herbs, eggs, pigs, and chickens for the community and for sale through our CSA and markets.
For the past 20 weeks, our family took part in a great experiment of owning a CSA share. Each Friday since mid-May we were presented with a portion of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers organically and lovingly grown by a group of young entrepreneurial farmers. Whether it was spring’s excessive rains or July’s excessive heat, we shared in the farmers’ risky dance with Mother Nature.
The farm had limited cell phone service so we got a chance to sample the simpler, slower style of life. We actually got a chance to catch up, share and talk as a family. How many times are family members distracted from each other by screens: laptops, DS games, cell phones, iPods?
Well, on this day in October my teen-aged daughter actually sat and talked to me. She sat and reminisced with me about the first time she used a pottters wheel this summer at camp as we watched a master potter throw and mold a clay jar before our eyes:
How many toys, clothing, dishes do we buy that are made of cheaply made mass-produced?
Then, in the weaver’s studio, my son got to try his hand at a loom, using wool that was dyed by an apprentice, the same young woman who brings us our week’s worth of vegetables. Thank you, East Hill Farm farmers. It’s been a great summer.
Some exciting news in my tiny little newspaper career. I have new towns to cover! One of them is Webster, NY. Their town motto: “Webster, where life is worth living.” Webster is 20 minutes from my house. And in the Rochester area, that may as well be another planet. So off I went last night to explore my new town, which rests on the shores of Lake Ontario.
I was invited to a mixer held by the Webster Chamber of Commerce. It was held at the town’s local branch of HSBC Bank It was hopping! Only 20 people registered in advance, but the headcount was over 60, according to the event organizer.
So many great people in one room to meet, introduce myself to and dig up new story ideas.
Until one embarrassing question came up. And it came up time and time again each time I circulated the room.
“Can I have your business card?”
“Errr, well, to tell you the truth, I don’t have a business card, but the paper is working on it!”
So, instead I came home with a stack of business cards which I will now send out my contact information, with a link to my column.
Yes, it was embarrassing, and perhaps a bit penny wise and pound foolish of the newspaper for not providing me with a business card after doing this column for over a year now. When I meet new people, unless I carry around a copy of my latest column with my mugshot on it, where is the proof that I really am who I say I am?
My editors should know how I delight in writing each column, and they know I do it for a paltry sum of money. They should know how my spine tingled just walking into a real, live newsroom when I met with my editors this week. They should know that someone from the Webster chamber said to me “heck, send me your information and I’ll cough up the $20 to make you a set of business cards.”
Even in this age of Blackberries and social networking, there is still a viable reason for carrying a business card when one is doing real networking.
So, kind businesspeople of Webster, thank you for trusting me when I said who I said I was. And I will be getting my box of those old-school business cards any day. I promise.
This week, a friend and I put down the down-payment on an epicurean adventure we will be taking this summer.
Why is it an adventure?
Because we have signed on and invested in a local farm, and all the risks that go with farming. We are taking a bet on Mother Nature that she will bestow upon our local farm the perfect conditions for growing a bountiful crop this summer.
Because this summer, we will have to get very creative with kale and beets.
The rising demand for locally-grown produce and sustainable farming methods has created opportunities for developing a connection between enterprising young farmers and suburbanites through a movement called Community Supported Agriculture, or CSA.
In December 2001, one source reported a net total of 761 CSA farms registered with USDA. By 2007, an agricultural census conducted by the USDA tallied 12,549 farms that marketed products by way of community supported agriculture (CSA).
Most of these CSA farms are located in California and Texas. Right now, in New York State, there are about 200 farms that use CSA as a method to market their crops.
Oe of them is the East Hill Farm CSA in Middlesex. It is the project of the Rochester Folk Art Guild a sustainable community of artisans and farmers who have worked and created on this farm since the 1960’s.
Though the ground is still covered with snow, the East Hill Farm managers are busy ordering vegetable seeds, recruiting volunteers and processing CSA membership applications. Over half of the farm’s 80 shares have already been sold. A membership for 20 weeks of produce costs $500, or $490 if purchased before March 1. Shares include a wide variety of vegetables, as well as fruit in the later part of the season.
Information on getting a CSA share can be found at www.easthillcsa.org or by calling the JCC at (585) 461-2000. At the website, one can even sign up for a “CSA buddy” to split a share if a boxful of veggies every week may be just too much to consume.
The East Hill Farmers represent a new generation of farmers who may not necessarily have a background growing up on a parent’s or grandparent’s farm. What they do have is a passion for growing food with organic and sustainable techniques.
Cordelia Hall grew vegetables as a child in a community garden and then became part of the “guerilla” urban gardening trend while she was a student at Boston University. Now in her third year as co-manager of the farm, she has observed and worked on farms in Tanzania, New Zealand and Mexico.
Thomas Arminio, another suburbanite-turned-farmer at East Hill, said his experience in farming has taught him that timing plantings just right is crucial for having successful crops. A native of New Jersey, he is looking forward to growing interesting varieties of melons and root vegetables along with heirloom tomatoes, beets, Swiss chard and lettuces.
So, this summer, I can actually say I have become acquainted with the people who will grow my food, because I interviewed them for my column and this blog post. You just can’t say that buying a plastic-wrapped package of hothouse tomatoes from a big box warehouse store or the supermarket.
As I get my box of veggies for the week, I’ll write about what I got, and what I made, so stay tuned.
I will not go quiet into that Kindle light.
I don’t ever see myself curling up with a Kindle, or a Nook, or any other e-book for that matter.
I will not go quiet into that Kindle light.
I don’t ever see myself curling up with a Kindle, or a Nook, or any other e-book for that matter.
There has been so much news about books. The drop in the sale of physical books and the recent scanning of 5.2 billion books into digital form to study trends in culture and literature, as reported by the New York Times. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Barnes & Noble recently cited studies that suggest consumer spending on new physical books will fall to $19 billion in 2014 from $20.5 billion in 2009.
But books are more than carefully strung words. Books create communities and friendships. A book has physical attributes – the feel of its Tattered Cover, the texture of the dog-eared pages inside and the wonder about by whom the book has been previously held and read.
A few years ago, a friend of mine was making what she thought at the time a permanent move back to her home of Cape town South Africa. The trans-Atlantic container could only carry so much of her possessions, so she held a yard sale.
Among the precious things she agreed to part with was her vast collection of books. An avid reader, my friend always had a stack of books – from the library, finds at other yard sales or book sales – on her nightstand. From the pile of books that was spread on a blanket, I picked up “The Notebook” by Nicholas Sparks and offered her the asking price of a dollar. She refused to take money from me and instead, pressed the book into my hand, smiled, and just said “enjoy.”
So I took it home and read it. I’ll admit it wasn’t my favorite. But it was a book given to me by a friend, a friend I feared I would never see again short of a very long plane ride. So, the year she was away, I had her book on my shelf as a reminder of our friendship. I have given and received many previously enjoyed books, as a symbol of family and friendship. Before a family vacation, my doorbell rang and it was another friend, who, just because, wanted to give me a book to read on the beach. It was The Secret Life of Bees, by Sue Monk Kidd.
I have also given my books away to friends: like Sarah’s Key and Snow Flower and the Secret Fan to my mom, and A Thousand Splendid Suns to my dad.
Can you do that with a Kindle?
Now I know that e-books have their advantages: less trees are cut down to make and read books, less clutter in one’s home, ease of traveling with multiple books, instant gratification of downloading the latest book, and so on. But the clutter of books is legacies of family and friendships that our society will lose with the emerging popularity of the e-book. No, I fear that this next generation coming up, if predictions hold true and purchases of physical books will fall away to one more screen that we must stare at for information. Something will be lost.
Because of paper books, a multi-generation legacy of books rests in my house.
My grandparents lived in a tiny apartment in Bensonhurst Brooklyn for over 60 years. In the foyer, they had their treasured library. Into each book that was added to their collection – books like Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, and fairy tales by Hans Christian Anderson- a seal was placed, saying that this book was part of the Library of Pauline and Milton Kasmere. Some of these books, with their spines embellished with fading gold lettering, are now propped on the bookshelves in my home. I hope that my kids will read these classics from the pages that their great-grandparents held, not an e-book.
In the future, what will we put on our bookshelves?
Now, call me a luddite, but I can go on about how much I like e-books, if only for sentimental reasons. I’d write more about my feelings and dislikes about e-books, but I am off to a book exchange at my son’s middle school – off to sort books that will be donated to a city Literacy project to share with inner city schools in Rochester.
Tell me, in the future, if physical books go away, will there be books to share and book exchanges to give away books?