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August 09, 2017

Chelsea Francis is Your Austin Tour Guide

Making the most of your visit or free time in Austin can be overwhelming so a good tour guide is a must. Chelsea Francis is the right woman to curate your time in town and she's the perfect person to curate an Austin gift batch.  Read on to experience Austin with one of its biggest fans.

Chelsea Francis

Tell us a little bit about what brought you to Austin and yourself.

I moved to Austin for basically no specific reason whatsoever! My husband and I were interested in moving away from our college town + we were just looking into cities that seemed to be thriving. 

What makes this city so special to you? 

This city is special to me because of the wonderful people that I've met here! Everyone in Austin is like this base level of kind that I can't express to people that don't live here. Gosh. I love this place.

You picked such a fun Austin box - tell us what you love most about the products you chose?

Chelsea Francis's Austin Gift Batch


I wanted to choose things made by people I loved + admired, while also choosing treats. I wanted my box to be the perfect gift for a friend, colleague, or even for yourself. I choose some bath goodies from my friends at Benjamin Soap Company + The Good Hippie, some treats from the awesome people over at Skull and Cakebones, a guide to Austin by Wildsam, and a bunch of other awesome things!

If you had 24 hours in Austin what should we do?

  • 6:30am: Swim during the sunrise at Barton Springs
  • 8am: Coffee at Caffe Medici on South Lamar! Say hello to my husband for me ;) 
  • 9am: Magnolia Cafe! Have a light breakfast, you'll be eating a good deal today!
  • 10am: Movie at the Alamo Drafthouse! Even though it's early, get the buffalo cauliflower or some freshly baked warm cookies. 
  • 1pm: Go have a coffee at Fleet Coffee
  • 2:30pm: Have a glass of wine at June's and then go walk around South Congress!
  • 5pm: Odd Duck Happy Hour! The entire top half of the menu is half off! Bring someone with you and order it all! Bottles of wine are half off too! You're welcome!
  • 6:30pm: Pop into Charm School Vintage before they close!
  • 7pm: Go on a quick tour of some of the fun art walls around Austin while it's still light out!
  • 9pm: Dinner at Kemuri Tatsu-Ya! One of my favorite meals I've ever eaten. SO GOOD. Order the Karaage Chicken, the Crispy Onigiri, and the Chili Cheese Takoyake!
  • 11pm: Close your night out by having a drink Nickel City

ABOUT CHELSEA: 
I’m a stop-to-take-a-photo kind of gal as much as I’m a stop-you-to-tell-you-how-pretty-you-are kind of gal. I appreciate the little things, laugh and cry with my whole heart, and love nothing more than long conversations over pancakes and breakfast meats. As a photographer, I love to capture life, editorial work, and love because I believe that everything is worth celebrating. When I connect with someone who is passionate about who they are and what they do, we can make magic together. Whether we’re chatting over coffee or I’ve got you in front of my camera, I’d love to meet you and hear your story.

Shop Chelsea's favorite Austin products.

August 02, 2017

Meet the Maker: Malissa Lawson of East Nashville Spice Company

Malissa Lawson is a self identified “spice-mixologist nerd” and we are glad she is putting her "nerditude" to good use. Featured in an early subscription box, her East Nashville Spice Mix is one of the favorite varieties of spice we've found. We asked Malissa how she started making her spice mix, her favorite recipe, and a few Nashville staycation tips.

Malissa Lawson of East Nashville Spice Company

What were you doing before you started East Nashville Spice Company?

I was doing Home Health Physical Therapy with the geriatric population. While I loved my patients, I was extremely overworked & feeling a little stifled because I had no outlet to “create.”


What led you to start your business?

The catalyst for my business was a 3-week trip to Europe & the Middle East. I was already a “spice-mixologist nerd” in the kitchen so I was absolutely fascinated by the spice shops in Turkey, Egypt & Israel. I ended up bringing back a load of spices from each of the 8 countries we visited & when I got home, I started playing around with the spices trying to recreate some of the amazing mixes I encountered on my trip. That’s how my Original Blend was born.


What have you learned now that you wish you knew when you started your business?

Ha…not to take myself & everything involving my business so dang seriously. I was extremely uptight about having a business & running it well…and consequently created a lot of unnecessary stress for myself. In the famous words of my husband’s favorite band, “Everything will work out if you let it.” Sometimes you just need to get out of the way.

East Nashville Spice Company


Do you have a favorite recipe using your spice?

Eastside Chicken & Potatoes!” It’s in the “recipes” section of my website: www.EastNashvilleSpiceCompany.com


What is the oddest recipe/use of the spice mix?

It is ridiculously amazing in lasagna (and also spaghetti sauce).


What do you like to do (and most importantly, eat) on a staycation in Nashville?

Well, even though I love to cook at home, I also LOVE hot chicken & there are so many fantastic places to choose from so that you never get bored of trying all the different variations. I like to top that off with a visit to Five Daughters for a Chocolate Sea Salt “100 Layer Doughnut.” I also enjoy going to the symphony, Cheekwood Gardens & taking my dog, Banjo, to Percy Priest lake for some swimming & exploring.


What local products do you use at home?

Sunday Morning Pancake Mix, beef from Tennessee Grass Fed Farm in Clarksville, Walker Feed Co. Southern Bloody Mary Mix, Colt’s Chocolate Bumblebees, Willa’s Shortbreads, Nut Butter Nation Brown Sugar Cinnamon Peanut Butter & local produce & local honey from the Nashville Farmer’s Market.


What is your go-to gift to give?

Walker Creek Confections caramels or almond toffee or anything Nashville Jam Co. makes (Apple Bourbon or Smoky Tomato are my personal favorites).

 

Ready to try East Nashville Spice? Pick up some in Laura Lea Balanced Healthy Treats Gift Batch.

 

July 26, 2017

Meet the Maker: George Milton of Yellowbird Foods

Even though we think Austin is plenty hot, George and Erin of Yellowbird Foods like to make it even hotter with their spicy sauces. We caught up with George to find out why he started making hot sauces, what makes a good sauce, and where they go for fun when not concocting sauces.

George Milton and Erin of Yellowbird Foods

 

Why did you start making hot sauces?

Me and my partner Erin love spicy food but we are also into clean eating. For a while we had a really hard time finding the right condiment that we could put on everything and that wasn't loaded with bad ingredients. So instead of continuing our fruitless search, we started making our own spicy condiments.

What has surprised you about starting your own business?

I've been incredibly surprised by how far a couple of passionate and motivated people can take a simple idea. When we first started selling our sauce in local farmer's markets, we never thought it would be a national brand in a couple of years!

What makes a great hot sauce?

The same thing that makes most things great: balance. It can't be too vinegary or too salty or so hot that you can't taste the flavor nuances. There are a lot of sauces that go great on particular things, but I think a truly great sauce goes great with LOTS of different foods.

Can you share a recipe featuring Yellowbird?

One of my favorites recently is a recipe we published to our blog for Ghost Pepper Fried Cauliflower. It is ridiculously good and a really great vegan substitute for hot wings.

 

Yellowbird Foods

Where is a place in Austin you go to cool off?

Aside from all the regular go-to spots (Barton Springs, Deep Eddy), we live really close to McKinney Falls State Park. We like to bike over there and do a little hiking and there are some awesome little swimming holes to spend the afternoon at.

What local products do you use at home?

Oh gosh, so many! Some of our favorites to keep around are Bearded Brothers, Wella Bar, Veggie Noodle Co, Siete Foods, Rhythm Superfoods

What is your go-to non-hot-sauce gift to give?

I'm not much of a gift giver because I am kind of generally anti "stuff". The one gift I like giving is books because knowledge can be one of the most amazing things to pass on to someone. Some of my most frequently gifted books are Siddhartha, How to Win Friends and Influence People, and Eat to Live.

Check out Yellowbird Hot Sauce in our Saucy Austin Gift Batch.

Saucy Austin Gift Batch

July 19, 2017

Meet Laura Lea Balanced: Chef, Food Writer, and Gift Batch Curator

Batch recently collaborated with Laura Lea Goldberg, the chef behind Laura Lea Balanced, on two themed gift batches. We wanted to know more about the reasons she became a chef and how eating healthy and creating healthy recipes became a way of life.

Laura Lea Balanced

Did you always want to be a chef?

No! The thought never crossed my mind…really, even when I started cooking in New York City (the catalyst for my career). My mother is an amazing cook—better than I’ll ever be—and she taught me the importance of a good meal, beyond just taste. She taught me and my brothers that eating real, wholesome food in community is a powerful source of connection and nourishment for mind, body and soul. When I was anxious and depressed living in NYC, I think I subconsciously picked up cooking as a way to achieve those feelings of warmth and safety again…and it snowballed from there!

How do you define healthy eating?

Healthy eating begins first in the mind. This is where you establish that you control your food; it doesn’t control you. I think healthy eating starts with an absence of judgment and guilt and an abundance of openness, positivity and self-acceptance. Then, on a more technical level, the basis of healthy eating is whole foods—foods straight from the ground and as close to the source as possible (whole dairy, butchered meat or fish etc). This is the foundation of your plate. If the majority of your food is whole-foods based, supplemented with thoughtfully chosen packaged foods or indulgent meals, you’re on the right track.

Laura Lea Balanced Cookbook


What recipe from your new cookbook would you recommend for a reluctant, skeptical cook who usually eats not-so-healthy?

Any of the following seems to win such people over: my Coconut Crusted Chicken Tenders, Holy Fudge Black Bean Brownies, LL’s Daily Green Smoothie, Sesame Maple Brussels Sprouts Bits and Meatloaf Meatballs

What would you say are some of the most underrated ingredients in your recipes?

Oh, great question! Maybe tahini, because it is so versatile and has a unique umami flavor profile that can really take recipes up a notch. Also, old school spices like garlic powder, onion powder or chili powder. I am totally down with leaving out a chopped onion in favor of the powered form sometimes. It’s easier and, if you treat it right, can create even more concentrated, captivating flavor.

Laura Lea Balanced Lifestyle Gift Batch


What do you like to do (and most importantly, eat) on a staycation in Nashville?

Hmmm, if you mean at home (my ideal staycation), I’d start with the Grain-Free Cinnamon Waffles from my book, topped with peanut butter and some fresh fruit. Then some kind of exercise outside; a walk or hike or outdoor yoga. For lunch, I’m a sucker for anything wrapped, and I’ve been loving my Turmeric Tahini Roasted Cauliflower on Siete Foods Tortillas with some avocado, hummus and Sriracha. Followed by chocolate, always chocolate. Afternoons are again spent outside, or reading in our den. I’m a simple creature! I’d love to finish this day grilling with my husband—maybe my Lamb Burgers with a side of sweet potato fries.

If I were out and about in Nashville, I’d hit up Franklin Juice first thing for a Pitaya Bowl. Lunch would be the Kimchi Spring Rolls from Avo, and dinner would likely be shared with the hubs at Henrietta Red—fish of the day, cauliflower steak, beet risotto.

What local products do you use at home?

Currently I’m in love with the charcoal face bar by Little Seed Farm, as well as their oat bar as a body wash. I’ve also been using Clary Collection Bath & Body Oil and Uplift Organics Face Serum. Uplift Organics sent me some of their products recently, and I’m smitten. Every morning, I rub the Thistle Farms Energy Essential Oil roller on my wrists, and their lip smoothie is completely addicting.

Laura Lea Balanced Healthy Treats Gift Batch


What is your go-to gift to give?

I feel like most of my gifts these days are for new mamas, so I’m giving them Copper Pearl 5-in-1 multi-use covers. Otherwise, though, I usually just give people food! So far, no complaints :).

July 12, 2017

Podcast Interview with Batch Nashville's Nancy VanReece, Vice President of Business Development

Nancy VanReece, Batch Nashville's Vice President of Business Development, sat down with Kristina Dolan and Justin Williams of SnapShot Interactive on From Creation to Close. Take a listen to the episode as they discuss Batch's social media strategy and branding.

July 05, 2017

Meet The Maker: Mike Weeks of Southern City Flavors

Inspired by winning barbecue contests, Mike Weeks started making barbecue sauces over 10 years ago. Southern City Flavors' extensive line of products means there is a tasty sauce, jam, or mix for any meal or occasion. We asked Mike to step out of the kitchen for a minute and tell us more about his products and favorite pastimes.

Mike Weeks Southern City Flavors

What were you doing before you started Southern City Flavors?


I started Southern City Flavors 21 years ago while I was in Corporate Sales. I worked for Hill's Pet Nutrition for 23 years where I sold Science Diet dog and cat food. Southern City Flavors all started out of my hobby of cooking in Chili and BBQ contest. When my original BBQ won Tennessee State Championship and then won World Grand Championship at the Memphis in May World grand Championship BBQ contest 21 years ago is when I decided to bottle the BBQ sauce. Southern City Flavors started with 6 products and I still sell two of those.   

What’s the most surprising thing about running your business?

The number of hours you end up working. Most people think owning your own business would be fun and your would have lots of free time. But it is far from the truth. Most of my friends tell me I work more now than I ever did in the corporate world, and it is true.

When you're cooking are you most happy—at the grill or in the kitchen or somewhere else?

I am most happy when I am cooking for friends and family, no matter if it is in the Kitchen or at the grill or at my smoker. There is nothing more rewarding to me than to see my family and friends gathered in the kitchen or around the grill or at the table enjoy good food, great conversation—to me that is real love.  

What makes a good barbecue sauce?

Any all natural sauce that you love! Everyone has different flavors they like. It would be a boring world if everyone loved the same flavor. That is why I have 6 different flavored BBQ sauces and will soon have a new one BBQ Espresso, a coffee flavored sauce. Some like a really sweet sauce, some like a spicy, and some like it a little of both.

Do you have a favorite recipe for your Stone Ground Grits?

Yes, my cheese grits. Cook your grits in 3 parts chicken broth to 1 part grits plus a little butter and a touch of onion and salt to taste. Takes about 30 minutes to cook real old fashion grits. Add Havarti cheese at the end. I like Havarti because it is a cream cheese and I believe it blends well with the grits.   

What local products do you use at home in addition to Southern City Flavors?

I am always trying other local products I find, even competitors. Honey, BBQ sauces, spice rubs, jams, pepper jellies.  I even recommend other local products to a customer looking for something different than on of mine.

We are all small business people trying to make it.  Not like the big corporate food companies who bad mouth their competitors and try to steal shelf space away from each other.

What is your go-to gift to give besides Southern City Flavors?

I really don't have a go to gift besides my products.  I like to pick out gifts that match the person I am giving it to. Their personalty and what I know they like and enjoy.

Get some Southern City Flavors irresistible chocolate pecans or Bleu cheese stuffed olives to go with the briny dirty martini mix.

June 30, 2017

What We Sent: Batch Subscription Men's Discovery Box May 2017

If you didn't get the most recent Batch Subscription Men's Discovery Box, we're giving you a peek inside, not to make you jealous but to be sure you know why you should order the next one that ships in August.

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box

While we don't promote that our Discovery Boxes have a theme, we always want the items to go together. For the standard Batch Subscription Men's Discovery Box, we selected items that you can enjoy outdoors. The Lynchburg Master Que Mild Sauce is tasty slathered on anything you want to grill from pork to veggies. Chef Hal from Lockeland Table in East Nashville has thrown his hat in the Nashville Hot Chicken spice game. Plenty hot but with nuanced flavor, we recommend it on the bird but also fries, or mixed in the Ranch Dressing. Speaking of hot, it's hard to believe that Ousley's Ouch Hot Salsa is not the hottest flavor in the line of salsas. There are three more degrees of hot salsa but we would have to send a fire extinguisher if we sent those. To cool of your tongue and quench your thirst, mix up a Margarita with White's Spicy Margarita Mix. Yes, it's spicy but, well, why not. Finally, use the TruBee Lip Balm for lips dry from all of this time in the summer sun.

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box (Ships August 2017)

The deluxe version has all of the goodies in the standard plus more treats for the sweet tooth and the bar. We discovered these Wildflower Caramels made with honey lavender deep in the heart of Texas. The perfect ending (or beginning) to a hot summer night. For your bar, we've shipped two Nashville Skyline pint glasses. They work best with craft beer but we won't stop you from filling up with sarsaprilla. For your spicy margarita, you can't beat Walkers Hot Sea Salt Rimmer. It's a match made in spicy heaven—that's between to sweet and saucy heaven. Finally for the bar or kitchen, TruBee's Barrel Aged Honey is sweet and smoky and meant to be enjoyed any way you want.

Don’t miss the next Batch Men’s Discovery Box that ships in August, order one today.

June 29, 2017

What We Sent: Batch Subscription Women's Discovery Box May 2017

If you missed Batch Subscription Women's Discovery Box May 2017, we're opening the box and giving you a tour of the treats inside.

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box (Ships August 2017)

Cheers to the Batch Women’s Discovery Box, the standard box busting with decadent treats for the bar and the body. Kristen Walker has made the perfect summer cocktail mix with her Classic Mojito Mix—just add rum, club soda, raw sugar, and lime wedges. While we know the Hester and Cook stemless wine glass is not the Collins glass that Mojitos are usually served in, we love these because they are so durable. Whether on the front porch, the boat deck, or the patio, these glasses will bounce rather than break and you’ll look good holding it. We discovered these Wildflower Caramels made with honey lavender deep in the heart of Texas. They melt in your mouth and your hands so pop them quick. Caitlyn and Cailey craft their Cheap Chicks Flowerchild Bath Bomb with all-natural organic ingredients. TruBee has been a favorite vendor since the first subscription box we sent in September 2013. Their lip balm is made with beeswax from their hives in Arrington, TN.

 

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box (Ships August 2017)

For the deluxe version, we added another Hester and Cook stemless wine glass. The pair of glasses fit any occasion from formal to flip flops on the beach. Speaking of the beach, the Turkish T Basic Beach Towel is a lightweight, carry-with-you-anywhere beach towel. Small enough for a tote but soft enough to lounge on, it’s a must-have summer accessory.

Don’t miss the next Batch Women’s Discovery Box that ships in August, order one today.

June 28, 2017

What We Sent: Batch Subscription Family Discovery Box May 2017

In the most recent shipment of the Batch Subscription Family Discovery Box, we sent goodies that will please every member of the family—food!

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box

It’s not always easy to bring the family together, but one sure way is to gather around the table for a meal. The Batch Discovery Standard Family Box is filled with the ingredients for a family dinner. With the Batch-design peony towel hung on the kitchen towel rack or thrown over your shoulder, start by mixing a beer (we recommend The Picnic Tap Honey Biscuit Blonde) with the Soberdough beer bread and put it in the oven. While the Soberdough bakes, bring the handmade Nicoletto’s Pasta to a boil. When al dente, coat it with the balanced Café Nonna’s Marinara Sauce. Ring the dinner bell and join the family at the table. We’ve even included Willa’s Butter Pecan Shortbread cookies for dessert. Made by Eric Rion in Madison, TN, with simple ingredients these cookies will go fast.

The Batch Subscription Discovery Box

The goodies in Batch Discovery Deluxe Family Box are meant to be enjoyed the rest of the day. Everly’s new larger packet size means it’s easier to make their thirst-quenching drinks. Make any meal or snack tastier by topping it with Nut Butter Honey Vanilla or some of Gary Baron's Nashville Jam Peach Salsa. Trubee’s Barrel Aged Honey is a flavorful twist on their wildflower honey. The only better thing than honey is barrel aged honey that can be used in coffee, recipes, or cocktails for slight, smoky flavor. For the home, we’ve included the summertime scented Little Seed Farm Grapefruit Lemon Soap.

Don’t miss the next Batch Family Discovery Box that ships in August, order one today.

June 01, 2017

Behind the Scenes of the New Gift Batch Photo Shoot

Here's a peek at the recent photo shoot for our upcoming gift batches. We've got 17 new gifts and one bestseller rolling out with fresh photos.

Batch photo shoot

We asked Teresa Blackburn, our friend and world-class food stylist, to help with the shoot. She brings years of experience and closets full of props to every shoot—whether it's Cracker Barrel, Christie Cookie or Batch. While the finished photos look alive and effortless, the work is painstaking. Teresa mixed cocktails to highlight our Walker Feed Co. drink mixers. When we needed to add a flare of interest to our Saucy Austin Gift Batch, Teresa squeezed some Yellowbird Habanero Sauce at the edges of the frame.

Batch photo shoot

Teresa recommended Stephanie Mullins to shoot the products. Stephanie has been shooting food and products for years, often teamed up with Teresa. The setup took advantage of the natural light at Teresa's house. Since we decided to shoot from overhead we used simple backgrounds that added depth without distraction.

Batch photo shoot

The focus of the photos is the gift batch but shooting wide allowed for Teresa to use the edges of the frame for highlighting the items in the boxes. While we always need to show the packaging of the products so it's clear what you or the gift recipient is getting, we know it's also important to see what's inside. 

Be on the lookout for our launch of the new Gift Batches and even a redesigned website this summer.

 

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