Introducing: Food Pairing Friday (Blueberry Steak Sauce)

If you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, you might have seen that we finally nailed down our sample size jars. Since there are five varieties of ‘Chups and they are all likely mysterious in flavor to most people, we wanted a more economical way for people to try them. It took a few shipments to figure out the best container, but for now we’re happy with this little guy right here:


So to get you thinking about ‘Chups coming your way soon, we wanted to start putting ideas in your head for how to best enjoy these versatile sauces! Of course, there is the obvious hamburger or hotdog condiment usage (and that is not to be overlooked, ever!) but there are many other ways to incorporate ‘Chups into a range of different meals.

This is why we are going to start a new blog feature called “Food Pairing Friday”. Whether it be a simple idea for what to dip into mango or even a full on recipe including blueberry, we hope to inspire your appetite and generally educate you on the versatility of ketchup!

In our first installment, we’re bringing you a perfect complement to a warm winter pot roast, or any other type of steak dinner. Blueberry steak sauce to the face!

Blueberry Steak Sauce

Serves 4


Ingredients:
2 tbsp butter
1 med shallot
½ cup good beef stock
½ cup dry red wine
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp Blueberry ‘Chups
Sprigs of thyme and sage

Use this recipe with one Delmonico or Cowboy (Redskins?) Ribeye. Allow the steak to come to room temperature, trim excess fat, and season with salt and pepper.

Sear the steak in a cast iron skillet on medium high heat using clarified butter, if available, or olive oil (not extra virgin). Sear for 3 minutes on the first side and 2 minutes on the second side.

Finish the steak in the oven at 400 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Remove the steak and set aside on a cutting board to allow it to cool. Using the skillet, saute some chopped shallot in butter, then deglaze with beef stock, dry red wine, Worcestershire sauce, and Blueberry ‘Chups. Add some sprigs of thyme and sage, and reduce the sauce by 3/4ths, or until it is a thick, syrupy consistency.

Slice the steak and serve with the sauce spooned over top. Enjoy!

Pardon the very unprofessional photo (we’ll work on that), but here is the blueberry steak sauce on a roast served with some delicious brussel sprout and other roasted vegetables.

 

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Catching the Spark

I’ve had a lot of ideas in my almost 29 years. Some were pretty good; others, pretty horrible. (Coffee for Cats is just something the world doesn’t need). But some ideas were probably better than I realized.

When I was ten years old I had the inspiration for a new kind of snow boot. The idea was borne out of necessity, as our town was blessed with about a week of snow days in a row, and I was spending a lot of time changing from snow boots to tennis shoes. My idea was for an insulated,  waterproof shell that would fit over your shoes and cinch up with several buckles and zippers. It had a hard sole and treads for traction. In between sledding runs outside, I warmed my hands up and drew a few sketches of my idea.

Ultimately the sketches were buried under homework papers, the snow melted, and the idea faded back into the filing cabinet of my imagination.

Fast forward seven years to my after school job at the Orvis store. Unpacking some boxes of merchandise one afternoon I looked incredulously at a pair of Neos Overshoes. The fact that I was holding the EXACT product I had imagined years earlier, down to the placement of the straps and zippers, wasn’t what floored me. It was that they were the exact shade of hunter green I had imagined, which I had also written as a side note on my sketch.

Everyone has had that, “why didn’t I think of that!?” or even, “they stole my idea!” moment.

Since diving headlong into this ‘Chups endeavor, I’ve had a couple of simple, but very important realizations:

1. Ideas are not necessarily unique. The same stimuli that led me to conceive of the boot idea obviously affected another person in the same way. (Pretty much like Newton and Leibniz separately inventing the calculus…)

2. Ideas will not wait for you to act. I believe a good idea will travel from person to person until it is conceived and reaches its full potential.


Catching the spark of an idea and protecting it until it can burn brightly on its own is a special feat. It is a rare ten year old who can realize the potential of a good idea, much less acquire the resources to build a prototype and then shop the idea to companies. (I struggled with math homework enough as it was.) What I mean is that one cannot act on every good idea he has. It takes perseverance to let a good idea find its home somewhere else while waiting for the right one to come along

But 18 years later, I’ve stumbled onto an idea that just can’t be left on the table. I am not a chef, but I have a passion for flavors and making food that is delicious and fun to eat. As the cliche goes, making ‘Chups is really a labor of love.

Realizing the potential of this idea is both amazing and daunting. Of course, the goal for ‘Chups is to be a successful product that improves the lives of those who use it (to whatever degree ketchup can do that). And the level of success we are talking about? Let’s just say we strive to be realistic, but at this point, there is no limit.


-Matt 

Italian Inspiration

 
Rocca d’Orcia, Italy
A couple months ago, Matt and I were lucky enough to tag along with some family and friends on a hiking trip through the Val d’Orcia region of Tuscany. It was nothing short of FIGO! The natural landscape is spectacular, the small medieval villages are a delight to explore, the food is made with love, and the wine … oh, the wine.


It was of course a perfect time and setting to brainstorm and find inspiration for ‘Chups, which we had already started producing. Whether it was a local wine or olive oil label catching our eye or having a spiritual moment observing the beauty of grapes growing on the vine, there was more than enough stimulation for the imagination and doses of extra enthusiasm to fuel the creative urge.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the trip. 

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The vines in the foreground with the cypress trees behind them and the truck traveling up the dirt road in the background makes this picture so quintessential Tuscan countryside, it makes me melancholy. But in a comforting way. Is that possible?

 

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I’m not sure of the percentage of the Tuscan landscape that is exactly like this photo, but it has to be high. The precise lines of the vines and the perfection of the grapes in their natural state was one of the most beautiful things about the region. To reflect on all the centuries of wine production coming from these fields is really something inspirational.

 

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This photo is a blog post all its own, but to make a long story short for now, we freed this little guy who was stuck in a small cemetery gate. I’m not sure how I even spotted him in the first place, as he blended in magnificently, but something tells me it was fate. (Or my inner Chi Omega speaking to me … an owl is our mascot.)

 

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This is the Abbey of Sant’Antimo. Its’ amazing there are no tourists in this shot. Could almost imagine it when it was built in the very first century. (Of course, it has changed since then, but … details.)

 

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Montalcino! Aka “favorite town #1”. We hiked up the very steep side of this city after one of our longer days and I cannot even explain to you how WORTH IT it was. I would hike up that hill 20 times over to spend time wandering the tiny streets of this amazing little town. We also had what felt like an out-of-body experience our second night there when an Italian line dancing crew and country band performed, all wearing cowboy hats and boots with American flag bandanas.

The above photo perfectly encapsulates the small, windy roads, the charming architecture and the impressive views of the expansive Tuscan countryside that are around every corner.

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Sometimes it’s the little things! I spotted this guy right outside the charming and delicious restaurant La Cisterna nel borgo. La Cisterna resides in the piazza of Rocca d’Orcia, a medieval town of only 28 residents! The lovely Marta & her beau Federico cook, manage and do all the work of running and owning the house. We even spent the night above the restaurant in their well-kept rooms. The hospitality was impeccable and the food divine.

 

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I’m obsessed with this photo Matt took of an olive tree grove. The symmetry and shadows are so beautiful! It almost reminds me of one of those eye-trick games, where you are supposed to find another image within the repetitive design.

 

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The kitties were everywhere! I love this picture for a couple reasons: right before I took it, a man who was leaving his apartment in this piazza “meowed” endearingly at the cat. It made me smile thinking how the sounds of an animal are universal to any language.

The second reason is because of something I read about this specific square, which is in Castiglione d’Orcia, the larger (but still small) town right next to Rocca d’Orcia. Called Piazza del Vecchietta, some of the stones and bricks below Mr. Whisker’s feetsies date back to the 1600s. I had a good time imagining a similar cat wandering the town center over 400 years ago.

 

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Don’t need too much of an explanation for including this one. It was taken from just below the impressive fort between Rocca and Castiglione d’Orcia. (The fort can be seen in the first picture at the top of this blog post.)

 

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An old (no longer used, thankfully) walking bridge.

 

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What, you thought I’d get through a pictorial of a trip to Italy and not include something with food and wine?! Doesn’t get more stereotypical with some mouth-watering caprese. Though Italian bread can tend to leave one wanting a little more … salt? Pizzaz? French inspiration?

 

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The large bath in the middle of Bagno Vignoni, a town famous for its ancient springs and thermal waters.
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OK, we’re ready to go back! 
It was an unforgettable trip and one we’ll look back on fondly forever. I cannot more highly recommend a hiking tour of this region. It is the best way to see the landscape and to take advantage of all its wonderful FRUITS (!) From stopping in at random vineyards for wine tastings, to playing an impromptu soccer match on an empty pitch … from using universal hand motions to get extra water from a local Italian family-run farm, to SAVING AN OWL … we couldn’t have asked for a more perfect experience. 
If this is a trip you’d like to look into for yourself, please contact the gentlemen at Girosole. They were beyond WONDERFUL. 
If you want to see more pictures, check out our Flickr set
-Kori

Hey Focus, Will You Be My Friend?

Hey guys! We don’t have too many updates on the ‘Chups front, except to mention that we’ve had a couple of great meetings with awesome people and the promise of exciting things to come. But that being said, both Matt and I felt that this little blog would also be a great platform for us to share general thoughts and experiences as we navigate the fascinating and often frustrating maze that is starting a business. 

We strongly believe that building a community and an audience is an invaluable resource for any type of business. So, until we have a more constant stream of ‘Chups-related updates (‘Chupdates?), we hope you enjoy a few random musings here and there and that maybe we can all learn a little bit from each other in the process.  

On that note, let’s talk about a little thing called focus

My thumb and middle finger constantly toggle between the command and ~ key on my Macbook Pro keyboard. (Product humble brag alert! Thanks, @AddThis.) For those who know the functionality of those keys, it begs the question – how many Chrome browser windows do I have open on average? Let’s see … one regular work-devoted window, another window allotted for personal use and then various email drafts and tasks, all waiting for me to send or cross them off the ever-growing “To Do” list.

And those are just the windows. Then there are the tabs. Gmail, Google analytics, Facebook, Twitter, 20 Google docs and spreadsheets, Yammer, articles I’m waiting to read …

It can get a little … busy.

The point I am trying to make is that I often find myself having a serious focus problem. I know I’m not alone in this. My friends and I talk about it all the time. YouTube videos, Tumblr blogs, BuzzFeed (oh, but it’s great) … the INTERNET. There are too many distractions. My attention span has shrunken to the size of a gnat. It can be a serious and frustrating problem, especially if and when deadlines are involved.

So, what are my tricks for dealing with it? For overcoming the black hole that is internet un-productivity? The truth is, I don’t have a great answer. Other than to recognize when I’m being sucked in and to fight it like one would fight any other type of behavioral problem. Sometimes I resist it, sometimes the Gawker comment section or Facebook timeline’s “See Friendship” feature wins. It’s the nature of the beast.

Now that Matt and I have started this venture, I’m much more mindful and harder on myself when I feel I’m not focusing enough. I do silly things like ask myself, “What would Ben Franklin do?” (If that sounds weird, read his 13 Virtues and it’ll make a little more sense.) Of course, Ben Franklin didn’t have Wikipedia articles about his life to consume at the click of a Google search. 

But there are benefits to sitting back for a second and asking yourself, do I really need to refresh my Twitter stream because there are 5 unread tweets? The answer is NO. I also know that when I am successful and productivity wins, I am a happier person. Much like the daily struggle of making oneself exercise or resist unnecessary helpings of food, choosing focus over Facebook makes you feel GOOD. And getting things done tends to lead to more productivity – more ideas, more creativity, and an improved ability to be able to focus.

Beyond that, I don’t really have anything overly insightful to say on this topic, other than to share with you that I do struggle with it and am constantly trying to be better about resisting the tractor beam of brain mush on the internet (or Freaks and Geeks episodes on Netflix streaming). 

At least I’ve managed to stay away from Reddit. (Don’t click it!)

Hope everyone has a fantastic weekend! 

Ketchup: A Controversial Condiment?

Growing up, having steak for dinner was always a special treat— birthdays, good report cards, holidays. I vividly remember the smell of the steaks cooking on the grill outside, waiting by the counter as my dad would cut into them, and finally stealing a sample before we all sat down for dinner.

Along with mashed potatoes and peas, one constant on the plate was tomato ketchup. Sometimes if we ran out, we would all wait a few minutes while my mom found another bottle in the pantry. 

We all loved tomato ketchup, but we knew better than to ask for it at a restaurant if it wasn’t already on the table. Why? Purely due to the stigma that tomato ketchup carries. And this stigma isn’t reserved for just expensive steakhouses, as mentioned in a recent Washington Post article. Even the famous Texas Tavern in Roanoke, Va, where nothing on the menu costs more than $2.45, has shunned ketchup for it’s 82 year history. 

I believe this stigma has a lot to do with a conflict in flavors. It is likely that tomato ketchup, like many sauces, was used to cover up the bad flavors of foods that might have passed their peak of freshness. This unsavory role as a masking agent unfortunately stuck through the generations.

However, while few will freely admit it, ketchup is delicious on its own. It’s a fair question to ask- do we put ketchup on other foods, or are other foods used as a vehicle for ketchup?

It’s time for the eating public to openly embrace the deliciousness of ketchup. While a bottle of Heinz may never shake its negative connotation, ‘Chups is here to fill the void. ‘Chups fruit ketchups hit all the marks of traditional tomato ketchup flavor- salty, sweet, sour, spicy- yet they are made to enhance the flavors of other foods, not overpower them. I’ve become very accustomed to pairing ‘Chups with everything from steaks, roasted chicken, meatloaf, and of course hot dogs and hamburgers. 

We’re here to restore the reputation that ketchup deserves!

-Matt

Chief ‘Chups Maker