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Can It & Ferment It Anniversary!

Posted on July 25, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 44 comments

Can you believe it's already been a year since the Can It & Ferment Recipe Book came out?  This book has become my go-to resource for preserving our garden, which is why it is the only fermenting book we sell on our website!  It's also the reason why we are collaborating with the author, Stephanie Thurow of Minnesota From Scratch for a wonderful anniversary giveaway!

In 2016, Stephanie filled out the contact us form on our website and asked if we would like to contribute to the canning and fermenting recipe book she was writing.  Since that email, I have met Stephanie in person only twice, but our relationship online has grown into a wonderful friendship! 

Having a fermenting book author as a friend has many great perks, including last week when I needed some help making kimchi for the first time!  Thanks to her advice, our first batch was a huge success and is already half eaten. 

Another advantage of our friendship, is that I get signed copies of all her latest projects!  This month, the publishers of Harris Farmer's Almanac came out with an edited version of Can It & Ferment It as a condensed magazine - Canning & Fermenting.  I haven't been able to find a copy anywhere locally, so Stephanie was kind enough to send me this signed copy. 


 

Would you like your own a signed copy of her book or magazine?  You're in luck, because we've teamed up with Stephanie for a great giveaway!  Last week she gave away our 5L Artisan Leaves Fermenting Crock on her very popular Instagram account.  This week it's our turn to host a giveaway!

We've got two great prizes for you today, perfect to get you started fermenting.  The first prize is a signed copy of the Can It & Ferment It Recipe Book along with a $25 Stone Creek Trading store credit to purchase whatever fermenting supplies you need our store!  The second prize is a signed copy of the new Canning & Fermenting Magazine and a $15 Stone Creek Trading store credit.

We know everyone doesn't have social media, so we wanted to make this giveaway easy to enter.  All you have to do is enter your email address in the Rafflecopter widget below and use it to comment on this blog post, no social media required!  You can also get extra entries by liking our Facebook pages. 

This giveaway ends tomorrow, July 26 at midnight, so be sure to enter right now before you forget!  Winners will be announced and contacted via email on Friday, July 27 and have 48 hours to respond before an alternate winner is drawn.

Good luck and happy fermenting!

*****GIVEAWAY CLOSED*****

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Strawberry Meringue Coffee Cake

Posted on June 14, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 1 comment

Today I'm sharing a family favorite recipe that we always make this time of year!  This is a great recipe to make in early summer when strawberries in the garden are ripening, and stores have them on sale.  It was a staple Sunday afternoon treat during the summer months at Kryz's grandparents house in Poland.  Baked by his grandma Lilka, he remembers it being served with a pot of fresh brewed Earl Gray tea! 



Server - 12-16 people
Prep time - ~30 minutes
Cooking time - ~50 minutes

Ingredients

4 cups flour
2 sticks butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
5 tbs brown sugar
4 tsp baking powder
6 eggs, separated
6 tbs sour cream
2 tbs half & half or milk
2 lbs fresh strawberries
dash of salt

Preheat oven to 350º.  Line (2) 9"x9" pans (round or square) with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, cut butter into flour until it is fully incorporated.  Add 1/2 cup of white sugar and baking powder and continue cutting/mixing the mixture.  Separate the egg yolks and egg whites.  Add the yolks, sour cream, and half & half to the flour mixture.  Mix thoroughly.  Knead the dough into a round ball and it place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.  Split the dough in two, and press the dough evenly into the baking pans covered with parchment paper.  Pierce the whole surface of the dough with fork, so it looks dimpled.  Bake for 15-20 minutes at 350º, until cake begins to brown slightly.

While the bottom of the cake is baking, prepare the strawberries and meringue.  Wash, trim, and quarter strawberries.  Sprinkle with brown sugar, and set aside.  Begin beating egg whites with salt, then keep beating while adding 1 cup of sugar little bit at a time.  Beat egg whites until they are medium stiff to form meringue.

The cake bottom should be ready by now.  Remove from oven & increase oven temperature to 375º.  Spread the strawberries on top of cake, and cover with a layer of meringue.  Bake for another 30 minutes at 375º, or until top begins to brown slightly.

Let it cool before serving.  Serve with tea or coffee, or on a hot summer day, with iced tea!  Enjoy!

Spring Product Spotlight

Posted on March 05, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

Spring is in the air!  The sun was out all weekend and the temperatures were above freezing!! Which has me thinking about all sorts of fun spring projects - around the house and in the garden.  As we start to shake off the winter chill I've started thinking about all the fun products we have this year to help you celebrate spring! 

Our newest spring product is our beautiful Polish Wood Painted Eggs.  These traditional hand painted eggs are the perfect way to add a unique personal touch to your Easter Celebration!

 

If you live in the Chicago area, I'm sure you've seen lamb shaped butter at Easter time as well.  You can't have a Polish Easter meal without your lamb shaped butter!  But if you don't live near a store that sells it, or you want to make some yourself, check out all of our traditional Polish butter molds.  We have so many fun designs I can't decide which is my favorite!

Of course for me, springtime always means flowers!  Which means I want to update my whole house with the beautiful traditional Polish folk art patterns.  These fun, bright florals just say spring to me!  We have so many different products featuring these folk art designs that it's hard to decide which one to get.

 

If your spring is anything like ours here in the Midwest, then maybe the best choice for a Polish Folk Art product is an umbrella!  Our beautiful clear bubble Lowicz Folk Art Umbrella makes those cold, wet, gray days a little bit brighter.

Now the hard part is deciding just which ones to buy! Or why not order one of each and say goodbye Winter and hello Spring!

 

 

Sauerkraut Making Video

Posted on February 26, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

In Poland, making sauerkraut was a traditional process that was handed down through the generations.  Children watched their parents and grandparents making sauerkraut each year, and as they grew older they began to help with the process.  Through this method, families would demonstrate the nuisance and art of fermenting gradually over the years.

Unfortunately, much of that knowledge has been lost as people moved away from fermenting in the last generation.  Now so many of us have to learn how to ferment on our own, without someone to show us how to do it! 

That's why we were excited when Dawn Dunkin from Dawn Dunkin Wellness reached out to us to share a video she recently made using her 5L Artisan Fermenting Crock!  Even though it's a quick video, it helps to see an overview of just how simple it is to ferment sauerkraut!

If you're a visual learner, you will love this video of our crock in use.  Dawn created this helpful video to show her clients how she makes sauerkraut in one of our fermenting crocks!   Check it out!

https://www.dawndunkin.com/blog/diy-turmeric-kraut-video

Behind the Business* - Out of Stock

Posted on February 20, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

If you've been looking around the website lately, you might be wondering - "Why are so many products out of stock right now?"  Which is soon followed with - "When will products be available again?"  So today we are diving a little deeper into why we often have items out of stock!

I know I say it all the time, but having products out of stock is just another way that Stone Creek Trading is not your typical online retail company.  We are very careful to make sure we do not sell items that we do not currently have in our possession.  In the 5 years we have been in business and thousands of orders placed, I think there have been 3 times when we couldn't fulfill as ordered.  We know how frustrating it can be as a consumer to order a product and then have to wait for weeks because the item is actually out of stock!  So we decided when we first started this company that we wouldn't do that.

We also don't restock products like other online stores.  All of the items we sell come from small companies in Poland.  To keep our costs low, we gather all the items from many different companies together and ship them in one container.  We ship about 4 containers per year, which means we only restock the website about 4 times per year when the new container arrives. So if an item sells out shortly after a new container has arrived, it may take a few months before we can get any more.  Over the years we have gotten much better at anticipating demand and ordering more product before we sell out, but it's not an exact science!

In addition to only restocking a few times per year, we work exclusively with small businesses.  While we put in orders to our producers early, sometimes a business only has 1-2 employees and has trouble meeting our full order in time to make it on the next shipment.  We've had items arrive 1 week after the container left, which means we have to wait another 3-4 months before we will get them on the next shipment to us here in the US!  I know it's frustrating for customers when items are out of stock for that long, but trust me, it's even more frustrating for us!

We've been out of stock of some items since the beginning of January.  It's pretty typical for this to happen at this time as we recover from the holiday rush.  We purchase more and more product every year, but we still can't keep up with demand during November and December!  We always sell out, it's just a matter of how long into January and February we make it!

 

The exciting news is that we just loaded up a container in Poland!  As you can see we make sure to use every single space to get as many products as we can in a container.  This means we will be in stock longer and we can keep the cost of shipping per item down.  The shipment has left our facility in Poland and is on it's way to the port in Gdansk where it will be loaded onto the ship which will take it across the ocean to New York.  In New York, the container will have to clear customs before it can be transferred to train to make it's way to the Chicago Rail Yard.  Once in Chicago, a truck will pick up the container and bring it us here in Frankfort, IL!

With all those transfers it typically takes about 4-6 weeks to get from our facility in Poland to our facility here in the US.  Unfortunately, there are many oppurtunities for delay along the way, which is one of the reasons we can't give an exact date for when we will be restocking.  Our shipment tracking information is estimating arrival in the 3rd week of March, but there aren't any guarantees. Let's hope for smooth sailing and easy customs clearance! 

If you are anxiously waiting for a specific item, your best option is to input your email on the product page.  This will get you signed up to be notified when a product comes back in stock.  We will send you an email as soon as we have unloaded the container!  You can also keep an eye on our Facebook or Instagram, as I typically share a photo during unloading.

Hopefully if you've made it all the way to the end of this blog post you now have a better understanding of our unique stocking process!  Now go sign up to be notified when your favorite products come back in stock! 

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

Behind the Business* - We Don't Dropship

Posted on February 12, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 0 comments

We don't like following the crowd. So when something doesn't make since to us, even if everyone else is doing it, we don't follow suit.  Often times it makes things a little bit more complicated for us, but knowing we can stand behind our business and the products we sell is more important than a quick buck!  Which is one of the reasons why we don't dropship!

We import all of the items we sell direct from Poland.  We work with my father-in-law Jacek who is based in Poland to source and purchase all of our products direct from the small companies who make them.  We gather the products at a warehouse in Poland, and then load them all together to ship them to us here in the US.  We store all the items we sell in our own warehouse and pack each order individually to ship to the customer who ordered it.

Most online businesses don't even stock the items they sell.  Instead, an online business will choose items from a catalog that they have often never seen or used, and list them on their website.  The catalog is provided by a large distribution company who imports the items and stores them at their gigantic warehouses.  When an item sells, the business will automatically transmit the order information to the distributor's warehouse, and the distributor is the one to pack and ship the order.  This is called "dropshipping", where the seller of the product doesn't ever possess the items they sell.

All of this is extremely cost efficient, and impersonal.  Have you ever tried to get detailed information about one of these products from the online business, only to get very generic answers?  It might be because they have never actually seen or used the product themselves! 

While we've had many offers to set up this kind of arrangement for Stone Creek Trading, it just doesn't make sense to us.  We founded our business on the notion that our customers deserve a connection to products they purchase.  We want you to know where your products came from and we want you to know that the products we ship meet our high quality standards.  If we never even see the products ourselves, we couldn't do that.

We know we could increase our profits if we changed to a "drop shipping" website.  But we believe that the value of a small business is something greater than money.  We hope that our customers choose to purchase from us not just because of our quality products and low prices, but because they want to support our traditional small family business!

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

Behind the Business* - The "Discount Code Game"

Posted on February 05, 2018 by Emily Kociolek | 1 comment

As most of our customers know, we are a small family business.  We have a few core values that guide our business practices.  Today, we are starting a new series that dives deeper in to those values to give you better understanding of the company you are supporting. 

To start things off, let's discuss one of the questions we get most often - Can I get a discount code?  The short answer is most likely "no".  But because that isn't the answer most customers are expecting, this blog post explains a little more behind our reasoning!

One of our core business values is fair, honest pricing.  We know first hand how hard all of us have to work to make ends meet.  So we want to make sure when you choose to spend some of that hard earned money on our products, you are getting the best value we can offer.

We have always tried to keep our prices as low as possible.  We don't mark up products just so that we can offer a discount or sale every other week to make you think you are "getting a deal".  This stressful "discount code game" that many retailers play isn't our style.  We don't want you to feel pressured to buy something before you are ready just because it's "on sale".  We'd rather you take the time to research our products and know that when you do decide to purchase you will be getting the best deal. 

Now, we do occasionally offer sales or discount codes.  As much as we resist it, there are times when it just makes sense.  Our business has no investors or loans, which means we don't have to worry about anyone else telling us how to run our company.  But it also means when it comes time to buy more inventory, we occasionally need a little extra cash.  When this happens, we sometimes offer a discount to increase sales in order to purchase new products.  This isn't how most companies come up with capital to purchase inventory, but so far it's working for us!

We also observe how products are selling on the website.  When we have a large inventory of an item, we will occasionally offer a sale on those items to remind customers that they are great products!  At this point we have over 50 varieties of fermenting crocks (all made in Poland!) and it's easy for some of the items we've had around for awhile to get lost. 

Because we want you to take the time to research your purchase, we know how valuable first hand customer reviews are.  We also know that having a customer make additional purchases after their initial order is extremely valuable.  Because of this, we do offer a discount to customers who review our products through the email request that is sent approximately 2 weeks after your purchase.  It's our favorite way to say "Thank You" for supporting our small family business!

It's not easy telling customers no, especially when every other website is offering constantly changing discounts and sales to encourage impulse buying.  We could raise our prices and start running sales like everyone else.  But for as long as possible, we want to keep our company running the way we wish all of them did.  We want you to feel confident making your purchase when it works best for you - knowing that no matter when you buy you're paying a fair, honest price for high quality products!

* This blog post is part of a new series - Behind the Business.  We want to give our customers more insight into the decisions we make everyday that contribute to how our business runs.  We try to always keep the customers best interest in mind when making these decisions, and we want you to know why we at Stone Creek Trading aren't your "normal" online business.  We are proud that we don't follow the "business rules" and choose to do things a little differently!

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