Welcome to the June edition of Culinary Queens of Colorado Springs! This month I am featuring Priscilla Koch of Urban Farmhouse. Urban Farmhouse specializes in a product called vinegar shrubs. When I first heard of vinegar shrubs, I wasn’t sure exactly what they were or how they were utilized. After doing some research, I became very curious and decided to purchase some shrubs to try. Serendipitously, Urban Farmhouse was recommended to me by Liz Dean of Cotton Blossom Caramel. (She nominated Priscilla as a future Culinary Queen.) Once I realized Urban Farmhouse made shrubs, I immediately reached out to Priscilla and placed an order.
You may be wondering, “What is a Vinegar Shrub?” Surprisingly, they aren’t a new or modern product. Shrubs have been around for centuries and were originally made to preserve the flavor of fruits before refrigeration was invented. Shrubs are made by combining fruits and other ingredients with vinegar and fermenting them for a period of time. The result is vibrant colored & flavored vinegars that you can use to flavor cocktails, ice cream, beverages, and to use in marinades/salad dressings. At first, I was skeptical about adding fruity vinegar to drinks and sweets but trust me when I say, “It totally works!”
My Urban Farmhouse order included: a large bottle of Raspberry Shrub, three sampler bottles (Farmhouse Fire, Elderberry, and Lingonberry), and a bottle of coffee extract. Any time I bring something new and edible into my house, my family circles around and waits for samples. What can I say, we are a house full of foodies! I made my kiddos a mocktail using seltzer water, simple syrup, and raspberry shrub. They LOVED it!! For my husband and I, I added gin because gin and raspberry create a lovely flavor combo. (Recipe provided below) I also experimented using my shrubs in salad dressings and marinades. Raspberry vinaigrette is so much more flavorful with raspberry shrub and much prettier too. Now, whenever a recipe calls for vinegar, I am thinking of how I can utilize a shrub instead.
After trying shrubs, I couldn’t wait to interview Priscilla to find out more about her, her products and her business. Her story is fascinating, and she is incredibly passionate about her products. Read on to discover why she is a Culinary Queen:
Tell us about your background
I feel I have lived several lives! There was my military life, which paid for my university life, my overseas contractor life which financed my real-estate flipper life, my corporate finance manager life which led to my handsome hubby married life, and now I’m in the fun retirement life.
What inspired you to create Urban Farmhouse/shrubs?
From the ingredients I use, to the lifetime of inspired living, style and colors in my branding, The Urban Farmhouse concept and theme has been with me my entire life. It wasn’t until I found Shrubs that it all coalesced, proverbially came to life, and The Urban Farmhouse was born.
What makes your products unique?
The QUALITY, the PASSION, and the EFFORT of my Shrubs are truly unequaled anywhere in Colorado or the U.S. I have spent hours developing formulas with the perfect ratios highlighting the featured flavor profile. Each is small batch made with absolutely no sugar, no salt, no water, no colorants, no extracts, they are non-GMO, 100% Organic, Vegan Friendly…and I haven’t found another wholesome product like mine. My Shrubs are so versatile, and I encourage everyone to experiment with them and adjust to your taste, your palate, your desired strength.
What are some of your favorite products?
This is a hard question to answer because I feel I have curated my shrubs to the point where all of them are the BEST, but I would have to say “The Farmhouse Fire Shrub” is in the top 3 (Chimichurri & Mango Lemon Lime-serious competitors!). It has 11 organic ingredients in it and when I first made it, I had some serious doubts as to whether I would like all the ingredients together or not. I mean, come on, it’s made with fresh horseradish, fresh ginger, fresh garlic and add to that cayenne, jalapeno, and serrano peppers…I thought I was going to burn my face off! The Farmhouse Fire blend is spot on the BEST fire shrub I’ve ever had. It has a complex, bright, herbal taste. Think of it as a salad in a bottle! It takes around 5 weeks of daily bottle shaking before it’s ready to serve and it’s worth every minute of waiting. Most people will pick up on the rosemary and one cannot miss the bright tangerine color from the turmeric.
Do you have a favorite recipe to enjoy your shrubs?
My favorite use with The Farmhouse Fire is to marinate a couple of salmon filets for about 4 hours in the refrigerator and then grill. I’ll use some of the Farmhouse Fire and a little drizzle of my Hot Honey while basting a couple of times as I turn the salmon on the grill. Serve with a fresh salad or grilled veggies, a buttery chardonnay wine… and as Julia Child herself said, “Bon appétit!”.
What is the most rewarding part of your business?
My customers! I LOVE my customers! I know with my Shrubs I’m helping someone add a little extra wellness and self-care to their daily lives in a healthy way. My customers teach me, and I have learned so much from them. Just listen and people will tell you EXACTLY what they want.
Could you share some of your proudest moments with Urban Farmhouse?
OMG, one of my favorites and most surprising because of all the contacts developed from the exposure was being featured on a live video interview in Denver my first year starting my company. I had an influx of orders, followers, and interest! The show is designed to help promote local food and beverage companies. It is a live show that takes between 5 and 10 minutes. You bring as much or as little of your product as you want. Whatever you bring won’t go to waste as they have 40 employees. It was a BLAST and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity.
Besides your website, where can we purchase Urban Farmhouse Products?
website at www.TheUrbanFarmhouseCo.com
In person at:
The Woodland Park Farmer’s Market every Friday from 8-1pm (412 N Park St. Woodland Park, CO 80863)
Black Forest Farmer’s Market every Saturday from 9-1 (12508 Black Forest Rd. COS, CO 80908)
Ridgeline Farmer’s Market every Sunday from 10-2pm (11631 Ridgeline Dr, COS, CO 80921)
If folks can make the farmer’s markets, they will find a wide variety of small batch items, a little history about Shrubs and my story plus last-minute deals on all my products.
What are your future plans/goals for The Urban Farmhouse?
I have so many ideas and so little time! Ok, not an all-inclusive list or in any order of precedence but a cookbook featuring a little mixology, history, and humor, achieving 100% sustainability by the end of 2023, and of course world domination.
Who is your biggest culinary hero and why?
The one and only, Julia Child. She was so much more than a cooking show personality. She was downright fearless when it came to just trying something other’s thought a woman shouldn’t do. She is most notable for introducing French cuisine to American cooks.
What advice would you give to a woman thinking of starting a culinary business?
First and foremost, believe in your AWESOME self and your product. Now, put your big girl pants on, roll up your sleeves and get ready to work your tail off. Be curious, listen and ultimately follow what you know to be right. Pause to make honest assessments periodically and be decisively reflective on where you are with your goals. Sometimes a step back (to regroup, to reorganize, to reevaluate) really is two steps forward.
Please share any stories, tidbits, or anecdotes about Urban Farmhouse that our readers might enjoy.
Did you know I can’t drink ACV straight? Nope, not a thing. In 2019 I was having some gut health issues where my system was completely out of balance. A friend suggested trying ACV every day…HOLY COW! Drinking straight Bragg’s ACV will wake you up! But I can’t stomach it straight and I tried desperately for 3 straight weeks in varying amounts. It made me mad. Something so simple as fermented apples and I can’t keep this down! WHAT! Later, and luckily, I read an article, titled something like “What is a Shrub?” but the pictures were of these gorgeous, rich, and colorful liquids…SHRUBS! Eureka! I knew this would work, it had to work, or I was going to have to go on pharmaceuticals and I didn’t want that. Fast forwarding, 2020 was my R&D or what I like to call my “Guinea Pig” time! I’m drinking and making fruit shrubs, veggie shrubs, berry shrubs and trying all these different concoctions, my husband and I are remodeling our entire house, COVID-19 is here, and life is incredibly but beautifully BUSY. Over a period of about 9 months my gut imbalance was gone! (BTW, I never took big pharma meds) I noticed other subtle changes of drinking my Shrubs each morning from my skin texture improving, my hair looking all salon shiny, my allergies didn’t seem to bother me at all, and I hadn’t gotten the flu or any cold since starting my Shrubs. Now, we get to 2021. I’m happy, healthy, drinking my shrubs and the thought hits me (really it was my handsome hubby who suggested I sell my Shrubs) that maybe someone else has had the same experience. They want the benefits of ACV but can’t stomach it. Why NOT bottle this stuff and offer it to the public, see what happens, who knows, right? Truly, I’ve loved every juicy, tart, and tangy experience of this journey, of this “life”. I hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little about The Urban Farmhouse Co. and as Julia Child herself said, “Bon appétit!”
I don’t know about you, but I definitely see “World Domination” in Priscilla’s future! And anyone who loves Julia Child obviously has amazing taste. I look forward to seeing Priscilla this summer at The Backyard Market so I can try more of her delicious shrubs. Do yourself a favor and try some too – you won’t regret it!
After you order your Raspberry Shrub, here is my Raspberry Gin Fizz cocktail recipe to try: