Friday, November 26, 2010

Baking Into the Business

Big news! As of today, I'm also selling my baked goods -- croissants and baklava at this point -- at the new Woo's Brews Cafe and Coffee House downtown. I expect things will be slow to start, but this has the potential to turn me into a full-time baker. (Not sure how I feel about that.)

Anyway, if you're in town, check it out!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Bake Away

It's going to be a very busy week -- has been already!

Local Roots
is open Tuesday and Wednesday this week, which is why I'm already neck-deep in bread baking this early in the week. And on top of filling my shelves at the market, I've got special orders for the holidays, including:

--candied ginger-cardamom bars (a recipe from Dear Reader Tina, bless her everlasting foodie soul!)
--four maple hickory pies
--rosemary walnuts
--rosemary cider bread

Whew! I can do this, but boy, am I going to be glad when the Thanksgiving holiday weekend is over!

Wish me luck...

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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Independence Days #67

Yes, I know these updates are getting pretty sparse. Now that I'm into the holiday baking groove, I'm finding it hard to concentrate on much else. So I suspect this will be the last Independence Days update -- until, perhaps, next year.

That said, this covers the month to date, I think...

1. Plant something: Garlic -- two varieties at the Southern Belle's garden and one at the Renaissance Man's.

2. Harvest something: Savoy cabbage, arugula, rutabaga, and salsify at the fabulous Jen's; chard at the Renaissance Man's.

3. Preserve something: Dried the last thyme and rosemary of the season (from the Herb Lady) along with some celery; froze cheese.

4. Reduce waste (Waste not): Mostly the usual: saving and reusing bags, reusing flour for kneading, cleaning and stocking up empty jars, etc.

5. Preparation and storage (Want not): Regularly stocked up on vegetables, cheese, milk, and butter for baking; picked up case of fillo dough for holiday baking, along with other ingredients; restocked bags for bread; laid in a fresh supply of dish towels, plus new cooling racks (courtesy of My Fabulous Aunt) and loaf pans (courtesy of the Chef Mother); stocked up on more tea and coffee (for those early baking mornings).

6. Build local food systems: Toured a school farm and learned a lot!; took bread to weekend hosts; swapped leftover market bread for herbs, greens; baked for market; worked on the Local Roots newsletter for November; donated crackers for cheese sampling at the market; took baklava left over from each week's market to area folks as business thank-yous.

7. Eat the food: Squash soup; greens and egg dish; roasted potatoes; corn and potato soup; grilled cheese on rosemary cider bread; stir-fried broccoli raab; cider; toast (from homemade bread); oatmeal; and much more.

I'll still be practicing Independence over the winter, but you might not hear about it much...


Monday, November 08, 2010

A Rye in the Wilderness

One of the joys of building up my own baking business and selling through Local Roots has been making all sorts of professional contacts, including with suppliers.

Probably my most faithful go-to supplier is the Grain Guy, who technically is the driver for the grain raisers, who are Amish. At this point, I call him almost every other week to order 25 pounds of this or that, or to stock up on some of the specialty flours I use less.

The Grain Guy has supported my business in another way, too: during the summer he occasionally requested a few of my breads to take to his farmers' markets to sell alongside the grains, as a way to show customers how to use the grains and how good they taste. It's a small addition to my business, but a good one, and it illustrates how much we're trying to support each other in general at Local Roots.

At last week's market, I ran into the Grain Guy, who raved about my pumpernickel bread, so I suggested he try my new rye crackers, which have similar flavor. He called me later in the afternoon to tell me they were "awesome" and to place an order for fifteen bags of them. Why? He planned on heading to the big food expo in Cleveland this weekend and wanted -- again -- to show samples of how the grains could be used.

Pretty exciting stuff for a small-time, small-town baker in the first year of business!

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Feed a Fever? Drown the Flu

While we were away at a thought-provoking summit last week, the Renaissance Man came down with this season's flu. He suffered through the aches, the alternating fevers and chills, the restless nights, and the total exhaustion. Our hosts graciously gave us space and time for recovery (along with plenty of peppermint tea and home-cooked meals), but by Saturday, the RM had gathered up enough strength for the return trip home.

Once we got back, I took over his care with a firm hand, wanting to make sure that he ate something nourishing while he recovered. So while I bought cider and orange juice and oranges at his request, I also made him a gentle but soothing soup.

Not chicken noodle, no. I thawed a package of corn from his freezer and used the potatoes and some garlic I had dug out of his garden a few months back, and added in some carrots from the refrigerator. Very simple recipe:

--Saute 4 cloves garlic in olive oil until fragrant.
--Add dry vegetable broth mix and "fry" spices.
--Add peeled and chopped carrots (2) and potatoes (4-6) as well as thawed corn (about 1/2 cup) and stir to coat.
--Add up to 1 qt water. (NOTE: If you have vegetable broth or chicken broth, which I didn't, you would omit the second step and replace water with broth here. Whatever works.)
--Bring to a boil.
--Reduce heat to low simmer and let cook for an hour or two, until everything is soft.
--Serve and savor. (Makes about 4 medium bowls of soup.)

It suited the Renaissance Man well -- nothing too strong or upsetting to the system, but with plenty of vitamins and minerals to keep him going, to keep his strength up a little. And it suited me because it didn't take much of my own flagging energy and tasted good in the long run.

He's continuing to "force" fluids like juice, water, and tea while his immune system recovers and wards off the nasties, but homemade soup adds a little extra kick to that fight. He'll keep resting, and soon the flu will be but a memory.

So if you get the flu this season, remember: when you're down and out, drown 'em out!

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