Sunday, June 28, 2009

New farmers, new friends

The Jefferson Main Street Market

This Saturday morning, at 6:43 A.M., my husband and I pulled up to the farmers market on the downtown square of our little town. With a checkered tablecloth and loaves in hand, I set up shop between two local farmers and hoped for the best.

When you spend 4 hours in the blazing Georgia heat next to someone's truck full of fresh zucchinis, onions, blueberries, and farm fresh eggs, you tend to become fast frends.

On my right was a sweet family of four, soon to be five. The kids were so excited to be there with their parents selling produce, and the mom was due to deliver her baby the next day! What a trooper!

On my left was a man who seemed to be a jack of all trades. He had everything from potted flowers to local honey to peaches and plums. When one of his watermelons fell on the ground and broke in two, he cut off pieces for all of us to try - it was delicious!

As for me, I played it conservative this week and only made three things - small loaves of banana nut bread, pans of cinnamon buns, and white refrigerator rolls. I opened up one of my pans of cinnamon rolls and tore it up into bite-sized samples. Those were the first to sell out! The banana bread was also popular, while the white rolls were the last to sell out. I didn't get a chance to take a photo until most of my stuff was gone, but here I am!

Not only did I make back more than enough to pay for my ingredients, I also traded a few items for some produce from my farming neighbors. I got some beautiful, big zucchinis from the cute family to make zucchini bread for the next market. And from the man on the other side, I bought a bunch of peaches to make some Georgia peach bread. I also traded some banana nut bread with a corn farmer so that my husband and I could enjoy some with our meals this week.

All in all it was a great experience, and I'm anxiously looking forward to next week's market. I'm making a wider selection of breads this week and focusing more on loaves, so we will see what response I get on Saturday morning. I'm also excited about continuing to work on my cinnamon bun recipe to get it JUST right! So far, this little piggy really likes to bring her bread to market!!!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Putting it all on the line

So, I think this goes without saying, but I feel the need to go ahead an put this out there:  my decision to change my life like this has created a lot of waves.  And not gentle little waves with a soft warm breeze.  Think, crashing Pacific water on huge rocky boulders. 

At first, I could barely admit to myself that I was actually considering such a drastic change.  Sure, I've always been the kind of person who thrives on change.  A summer during college in a remote Montana town as a bartender, traveling abroad on my own, going to a university in a city where I didn't know a single soul.  I like to challenge myself, to stretch my limits, knead my will, my nerve into something new and shiny and strong.

But here I was, finally settling down into a promising career when I realized: I am not happy.

Don't get me wrong, I was happy at first.  I've always loved school, loved learning, loved writing, reading, philosophizing.  Law school was a great fit.  I've always been an idealist, always desired to have a positive impact on the world.  What better way to achieve this goal than to study law, which touches every person's life in one way or another?  The perfect way to make a difference, to help people in need - how idealistic, how naive, right? But that's what I thought, so that's what I did.

Well, I loved law school.  And I've loved my job working for a judge for the past 2 years.  But big law firm life?  Not for me.  Wearing a formal business suit Also not for me.  Hanging my own shingle and starting my own one-woman practice?  Yep, not for me either.

Several months ago, I came to the stark realization that law school had sapped the creative life out of me.  The river had run dry.  I've been trained to think like a lawyer, to think like all lawyers, to groupthink.

So I started getting back to my roots - to what I truly love, what I'm truly passionate about, what makes me tick.  Writing, friendships, food, and family.  Chocolate, cheese, flour, and fruit.  So I started a little food blog of family recipes.  And my little food blog grew and grew.  And the creativity inside me started to grow, too.

And with this growth came change.  Change of heart.  And now my heart is on my sleeve for all to judge and see, for all to watch as I succeed or as I fail.

But at least I'm here, I'm heart, I'm happy.

There is something exhilarating about putting it all on the line.

To market, to market . . .

This Saturday marks the first week of our local farmer's market on the downtown square. This is going to be the first time that I am officially attempting to sell, market, produce my bread for profit.

Tonight, I planned to prepare some of the dough so that it could ferment or retard overnight and be ready to bake tomorrow.

Right before I walked into the kitchen, though, a tsunami of self-doubt crashed ashore in my mind. What on earth am I thinking, throwing my life upside down based on the delusion that people would actually pay money to buy my bread?!

What if I fail? What if my dough doesn't rise? What if I end up with a bunch of half-baked ideas that I am too embarrassed to sell? What on earth am I doing?!?

Deeeeep breaths. A moment to focus. And a supportive husband. These are what got me into the kitchen to bake tonight.

Much to my delight, my dough rose perfectly, doubling in bulk, pulling together, kneading into beautifully elastic hunks of goodness. My banana bread came out beautifully crisp on top, nicely domed and cracked, decadently moist on the inside. My house smelled like heaven, and I felt like myself again.

I think I'm going to be okay. I really can do this. By the end of the evening, I was prancing happily around the kitchen calling myself "The Master Baker." For now.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What's in a name?

Would a rose by any other name smell as sweet, dear readers?

I'm really just not sure.

Which is why it's been so difficult these past few days to muster up a name for the deli-cafe-bakery-coffee-shop that my friends and I are about to open on the downtown square of my little town.

Brainstorming feels like thunder in my head, rolling and rolling. Word associations, idea webs, puns, quips, idioms, similes, metaphors, literary genius . . . all leading towards, well, me having to reign myself back in, come back down to earth, and come up with something that small-town folks are going to actually *get* *remember* *relate to* *jive with* - hurm.

That said, ideas are welcome.