Monday, September 29, 2008

The Last Farmers Market of the Summer...

Randall had a stellar day to wind up this years was the second sunny saturday all summer...(sorry, Irene!). We stopped by for a photo-op and were treated to fresh oysters and homemade soup! Thanks again to everyone who works so hard to make this a success, not least of all the farmers! And our lovely market manager Shay's no easy task wrangling all those vendors. Some of the farmers will still show up on Wed. and Saturdays to sell the last of their crops, so do stop by to stock up on potatoes and onions and other fall veggies!

We also had a scarecrow building contest on the back porch on saturday afternoon. The sunny day and warm apple cider really revved things up and we ended up with some great entries!

Abby and Natalia got to take a break from barista-ing and built 'Roger' our only entry practising yoga

The Winner is...Scarah Palin! (where's Tina Fey when you need her!)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Fall is a trip!

At my house, fall means Nasturtiums! Planted from seed, they take forever to get going, but it's such a treat to have them come on strong while everything else is fading into the sunset. Fall at the bakery brings new faces as seasonal staff turns over, we are welcoming Adam, a born Alaskan, just back from a moose hunt with his family. He's our new coffee guy...(look out Johnny!). Everyone is loving Ryan's soups and we're tapping his inner chef for some awesome lunch specials. He made reuben savories yesterday, they sold out so fast and were so great, I can see that becoming a regular lunch thing! It's great to have some fresh energy after the wildness of summer has died down.This next week, I'm heading off to Bend, Oregon to make a wedding cake for Rylie and Delia and hopefully enjoy some slightly warmer weather. When I return it will be time to start revving up for the Holiday season...can you say COOKIES! Kate is bowing out to Maternity leave in mid-October...we are so excited for her! (did I tell you they found out it's another boy?) Melissa, right hand girl of my dreams is also going on winter hiatus...for a year she has kept us all together, can we do it without her? Tune in next week to find out!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Oven info... part 1

Sharon and Kate discovered Alan Scott of Ovencrafters at a bread bakers conference..we bought the plans,we dreamed about the oven and it's possilbilties, we wanted it so bad that we almost built it before the new building (we'll put it on a trailer!). In the end, it had to wait until a year after the new space was up and running, but we did it! Actually Alan and his dedicated assistant,Julie Lomenda, did it...we offered a workshop and people came from all over and close by ,too, to help and learn from the master himself! It took alot longer and, as you can guess, way more money...$10,000 in 2004...than we thought. it has been an amazing learning experience and has brought us all together in ways we didn't expect. My husband has dedicated himself to the wood gathering, at least as far as the Birch is concerned...we burn a combination of Birch kindling, which grows in patches on the lower peninsula and has a short lifespan, so needs harvesting with regularity, and Alder, it grows in abundance along the roads and is constantly being cleared by the highway department, cut into 3- 4 foot poles which we put on top of the vigorously burning birch to create a hot and long-winded fire. We are currently firing in the afternoon and heat soaking until early morning. It is a retained heat oven, so the fire is burned down to ashes and then they are removed and the brick surface cleaned for bread first, then pastries and on it goes until it's time re-fire. We can put about 40 loaves of bread in it at a time or six sheet pans of veggies for roasting. Cakes and cookies come out amazingly well, as do roasted meats...of course! It took us so much longer to figure it out than we thought, too, which is such an overall metaphor for Bakery life in general! We love it, though, and as we head into fall with so much rain and cold weather, it sure is nice to have a warm hearth in our kitchen!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Raspberry JAM!

I'm not as much of a forager/preserver as I perhaps should be, especially living in a place with so much to offer the hunter-gatherer types. We have a freezer full of rockfish and that's about it...except for raspberry jam. It's a huge staple around here, both on toast in the morning and pb&j's for sack lunches. We need about 24 pints to make it through winter...and if you know anything about alaskan winters you'll completely understand why this is so important! This year was almost a bust in that department...normally we would have been picking mid-august, but it wasn't until a week ago that they finally started to pop. Of course the rain and stormy weather kept me from getting out on Wed. my day, I was relieved to get a little break in the weather to get out today, and boy was it fun! My good friend Jane (owner of the best yard in Homer!) has the most amazing raspberry patch I have ever seen...and in the dozen years I've known her, the berries are always plentiful and her generosity at letting so many of us come to pick is the stuff of legend. The stalks are 6 feet high and the berries the size of my thumb (and then some!) all surrounding a lovely patch of grass looking over the bay with a cottonwood tree so big it has a buoy swing (the alaskan equivelent of a tire swing) hanging from it's branches. The kids run around and play while the grown-ups chat and pick furiously. I got so worked up talking about Sarah Palin I had three buckets full before I knew it! At least she's good for something,eh?
Enough politics...let's make jam!

First we put our clean jars in a big pan half filled with water, put the lid on and set it to boiling. The lids go into a smaller pan also half filled with water and also set to boiling. Then we measured 4 cups of berries and 6 1/2 cups of sugar into our stainless pot and brought it to a rolling boil, stirring most of the time. (daughter Jane was mostly a big help at this) add 1 packet of liquid pectin and boil and stir for exactly one minute. turn off heat. using tongs, pull jars from hot water bath and fill to within 1/4 inch from the rim. Wipe the rim of each jar CAREFULLY and again with the tongs pull the lids out of smaller pot placing them on the hot jars and securing with the screw on metal rings. I like to leave them on a towel at this point until they cool completely when we will check the seals and store away in a cool dark spot.
We got our two cases done just in time to catch our good friend Tom Kizzia appear on CNN to help shed a little light on all this Sarah MADNESS!
Jam is done...back to politics!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Soup Weather

The rain is endless...
Today alone we went through 5 different soups:
Curry Vegetable (pictured above)
Hungarian Mushroom
Red Rockfish Chowder
Cream of Mushroom
Almost all of them were made by our most awsome new baker/chef dude Ryan...fresh off a summer on the spit at the Spitfire Grill. We are very Lucky! We also have added Duffy and Natalia to the winter mix.(peaches flaked out to tour asia) Randall and Abby are sticking around also, Thank Goodness! Everyone else has gone or is almost's a little overwhelming how many people we've said good-bye to! Chelsie was the first to leave for school in Juneau (she had to miss Hesketh...), Irene left right after to meet up with her man in Portland, then Erin back to Portland as well! (a very popular place for Homerites), Brianna is going to travel Europe (she arrives in Amsterdam tonight!), Ben moved to Red Hook, New York to learn from his father how to make guitars (Ben is the talented musician behind Berta) and Haven to California , Emily is off to Stanford, Jenny is going to University of Washington,( Dan is going there, too, I think)! Oh, and Johnny, good ole coffee dude that he is, is hoping to ply his trade in Revelstoke, B. C....Y'all are leaving me with a big hole my tattered little heart, but I wish all of you the very best life has to offer...we'll be here when you get back!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Bye 'rene!

Irene, we couldn't have done it without you! It was a crazy summer...rainy farmers markets, wacky customers, demanding work schedules...Irene weathered it all with signature style and grace. She's one in a million!(I think her new fiance Jake thinks so too!)