Thursday, December 31, 2009

Snow Angels, a Blue Moon and a Happy New Year!

We are wrapping up holiday week as we continue to juggle schedules to give everyone a break and do some of our own celebrating. I'm excited to be having fun with my little snow angels over the new year, skiing at Alyeska Resort. They have a torch light ski and fireworks tonight and then party with the half of Homer that is up here,too! The Bakery is winding down cookie madness and preparing for the last of the holiday catering. (thanks again for letting me get away, guys!) When I return, Sharon sets off to China for a couple of weeks, sans children, for a big adventure...look out Shanghai, you may never be the same! Many in our staff are coming and going right now, everyone trying to get in their holiday fun while they can! We are very grateful for Irene coming in from Portland to help us out (Haven also came and pulled some barista awesome) and for Brianna, Ryan, Abbey, Natalia and Rachel for being here throughout the crunchtime. Now, with Jill back from Belize, Natalia gets to leave for Kona for a couple of weeks, by then Hayley will be back from Austin and we will be a full crew once again! Aren't we a well traveled bunch? One thing about living up here is, to be happy and adjusted, you really have to get out once in a while. It's usually just enough to remind one that the world down there is a madhouse! I always find it a huge relief to come back to out little hamlet by the sea, where the worst traffic jam is getting out of West Homer Elementary School parking lot at 8:10am on a school day.
As an added bonus, the weather is clear so we have a beautiful view of the Blue Moon brightening our oh so dark skies.
It makes the snow sparkle and casts a hopeful glow on the coming new year.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

T'was the morning before Christmas...

Twas the morning before Christmas and all through the kitchen
Sharon was baking bread that came out totally bitchin.
The stockings were not hung by the oven with care,
because we were to busy to put them up there!
The cookies were nestled all snug on their trays,
With hopes that they're headed to someone's partay.
Thanks to Irene in her apron and Ryan in his cap,
we were loaded for bear with holiday smack.
When out by the espresso machine there rose such a clatter,
We sprung into action to see what was the matter.
Away to the back Brianna did dash,
"There's a lady here to pick up her meal and she wants it real fast!"
We tore through the orders, looked through the trash,
but there was none to be had, so Bri thought in a flash,
"She's is at the wrong place to pick up!"
Whew...crisis avoided, now back to the rush.
As we packed up more cookies and busily wrapped trays,
The sun made a showing to brighten our day.
It was then Carri remembered we had something else to lighten our pain,
A present from Red, her signature cocktail of juice and Champagne!
We were able to finished the day in typical style,
making quick work of all the orders left in the pile.
Then what to our wondering eyes did appear,
but the clock had struck four and we were all outta there!
We heard Rachel and Natalia exclaim, as they disappeared out of sight::
"Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night!"

Happy Holiday Everyone!!

We will be closed Christmas Day, open again on Saturday!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Cookie of the Year...

and the winner is...

Lavender Shortbread! Few sweets can treat all your senses in the way this cookie can. The buttery texture, the smooth white chocolate flavor, the scent of lavender rising from the back of your mouth and up through your nose...(my daughter Jane likes to describe this as smelling backwards.) It satisfies from the inside out, and if you don't believe me, you can ask all those people who are buying these delights as fast as we can make them! By special request, I've put the formula up on the recipe blog...just in case you come by the Bakery and we're out!
Also, a Happy Solstice to everyone!!!

May each of you enjoy a Holiday Season filled with Love and Light!!!

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookie Train has left the station!

Years ago...when we decided to do Holiday Cookies in earnest. We got the idea to sell them by the pound...averaging out the effort and ingredients to give an easy way to encourage people to think of us when their holiday baking ran out of control.Now 10 years later, everywhere we go...the post office, in line at the grocery store... all we hear about is the cookies. We are pumping them out at a frantic pace! Our customers say it helps take the pressure off when they want something festive, but don't have the time or space to do it for themselves. We enjoy everyones delight in our beautiful array of handmade treats. It's funny though, at my own house as we set up the tree and decorate the house, my kids beg: Mom, we need to make some christmas cookies! I look at them a little askew and try to say calmly "dears, I don't know if you've noticed, but all I've been doing is making cookies for days and days"... that's when they roll their eyes and say..."we mean at HOME, mom!" so you see, even I don't fully get off the hook.
For the rest of you, the bakery has lots available for the upcoming week.
Prices are $10.00 per pound (a pound gets you about 2 dozen cookies)
We can wrap them in a pretty box and ship them too! (e-mail us at
Here's what we are making right now:

Lavender Shortbread
Coconut macaroons
Lemon Poppy Muhns
Raspberry Thumjams
Toffee Bars
Lemon Melt-aways
Cranberry-Orange Drops
Pumpkin Spice Cookies
Maple Butter Cookies
Chocolate Gingerbread
Gingerbread Cutouts
Merengue Snowmen

There will be more to come as the holidays unfold...if you're in town, stop by for a chai-nog and a little holiday cheer!
A big welcome home to all our visiting college kids, y'all are making my Maya very jealous!

If you happen to want to do some holiday baking here's a link to a new food site administrated by Amanda Hesser I've found called Food52...lots of great recipes and inspration!
Here's their cookie page

Monday, December 14, 2009

The darkest days of the year...

This week before the winter solstice brings the darkest of days to our little outpost in the north. We have done our best to brighten things up, both inside and out....(thank you Natalia!) Decorating for this season has brought on a more urgent and neccessary meaning living this far up on the globe. All the lights and sparkly things help to make those grey days when the sun seems to never come up, brighter, somehow more bearable. All the added holiday tasks, though, make this an intense time of year. Though now having stated it, really they all are! Every day here at the bakery is marked, a race to the finish...though, as in all kitchens, it's a finish that's never finished...there is always pastry dough to be mixed and rolled, breads to be made, orders to be filled, orders to be placed, groceries to put away, broken drains, frozen pipes, happy customers, needy customers, pissy customers, music to be agreed on and of course dishes to be washed! It's a loop that runs endlessly day in and day out.Sometimes an extra rif get's added...double door lowboy is down (again) Refer guy is out of town. Roseanna Roseannadama said it best "It's always something!" Sometimes that something turns out to be quite entertaining. A few days ago we had a group of old local guys sitting around talking loudly and watching us gals working away as the sunshine streamed in. I always tune these guys out because their diatribes usually end up pissing me off. But since their weren't many other folks in there, I let them ramble on. As they left, one of the baristas asked me if I heard what they were talking about. Turns out they were discussing how we should do a bakery calender, with an provocative photo of one of us for each day of the month. My initial reaction was that if I had heard them talking about it I would have thrown their asses right on out of there...but then, with Red's began to see how it could just work! So, inspiration does come from everywhere and usually when your not looking, or rather listening.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

It's crazy season!

Things have been a little crazy around here as the holiday season starts to take on a life of it's own. This past weekend, the Nutcracker performance and fair filled up the town. (and with having two children in the show, the husband working the pinrail and me coordinating food to feed 100 people backstage filled up our lives as well!)
Good thing we have holiday cookies to spare!

I am loving the afternoon light and couldn't resist some pictures of hot bread just coming out of the beautiful and delicious!

Sunday morning brought an amazing sunrise...

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

View from the baking table...12/02/09

You want snow? We got SNOW!

Commenter Bill Hayes wanted to see two feet of snow in our view from the baking table...well, here you go!
And when your done playing out in the cold, come on in for a cup of hot chocolate and some lavender shortbread...or maybe a gingerbread man, or an apricot thumbjam...there's so many it's hard to decide!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Breaking News:

We just recieved the news that Michael Cunningham is coming to Homer in June to be the keynote speaker at the Kachemak Bay Writers Conference (June 11-15)! Sign up now for an amazing weekend of writing, readings, and informative and entertaining panel discussions...all in a jewel of a setting at the end of the Homer spit surrounded by wild ocean and snow covered mountains. Come join us!

Sunday, November 29, 2009

and so it begins...cookie madness!

mmmm...peanut butter kisses, just like grandma used to make!

The working list:

Production began in earnest on friday...a bit of an abrupt way to shake off the excess off Thanksgiving, but our customers are asking everyday, when will cookie season begin? Well I'm here to tell starts right now!

Our favorite fruitcakes are back, to reserve yours today!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The morning of the day before Thanksgiving...

After wrapping pies until about 10:30 the night before, daughter Jane and I crawled into our beds in the cozy B&B rooms (Jane loves Kate's toom) upstairs, we awoke early to find Sharon rolling in dough...

and Abbey kicking it on breakfast...

nice buns, eh?

And now, after a busy week of baking, packaging and hugging people, we are ready to relax, cook in our own kitchens and celebrate this wonderful life we have. We are so grateful for our awesome employees, customers and purveyors and the many friends we have made along the way...(especially you, Red...Thanks for the champagne!)
Have a delicious holiday everyone!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The night before the day before Thanksgiving...

Pies are wrapped, as are the fruitcakes...Sharon will be in early to start the we go!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

'tis the season...for pumkin pie!

Pies, Rolls, candy,'s all about production and next week at this time we'll be practising it in earnest as we pump out the Thanksgiving treats. This time of year is all about preserving both our traditions as well as our food. We've all been canning and pickling to be ready for the long winter to come. And as we descend into the dark we are all about carrying on our favored traditions both through the process we use to 'put up' our pantry, but also as to how those items fit into our celebrations. I love sharing those special jems, like my grandmothers bread and butter pickles, or Kates cranberry orange relish, which has to be on my table right next to the turkey. As always we have a fun and interesting mix of people working here at the bakery, some are spending their first holiday in Alaska...others, like me, are celebrating their twentieth! Everyone has a special part of the holiday they hold dear and want to continue and then there are also those we are more than happy to leave behind. The beauty of moving to a new place. Especially one as remote and wild as this (if your living in a cabin with no running water at the end of the road, you are alot less likely to get those pesky relatives visiting on a moments notice) You can leave not just your tradtions, but your whole identity behind- a fresh start. That's one of the things we think this season is truly all about, rebirth...getting through the dark to come out on the other side...refreshed and renewed.
Oh and's REALLY all about pie!
Speaking of pie...we hear there is a shortage of canned pumpkin going on and we wanted to share one of our secrets with you:
As a substitute for canned pumpkin, you can use cooked butternut squash or sweet potato (the orange ones most often referred to as Yams) in place of the pumpkin. I made one at home today, just to show you how:

Orange Vegetable Pie:
makes 2 8" pies
2 cups pureed cooked orange vegetable (good to puree to remove any stringyness)
1 cup brown sugar
5 eggs
1 1/2 cups evaporated milk or heavy cream
1 t cinnamon
1 t clove
1 t ginger
1/4 t finely ground black pepper (optional)
Whisk all ingredients together, pour into two chilled unbaked pie shells and bake in preheated 350 degree oven
For 40 minutes until center jiggles only slightly when shaken.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Inspration comes from everywhere!

My Son's class is exploring roots in his class right now...I'm pretty sure they weren't exactly thinking the way this gal was...

My friend Dan, told me of this amazing and creative woman he saw at the pop tech conference recently in Camden, Maine...truly, all I wanted to hear about was Michael Pollan, but he insisted Marje is the real deal, and I believe him! And it just so happens she has a studio in Amsterdam...

where they do some pretty amazing things!

Saturday, November 7, 2009


We have our first snowfall of the winter today...Yay! Everyone was excited. The general consensus has been that we had a nice long autumn with moderate temperatures and more than a few sunny days, but now that November is well under way, it was time for snow. My own kids were fantasizing about Halloweens of years past when we could trick or treat AND sled. Not this year...todays snowfall was just enough to get our appetites whet for more. I love how it brightens everything up and covers up the unsightly mud (and junk in the yard-uh-oh!). Homer is lucky to have a very varied, but enthusiastic winter can ski, snowshoe, snowmachine...many hockey and broomball teams all flourish here. Some of my girlfriends have become hockey fanatics and are playing on a womens team (go Diva's! BTW, Who won the Armwrestling competition at the fundraiser last night?) It's nice to take a warm weather vacation, but then after a bit, I find myself wishing I could be cold...I guess it's true, we are all here a northern people, we love our summers, but we really love our winters. (which is a good thing because they last a long time) It's also what makes it such a great place to run a bakery. People stop by before, after and during their long time customer uses the bathroom to change into his drysuit before heading out to kayak the wild winter waves on Nearby Bishops beach (Americano to go, no room) It makes for interesting days and adds inspiration to our own adventures...though I don't think you'll see me sea kayaking in 20 degree weather anytime soon!
Hot Chocolate, anyone?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

it's 3 am...

and all I want to do is stare into the fire and drink my coffee as the gales of November rage on the beach outside.
But there is bread to be made and sticky buns to be attended off I go!
Have a great morning!

Monday, November 2, 2009

The last Gourmet...

Like many people, both in and out of the food industry, I have been reading Gourmet Magazine for a very long time. As a kid it showed up in the stacks of magazines my family had in their office. And as an adult, especially one who loves food, it has been in my regular reading pile for as long as I can remember. I have not always been a subscriber, choosing to rotate my food publications every year or so...but I never threw any of the ones I did get, away. I still have the November 1991 issue, along with a whole stack of others, arranged by month, so I can check into seasons past at a glance. This year, thanks to the Homer Middle School magazine sales fundraiser, I have (had) a current subscription to Gourmet. When I heard that this November issue would be the last, I realized that we must indeed be living in a new world.

To further inspire my fall menus and help me through these next months of darkness I went book shopping. There are two ways I reconcile this, one is that it's part research for my bakery cookbook project and the second is after I carefully peruse them myself, many become holiday gifts for my friends (It's like two gifts in one!) The books by Ruth Reichl (Garlic and Saphires and Comfort me with apples) are destined for my sister-in-laws birthday box, which actually needs to be mailed, stat! (I love both of these books and have just discovered her blog...I'm sad she's out of job, but glad she is still writing! David Lebovitz's 'The sweet life in Paris' I have been loving and I think I will send this to my daughter in the Netherlands, she will be able relate to his funny observations of European life. 'The Kitchen Diaries' by Nigel Slater is laid out in an interesting way. It's literally a daily diary of his food adventures. (people have suggested we go with a seasonal format for our project, but I don't imagine us pulling it off this well) The photos are beautiful and printed on matte paper, one aspect I would like to consider for the bakery book. The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook by Michelle and Philip Wojtowicz was irresistable to me because of the fact it is about beginning a bakery on a whim and a prayer, a situation we can entirely relate to! I love the puveyor proflies, something I think would be great in our book as well. (This one's going to Sharon...shhh, don't tell!) 'The Fat Duck Cookbook' by Heston Blumenthal is just one of those books I know I will keep and pick up over and over, just for the shear whimsy and creative energy in his cooking and his words. (not to forget the awesome illustrations) and last, but definitely not least is Ad Hoc at Home by Thomas Keller and his impeccable team including Susie Heller and Michael Ruhlman. I have all of their books, the first being 'The French Laundry Cookbook' and I am excited to have all winter to devour this new release.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Pumpkin Carving is fun!

Little kids, sharp objects, lots of goo...what could be more fun than that?
I have to give myself the prize for best adult interpretation of a child's only took me 15 years to get that one down!

Now some folks really know how to scare people...check out Chris Cosentino's interpretations here (the god of all things offal, though I still want to know if he's ever cooked a placenta!) Thanks to Ruhlman for the link via twitter

Saturday, October 24, 2009

giving good weight and the art of being here now

Giving Good Weight is a short story by John McPhee originally published in The New Yorker in 1979. It is about a green market in NYC and focuses on the duality of the challenges faced by vendor and customer and how their lives collide amidst the produce. McPhee's colorful descriptions and careful prose transport you right to that moment in time.

In the story, 'giving good weight' means giving a little something extra. Here at the bakery the metaphor takes on a life of it's own. Giving good weight can mean a variety of things, whether going the extra mile for a customer, weighing (and therefore WORKING) accurately and speedily. It also, as I've recently realized, means giving proper attention to the moment at hand. No matter where you are or what you are doing, you are more likely to succeed if you give that moment, that task...good weight- ALL of your attention. One of the things I love about cooking and baking is that while, of course, there is a certain amount of planning and reflection, to execute a successful dish, it is completely necessary to stay present. Whether you are peeling 25 lbs of onions or rolling out 50 must take the time to smell and taste and feel. It's true, good cooking does require some waiting time, but it is an anxious, fully participatory wait. Your heart and soul are in the pan or in the bowl, watching over the sear, fretting over the rise. The reward is as much in the doing as in the end result.
It is that way with small children also, a matter that has challenged all 3 of us (Sharon and Kate and I) over the years, trying to be present in our jobs and in our families. At times the two worlds enmesh with alarmingly heartwarming results as the kids grow to become helpful and contributing members of the bakery team. It makes me proud and grateful and I hope that above all they learn the ablility to appreciate the moments they have to learn in such a warm and creative environment and with that, be capable to fully participate in the moment, because here, it makes no difference where you came from or where you are going, it's what you can contribute right now!
Isn't that right, Blaise?

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The new deli case is here!

finally, two full months after we ordered it is! We took delivery on Tuesday and Sharon spent all day Wednesday filling it's everything we wanted. lots of shelves, sliding glass doors and that beautiful curved glass front. It matches up perfectly with our dry display case and will make the Holiday dessert crush a piece of cake! Because we occupy some strange equipment vortex, when the old one broke in the middle of August, we decided to bite the bullet and spend the money on a new case that was exactly what we wanted instead of making do. (which is how we normally roll) It helped that we had taken on an unusually involved cater gig in July that just happened to bring in enough revenue to cover the cost of the new case. We paid for it up front (goodbye $6000!) and the company we bought from said it would arrive in two weeks. After the third week and no deli case (it was September by this time, still busy, we couldn't stock any desserts, had to store the bars in the back and don't even get me started on the lack of chocolate mousse...very frustrating) We called and e-mailed and finally got word it was on it's way down from Anchorage. Then a few days later the driver calls, he's headed over. I wait patiently for him on the loading heart pounding as he almost backs into the ditch (!) eventually just stopping his truck in the middle of the road. He hopped down and before I could direct him, he looked up at me gloomily and said "You might want to take a look at this thing before we unload...I think it might be broken." My heart dropped right down to the gravely ground. I jumped on his lift and he silently raised the platform. The door opened and there it was, this beautiful, most perfect and looked forward to piece of equipment in Bakery history with the curved front glass completely shattered. Now it had been a hard summer already, so seeing this disaster, I started to cry right there in the back of the truck. The poor driver, led me back out and got his paperwork for us to refuse delivery. I pulled myself together (silly girl!) and called the company, starting a whole new slew of phone tag and e-mail updates. It took an entire month more, and much frustration on our part as we watched our revenue lower due to lack of dessert sales. I think in the end it was a good purchase and will be a good story to laugh about...someday.
Oh, and yes, Kathy, I'm incredibly pleased to report we DO have Boca Negra today!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

View from the baking table...

We are experiencing some lovely fall days that have been unsettlingly warm. This time last year we had already had two snowfalls! We will enjoy it while we can...but, honey, could you still put the studs on my car, please?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

it's all a blur...!

I returned from my travels this week to find the Bakery humming right along. Sharon pulled it out with the help of chef Ryan Lee, our new bakers Mel and Abbey kickin it in the early mornings and our most amazing barista staff- led by the lovely and delightful Brianna... Jill, Hayley, Rachel and Maggie. (a little redhead with your coffee, sir?) We are all enjoying the more relaxed pace that fall brings. A conversation overheard between old and new barista: "You'll love this time of year, it's mostly locals, and they know just what they want!"

Multigrain Bread is top on the list of local favorites...we're still working on getting it out earlier!
That and roasted vegetable focaccia sandwiches...nothing says fall like roasted sweet potatoes and smoked turkey on fresh whole grain bread. Get em while they're hot!

We are also conjuring up some pretty scary treats...
I may be a little overly obsessed with Halloween, but I think these cookies are watching me!