Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wedding season is winding down...

We are down to our last few weekends of wedding cake madness. This cake started out on paper as a much more elaborate creation breathlessly related to me by the bride just a couple of weeks ago. While setting up, I casually mentioned to the mother of said bride that it seemed like a last minute affair. In a quiet voice she assured me that it had been planned for quite some time, they were all just secretly hoping the bride would change her mind! Well, she did change her mind on the elaborate detail of her cake when I told her what it would cost. Once we got a grip on how much she could actually spend, we were able to come up with a nice simple design and along with some late blooming flowers right from my garden...I think it reflects the moment and the setting perfectly!

Upcoming Events:
Kachemak Bay Family Planning Clinic is having their annual Iron Chef Competiton at the Saltry Restaurant in Halibut Cove on Sunday, September 6th. It is their biggest fundaraiser of the year and a truly great event where chefs from around the peninsula compete and everybody wins!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Waking up with the cranes

A morning at home brings a special treat this time of year...

A few groups of Sandhill cranes have adopted our yard as a way station as they gather to fly south...we'll see them again next spring when they come back up to nest. The lighter one is a chick born this summer...and I thought my kids were growing fast!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Golden Glove Awards and the week from hell...

The week before last was definitely one to remember...and not necessarily in a good way. It began on Monday, coming in to find the esspresso machine was only working at half power, the credit card machine was not sending, the oven door had broken and the deli case had gone down in the night packed to the gills with chocolate mousse, lemon bars, brownies and lots of other desserts. All of it had to be thrown away (the case had been a relic from our old days and we hoped to get one more summer out of it, but sadly, no.). To top it all off we were cooking breakfast, lunch and dinner each day (delivered and set-up) for 38 people as a special catering project we had decided to take on months before (when things were kinda slow). As the old saying goes, when it rains it pours and the week continued to offer a few more awful suprises...The sweet little preschool run by our own 'Miss Red' was displaced by a terrible fire and one of our own young friends (and off and on employee) was diagnosed with a life threatening really felt like it wasn't going to stop. We had one thing to look forward to, though, and that was last sunday's Golden Glove Awards. To help cheer us all up 'Sister' Kate masterminded the event and with much help from Red put on an award show to beat them all. They set up the yard with tables covered in cloths and flowers and laid out a fireweed red carpet...we even had podium and a microphone! Brianna showed up in a platimun wig and everyone donned their finest duds. Natalia brought us a beautiful spread of wood fired pizza from Finn's and we toasted each other with Vouve Cliquot (Thanks Michael!!!!). The presentation was hilarious as we were each honored for our summer performances matched up to appropriate movie titles. I'll publish the list as soon as I can find it...but the most important thing I hope everyone got out of it (besides a hangover), is that no matter how many times the grease trap blows up in the middle of lunch, or the toilet backs up on a busy sunday...We ARE ALL WINNERS!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

...a little baking music, please!

I said to my friend Rosemary Fitzpatrick as she rosined up her bow "You don't mind if I roll my buns while you play, do you?" She smiled back with playfull wickedness "Why, no, Carri, not at all!" and with that exchange the Kenai Peninsula Orchestra Summer Concert Series was underway on the porch of the Bakery, right outside my baking table window. Rosemary played along with violinist Kaari Bouma and were enjoyed by a whole yard full of music lovers. This is one of my favorite events of the summer season!

Saturday, August 15, 2009

My BLT... from scratch!

With my tomato ripe (finally!), bacon cured and bread made from scratch, I was ready to make my sudmission for the BLT Challenge put out by Michael Ruhlman. I went ahead and gathered the rest of my very special ingredients: The lettuce is from a box on my porch that I planted bibb lettuce in last started growing back all on it's own this spring, something I've never seen happen this far north! The egg for my mayo came from our friend Samantha who collects food scraps from the bakery and feeds it to her chickens...she then brings the eggs to us in trade for credit. (it is a sweetly sustainable relationship!)

I whisked my mayonnaise together and toasted the bread lightly on the grill. The bacon came out salty and slightly sweet, I cooked it in a cast iron pan until it was barely crisp, so it still had a little chew.

We enjoyed it with a nice frosty homebrewed ale by husband John.
For a sandwich that took all summer (and lots of spirited discussion) to make, it was delicious!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

This baby is almost grown!

My Arkansas Traveler heirloom tomato baby has grown into it's own. I have faithfully watered, fertilized and trimmed...even going so far as to have a friend come and tend to it while I was up in Anchorage for a few days. All that care and attention has led to this:
and with the ripening comes the inevitable time to pick and eat and, well, be fully realized.
Along those very same lines, 16 years ago I nursed a different sort of living thing into the world...a human thing. I wasn't at all sure how to care for this living being at first, but I faithfully watered, fed and nurtured, going so far as to enlist the help of a whole town (it takes a village, you know). And now all this care and attention has led to this:
Saying goodbye to her for a whole year while she goes to school in the Netherlands to grow and learn and, yes, start on her way to becoming fully realized.
It's good thing I have the bakery to keep me busy and two other young humans to nurture, or else there would be tomato plants everywhere!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Sexy White Bread...

"It's only when the tide goes out that you discover who's been swimming naked" - Warren Buffet
Years ago, Sharon and Kate attended a bread conference in Sausilto (later this gathering became known as Camp Bread)While there they were lucky to meet Alan Scott (the gentleman who eventually came here and helped us build our oven) along with a host of other bakers who, through their great enthusiasm and inspiration, truly helped solidify our commitment to the craft. One of those bakers was Dave Miller, my favorite story they brought back from that trip was about the talk Dave gave about flours and grains and his referral to the pale loaf we enjoy with our peanut butter and jelly as 'sexy white bread'. Now, I can totally see where he's coming from... it's all silky and smooth, soft and chewy all at the same time...I like to think of our White Trash as not quite PG13 material, but the bread that really comes to mind for me as sexy is our, I know...there's a bunch of y'all out there clamoring for the recipe, however, if you want to make the ciabatta...if you truly want to experience the butter dripping through the lovely holes and the amazing chewy crust from your own bread, you will want to go out and get a copy of Artisan Baking Across America by Maggie Glezer. In it you will find (it is like a treasure hunt, no?) Craig Claiborne's Ciabatta recipe. Don't be daunted like I was by the technicalities. I have to give my more scientific sister, Sharon, credit for working this formula out for us, here at the bakery, (the very wet dough had me freaked out, but once you get it, it's a revelation!)...I have spent the last eight years or so trying to get it right. I may almost be there!
p.s. for you insatiables...Here's more Bread Porn...(oh yeah), courtesy Donna Turner Ruhlman

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Eating Alaska...and then some!

With my husband and daughter finally returned from 5 weeks of commercial Salmon fishing, I was glad there were still lilacs blooming in the yard for them to enjoy. (yeah, in August, only in Alaska!) The fireweed has also come on strong this year. Whole hillsides are covered with jawdropping makes driving a little hazardous, all this rubbernecking! It is one month of beautiful that cannot be equalled, and truly, one good reason to let your flower garden go to follow Mother Nature's whims... I took advantage of a Saturday morning off to play with flower jellys. I had just enough of the lilac blossoms for one very excellent batch
Of course, the fireweed will be blooming now for a couple of weeks, lots of opportunity to cash in, it will keep me occupied until the raspberries get here!
We are all working hard to put away a little extra for this winter, with the anticipation of a 'ripple effect' on the Homer economy over this next year. We have faired least as far as the bakery and it's supporters go. We are not nearly as desperate as those folks in the midwest, counting on big business to make their wage. It brings home a few interesting points of how we will sustain ourselves in the future... some of which have been explored in a couple of documentaries that have come out this year. One is an alaskan tale, called Eating Alaska by director Ellen Frankenstein. It is a humorous look at trying to eat the right thing, in the right place, at the right time. A special screening was shown here at the Homer Family Theater on Earth was a benefit for the Homer Farmers Market and the Fox River Cattlemen's Association (I totally have a crush on that guy!) We are lucky to have such great resources here in our little spot at the end of the road!
The other movie that is being shown nationally that covers this issue on a much broader (and SCARIER) scale is Food inc. . Writer Michael Ruhlman gives a heartfelt review on his blog and the New York Times called it the scariest movie of the year!