Openness- November Tiny Bakery Update

November finally brought fall to the central valley of California. Pomegranates and persimmons have arrived, pecans are dropping off our tree and covering our driveway, and beautiful leaves have drifted to the ground in the old neighborhoods surrounding downtown. It's a lovely time for baking, biking, and striving for balance as the days shorten.

Speaking of balance, I took less subscription days in November as we struggle to find ours. With those days off I had a little more time to find some openness...

I took meals and bread to some friends in need due to illness and surgery. We had long afternoon playdates in the park with friends. I baked bread for a potluck, where we listened to beautiful music and socialized with other grownups and kids. We went to a lantern walk with the local Waldorf homeschool group along the wooded creek trail and met some new friends...

I did some spontaneous things, like making chocolate chip cookies on a whim and not following a recipe, and delivering them to friends. Or doing bread deliveries on foot around downtown and stopping to talk to people on the street. 

I decorated this crate for carrying bread, and went to the farmers market on Thursdays where we bumped into old friends. 

But the main terrifying leap that loomed over the whole month was Mod Shop, I had signed up back in August to have a booth at the craft market at the end of November, I planned and planned and planned, agonizing over the details of what to make, the schedule of how to bake it all and drove my family crazy fretting about it. 

It can be scary to put yourself out there. To BE a "brand" and try to sell. The whole thing made me uneasy. On Thursday we ate thanksgiving dinner, and then went home and started to bake. that night I stayed up until 2am making tray upon tray of sourdough Madeleines, and feeding my starter and making doughs and shaping loaves.

On Friday I woke up early and baked loaves almost all day. In between taking them in and out of the oven I made more doughs, zested lemons, roasted garlic and plucked rosemary. As the night went on into the wee hours I decorated cards describing each of the breads with my friend, and we placed my table in the living room and sorted out how it would look. Finally and 2am I went to sleep nursing the baby.

Saturday morning I woke early. I made tray after tray of sourdough Pain d'epi.

I made tray after tray of roasted garlic dragon tails.

I made tray after tray of rosemary lemon zest fougasse. Then I took a shower and packed it all into my car. It smelled great. I was nervous and had a stomach ache. At 5pm I was set up. I took a deep breath and prepared myself to stand behind my table and talk about my bread until 9pm, hoping I wouldn't have to take too much of it back home with me. 

At 5:21 I was completely sold out. I'm still trying to process how it unfolded.  I saw so many smiling faces, and received so many hugs, I felt the blessed, sacred, loving, heart opening, joyous spirit of sweet community love. I felt magic and electricity. Realness, Genuineness, Sincerity, It was beautiful. THANK YOU for coming to see me.

I'm taking December off from subscriptions to take a quiet pause, hibernate a bit, and think. I'll still be offering weekend breads and specials while I'm dreaming of what to do next, and I'll tell you all about it next month, in our next tiny bakery update. Thank you, for being a part of it all by being here. 

-Bonnie

Customer Scrapbook- Michelle Adams of Cosmic Bath and Beauty

I love making bread with all my heart, but without the people who love to eat it, I'd be alone on this journey. Customer Scrapbook is an ongoing collection of the special people who make our community beautiful and vibrant in unique ways. I'm happy to use the first installment of customer scrapbook to introduce you to the beautiful Michelle Adams, the creative behind Cosmic Bath and Beauty.

"I think fresh baked bread is such a rarity in our lives, it's good for the soul. Nourishing food in our everyday lives can be a grounding experience" -Michelle

I first met Michelle and her daughter Brooke at the farmer's market about 4 years ago where they had a little table full of lip balms, and handmade soaps.  I ended up with 3 lip balms, face powder and a bar of deliciously scented soap. Her product is so well made, I am still using the lip balms and powder I bought that day! Whenever I come across her at faire's and markets around the area I so enjoy the great glow of fun energy and positivity she puts forth. 

I love Michelle's philosophy "we believe in natural beauty!" many people pay lip service to natural ideals, but she truly embodies it. Her product ingredients are best quality, and brought about from a place of truth and self love. I use her complexion soap each day which leaves my skin soft, her neroli floral water toner which has the most gorgeous smell and leaves my face feeling fresh and happy. A dusting of the long lasting mineral powder and a bit of the mandarin lip balm is all I need to start my day on the right foot.

Thanks Michelle for making honest products that lets our skin shine, and making where we live a better place with your bohemian good vibes. 

Take a moment to check out Michelle's magic at cosmicbathandbeauty.com and give her a follow from there. I know you will love her style as much as I do!

Growth-Tiny Bakery Update October

Hi there! 

Here we are with a peek inside the tiny bakery!

October brought us some beautiful weather, and with it some very nice bread. I had a lot of new customers on Saturdays and lots of new monthly subscribers, so thank you for sharing my bread with your families and friends! It's been so fun meeting and getting to know new people, chatting with you all, and hearing nice feedback from everyone. I also enjoy delivering to new houses and adding them to the constellation of people and places I know in the map of our city in my head. 

IMG_7794.JPG

One new thing we tried out this month was stickers, replacing the stamps and twine that were becoming a bit cumbersome and time involved for the level of production we are doing now. I do like the ease of closing my packaging with a sticker, but I feel like this particular sticker is too small and too shiny, so I will be working on a larger paper type sticker as time allows. 

We had our 100th sale through the website! (and 102nd, and 103rd...) an exciting little milestone. Thank you for making it happen! 

We've also been working on trying out beautiful new bread shapes and making new recipes to prepare for ModShop. I was really pleased with these sweet potato and sage fougasse (above). Gabe here is brushing the warm breads with a fruity floral olive oil infused with sage. We also tested a sourdough rosemary,poppyseed & parmesan cracker recipe inspired by my daughter Sophie, we ate them all very quickly! I'm hoping to make little bags of these for discerning small gourmets who may be tagging along to the market. 

Speaking of Sophie, my biggest helper turned 8 this month, so we took a weekend off from the usual baking to go to San Francisco and enjoyed a beautiful day at the Bay Area Discovery Museum.

Gabe has been enjoying the daily rythms of work in the tiny bakery, it lends a predictability to each day and he sometimes chooses to keep the extra loaf I make for himself, or package it up in his own way and give it to someone he loves.  He also sometimes feels brave enough to deliver breads himself, knocking on doors with warm bread in hand. A few of our delivery customers have taken it upon themselves to spoil him with little treats. This past month found him with lollipops, fresh baked cookies, bunny graham crackers, animal cookies, fruit roll ups and all manner of nibbles. (you can see him enjoying the fruits of his hard work sitting in our bike below) I so appreciate the warmth and friendliness everyone bestows on my little helper, even on days when he feels shy or even a bit grumpy as 4 year olds often do! 

IMG_7971.JPG

Speaking of our bike, our little basket on the front has deteriorated under the pressure of carrying all this bread around town. I'm excited to say that some bread money has gone into ordering a new front rack for our bike. It will be very sturdy, accommodate lots of bread, and be affixed with great headlights as the days get darker and shorter. I can't wait to show it to you in person, or in next months bakery update! Leo, our tiniest baby boulanger has been sprouting his first two teeth which has meant lots of clinging to mom and sleepless nights, SO if you asked me how I was doing, I probably reflexively said "so tired!" I apologize for that...we will survive! And so ends this months tiny bakery update. Growing business, growing children, and growing community. Thanks for being a part of our village! 

Welcome to Alchemy

I plan to share with you here, thoughts on bread baking, recipes and some limited insights on life from the point of view of a woman, mother,writer, baker, bicycler. First of all however, I thought I'd share with you my favorite poem, on the subject of bread. 

 Victory- Illustration by Bonnie Ohara, 2014

Victory- Illustration by Bonnie Ohara, 2014

Ode to bread

Bread, 
you rise
from flour, 
water
and fire.
Dense or light,
flattened or round,
you duplicate
the mother's
rounded womb,
and earth's
twice-yearly
swelling.
How simple
you are, bread,
and how profound!
You line up
on the baker's 
powdered trays
like silverware or plates
or pieces of paper
and suddenly
life washes 
over you,
there's the joining of seed
and fire,
and you're growing, growing
all at once
like
hips, mouths, breasts,
mounds of earth,
or people's lives.
The temperature rises, you're overwhelmed
by fullness, the roar
of fertility,
and suddenly 
your golden color is fixed.
And when your little wombs
were seeded,
a brown scar
laid its burn the length
of your two halves'
toasted
juncture.
Now, 
whole,
you are 
mankind's energy,
a miracle often admired,
the will to live itself.

O bread familiar to every mouth,
we will not kneel before you:
men
do no
implore
unclear gods
or obscure angels:
we will make our own bread
out of sea and soil,
we will plant wheat
on our earth and the planets,
bread for every mouth, 
for every person,
our daily bread. 
Because we plant its seed
and grow it
not for one man
but for all,
there will be enough:
there will be bread
for all the peoples of the earth.
And we will also share with one another
whatever has
the shape and the flavor of bread:
the earth itself,
beauty
and love--
all
taste like bread
and have its shape,
the germination of wheat.
Everything
exists to be shared,
to be freely given,
to multiply.

This is why, bread,
if you flee
from mankind's houses,
if they hide you away
or deny you,
if the greedy man
pimps for you or 
the rich man 
takes you over,
if the wheat
does not yearn for the furrow and the soil:
then, bread, 
we will refuse to pray:
bread
we will refuse to beg.
We will fight for you instead, side by side with the others,
with everyone who knows hunger.
We will go after you
in every river and in the air.
We will divide the entire earth among ourselves
so that you may germinate,
and the earth will go forward
with us:
water, fire, and mankind
fighting at our side.
Crowned
with sheafs of wheat, 
we  will win
earth and bread for everyone.
Then 
life itself
will have the shape of bread,
deep and simple, 
immeasurable and pure.
Every living thing
will have its share
of soil and life,
and the bread we eat each morning,
everyone's daily bread,
will be hallowed
and sacred,
because it will have been won
by the longest and costliest
of human struggles.

This earthly Victory
does not have wings:
she wears bread on her shoulders instead.
Courageously she soars,
setting the world free,
like a baker
born aloft on the wind.

               -Pablo Neruda