Monday, November 2, 2009

We Made It . . . . !

It took us 4 days to make it to our new home in Las Cruces, New Mexico. We left the East Coast just as the snow was rolling in and found ourselves traveling through the nasty weather front until we got outside of Arkansas. After that it was sunny and warm for the rest of the trip.

It was good to have the four days of driving across the country to take a deep breath and process all that had happened to us in the last 4 months. Even the dogs enjoyed the extended nap time they got during the trip!

It wasn't but a few days after we arrived in Las Cruces that the movers arrived with all our STUFF from New Jersey - it seemed that the load had multiplied while in transit. We didn't remember packing so many boxes!

One of the last items to come off the truck was my bread mixer. Needless to say, I was very relieved to see it roll off the ramp safely! And the BakeHouse starters are doing well in their new home. I've noticed a change in the overall aroma as they take on some new characteristics from their environment. They will be in dormancy for a few more weeks as we get settled in our new home. I'm looking forward to making my first batch of New Mexico Sourdough Bread.

And today we became official New Mexico residents. It's all still surreal and we keep feeling like we'll be getting on a plane to head back from our "vacation".

Las Cruces has welcomed us with clear skies, warm days and chilly desert nights. Our neighbors have welcomed us with the warmth and kindness so familiar in this beautiful city. And every morning as I take the dogs out for their morning walk, I'm greeted by the beautiful Organ Mountains.

We are finding that requests for bread are starting to come in as people find out about the BakeHouse arriving in New Mexico. We'll keep you posted!

Thanks for sharing our journey - thoughtfully Kath & Tom

Friday, October 9, 2009

The last bake . . .

The day of my last bake on Saturday, September 26th has come and gone. There has been so much happening as we prepare to move to New Mexico that I've not had much time to reflect. As I share with you this morning my mind is scattered as we continue to sell items from our home and pack up for the moving company which arrives next Wednesday, 10/14! My last morning baking bread.

My best friend who knows me to the core :)

I was grateful that my last bake was on a weekend and I was able to have my husband Tom with me. Since he actually built our Alan Scott Oven, it seemed appropriate that we share the last day together. I also needed his support or I would have cried my way through the whole morning. With Tom by my side, we talked, laughed and cried together about our life with the bread.

The very last load goes in the oven.

With the tears comes letting go and looking forward. We talked about our plans to rebuild the BakeHouse in Las Cruces, NM. It will take time . . . but we are excited about the possibilities there. And I've discovered something about myself as a baker - I am completely dedicated to this method of baking and have a passion for the whole process from preparing the dough to firing the oven. I couldn't imagine creating and baking bread any other way. I look forward to what the bread will teach me in New Mexico and I look forward to what Tom and I will discover together as we enter in to this new chapter of our lives.

Thanks for coming along ~ thoughtfully

Friday, September 25, 2009

The student's bring great joy . . .

Clemence Danko from France

It has been an exciting last week here at the BakeHouse. Today will be my last prep day and my last day to have a visitor. The amount of bread is tremendous as the shops are trying to get as many loaves as they can from the last bake tomorrow morning. I'm very grateful to have the helping hands of eager students!

Jeremy Thomas survives a 6 day crash course!

The joy I've received from each student is priceless. Their enthusiasm for this method of making a naturally leavened Sourdough bread convinces me that my desire to pass on this ancient way of making bread is important.

Janice Ewertsen gets some more hands on learning after just finishing the intensive 2 month Bread Course at FCI in NYC

Laszio from Hungary (left), Clemence's husband also joins the fun
as well as Jeremy's boss Brain (right) from Apple Ridge Farm in
Saylorsburg, PA.

Friday, September 4, 2009

When the teacher becomes the student . . . .

Teaching a class about keeping a Sourdough Culture The Health Shoppe in Morristown, NJ in the Spring of 2009.

I've entered in to the final stretch of my bread making in New Jersey. It feels a little emotional. And to make things a little more challenging, I've been having to really monitor one of my Sourdough Starters since the weather in NJ went from Dogs Days to Cool Fall Days . . . sudden change in temperature and humidity does not make for a happy, robust Sourdough Culture.
What it has done is make me rely on years of experience of making bread to make the right decisions when I do face this type of challenge. Boy do I remember the beginning days. I could see that there was something wrong with the bread, but I didn't have enough experience to know what to do about it! Ahhh, the learning curve.
I've had the pleasure these last few bake days to share my work day with several visitors. As they spend the day with me, I observe so much that reminds me of my first attempts at becoming a baker of Sourdough bread. Back then I couldn't get enough information, and by the end of my visit with an experienced baker my brain felt swollen!
Now the tables have turned and while I'm sharing and teaching these eager baker's, I'm relearning myself! When these students leave the BakeHouse, my brain is swollen, the adrenalin is flowing and I can't wait for the next set of students to come so I can share and learn some more! I'm discovering that the benefit I get from sharing my skill is priceless. I have been truly blessed by this opportunity and I'm looking forward to sharing my last week of baking in New Jersey with 6 more students.
And this past week, one of my students, an avid home baker, told me that he will be gifting me with a Fig Tree to take to New Mexico. He's so enthusiastic and excited about what he's learned from his visit. He built his own brick oven in his back yard based on the oven his mother had in her home in Tuscany! I will look forward to staying in touch with him as I will need his help in cultivating the Fig Tree! Thank you Mario!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Letting go sets you free . . .

The commercial range & suppression system come out. Sold to Pohatcong Memorial VFW Post 6701.

I've decided to call the last three weeks of this journey "The Big Purge".
At first it's stressful, there seems to be so many steps to getting rid of stuff, but then once the ball started rolling, before we knew it, a lot of things just disappeared right before our eyes!

What I wasn't prepared for were the little attachments I had to each of the items that went to a new home. These "things" had weaved their way into my mind and heart and when it came time to let them go - well - it was a little bit of a struggle. There was this question that would pop up each time the opportunity came to let the item go . . . . "What if. . . ? " You know that question, it has many forms, but basically it always whispers to us in the same way. "What if I'll need it?", "What if someone I know will need it?", "What if I can't find this item again if I end up needing it?", or the same question worded a different way . . . "Well maybe . . . " And it goes like this, "Well maybe I could get more money if I wait to sell it." , "Well maybe someone might need it and when they do, I'll have it.", "Well maybe I'm just not ready to give it up yet!"

Then if we continued to listen to these nagging questions long enough, they became toxic and start to sound like this "What will people think?", "What if it doesn't turn out?", "What if it's the wrong decision?", "What if I . . . . . fail?"

Wow, when that last question rears it's ugly head, that should make us stand up and take notice! That is the ultimate toxic question. It's the one that keeps all of us from letting go, believing in a new start, taking that step toward change . . .then the final blow, the "What if I fail?" when left unchecked turns in to "I can't". End of story, end of the road, end of the adventure. Once we submit to the "I can't" the forward motion comes to a complete stand still.

Are you willing to face the ultimate challenge ?

Hebrews 11:1 (NIV)
1Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.

Faith is like radar that sees through the fog.
~ Corrie Ten Boom, Tramp for the Lord ~

Faith is taking the first step even when you don't see the whole staircase.
~ Martin Luther King Jr. ~

Feed your faith and your fears will starve to death. ~ Author Unknown ~


Monday, August 10, 2009

The Challenge of Change

Hillsboro, New Mexico 2009

This week New Jersey is offering up her trademark hot and humid Dog Day's of Summer. As I prepare to move to New Mexico I will always remember the challenge I faced while making bread during New Jersey's steamy season. Measuring water temps, watching the Weather Channel, trying to get a feel for how the day would unfold and how it would affect my dough as it fermented. And trying to calculate just how much time I had to get the dough put up in to the proofing room was like a good race, setting a good pace to finish strong . . .
As my bread making in NJ comes to an end (only 7 weeks to go) I find that my mind wanders off to the desert Southwest where humidity is hard to find. The very fact that many folks use "swamp" coolers instead of refrigerated air should give you an idea of how moisture deprived the region can be. I know that this extreme environment is going to offer a whole different challenge to the art of making naturally leavened Sourdough Bread.
I marvel at how the smallest change can become a challenge and an opportunity to grow. Change in any form causes us to respond in some way, and through that response we discover some things about ourselves that we may never have known. Change makes us decide what we really believe in, what is important to us and what it is that we really need rather than what we want. I'm thinking of a line in Sheryl Crow's song Soak Up the Sun . . . "It's not having what you want - It's wanting what you've got".

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Bake by day, pack by night

Photo taken between Datil and Cruzville, NM on Hwy 12 crossing the Continental Divide in Southern New Mexico 10/2008

It's been a long time since I last moved. And I'm discovering that after being in one location for 23 years, we've accumulated a lot of "stuff"! I'm also finding an abundance of things that I've gathered from as far back as my early childhood (Fisher Price™ barn with mooing Silo, all animal intact. :)
What I am enjoying though, are the little trips down memory lane, the trips you take when you come across an item you've not seen in a long time. This past week I've been packing dishes and cooking equipment. What amazes me is that even after 26 years of marriage, I come across a baking dish or cooking utensil that was a shower/wedding gift. Then that thought makes me wonder, "Where is the person that gifted it to us? What path has their life taken?" and that question brings me right back to our current situation. If you would have told me a year ago when Tom and I were pedaling our bikes 750 miles through Southern New Mexico that in a year's time we'd be moving there - we would have both laughed! And then I think about a passage in the Old Testament of the Bible:

Isaiah 55:8 (NIV)

8 "For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,"
declares the LORD.

I saved a little clip from the Star Ledger dated April 4, 2009 with a quote from musician Carlos Santana. He quotes: "Every time I tell God MY plans, he cracks up, he starts laughing."
Each day is an adventure, be sure to go out and be a part of it, you never know where it might take you!
Thoughtfully Kath

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

As word gets out about the BakeHouse leaving New Jersey, several questions have surfaced that I will try and answer.
The first question is the most popular: What will happen to the oven? The oven stays here in New Jersey.
This then sparks the next question: Is the buyer of your property going to bake bread? The answer is, no.
The next question that follows: Well what are they going to do with the oven? And that my dear friends I cannot answer - but let me encourage you by sharing that the oven has made a strong impression.
I will be honest and let you know that I've not processed the reality of "leaving my oven" and "leaving our faithful bread customers" yet. It's as if the two of us, the oven and myself, are going through the day to day routine of firing and putting out BakeHouse Breads, but we've not yet reached that point of saying good-bye. I know the day that the oven is fired for the last bake will be a day of very intense emotions.
But with that said, I look back and marvel at what this little oven has taught Tom and I. Thinking back to the beginning, I remember how excited Alan Scott was of my plans to be a "Micro Baker", and how helpful he was to Tom as he built the oven. And of our dear friend and fellow baker, Robert Hunt, sharing with us that after 6 months, our new "little" oven would dry out and it would start to "hum along" like clock work. He was right, with the passing of time, the oven has become like the little engine that could, putting out 10,000+ loaves a season from it's humble 3' x 4' chamber. And I've learned the most valuable lesson for the baker of bread: "The Oven and Bread will always be my teacher, and I will always be their student". Thoughtfully, Kath
photo courtesy of: Carla Fernandez, NY, NY

Good morning world. After considering all the different ways to keep everyone up to date on the happenings of the BakeHouse I've decided that having a Blog would be the most effective.
For those of you who have faithfully followed the BakeHouse via the web site you were able to access the information regarding our big move to New Mexico!
I only have 8 more weeks of baking as of Saturday! I can only imagine that it's going to fly by since we'll be baking, packing and finalizing the sale of our property in New Jersey. Little by little my customers are discovering that we will be leaving New Jersey. I have to say, they are all very excited for us and are very gracious with their encouragement, and they are always quick to add how much they will miss the bread. It's hard to communicate to them what that means to me and my family. It's a bitter sweet time and for those of you who follow along on this blog . . . thanks! We hope to take you on a wild adventure as we make our move to New Mexico in October 2009!
Kath the baker