daidoji_gisei: (Default)
I have survived another Thanksgiving.

I'm not sure if we were just busier this year or if I am getting old and feel the work more, but I was (well, still am) utterly exhausted from Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday's work. I let myself sleep in on Thursday (I had no cooking to do for Thanksgiving dinner, more on that in a moment) and still felt blah. I hit the snooze bar about five times this morning, and normally I try never to use it at all--when I finally got to work I semi-joked to my assistant manager that if I hadn't had to pee I'd still be in bed. "I know what you mean," was her reply.

I had Thanksgiving dinner with my friend Linda's family, and it was nice. I was asked to bring rolls and then volunteered to bring the pie because, well, bakery. Normally I take pride in taking home-made things, but I figured that I could just buy my pumpkin pie and dinner rolls from work because I *had* made them.

I was able to leave work an hour early today, came home, and immediately crashed down for a nap. I hadn't meant to take a nap: I'd laid down because I had a bad cramp in my right torso, but then I just couldn't stop myself from sliding into sleep. Eventually I roused up enough to drag myself from bed and start the process for getting food in me, but it was slow going.

I am resolutely ignoring Black Friday, which I think has gotten way out of hand.

But I may do some online shopping for me this weekend. Horrible, I know, but Goulets is having a sale on their ink samples, and this would give me the cheapest way ever to try those fancy Pilot inks. Stupid of me to buy them, given the number of samples I already have, but it's been a hard month, I'm trying not to comfort-eat, and ink samples are a cheap luxury. So there: I'll be stupid.

This weekend will be writing and housework. Like most of my weekends, really, except that I need to start getting more dedicated on the housework part. If Judgement Night starts in January as planned, the clock is now ticking on getting my place clean enough for company. And I still need more chairs for the living room. And find shelves for all my books. So many books.
daidoji_gisei: loaves of bread (bread)
Since I was asked:

The bakery as a two-fold obligation of making sure we have all the Thanksgiving goodies available in good quantities while not running out of any of the everyday stuff. Thus on Monday morning me and one of my staff will start making Whole Wheat and Challah dinner rolls and bread sculptures, pumpkin pies, maple nut pies, and pumpkin cranberry bread.

We are too small an operation to have one of the nifty machines that takes a batch of dough and turns it into scads of neatly-shaped rolls, so 'making dinner rolls' means taking 18 to 36 pounds of dough, cutting it into 2.5 ounce lumps, and shaping each of those lumps into a roll. As you might imagine, this takes a lot of time. Over the years I've mastered the art of shaping a roll in each hand, at the same time, which makes me twice as fast as any of my staff. I've tried to teach them how, but none of them can figure out how I do it.

In the early afternoon I'll have a another person come in; they will have the honor of making sure all of our non-Thanksgiving stuff gets made and stocked. You may not be surprised to hear that the fact everyone is going to stuff themselves with several kinds of pie on Thursday does not decrease the demand for cookies and chocolate cake the rest of the week.

Tuesday and Wednesday will be much the same, except I will have my assistant manager as part of the morning crew, giving us three people. We will need every one of those six hands.

The biggest challenge in those days will be managing the ovens, by which I mean keeping track of what needs to be baked, at what temp, and for how long. The dinner rolls are yeast breads so when they are ready to bake then need to be baked NOW. On the other hand the pumpkin cranberry bread takes about an hour and a half to bake (and a batch takes an entire oven) so it is essential on all days that the p.c.b. get mixed up and baked in time for the ovens to clear for the rolls.

The second biggest challenge will be finding cooling racks for everything: by the end of the Thanksgiving production run we will have used up every bit of cooling rack we have and will start clearing off storage racks and work tables to improvise temporary cooling racks.

And that's the plan.
daidoji_gisei: (Default)
Today's production at work: 200-something dinner rolls (each cut and shaped by hand), 24 loaves of pumpkin cranberry bread (16 small, 8 large), 2 pumpkin pies, 2 maple walnut pies, 11 pie shells. That's my personal output: I had a bakery assistant working today but I put her in charge of the bakery's non-holiday stuff. Tomorrow's production will be bigger--about double the amount of dinner rolls, to start with--but I'll have my assistant manager to help.


In the meantime, I thought I'd post my Ancestral Pumpkin Pie Recipe. This recipe came to me from my mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her sister (my great-aunt Florance). It is possibly the best pumpkin pie in the world, a statement I make only because of the number of people who have abandoned their own family recipes and started making mine. Warning: Do not take this pumpkin pie to a family gathering unless you are comfortable with being declared "The Person Who Will Bring Pumpkin Pie To Thanksgiving For All Time". I'm not kidding--it happened to a co-worker of mine. Click here for recipe and notes )

daidoji_gisei: (Default)
Thanksgiving is, if you are an American, next Thursday. This means that today I had a WHOLE BUNCH OF STUFF that needed to get done today. Which means, of course, today we had the Bakery Day from Hades.For trauma, rants, and bakery operations click here. )
daidoji_gisei: (Default)
I stayed in Lincoln for Thanksgiving, as opposed to going home to my mom's. This decision was (mostly) unconnected with the drama earlier this month; I've spent most of my adult Thanksgivings celebrating with friends. And this year I had the feeling that I was going to be extra-busy in the bakery, so taking Thursday to loaf around my place sounded good.

I thought I was going to spend T-day alone, but on the Saturday before I found out that my friend Genevieve was going to be alone and she to work from 1-6 pm that day, which pretty much killed any chance of a fancy dinner for her, so of course I invited her to have dinner with me.

Genevieve's work, btw, is 'media personality': she's one of the announcers at NET Radio, Nebraska's public radio station. She's even got her own program, the Verge, which you can listen to on Sunday evenings from 7-9 pm (Central US time) by going here. The Verge is her look at 'newer' takes on classical music, so it has things like Elvis Costello's Juliet Letters or "Variations on the Mission Impossible Theme". Interesting stuff. /plug Read more... )
daidoji_gisei: (Default)
Wow, it's been a while since I've had time to journal.

My mom is now home, and has been home for some time. When I called her two weekends ago she was all excited about her new, efficient furnace and about her next-door neighbor's new baby, which she is evidently an honorary grandma of. This brings me around to remembering one of my mother's most stellar virtues: Not once has she ever asked why I haven't gotten married and produced grandkids for her.

My pre-Thanksgiving week at work was a little stressful. Our main distributer has out-of-stocked us on mini-chocolate chips until the second week of December, my assitant manager called in sick one day, on another day one of my part-time people called into say they were out of town on vacation (an hour after their shift would have started), and one of my bread bakers told me he wants to drop some of his shifts because he's gotten a second job selling Tibetan singing bowls over the internet. This is not, however, the most stressful pre-Thanksgiving on record: that honor is a tie between the year I had two out of three bread bakers quit without notice and the year one of our two ovens went down without notice.

This year the bakery will be offering something a little different: bread sculpture! We always do whole wheat and challah rolls for Thanksgiving, and this year we are offering the rolls shaped into the form of a grape cluster with leaf and tendril. This is an idea we've been kicking around for about a year, ever since our outreach director commissioned us to do some "bread heads" for a presentation she was doing. We're starting out small and doing them by special order only--I'm not going to invest that kind of effort into something that won't sell!--and it will be interesting to see how many orders we've gotten. I'm looking forward to making them: bread is my favorite thing to make in the bakery, and shaping the dough is the best part of bread-baking.

So, this week will be busy. I and my loyal minions will be turning out large quantities of dinner rolls, pumpkin and maple walnut pies, and cranbery pumpkin crackquick bread, while attempting to keep up the usual supply of cake, cookies, granola bars, scones, etc. We won't be able to do it all, sadly, but the granola bars and scones are non-negotiable: we now have two coffee houses in town that carry our baked goods, and I Will Not Have Us Fail Them. It's gonna be a bear, but that's the way it is.

I'm just about at the end of my morning pot of tea, so it's time to figure out what I'm going to wear to work today. I worked on Saturday, and spent Sunday wrangling The Writing Assignment That Wouldn't Die, so ended up not doing laundry. I'm thinking I might have something suitable to wear for baking, but that is just speculation on my part.

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