MARTHA AVENUE- Day Ten- Well, I guess we really are a restaurant now. Today we had to do our first '86'. For the 3 people out in my community who have never worked in a restaurant, to '86' something means that you ran out of it. Usually that's a sign that the something is selling well and maybe the kitchen didn't prep quite enough for the projected sales on that evening. Or maybe it's because it's some precious ingredient that is only available seasonally or in limited quantities. Usually, an '86'd' item means a good thing.
Today however, I was NOT PLEASED to have to '86' the thing that I like to make best. Last night I got home from doing my North Bay deliveries (so good to see Pattersons, and the Iuppenlatz-Grechs and all the West Marin folks. We visited for a few moment across a driveway, or standing way too far apart on a sidewalk, or chatting from below up to a porch. It was a balm to share haven-ing hugs (hug yourself really hard while you look into the eyes of the person you wish you could hug) and to share a laugh or two. To hear how folks are coping, and to offer up positive thoughts for those who have loved ones fighting the disease.
The Petaluma-Pt Reyes road was that brilliant emerald spring green that I love so much with riots of wildflowers, and if it wasn't for the dearth of traffic, it might have been easy to pretend it was a different spring.
I spent a little time harvesting nettles in the fields around my mom's house, delivered meals to practically everyone who lives on my mom's hill, and made my way back home.... only to find that my OVEN would not turn on. WWWWHAHHHTTTT???? NOOOOOOO!!
I left a panicked message with Rich, the guy who usually fixes my appliances (that sounds dirty. It's not) and tried to go to sleep. Needless to say, sleep was elusive. Finally gave up and got out of bed around 5:30 to start calling Thermador, Thermador representatives, Thermador repair shops, Appliance repair shops, stove psychics, the Pope... you name it. Finally some Russian guy came over (gloved and masked) and took a look. Said some really not helpful things like, "oh, this looks very bad" and "I am not liking what I see". Said that he would do "some research", talk to his "very amazing boss" and get back to me.
Meanwhile, I had orders for 8 loaves of sourdough for Wednesday!!! I contacted all the folks expecting bread and gave them my disappointing news. And then I cried. Somehow the bread is the thing for me. It's not the fanciest thing on the menu or my personal "most delicious" or the thing that is the easiest to make. But it's the BREAD. It's the symbol of nurturing my friends and neighbors. It's the metaphor for caring for each other and trusting in the magic around us. The alchemy of flour and water and yeast-magic in the air. It's the mystery of the rising dough creating heat your can feel with your hand. It's the thing we deny ourselves when we are feeling invincible but turn to when we need comfort. And now, for now, I cannot give that to the folks who want it. And it made me very sad.
It is my hope... fervent hope... that when my oven is fixed, I can start up again. It looks like the 6 loaves back-to-back I made on Monday morning might have been too much for the "home-cooking" oven. It takes about 7 hours of 500degree heat to cook that many loaves. So, when the oven is fixed, I am going to have to space out my cooking time... and probably limit the number of loaves per day. I am sure it will all be fine, but I was dreaming about turning out a dozen a day... all those little round loaves lined up on my sideboard cooling were so comforting. Who knows, maybe someone has a commercial kitchen they aren't using and I can come be a middle of the night kitchen maid and bake loaves all night.
For now, I will content myself with baking cookies in a little convection oven I bought for catering Oasis NYE the last couple years and making yummy Panna Cotta. And maybe I will come up with some other sort of breads that don't require the intense heat of the sourdough, but still give me that good nurturing-my-people feeling. I will keep you posted.
In the meantime, we have fresh Nettle-Walnut pesto from my mom's Fairwinds Farm pastures, a decadent hearty Ragu, and an insanely delicious Pomodoro to go with our homemade gnocchi and the dried Garganelli pasta. We also have a hearty Lentil soup and the lauded Pozole. Sweets will continue this week with Apple Crumble with whipped cream, Panna Cotta and OMG Orange-Chocolate-Buckwheat cookies.
My favorite take-away from today was the side-by-side gnocchi making factory in my kitchen today. Listening to good music, dodging sunbeams in the flour dust and savoring the moment of simplicity and creativity.
May we all find the moments of simple pleasures in this time, love our people, take care of our bodies and our hearts and find ways to nurture ourselves through this time. Sending love and sourdough dreams out to all of you. xoxoxo