I have never made bread.
Not one stinking loaf and I just left my job as an administrator in education to help my family launch a food business (right now focused on sourdough bread but we’ll have other products soon – just wait).
For years, I have been on the other side of the camera filming my husband, Bill, or snapping pictures as he teaches sourdough bread making classes. Over the past 2 months, I have listened as he taught our oldest daughter, Brianna, how to hand-shape loaves. But, I never jumped to the other side of the kitchen to get hands-on with the intimate process… until now. Because, well let’s face it, I have no other choice.
SO, HERE’S WHAT HAVE I HAVE LEARNED IN MY 1ST WEEK AS A SELF-EMPLOYED BREAD-BAKER.
- 15 hour days standing on your feet, hand-shaping 100% sourdough products from bread to crackers to focaccia is ridiculously gratifying – who knew? There is a huge rush from this intense 3-day pace knowing that you are going to impact the health and diet of a local family! Going to bed exhausted – physically – is so much more rewarding and fulfilling than going to bed mentally exhausted.
- The skills I used in my profession fit beautifully into my new role . . . man, you should see my conditionally formatted and formula-rich Google spreadsheets for orders, expenses, and customers. They are a true work of art and keep us organized!
- For years, our lives have literally revolved around timers on Bill’s phone going off because he had to fold the dough. He actually has taken his dough with us into restaurants (I can clearly remember this happening in the middle of O’Shuck’s in Centreville once) because he needs to fold it at a certain time. I never understood why until now! Once we start the sourdough focaccia, we are on a strict 45 minute fold routine for several hours and there is no stopping us! Timers are going off on our phones and Alexa and the family has become a well-oiled folding machine! Now, I totally get the power of the timer and why he would freak out when it was “time to fold the dough!”
- I remember asking Mr. Keissling in high school algebra, “when are we ever going to use this?” and guess what? I just used algebra on Wednesday! I had put 4 rounds of focaccia together and when Bill went to fold the 2nd round, the consistency was off. I clearly miscalculated something but I had no idea what. I was ready to scrap the dough but that would be a loss of profits and we’re on a tight budget so that was NOT happening! Just a point of clarification – Bill was a math major three times and actually got a perfect score on his math GRE’s so thankfully, his math brain went to work. He measured the bus tub and dough and then measured the 3rd bus tub and dough to compare the weights. We then saw there was a 1800 gram difference between both tubs and I immediately knew this was one of those “solve for the missing variable” math problems from high school. After a quick algebra problem, I was adding the additional 1800 grams of flour I missed and saved the dough for 12 focaccia breads. Who knew algebra would come to the rescue when baking bread? Clearly, Mr. Keissling would be proud 😉
- I knew we had a tremendous group of cheerleaders supporting our family and encouraging me in this crazy leap of faith. Many are people we know and love who would have our backs in any situation, but then there is this whole new powerful tribe of people we’ve never even met! Some have emailed or commented on social media posts, others have picked up products at the farmer’s market or ordered through Rise, but they all have one resounding message that is fueling our new adventure – thank you. It comes in different forms but the 2 underlying messages are 1) Thank you for doing this for our community and 2) Thank you for sharing your story. You all just wait! We have so much more in store for our community plus the larger area when we can start shipping and introducing more products. This is just the beginning! Thanks to our tribe for the continued encouragement that keeps our bucket full!
Constant timers, formatted spreadsheets, long back-breaking hours, algebra problems, and a growing tribe of supporters are just a handful of the new things I have learned during my 1st week in my new self-employment status. But I think the most important thing I have learned is just that we are always learning! I have always said it, but it’s definitely true now – I am a life-long learner. In the past, that learning revolved around education and technology for the classroom. Now that learning centers on fermented foods and technology to help spread our message and simplify/organize the processes so that we can impact more people.
Take it from me, there are multiple ways to make use of the unique skills sets and passions we all have. For me, my focus on technology integration, uber-organization, and innovative teaching was well-suited for education, but now is also a perfect fit for our family’s mission to inspire, educate and nourish others.
And, I couldn’t be happier.
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