It’s the start of my weekend. After managing two weddings, wholesale, and retail baking, I am friggin’ exhausted and ready to relax.
That’s why I’m awake at 4:30 AM. I let myself sleep in a bit, and I think what I need first after the last couple weeks is just some quiet time. On my back porch, I’m sitting under our porch light wearing my pajamas and a fuzzy hoodie. My legs are wrapped in a Mexican blanket Em and I got for our last beach trip that still feels warm and smells sandy.
I can hear the traffic on nearby streets, my neighbors air-conditioner, and my fingers clacking on a keyboard. Normally I like having music or a sound generator on when I write to help me focus. Right now though that would spoil all this.
The sun is starting to rise in the East, and the moon is still hanging high in front of me. If I put on shoes and got started soon, I might be able to reach Mount Tabor in time to see the sun come up over Mt. Hood.
I’m glad I live here. I’m glad I’m awake. I’m glad it’s my weekend, and I’m glad it’s quiet for now.
Tuesdays are Tart Days. After two days of prepping, making my fillings and setting up my mise en place, I walk in to the bakery of Tuesday, put my stuff down, put on my apron, and prepare to spend the first few hours of my day making upwards of 300 individual 4-inch tarts.
If my mise en place is perfect, I barely have to move. I can just pull down tray after tray, piping or scoop the fillings with an automatic motion, and slip into The Zone. I might perk up to answer questions, take in orders, or help out another baker, but otherwise I’m in my own world.
I’m a big believer in the power of routine. It encourages good habits when you have a daily mindset of “A, followed by B, followed by C…” In my case, my mornings consist of:
Eat breakfast- a bowl of cereal, some protein and a cup of vegetable juice on work days, a more involved breakfast on weekends (say, a loaded omelette.)
Meditation practice, minimum 15 minutes.
Shower, dress, depart for work.
I go through the steps, everything I want to get done gets done, and I’m on my way.
Routines are, however, by their nature a structure. Structures are, by custom, rigid and also encourage rigid thinking. Every now and then, it’s good to “shake it up” and learn to “go with the flow” again.
Since quarantine and stay-home orders have started, more folks have started getting interested in their kitchens. This is great news, especially as I can see how regularly my educational posts get visited.
For example, a friend of mine has been messaging me recently and asking for advice. Not so much on technique, but on equipment. A messy breakup has left him re-stocking his kitchen:
“Matt,what kind of rolling pin do you use? What material?” ”What do you suggest for bakeware? Any specific brands?” ”If I want to make cheesecake, do I REALLY need a springform pan?”
At first, I answered the questions and referenced my blog here. “I’m pretty sure I had a series called ‘Tools of the Trade’ or something.”
”Well, yeah, but you only got as far as knives, and that was five years ago.”
Staying home for an extended period has gotten a pretty wide assortment of interests out of people. Some folks are getting VERY into home exercise, home improvement projects, shaving their heads, or falling down conspiracy theory rabbit holes that Junji Ito would pass on as too twisted.
Most beautiful of all of them, I think, is “I’ve gotall this time at home now, I’m gonna learn to cook and bake better!”