Sunday, January 30, 2011

Looking Ahead

I think that one thing that is so exciting about starting this business/project is that there is so much unexplored territory. Really, I have been working as a baker for several years but have not had a lick of what the business end of a business is all about. Here I am, here we are, lapping it up and licking the bowl clean.

In all of this business planning and developing, we get to set goals for the bakery. What are our options? Who do we want to be? Where do we want to take this? There's not one answer, and certainly not a right answer. We get to be creative in our planning and goals. We wanted to sell our products through the Nebraska Food Coop, and here we are. It's going well and we're getting more comfortable and confident with every order. And while I'm talking so much about planning and goals and such, I'll say that we are now looking six months ahead to the summer. 

I just checked out the Omaha Farmers Market website and they have posted their 2011 vendor application. That's really cool because joining the Farmers Market is another step that the Two Birds want to take. It will be a chance for us to get some customer interaction. Selling through NFC is wonderful and we will continue to do that, but we will be ready for a new experience, a new challenge. 

We hope to get a spot for three or four different occasions at the Aksarben location Farmers Market, which will be on Sundays from 9am until 1pm. We have our own tent and everything! 

Of course there will be a lot for us to do in preparation if we get in (fingers crossed!) We'll have to figure out which items to make and how much to make. We'll have to purchase and/or rummage around for supplies. And we'll have to think of efficient ways of working, i.e. assigning duties, etc. By the way, is that all normal? Am I over-thinking this? I don't think so; it makes sense to me to have some kind of plan of attack. I wonder if some vendors just kind of get in there and go with it; make it up as they go. That's probably a really great way to learn quickly what works and what doesn't... then again, I suppose we'd learn quickly no matter what. And I suppose at this point I'm rambling. 

My imagination is playing. Exciting things on the horizon!


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Baking for Strangers

Meg and I have spent years baking cookies, muffins, and cakes for our loved ones: family, friends, co-workers, lovers.  If you have been in our lives for long, then you have probably been on the receiving end of a frosted cake (with fresh flowers if decorated by Meg, and fruit mosaics or farm scenes if decorated by me), a shoebox full of cookies, or a tin (actually a yogurt container, but tin sounds so quaint) of muffins.  

Now, as these Two Birds branch out, we are also baking for strangers - or potential friends rather.  Since November, when we first posted our products with Nebraska Food Co-operative, we have sold to about 30 customers, many of whom continue to purchase muffins and cookies from us.  Not all of these people were unknown to us.  Some customers were friends, and others were great folks we knew through volunteering at the co-op.  

But baking for strangers is new to me.  We are essentially being introduced to people through their mouths.  Their tastebuds, rather than our faces or personalities, serve as the avenue to knowing us.  When a new customer brings a muffin to their mouth or a cookie to their teeth, they can only decipher these Two Birds by the scent of ginger, or richness of butter.  What can't be translated through the tongue, is the beautiful red-headed Meg whose big eyes, with their slow blinks, will lull you into a contented calm on the strangest of days, or my laugh that is so loud and longlasting people have known I was at a party before ever seeing my face. 

We bake thoughtfully.  We bake with slow hands and a considerate nature.  Muffin liners are made by hand, toppings are applied with the tenderness of a finger to cheek, and all the baked goods are tucked in their packaging like a sleepy batch of babies.  We hope the care we take with our baking can be tasted so that when you do finally lay eyes on Meg, or ears on me, you won't be so surprised at what you hear or see. 
Detail of "Anticipation" with Ginger Blue muffin

In the future, I will tell stories of those I love baking for, but until then. . . 1) feed a loved one or a potential friend, and 2) who do you love to bake for?

~ Trilety

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sugar, Butter, Soft and Chewy

Tender gems indeed they are. Soft, yes. Cakey, yes. Silky, buttery, HECK yes!

Not many things are better than a chocolate chip cookie and a tall glass of cold milk... My mouth is watering... Hang on, I'm going to need a chocolate chip cookie and a glass of milk before I can finish this entry.

So, big deal. Another chocolate chip cookie touting to be your new favorite and you just need one bite to seal the deal. Well, not really, but there are many things that make Meg's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies different than the rest, in a good way of course.

1) They are sooooo delicious. (ok, that should be given but I'm just putting it out there)

2) Meg's cookies are made with local eggs. Two Birds Bakery likes to support its community and we don't care much for antibiotics and hormones and other nasty things that many big time producers and corporations like to use. Local is fresher. Local is cleaner. Local is our choice. North Star Neighbors Farm, Carritt Patch and Erstwhile Farm, LLC are a few producers that we get our eggs from. Egg love!

3) Butter! Oh butter, you and I have a long and beautiful relationship. And what's better than butter? Locally-sourced butter of course. Unfortunately we cannot get our hands on this all of the time, but when we can get it, we order lots and use it in all of our "classic" cookie recipes. Clear Creek Organic Farm makes it and it is rich and sunshine yellow and delicious!

So these delicious, dunkariffic, little soft and chewy chocolate chip cookies are not only made locally, but contain locally-sourced goods as well. Yay local cookie love!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Eat More Cookies

Men like my chocolate chip cookies.  

Women like them too, but it seems more in the realm of men to lean towards me, with a cookie between a thumb and forefinger, and declare, "This is my 5th cookie!". . . or 7th or 8th, depending on the man.  (Cyclists seem to eat the most)  I can't speak for all women, but it is rare for me to publicly announce, in quantifiable terms, my over-indulgence.  So it is the testicular version of the species that I most often notice enjoying my cookies.  

Be free from restraint when eating my (Trilety's Old School) chocolate chip cookie, because ingredient substitutions resulted in a tasty, irresistible cookie that is cholesterol-free, dairy/egg free, and lower in saturated fat.  Here are the highlights of the savings reaped by using alternative ingredients:

  • Flour:   Spelt flour, a whole grain relative of wheat with more protein than wheat flour and a tougher husk, is an alternative to white flour.  Similar in caloric content to enriched white flour, spelt flour has nearly double the amount of protein and fiber.  Hold a palm-full of spelt flour in your hand and a passing geologist will think you have sloughed Loess soil from a hillside in China or Iowa.  
  • Fat:  Canola oil is an alternative to butter.  This plant oil is a good source of Vitamin E, contains "essential" (meaning those oils/acids necessary for good health but not produced by the body) fatty acids/oils, and has no cholesterol.  One cup of canola oil has 16g of saturated fat compared to 116g of saturated fat in every cup of butter.  Unlike olive oil, canola is not pungent and can be used as a blank canvas for any cookie - dip a finger in the canola. 
  • Binder:  Flax seeds, ground to a meal and not a paste, can be used instead of eggs.  Being produced by animals, eggs are also a vehicle of cholesterol, whereas flax seed is plant based and delivers fewer calories and fat, and no cholesterol.  Add a little water to the flax meal and you have a goopy, gluey substance that is a delight for kids in the kitchen.  
  • Sweetener:   An alternative to refined granulated or refined brown sugar is Grade B maple syrup.  I love the idea of a tree's saliva sweetening a cookie.  Less refined than white sugar, maple syrup retains its minerals and antioxidants.  Grade B maple syrup, with 321mg of calcium per cup, exceeds the 276mg of calcium in a cup of whole milk. . . so maybe maple syrup isn't the saliva of sweet bark, but the milk of knotty wood.  
If you feel like this after eating 8 traditional chocolate chip cookies 
then eat 8 of Two Birds Bakery's Old School Chocolate Chip cookies and feel like this

Check back next week when Meg will give all the reasons to eat her cakey, chewy chocolate chip cookie made with silky white flour, butter, and eggs.  As you bring one of these tender gems to your lips, the scent of butter curls into your nose before reaching a now-wet mouth.  Either way, eat a cookie!

~ Trilety

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Holiday Love

Look at this! Opening gifts on Christmas morning with my family. My mom had sent a few things from Eureka, CA, where she's living right now. I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a new white apron with the Two Birds logo embroidered onto the chest. Weeeee! A surprise that came to me from one of the most thoughtful, lovely people I know. I must admit that I became a little emotional and weepy-eyed. Oh lovely day. What's more is that I discovered that Trilety had received a very similar and just-as-thoughtful gift. OMG we are totally going to match :)

The holidays are over and the new year has begun. I look out the window this morning and feel peaceful for the first time in weeks. It's a cold yet bright, sunshine-filled day. The sky is its typical cold pale winter blue and the sunlight reflects off of patches of rooftop snow. Tree branches are bare and brown, sticking little wooden fingers into the sky. Little to no movement, no wind to speak of, the world seems still, as if everyone and everything sits in a contemplative silence. Lovely. Although the holidays bring friends and family, hustle and bustle, giving and gathering, there is a point at which I am ready for the lull that comes after. January through March is cold here, and quiet. It is a time to rest, to hibernate, and to let a stir-crazy cabin fever build up until spring comes and I'm ready to burst. Like any other cycle. Ebb and flow. Seasons changing. Time to bake!

Happy New Year, All!