Sunday, December 14, 2008

Homemade Goodness: Marmalade, Pomegranate Curd & More

Last week I shared my concerns over how the financial universe is playing out. It's a scary time. It's a humbling time. It forces one to practice their mindfullness and positive, constructive attitude. I also have been thinking about my cold, dark walks to the store each morning (it really is a retrospective time of year!) and what I'm doing with my life. I mean really - I have a PhD, 20 years of great experience in various forms of management, and here I am baking cookies for a living. We're barely surviving financially and have to figure out where our next meal and mortgage payment are coming from. What the hell am I thinking/doing!?

But, possibly for the first time in my life, the world feels right. Even with all the chaos around us, I believe I am where I should be, doing what I should be doing. I have this cockamamey test that I do. When I'm in the shower, I stand on my tiptoes. Before this career, when I did this, I couldn't stand without wobbling over for more than a second or two. Now, I can stand for as long as I want. It feels like an alignment or balancing of my universe. So every morning that I stand on my toes, I suck up the fatigue, splash my face with water and head down for another morning of baking and cooking.

I think about my friends and family (and my previous self) who get rutted into a career where you get decent money, but you always want more. I did that for 20 years and loved every single job: running the campus fitness center, outreach to underinsured and Sudanese immigrants, ski resort worker, temp receptionist, homeless youth services, youth camps. Loved each and every one of them. And I loved the pay. But, I always wanted more.

So is my purpose in life to bake cookies? Hardly. But is my purpose to bring joy to people through my creations? Absolutely. I've been getting feedback this week on my sugar cream pie that I sold over Thanksgiving. Everyone has been effusively praiseful and thankful because their guests loved the pies. I got to help them create memories. How fun and rewarding is that?! And, while memory creation may not pay well, I believe it will pay for itself in the end.

So here's a few items I've created for sale in the store the past week. They've been flying off the shelf and I'm having trouble keeping up with demand. First, using the rest of my pomegranates from the Mimbres Valley, I made pomegranate curd:

I also made this beautiful orange marmalade with blood orange and jasmine pearl tea. nice and chunky with a good mix of sweet and tart.

And using the leftover syrup from the lemon peel candying, I made lemon caramels with toasted piñon and French grey salt.

Tomorrow I'll try to crank out a bunch of lemon curd which sells as fast as I can make it. I also want to create French nougat because all of these curds are leaving me with (literally) gallons of whites. As we like to say at the Kumquat...Life's a Banquet!


Manggy said...

Oh come on, Rob... You are far too modest. I suppose it really is human nature when we feel really down to reduce or life to the most dreadful-sounding task. Like "baking cookies for a living." You don't just bake cookies! In all the accounts of restaurant management that I've read, you're one of the few who made me feel like you really listen to your customers and share such a great rapport with them. At the same time, you keep them on their toes and make life a little less rut-ty for them by making new and exciting things. So, you can balance on your toes for as long as you like ;)

I too have an excess of egg whites... But I don't particularly like candies/nougat. Oh well!!! :P

Tri2Cook said...

Nice stuff Rob. Some deep thoughts as well. We're a lot alike in some ways. I walk to and from work most days in the winter, summer I usually bike. It's great thinking time. I spent 12 years in management. A different field and no phd, several years of hard physical labor to get there, but, in the end, a comfy position and nice cozy paycheck. I've been a cook all along, I just wouldn't admit it and regret that I waited so long. Now, I work a crazy number of hours, make much less money, will probably end up poor and living on catfood when I'm old... but I'm happy. I don't hate mondays. I don't need 3 weeks away every year to keep from going postal at work. They say stress is a killer so we may live poorer but at least maybe we'll have longer to enjoy it.

bethanyjoy said...

You're a good person. (I hope it runs in the family...then I have a chance. Ha.)