Wednesday, January 20, 2010

bud breaking and baking

Tonight there was sunshine while I ate dinner. I dont think I even ate dinner in daylight once this summer, let alone the middle of January. A perk of my new life as a baker.

With school finished and only a part time job at Codfathers until the Grapevine re-opens in April, it seemed like a good time to learn the art of bread. So I asked Monika at Okanagan Grocer if I could do a stage with her, an unpaid stint taken on by many a young cook to learn a specific skill or simply to put a fancy pants restaurant on your resume (alot of high ended European restaurants run on free labour). So Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights, beginning at midnight, I join the gals at Ok Grocer for some baking, chatting, and MJ dancing.

To do this, I have to retrain my system on Tuesday; read: pull an all nighter so that by Wednesday afternoon I am ready for bed. I thought this would be more difficult than it was, but I was amazed to find that eleven am Wednesday felt like five pm, and sure enough, waking up in the middle of the night, it felt just like my usual eight am. Plus, it is kind of fun to have breakfast at eleven at night, lunch while the sun rises, and, although surprising, dinner in daylight.

And a good dinner it was: buckwheat and ricotta gnocchi with tomatos and morels. I have dipped into my stash of frozen summer veg, and the morels were locally dried last spring. With the sun the way it was, though, it could easily have been a freshly made dish of a completely different season.

Though the switch from the notoriously grey Okanagan winters is great for the endorphins, there is a major downside to such early warmth and cheer: bud breaking. My pal explained this to me the other day as he chided me for revelling at the sun last weekend, as a too-early blooming of fruit trees, only to leave them barren in the summer. The idea has haunted me since, to the point of having a nightmare in which I am baking at the restaurant and there is no fruit for the flans, so I go searching fruitlessly at every orchard in the valley, the panic becoming stronger and stronger with each empty storehouse. Honestly, it is a scary thought! Whatll i eat this summer if there are no apricots? Sure, I laugh now at my overzealous canning and freezing, but now i fear that it will not last, and there may be nothing to replenish it with...ever again! Of course, I am probably being ridiculous, but then again, this season showed hardly any blackberries at winter's fault, so it is highly possible that stone fruit could be extinct this summer. I would rather have two more months of treacherous grey and cold. Because at least I have to bakery ovens to keep me warm.

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