The Thing Is...
The thing about baking is that you start your day full of optimism and vigor and then suddenly, it is 10 hours later and you feel like Ed Rooney when he gets on the bus after a furtive day-long search for Ferris Bueller.
When I started this blog in September, part of what I really wanted to explore was the truth about opening a business...the good AND the bad and whatever else came between. Today was one of our most challenging days yet...which is just a really tactful way to say that today was EXHAUSTING and felt at times like an epic fail. Truth, people.
We were on a roll at an early start and we were blind baking pie shells like we just couldn't be stopped. I even said that aloud in our kitchen and then just a few short moments later, all the lights started to flicker. And then we were in the dark. Our ingredients were in the dark, our pies were in dark, non-operating convection ovens, and our mixers stopped mid-mix. (Oddly enough, the commercial dishwasher still worked.) The building manager did an investigation and we learned that we weren't the only ones without power and that Boone Electric was working on it. About an hour later, we could see again - and that is really helpful when you are trying to figure out whether you are measuring out cloves or nutmeg. But the whole thing threw our groove off...pies had to be started again from scratch and we sort of lost our rhythm and our pattern.
Our second problem? Apple peeling. Have you ever peeled 200 apples and then found out that you actually needed another 40? I hope not, because it is truly a miserable feeling. I have a big to-do list for the days after the holiday, but number one is essentially finding some sort of machine that you just throw the apples in and then they come out cored, peeled, and sliced. I mean, that has to exist right? If not, then I hereby lay claims to the intellectual property of the idea because it would REVOLUTIONIZE the baking industry. I don't even want to think about another apple right now. It will probably be spring before I can consider eating one that I have to peel. Even thinking about it now gives me some sort of apple related post traumatic stress disorder. It was JUST SO MUCH PEELING. And it felt like the Twilight Zone. I was working on Coconut Cream on the other side of the kitchen and Jeanne was peeling and screamed that she felt abandoned. And honestly, she probably had. There is love, and then there is apple peeling.
And then there is the kitchen clean up. The downside of baking is that it has to be cleaned up...the dishes, the counters, the worktables, the mixers, the microwave, and the floor. Oh, the floor, I couldn't even guess at the amount of apple peels and flour that came off that floor. And while that is going on, the boxes all have to be assembled and the counts double-checked. I may or may not had a small meltdown worthy of my own Bravo television show at this point.
And I get it - these are all first-world problems. Oh the woes of pursuing your own business in a democracy...how trying to face apple peeling issues and a short electrical outage. I GET IT. And now that I've showered off all the sugar crystals and bourbon splashes and I'm writing away on my laptop in my cozy bed, I GET IT. But at the moment, it all felt insurmountable and I looked at Jeanne around 4 pm and said 'WHAT HAVE WE DONE????"
Isn't that part of starting any business, regardless of the industry? Having that first "WHAT HAVE WE DONE????" moment and then trying to figure out what that means? Today is really the first time I have thought it in this PJP V 2.0 journey, but when it hit me, it hit pretty hard. And if you think mustering up some tears while your hands are covered in the leftovers of separating 60 eggs is hard, rest assured...it is pretty easy. Now is the time to say that Jeanne fared much better than I...she didn't cry a tear (she got a little grouchy, though). She's been here before and she talked me down a bit. She also ignored me when I was shouty and yelled back at me when I was indignant...precisely what I needed. It is the unexpected benefit of starting a business with someone that knows all your games before you play them.
So, the pies for tomorrow are all cooling in their boxes at the Elks Lodge. And we've showered and washed the dried cocoa from our elbows. And we have some perspective on this experience that I didn't have yesterday. We have some ideas about what works in mass baking and what doesn't, which is really invaluable. And we have each other and we know what we want out of this adventure and we know today didn't change any of that. We needed to know that and if it took 150 pies and an electrical outage to figure it out, then we are glad we accepted the challenge.
We will see all of you Tuesday picker-uppers tomorrow between 9 and 1. And I bet we feel like new women after 8 hours of sleep: