{the new year} All Good Bakers’ Full Plates

Paprika Tempeh "BLT" on Honey Wheat and Raw Golden Beet Salad with Cilantro, Toasted Pecans and Lime Vinaigrette

2011 was a year of amazing growth for me personally and for the tiny bakery my husband and I opened in April of this year. After 25 years of working in restaurants (full and part-time; mostly on, sometimes off), I’m learning how to manage our very own bakery/café – not an insignificant challenge for someone without formal training or schooling. We live in a community chock full of environmental and food activists, and have built our bakery using local, sustainable ingredients, driven by one main tenant: Real Food. “Growing” is a major theme for us in 2012!

Our operations have quickly burst at the seams in our 500 square feet of space, and we are {very} soon going to move our bakery into the neighborhood where we have lived for the past eight years, and where we got our start in ‘04 baking bread for a local farmers market (at St. James Church on Delaware Ave., known as “Albany’s Main Street”).  This is a huge development for us!!  We just secured a loan from an awesome local, non-profit organization (The Community Loan Fund of the Capital Region) and signed a new lease last week on a former bakery on Delaware Avenue exactly one mile from our house.  The new building has room to spread our creative wings and a small plot in the back for container and raised bed gardening, a selling point I am VERY excited about.  We’ve got a full plate of ideas we’d like to implement this year, all in the name of filling other’s plates (and bellies) with “Real Local Food”.

We hope this move brings positive growth for our little bakery and our little family.
Here’s what’s on our list for 2012.:

Like this! (photo courtesy of Organica)

Growing our own produce for the bakery/café.

We can’t grow in our postage-stamp-sized urban backyard (it is reserved by our gardening-loving mother for annual and perennial flowers, and her summer salad ingredients), plus it is winter here in the Upstate, so we’re going to start right away with an indoor hydroponic system for greens and herbs. We have a friend who owns an organic gardening store here in town (Organica) and he is going to set us up with grow lights and a watering system in our new kitchen which will be visible from the retail area. How cool will it be for our customers to see the greens for their salads being cut to order?! We’re hoping to begin with: spinach; romaine, bib and leaf lettuces; sage, rosemary, thyme, parsley…and anything else we can get our hands on that will prosper indoors.

Behind our new kitchen, there is a small, gravelly parking space just waiting to be transformed into a productive garden! Unfortunately we can’t use all of it (it serves as overflow parking), but the back and borders can be filled with raised beds and containers. We plan to grow basics we use every day: tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, onions, garlic, carrots, greens, squashes, strawberries, cucumbers, and all manner of herbs and basil. Vertical Gardening ideas are gathering steam and we are excited to try something like this:

(Photo from http://www.easiestgarden.com)


Can, Pickle, Preserve. Repeat!

Chutneys, butters, Nick’s Pickles, salsas, sauces, raw ingredients….we hope to be preserving up a literal storm this summer! We’ll harvest our own veg, buy bumper crops from sustainable local farmers we know, round up fellow canning enthusiasts, and crank up the stove (and the air conditioner) in the evenings when the shop isn’t open. We’ll use this preserved local, summer bounty in the shop through the winter and have a few other ideas for overflow (if there is any).

New Dairy and Pastry Adventures:

I learned how to make butter last year; cream cheese and yogurt are next on my list. I currently have a love-hate relationship with pie dough. Because I make it with my own butter/buttermilk, and NY organic flour (which can change the way it reacts from batch to batch due to varying protein levels), moisture levels are never consistent which means I have to pay strict attention to how much buttermilk I add to every single batch. I’ve had to discard or repurpose more pie dough than I am comfortable with in the last couple of months. I hope the “love” portion of our relationship will flourish in 2012 ‘cause I LOVE filling tartlets with all kinds of sweet and savory goodness.

Check out this one with chocolate pudding and vanilla whipped cream I made this weekend:

Chocolate Pudding Tartlet with Vanilla Whipped Cream

According to the James Beard Foundation, a major food trend for 2012 will be the rise of Snacking. These days, people seem to want a few bites of sweet or savory goodness to cut down on waistlines and wallets, instead of a whopping serving.  I could go on and on with ideas for mini desserts! Cute little upside-down fruit pound cakes? Cream Puffs? Yes, please! If I feel really adventurous and can get my hands on some honeycomb for greasing the forms, I really want to try these Caneles Bordelaise. I better get a grip or our all of our profit will go to my thighs!


Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Buying packaging knowing it is just going to be thrown into a landfill is not a preferred way to spend our (or our customer’s) hard-earned money. We’ll be exploring new home-compostable packaging options this year and will sell our house-made drinks in mason jars, hopefully with handy (BPA-free!) sipping inserts I just discovered by Cuppow, and these sa-weet knitted cup cozies from fellow FSC contributor, Christine, will hopefully be used for warm beverages. We’d like to start cultivating our own compost from bakery food scraps to nourish our garden; right now we have them taken away by the wonderfully innovative Radix Center of Albany.  We try to reuse as much as we can and strive for low-food-waste, but improvement is always attainable.

Community Engagement

This past year, we have gotten involved in our community in ways we never expected.  We helped raise over $30,000 (yes those zeros are correct) for Hurricane Irene affected farmers of Upstate NY with FarmieMarket and local non-profit, The Regional Farm and Food Project. We hosted FSC’s inaguaral Albany Food Swaps  (great fun surrounding our favorite subject: Good Food!), helped prepare dinner for Michael Pollan before his lecture at Hudson Valley Community College, participated in Tasting parties/fundraisers with the Chef’s Consortium of the Hudson Valley (a group of first rate local chefs who promote our local, sustainable food shed), offered our wares weekly in a growing farmers market just outside of Albany (the Saturday Delmar Farmers Market; with 60 local, sustainable, producer-only vendors in its third year), began our 1st Community Supported Bakery Winter Share Program AND my hubs was chosen as a Rising Star Chef with The Albany Wine and Dine for the Arts Festival!

In the new bakery, we’ll continue partnering with responsible local farmers and other local food producers for the majority of our ingredients, gather canning enthusiasts for marathon preserving sessions, host skill-sharing events and hopefully more food swaps, continue to help grow our farmers market and support the community surrounding it, participate in more fundraisers and tastings, offer cooking and breadmaking classes, and rent to other small food producers in the area who are looking to move out of their home kitchens.

I remember several winters ago, I was insanely bored and one of my resolutions then was to figure out how to fill my time productively and honorably. We are so grateful to be involved in our community in ways that help nourish bodies with good, clean food while caring for our environment. Our plates are going to be full this year, indeed and boy, are we ever happy about that.


11 Comments Add yours

  1. Karen Shaw says:

    Wow, Britin! I’m wondering how you found the time to write this post?! Congratulations and my family can’t wait to come down to the new shop – that beet salad looks positively dreamy!! Thank you so much for bringing your food, your spirit, your sustainable business model to Albany/Delmar – we need you!

  2. Ona says:

    Love it!
    I was one of the lucky recipients of your local grown horseradish – and love the resulting Fire Cider that I made using your recipe. Thank you for all you do for this community – I can’t wait to visit your new place.

    Also, as a canner, I’d be happy to jump in and help with your marathon canning days – so keep me in mind.

    1. Britin F. says:

      @Karen, we have been so warmly welcomed by everyone at the Sat. Delmar Mkt. over the last few years and we count ourselves very fortunate to have gotten to know more people in the Delmar community – everyone we have met has been incredibly encouraging, supportive and so friendly! The standards the market holds everyone to (re: local sourcing, reusables and no plastic packaging) have helped shaped our sustainable.business choices.

      @Ona, I’m so glad you got some of that awesome horseradish! It was so beautiful the morning it came in. And you made the Fire Cider! Courageous woman! We will keep everyone posted about our canning happenings on our facebook page (just look up All Good Bakers). We’d love to have you & look forward to meeting you!

  3. Can’t wait for all to come! I love hearing you’ll be growing some of your own herbs and vegetables right at the shop! Let me know if you need to hire someone for counter help or kitchen help 😉

  4. Deanna says:

    All great resolutions! I have 20 acres out here on SGF (about half are very “farmable”). If you and Nick decide to expand your growing adventures, maybe we can find a way for you to use some of my land. Good luck with all your intentions for 2012!

  5. Kate H. says:

    Wow, you just are full of energy, you’ve accomplished so much this past year – can’t wait to see what the new store will be like.

  6. I got excited just reading about all the plans for next year. My BFF Kim and I were going to can and make jam this past year with all the blackberries she has on her property. Sadly Hurricane Irene blew thru on our scheduled weekend (shes down in Hillsdale) and we never rescheduled that or our making of hypertufa pots!! If you have a can and jam session count us in! PS. Dont forget a Rain barrel for water saving. Looking forward to meeting you (Britin) one of these days at the shop

  7. Dianna says:

    Mazel tov. Those are great plans.

  8. Heather F. says:

    Don’t you love the Cuppow? I Chris feature if and I cannot wait to try it out!

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