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Always something new

(2013-01-12 05:39:37)
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杂谈

The new year came in with a bang.  Will it go out with a whimper?

The cold weather is keeping people off the streets.  This means fewer customers for us.  I suppose it will remain that way through the Spring Festival holiday.  We need to tighten our belts, to cut costs.  We had to let go one of our favorite workers.  Tina was the first one hired, back in July.  We all miss her.  

Linda is a part time worker.  She was at the bakery in the afternoons, which wasn't very helpful.  By then most of the baking was done, and I was too tired to be a good trainer.  But now she comes in three mornings a week.  Peter is training her.

Peter gave me a scare.  He sat me down for a serious discussion after a three-day visit to his home town.  His family is putting pressure on him to produce a grandson.  He's only 24!!!  But he is in love, so why wait.  At least in the States, that's what we'd say.  But here in China he has obstacles he must overcome before he can be permitted by families to marry.

Buy a house.  Which means get more money.  I could see where this conversation was heading, and it gave me quite a fright.  He is becoming a good bread baker.  He is able to work independently, with little supervision.  He takes a great burden off my shoulders.  Without him, I wouldn't have the heart to carry on.  So I did what I have to do.  I offered him a raise, not knowing where the money would come from.

One day soon I'm just going to have to raise prices.  I like keeping my prices affordable 'to the masses', but it's not very practical if I want to have enough money to stay in business.

What's New?  We've bought a new workstation so that we could add services.  We'll buy a microwave this week, so that we can offer hot sandwiches.

Customers come in the evening looking for something for breakfast.  I put some BBQ pork in a plastic container, and suggested the lady microwave it in the morning and serve it hot on bread.  Our BBQ pork is very popular, but the Chinese don't like to eat meat cold.  This solves the problem!

We keep the bakery warm to encourage people to come in and stay for a while.  We make coffee one or two cups at a time, so it is fresh.  We can make fresh milk tea, and have a variety of other teas.  Maybe once a week someone will sit and enjoy a cuppa.  This service has not yet taken off.

We are keeping the freezer full with all our fresh-baked breads.  I wish there were another way to offer you whatever kind of bread you want, fresh out of the oven.  That's only possible when you can tell us a day or two in advance that you're coming!  Not very spontaneous.  Other artisan bakers in the States tell me that freezing fresh-baked bread is common practice. It changes the texture slightly, but it is better than stale bread.  A good compromise all the way around.

I am a big fan of sourdough.  Breads make with natural yeast keep much longer.  Experts say the taste just keeps getting better with time.  The taste changes, that is true.  In olden days, people would buy bread once a month, made with sourdough.  The last crumb was as edible as the first. I'm experimenting with different methods, different cultures, and different recipes.  Come try it out and tell us about your experience.


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