Local love in every loaf.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Whew! back from the Kneading Conference 2012

We're well into the summer share, and I took a week off to journey to the wild interior of Maine for a bread conference and fair.  I didn't really know what to expect other than the possibility that I could bring back some useful skills and info that F&D could use.

Babysitting a starter: best part of work study

From the first class on baking with sprouted grain flour to the last panel on the business of baking, it was a wild ride of knowledge acquisition.  By the end of each day my brain felt like a sponge that couldn't absorb any more water.

And aside from the useful baking techniques and know-how I brought back, there were the human connections.  The best part was that everyone there was crazy about bread, and I went into each casual conversation with no inkling whether the person I was talking to was a home enthusiast or a celebrated instructor and professional baker (hey, I could have done a little preliminary stalking, but where's the fun in that?)  I went in thinking that our little bakery would be nothing special compared to the bread world stars I'd meet, but then met people who had heard of F&D, people who thought the bread share model was awesome and aspired to one day run a bakery like ours (!!!), and people whose illustrious baking careers inspired me even more.

The sprouted flour workshop resulted in some of the best bread I have EVER tried.  The local butter didn't hurt it either

Skowhegan ME is the center of a local movement that involves millers, farmers, bakers, and myriad other local producers (can we talk about the local cheese?)   Their vacated county jail building has been transformed into a grist mill by members of the Main Grain Alliance, which was an ambitious and logistically daunting undertaking.  I am blown away by all of the good stuff happening up there and inspired to dive more into Buffalo's local food movement.

Jailhouse no more!

I also have a mean case of oven envy.  Most of the workshops were run out of mobile wood-fired ovens, and the smells were reminiscent of baking days of yore at our clay oven on the East Side.  There is no bread like bread from a wood-fired oven.  The gas ovens we work with now just can't compare (sorry Ol' Wondermoth.)  Maybe someday we can once again run production out of a clay or brick oven.  Who knows what the future holds?

How to wash the MGA's oven: "like a car." Photo shamelessly borrowed from newfound comrade Katie at Slowfire

Anyway, lots of food for thought.  The Kneading Conference is recommended for any baking enthusiast who wants to take it to the next level, whatever that level might be.  Especially if you get accepted to the work study program.  And want to carpool from Buffalo.


p.s. Fancy and Delicious is hosting a film screening on Thursday as part of the Infringement Festival.  Check it out.  A few details:

The Take is an incredible film about organizing, worker cooperatives, and globalization!

Unemployed Argentinian factory workers seize the shut down factories from their previous owners in the wake of the 2001 economic meltdown, putting them under worker self- management. All they want is to restart the machines. But the act – The Take – has the power to turn the globalization debate on its head.

a documentary film by Avi Lewis and Naomi Klein

Presented with special thanks to the Coalition for Economic Justice and the Worker Cooperative Forum Series