Now swiftly moving on to the other kind of dough — the delicious kind. 🍞

Morning, friends!

I've been on a bit of a baking kick lately, as you've heard. In the past couple months I made my first zucchini bread, a to-die-for lemon basil bread, and a previously featured yummy carrot cake. All of these have been simple, with minimal chance to screw it up (because, no yeast). While on the topic, there is one crucial piece of advice I'll give anyone trying to make one of these "quick breads," and that is: do not over-mix! A gentle fold is all it takes—and this one is for my fellow watchers of the hilarious Schitt's Creek. As with many things, less is more. 

While I merely dabble in the art of baking, I have all kinds of respect for people who have truly mastered it. It takes the kind of patience I only dream of having, and I do in fact dream of it. Just like I dream of having a house with a big kitchen and a wrap-around porch, like the one I sat on in the breezy August sunshine of Swan Valley, Idaho. In the summer, it will smell like basil and garlic, and in the winter it will smell like vanilla and ginger, and all times of the year, bread will be baking. A floppy-eared dog will be my sous chef, and a spectacular floor-tidy-upper. He will howl to remind me when I inevitably wander off absentmindedly and leave something in the oven. This is my vision. Working on the "manifest" part.
But back in the realm of reality, some people are actually baking some darn good bread that you can eat right now. And one of those people is someone you'll meet today, Russell Trimmer. Russell and Maya Muñoz are the owners and bakers of their new business, Motzi Bread, and I asked Russell if he'd share about his experience as a baker. (Maya, who is both a teacher and an accomplished hiker who recently took on the Pacific Crest Trail, will also join us in another edition so stay tuned for that!)

As someone who constantly finds myself losing track of time in the kitchen, learning about Russell's experience was refreshing, fascinating and soothing. There's so much that goes into a loaf of bread. How much better would it taste if we remembered that when we took a bite out of a slice? Enjoy, and hit me back with what you've been baking lately!! I'll include in the next newsletter. I'm always down for trying a new recipe. 

With gratitude—and covered in flour,

You should meet this yogi, Russell.

1. Tell us a little bit about how and when you got into baking.
I started to embrace baking while working at Next Step Produce, a small, diverse farm in southern Maryland. They had recently added grains to their usual vegetable rotation and purchased a stone mill in order to sell freshly milled flour at a farmer's market in DC. It was exciting to bake with something I had a hand in growing and important to be able to talk with customers at the market about how to use the flour. A back injury ultimately tipped the scale from farming into baking and I took a very generous apprenticeship position at a transformative bakery in Richmond, VA called Sub Rosa.
2. What's your current baking routine like? How frequently do you do it? Where? Any goals?
Up until recently I've been baking six days a week at a local restaurant that's dedicated to working with the farmers and water folk of the Chesapeake Bay region. We made a wide variety of breads using local flour and the shift was from 2am until 11 or noon. While I didn't really get enough rest with that schedule I did love the rhythm of it. Now I'm launching a subscription service for folks to pick up a bread a week. I've been doing some test bakes but the first pickup day is this week so I've mostly been spending time on starting the business. The goal is to have a storefront open by this fall.
3. How do you feel while you're baking? This could be physically, mentally or emotionally.
I'm very focused and often slightly overwhelmed (in a good way). Usually there's some combination of mixing, shaping, and baking going on all at once. You don't rush good bread so everything needs to be done on the proper timing meaning you're balancing multiple things at a time. It makes for a beautiful chaos that doesn't allow for time to think about much else. Partially that's the nature of baking and partially that's my nature of trying to get as much done all at once as I can.
4. What do you find to be most challenging?
Keeping perspective is hard. You take notes but it's also a very intuitive process since local flour can be very variable from batch to batch. You have to learn to stay grounded in what you know and not second guess yourself too much. I've heard a few bakers talk about the "creep" that can happen where you're 1% off each day and then by the end of 100 days you're 100% off. If you don't stay rooted in what you know works well and have an organized process of decision making it's easy to end up feeling confused and inadequate. Any bread baker will tell you that it's very emotionally difficult when a bake doesn't go well. You've poured a lot of your heart into the bread.
5. Has it changed your relationships with other people at all? If so, in what ways?
Baking at off hours has made it challenging to make friends and have a normal routine with my partner. On the other hand it's very satisfying to make something so tangible that people can enjoy. It's a funny feeling when you're introduced to someone and they know your bread but they don't know you. Being connected to the folks who grow the grain I use and also to the folks who eat the bread provides a very strong sense of community. I've also been getting quite a lot of support from other small business owners who relate to what we're going through in starting this business and really want to see it succeed. It's given me a lot of hope and also a feeling of responsibility to really create something special for the neighborhood.
6. Do you relate at all to the notion of a "flow state" and do you think this has been that for you?
Sometimes bread baking is a flow state and sometimes it's emotionally fraught with over analysis. Thankfully it's much more the former than the latter. The work is rhythmic and physically repetitive but also requires frequent decision making, which for me means that it's a very different mental experience from day to day- some days I embrace the former and other days get caught up in the latter.
7. Do you feel that getting into baking has allowed you to connect more deeply with yourself? If so, can you share in what ways?
Definitely. There are so many ways to make bread and experimenting with many of them has allowed me to find the way that brings me the most joy and makes the most sense for my personality and taste in bread. Experimenting with all the ways is an exercise in patience and self-discovery. You figure out how tolerant you are of your own mistakes, how you learn best, and what kind of work/life pace you like to live by. Making bread requires working with the fickle nature of living things (yeast, bacteria, and the grain itself) and complex chemistry, which inevitably reminds you of your own lack of control and general humble place in the universe.
8. Do you already have a yoga or meditation practice? If so, do you find these activities related or similar in any way, or not at all?
I have a yoga practice but I wouldn't say I have a meditation practice - at least not one that I have agency over. I do find myself in a meditative state sometimes while practicing yoga or making bread but it's a fleeting thing. 
9. Anything else you care to share?
I really appreciate having the opportunity to reflect on my experience so far! If anyone is curious about our work or wants to try the bread they can go to or reach out to me directly.

You can follow Russell on Instagram, where he has a hilariously on-brand handle. Also, if you live in Baltimore, you should subscribe to their bread pick-up, or send to someone who lives there.

Quote of the week

"Naturally, I assumed she was attempting to deal with a catastrophic event, the loss of a parent, or a devastating breakup or something similar. But no, Jillian is really just using her vacation time to be out in nature, just walking for the sake of walking, I guess?” said Greene’s coworker Demory Jacobs, who noted the baffling 10-day trip requires Greene to carry all her own gear and food, sleep under the stars in all manner of weather, and be completely cut off from technology while in no way helping her come to terms with her true self, make peace with her demons, or ease her transition into a new chapter of her life."

- Woman’s Solo Hiking Trip Shockingly Doesn’t Have To Do With Inner Journey Or Anything, The Onion.

(Made me L-O-L.)

🎶 Tunes 

New spring playlist is up here. I hope you love it! As always, you can always listen along to this big ol' playlist as well.
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