Leaving the Bakery in Excellent Hands

Picking up from the end of the last blog post, Bethany started showing up to the bakery nearly every day. We had already decided that teaching her how to make the sourdough bread in such a short period of time wasn’t going to work, so we planned that I’d make enough bread dough for the first two days I was gone, and the bakery would be sourdough-less for the weekend. However, Bethany was a quick study on making challah and bagels, both of which Alis was also becoming proficient with.

Bethany and Alis roll out babka dough.

Meanwhile, during her downtime, Bethany decided to bring her own strengths to the kitchen. Thanks to her, we rolled out our first soup and she got the freezer stocked up with plenty of vegetable broth for future use. As much as we’d gotten to know each other over the past few months, and as much time as she and her family had been coming to the bakery (whether when we’re open or for our after-hours dinners/game nights), she hadn’t really seen the operation from the inside. Now aware of how things worked, Bethany had some great ideas for additional things to add to the menu. We’ve tabled a bit of it for the arrival of 2018, but it got me (and her) quite excited about how to make Canela even better. She also had some organizational ideas, which I knew she was going to implement while I was away.

Beautiful bagels, ready for purchase.

Another round of Coffee ice cream, featuring De la Gente Coffee.

Halloween sprinkle cookies, for a special order.

Bagel Sunday deliciousness.

Yet another asset Bethany brings to the Canela table is that she is an early riser. So, she was eager to jump in and help me out with the Sunday morning bagel boils. Having four hands in the kitchen on those busy mornings has made an amazing difference, and has allowed me to produce (and sell) more. It’s something she plans to keep doing, even when we’re back at full staff strength here.

Happy ice cream sandwich customers on a Sunday afternoon.

The Monday before my trip, I joined the Hardisons on a shopping trip up to San Lucas, a largish town close to Antigua, which has proper supermarkets, a Megapaca (like Goodwill, but cleaner, nicer and better organized), and more. We all needed things, and due to Bethany’s prodding, I’d ironed out a solid menu of items to sell for Thanksgiving. I needed to locate supplies, such as disposable pie tins.

It was an incredibly successful venture, as everyone found things they needed – and some we just wanted. Megapaca is always a goldmine, and among the other things I found – but didn’t realize I needed – were disposable containers for filling with cream cheese (for bagel to-go orders); tablecloths for my outdoor tables; larger plates for use in the bakery, now that I’ve added pasta salad (Bethany’s suggestion and creation) to my paninis; and more.

The newest Dodger fan, and my new hat twin, wearing his lucky find from Megapaca.

As the Dodgers finally ascended to the World Series, for the first time since I was 12, the Hardisons had become true Dodger fans. The youngest Hardison, E, would often fall asleep before games were over. However, the first thing out of his mouth the following mornings, according to Bethany, was, “Did the Dodgers win?” Meanwhile, for some of the later games, I would go to bed and the older Hardison son, A, would stay up and watch it.

So you can imagine how incredibly lucky and fortuitous it was that on our shopping trip at Megapaca, Paul spotted what appeared to be a brand-new Dodgers hat that fit Elijah’s head perfectly! I insisted on being the one to buy it and was so happy to see E proudly wearing it around. I felt it was a good omen for the final two games of the World Series, which the Dodgers needed to win.

Our good luck worked for an exciting Game Six, but despite sitting in the same positions on the couches the next night, and wearing the same hats…the Dodgers’ luck ran out. It was an entertaining and mesmerizing postseason run and while I obviously wanted the Dodgers to be World Series champions, it was the most rewarding Dodgers postseason since 1988.

The morning after the Dodgers lost Game Seven, I was up at 4 am for another ride to the airport with Raul. For this short birthday trip, I only brought my backpack and a small roller bag. I had never traveled internationally with carry-on only, to my knowledge, and I was so happy at how quickly everything went! No long line to wait in at Delta check-in, plus I was first in line at customs in LA.

My mom and Michael had dropped off a car at a parking lot near LAX, so all I had to do upon landing was catch the shuttle, pick the keys up from the desk, and head to Orange County. We were staying at a place a few miles from Newport Beach, where we could relax and hang out as a family.

Mom and Michael had eaten already, but they accompanied me to a shopping center where I had a burger for a late lunch. We then picked up Maggie and Ben from John Wayne Airport and our group of five was complete. The five of us hadn’t been together since the previous Thanksgiving, if memory serves. I was in Chicago with Maggie and Ben in February and saw Maggie in Orange County in September. So this was it! Almost a year is too long!

Bethany and her assistant, holding down the fort at Canela.

Meanwhile, back in Antigua, all was going swimmingly at the bakery. Bethany and Paul sent a few photos, including one from Impact Hub. I was able to breathe a sigh of relief, with all going well. It wasn’t unexpected but it’s hard for me to let go! With that settled, the five of us enjoyed the afternoon together.

Thursday evening sunset.

We are not a big gift-giving family, so there wasn’t much of anything exchanged. However, Maggie and I used to joke about the families we’d see on cruises who all walked around with matching t-shirts. She had proposed getting us matching t-shirts for this trip awhile back, just for fun. Nothing to wear in public, but just for us. So it wasn’t a surprise when she handed them out. What I didn’t know about, however, was that she and Ben had come up with some fun nicknames to put on the back of each shirt. That made these little mementos just a little bit more special!

Mom blows out the candle on her birthday pastry.

Thursday evening was spent out at dinner and then relaxing by the fireplace. The rest of the weekend flew by, although we tried to slow it down as much as possible. Lazy mornings with late breakfasts, time spent outside playing games, and a little bit of exploring the area.

Friday morning games.

70 lottery scratchers to make our way through!

Another glorious sunset.

We had brunch on Saturday with cousins Gene and Louise out by the pool at the hotel, went out for dinner on Saturday night for some Mexican food, and then it was our last morning together! Michael headed back to LA early for an appointment, while Mom and I dropped Maggie and Ben off at the airport. We had made it close to LA before we realized that Mom left something behind at the hotel. So…back we went to Orange County, picked it up, and returned to LA.

Back at their house, Kasey was able to swing by and hang out for a little while before she had to go out to dinner with her aunt, who was visiting from San Francisco. Then it was down to the three of us! Around 8:00 pm, we headed to the airport and said our goodbyes. It was a quick trip but I’m so glad I made it…and so thankful to have such great friends in the Hardisons, who allowed me to keep the bakery open while I made the journey to California.

Unlike before, I managed to get some sleep on the plane, so I wasn’t such a zombie when I landed. Once again, I made it through the checkpoints quickly, and was with Raul and on my way back to Antigua quickly. Bethany had fed my sourdough starter the night before, so I got right back to making bread. I could have waited until later in the day…but decided to get it done as soon as possible, so that I could rest as soon as possible!

I needed my rest, because Thanksgiving was coming and there was a lot to do to get ready!


3 thoughts on “Leaving the Bakery in Excellent Hands

  1. In reading it I had to get out one of my three starters and bake bread! There is also a book you may know of – Baking By Hand by Andy King that I think is the one that lists starters from various places he has available. I was most interested in the differences between the starters. Now I wonder how my three differ. The first one I made using Sunset Magazine’s article years ago – it was fed with milk and flour but I now do water. It isn’t very active – yesterday I had to add a little yeast after the first rise didn’t go much of any place although there were bubbles in the starter itself. I thought it was going to be pretty heavy and it was but the taste is great! Isn’t sourdough interesting.


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