Monday, January 23, 2012

Chapter 4: In which a door closes and and two wings open

Emily and Kate continued to open their picnic booth at the Waverly farmers market for several more weeks before they were forced to stop due to financial reasons and an inability to find a certified kitchen to operate from.  Emily moved to San Francisco not long after that.  As they were parting ways, Emily and Kate told each other, "If ever you can make picnic happen, DO IT!"
The truth is, neither of them ever really abandoned picnic.  They have both been holding it safe in their hearts, searching for a way to make it happen again.

Emily cutting a Thanksgiving pie for friends in San Francisco
Emily is now living in San Francisco and has begun the process of opening a west coast wing of picnic.  She hopes to one day open a storefront and cafe just like the one she dreamt about long ago in Baltimore.  In the meantime, she is trying to start a food truck/trailer for picnic.  This blog you are reading will continue with her story, filling you in on all of the chapters yet to come.  You can follow her here, on twitter: @picnicbakery , and please be sure to like her facebook page for picnic:  Emily is also working on setting up a website, and will be sure to let you know when it is up and running.

Kate in her home kitchen in Baltimore
Kate has done some traveling, but is now back in Baltimore.  She has spent some time working on the east wing of picnic.  She has a picnic booth occasionally at the Waverly farmer's market.  You can get updates on her work (and probably find some inspiration) by following her blog:

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chapter 3: In which a business gets a name

The market master of the Waverly Farmers Market was probably a little thrown when he was first approached by the colorful swirl of two enthusiastic girls, arms loaded with sun ripened tomatoes.  He was most likely stunned into a mild stupor when they insisted on space for a booth where they would be selling vegan baked goods.  He seemed skeptical at first, but was too kind to turn away the charismatic girls in hand sewn polychromatic aprons and knee-high rubber boots.  He promised them a space for a fee and the girls merrily skipped back to Kate's apartment to make salsa and come up with plans for their new business.
"We need to have meetings, like real business meetings."  Emily decided.  Kate agreed.  Dressed in their most business-like outfits, they met the next day at 7pm.  First, they needed a name.  They pulled out a large dusty dictionary and began to scan through the words.  They made lists of words and read them aloud.  They said so many words aloud that they all began to sound funny.  Soon, they were only laughing and not really working.  It is important work, naming a business.  After hours of deliberation and word fueled delirium, they finally had a name.  picnic.  With a lowercase p and no period at the end.  After that, they were very tired, so they ate some cake and went to bed.
Over the next several weeks, the girls began to work out their plans for picnic.  They held meetings every other night to work on the business.  On the in-between nights, they worked on recipes.  They tested many different cakes, frostings, cookies, and even came up with a good recipe for blueberry fritters which they painted with lemon glaze.
Finally the week of their first farmers market arrived.  They took off work on Friday and slept in.  When Emily awoke, she headed to Kate's armed with all of her baking pans and mixing bowls.  They got to work right away, mixing, pouring, baking.  They went on like this until they were very very sleepy.  Then they decided to do shifts.  One would nap for thirty minutes while the other kept things going in the kitchen.  After all the baking was done, they began frosting the cakes and icing the cookies.  It was 6 am on Saturday when they were finally loading everything into the car.   They pulled onto the blocked off street just as the sun was beginning to rise.
It was absolutely freezing outside.  With stiff hands, the girls set up two long folding tables and draped them with four beautiful floral vintage tablecloths they had borrowed from Kate's aunt.  They set out a picnic basket and filled it with napkins, straws, and various coffee condiments.  They set up five metal multicolored folding chairs and carefully laid out the desserts on the table with the corresponding signs held up by picture frames.  It was a beautiful sight and definitely piqued the curiosity of the other vendors.  Once everything was set, the girls pumped some coffee from their vintage floral air pot, lifted their coat hoods, and stomped their feet to keep warm while they anxiously waited for the first customers to arrive.
After the first person came up to their booth and walked away with a peppermint panda, another person arrived.  And on it went until a line had formed.  The girls' carefully planned speech had to be dropped as they realized they barely had time to speak to one person before they had to help the one waiting behind them.  They couldn't count  money or chop strawberries fast enough.  They were warmly recieved; and, in spite of their fare being entirely vegan, they had developed a following of vegans and non vegans alike.  The girls agreed that the best part was having people walk away eating their cookies and cakes, only to have them return a few minutes later to buy more.  As the last hour of the farmer's market drew to a close, the girls collapsed in their chairs and looked at each other in a wide-eyed amazement.  Picnic was a success.
Unfortunately, there was only ever one photograph taken of the picnic booth and it has since disappeared.

Friday, January 20, 2012

A Food Truck, Of Course

TaDa!  I'm going to put picnic in a food truck.  Or possibly a modified airstream.  Or a retro trailer of some sort.
Picture this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

Plus this:

And this:


My new goal!  Oh, it's gonna be beautiful!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Candied Orange Peel and a Lostness Monster

I have not posted anything for awhile because
A.  I've been very busy.
B. I've been suffering from a misadventure I will call "Lostness Monster"
First things first.  My birthday and the holidays came and went.  My boyfriend and I got very excited about Christmas after decking the halls and decorating our tree.  We wanted to share our spirit with friends and so hosted our first annual Christmas cocktail party.  I took advantage of the opportunity to share some of my vegan desserts with some new people.  In addition to a several batches of regular old Christmas sugar cookies, I made:
peppermint pandas (chocolate sandwich cookies with peppermint filling and covered with chocolate ganache)  This is a classic recipe from the baby year of picnic and is not sharable (sorry).
gingerbread tiny cakes with vanilla cream cheese frosting and candied orange peel:

This was my first time trying this recipe.  It turned out far better than I had ever expected and was the star of the dessert table.  I made the candied orange peel from scratch.  There is still some left over in a mason jar and it looks very beautiful hanging out in there, mingling with extra sugar.
mini peanut butter mousse pies: This is a mini version of my original peanut butter mousse pie.  I think it's my boyfriend's favorite.
Sadly, there aren't many good photos from our party because we were very busy cooking, serving, and hosting.  Here are a few we took after the celebration:

The dessert table

Ralph came down with an unfortunate head cold the next day that lasted through Christmas Eve & day.  Then I caught it and spent my time in bed through New Year's Eve.  I've been trying to catch up with life ever since.
Second things second.  In the midst of all of this adventure, I've been suffering from a rather unsettling misadventure which I have named "lostness monster."  I should explain the history of this lostness.  When I first began to think about starting a west coast wing of picnic, I was very excited.  I began to eagerly do the necessary research into the costs of food, which vendors I would use, which recipes to start with.  I was baking often, much to the pleasure of my boyfriend and the dissatisfaction of my waistline.  Then, I reached a familiar wall.  I felt stuck.  This is the wall where Kate and I became stuck once before, and was the beginning of an end for us.

Here is the sticky situation from which the Lostness Monster was born:  I can't seem to find a certified kitchen to operate from that can be available during the god-awful early early early mornings (and whenever else I may need to be baking).
Without this certified kitchen, I can not move forward.   Stuck.  What a terrible misadventure.  I started to do what I always do when I encounter monsters- back up slowly and quietly.  This is the other reason I haven't posted anything in my blog for awhile.  Behind all the excitement of holidays and head colds, I have been stewing in discouragement and doubt.
The good news is, this is where my story takes a turn.  A new adventure is about to begin.  A different approach has been dreamed up.  Oh, it's a good one :D
I am going to be coy and not elaborate more until my next post.
Hooray for a new year and new beginnings!