Tuesday, May 31, 2011


I feel like I've hit my stride with the pickle-making. I recently made some pickles out of turnips from Lil' Farm that were really great.

General recipe:

For a quart of pickles, bring to a boil:

- .75 cup white vinegar
- 1.25 cup water,
- 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt
- .5 teaspoon ground spice (e.g. tumeric, chili powder, curry, anything you like)

Allow to cool.

Depending on what vegetable you are pickling, you may also want to blanch your vegetable (e.g. turnips). My sliced turnips required a blanch time of about 1-2 minutes. This gave the turnip the right amount of crunch without being too hard.

Pack the sterilized jar tightly, then pour the brine over the top. Add three or four whole seeds (e.g. coriander, peppercorn, etc.). Optional: Add 2 garlic cloves. Seal the lid tightly, and give it a vigorous shake. Allow the pickles to sit in a dark, cool place for 3-6 days. Then place in refrigerator. Open in one week to three weeks.

Another good pickle recipe: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/27/dining/272crex.html?ref=dining

Monday, May 30, 2011

Bagel Guillotine

I purchased one of these the other day for a bagel-related event at my house. Is any Jewish household really complete without a Bagel Guillotine?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Week 17

This week we did Chocolate Babka, Walnut Raisin Mandel Bread, and Challah. Sales were good -- we sold out of or bartered everything we brought, minus about 3 breads.

The Doughman competition began and ended in the parking lot adjoined to our location. It was fun to hear from the competitors firsthand about all the nasty food they consumed (e.g. Vegan Meatballs, Lamb Sloppy Joes).

Big up to Summer, the Weavers, and ACP and Jaime + bump for visiting the stand.

Thanks to: RML, SZ, LP for your assistance. In the early morning, AS and SZ helped me form all the bread -- you guys were awesome.

I bartered with Noah Ranells of Fickle Creek Farm and George from Lil' Farm. George, for better or for worse, is as generous a person as I am. If I give him a challah, he gives me like 4 heads of greens, which means I have to go back to the stand and bring him back a bag of Mandel Bread, which means that he has to offer to give me some herb plants. I told him he should familiarize himself with Potlatch societies, wherein tribes are bound together by bartering/trading/gifting rituals. For all the anthropologists out there, I recommend Marcel Mauss' The Gift on this subject.


Monday, May 23, 2011

My boy George in the Indyweek. That's the real what's up!

via yoyo

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Change is Person to Person

I have an update on the Watts-Hillandale / Old West subscription service. We started out with about 12 subscribers the first month. I was pretty busy and did not get to do more canvassing after our first day until we hit more streets a week ago with A&A. Below is a route map of the territory we have covered thus far. If a resident was not home, we left a little tag with an introduction to the bakery and how best to look us up. I would say someone was home about 20% of the time we knocked. We did well -- picked up about 8 new trial subscribers that will hopefully convert over at the end of their trial. In walking around the neighborhood and having good conversations, I was reminded of a phrase I heard when working last year on a public health campaign within Duke University: "Change is person to person." Meaning, we can all have advanced degrees, read theory, and make Powerpoints, but ultimately, change, progress, and the dissemination of ideas happens person to person, hand to hand, in exchanges that are informal and live.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Favorite Spice Mix of the Moment

(Humbly lifted from Shan Dal Curry Mix)

- Salt
- Red Chili
- Tumeric
- Black Pepper
- Cumin
- Coriander
- Brown Cardamom
- Green Cardamom
- Garlic
- Ginger
- Dill Leaves

Week 16: The Nosh

As the weather has brightened and warmed, sellers have been coming out with new and enticing things for noshers like myself to nosh at the market. To break up the 4-hour shift at the stand, I go on "field trips" to the market itself and outlying trucks to sample everything new. This week's nosh: Sassafras tea from Sean (vendor name unknown), Strawberry and Vincotto ice cream sandwiches from Dolly at Dolly Mama's, slices from Mike and Becca at Pie Pushers, sausage slider from Patrice and Aiesha at Sweet and Savory Express, a tour of Vanessa and Yoni's truck at The Parlour (no ice cream eaten -- we were full). Thanks to all you guys for brightening our day with your treats!

At the stand, we brought back the donuts, oh, the donuts, but with no Franklin to be found, they must surely come back again. Also, cheddar cheese and buttermilk biscuits.

This week's awesome patrons: Amy (with kids in tow), Alan, TC, A&A, Jerry.

Big up to the crew: RML, GP, and SZ. With the higher volumes of product we are moving now, SZ will be helping me in the bakery in the early mornings to get everything out. This was his first week -- 3AM wasn't so hard, was it? He handled the donut frying like a champ after 10 minutes; I applaud you, dude.

Atrac and Suzy holding it down at Big Bean Roasters:

The flavor table at The Parlour (note that they have Berenbaum's donuts as a topping. yoyo told me that she was in line today at Motorco and the girl in front of her said to her guy, "I hear you have to get the donuts on top." yesyes.):

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


We are now in our fifth month at Berenbaum's. The stand has been a great learning experience for me, and we have involved nearly fifteen volunteers in different aspects of the business.

Every business concept starts with an idea, and ours centered around a sliding-scale pricing model which has proved both profitable and viable. Because of its viability, this affords me the pleasure to brainstorm other, related ideas that could be connected to Berenbaum's. I'll call them "reflections".

New Urban Density

200,000 - 500,000 in 5-9 sq. miles.

Bike friendly: Today, we live in a society that I would call Golf Cart City. (cf. ASW) We use our extremely powerful cars like they were golf carts. Most of our driving is 20 miles or less. What if we developed our urban planning around a golf cart model, then took cars, by and large, out of the equation, and then used bikes instead of golf carts?

Key: Take out the consumerist part of society. So much of our stress today is, "I have to drive to X to buy Y, and then I have to drive to Z to buy gas to go back to X, and then I have to drive to work, school, etc." What if the town/city's density was such that all the places you had to go were in biking distance? What if we were more reliant upon deliveries for things?

Who would employ the people in such a society? The town could be established in conjunction with an intellectual/industrial/agricultural/technological site, where folks can catch a bus cutting through one of the few car-friendly avenues in town out to their workplace which is sited on a separate self-contained campus.

The Standardization of Human-Friendly Businesses

Corporations are legal entities recognized as a person under the law. As such, their goals are sometimes misaligned with the goals and needs of human society. McDonald's doesn't have your health at the top of its priority list. The top of the priority list is financial profit. This is not because McDonald's is fundamentally evil. It is because of the way it is legally structured as a corporation.

My idea is to create a business using standardized best business practices whose charter is to return its goods and profits directly to the community it serves. By keeping distribution and payments local, there is community buy-in. Also, the community becomes more self-sufficient and less reliant on investment from medium to large national corporations for development.

For example, I would like to start a bricks-and-mortar bakery. This bakery would standardize its production in keeping with the practices of larger businesses such that it could be easily replicated at other locations. The business would set a dollar goal for goods bartering with other small businesses of the same human-friendly persuasion (e.g. the town butcher, the candlestick maker). The bartered goods would go to the business' employees, and the remaining profits would be returned to the employees, after a set amount was set aside for capital development, reinvestment, and new projects.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Week 15

This week, we did Brioche Challah, BOOM BOOM Brioche Buns, and Whole Wheat Birdseed Semolina Bread. The stand sold the most we've ever sold in terms of dollar amount.

I was pretty satisfied with the brioche challah. The salt % could come up slightly, and possibly also the sugar %. I got my braiding technique down for the 4-pound Celebration Challah (almost 2 feet long!).

The Whole Wheat Semolina bread came out pretty well, albeit not the way I intended. It came out like a coarse toasting loaf. Flavor was pretty good. If I did it again, I would increase the hydration %. The difficult thing with a semolina bread is that semolina absorbs much more water than an ordinary unbleached flour. We're always learning here at Berenbaum's.

Big up to yoyo and MPT for finding a 2-foot long letter "B" at the Scrap Exchange two weeks ago (prior to the roof collapse). Now customers can ID us from 200-ft away.

Many thanks to: the Marvelles, Bob and Lori, Franklin, J & J, A & A, EC, SJ, and SG for coming through.

Thanks to SZ and RML for working the stand. RML, you are a Berenbaum's green beret for having shown up at 6:45AM unasked to protect our corner from the Kettle Corn Guy (who never showed anyway due to threat of rain). I salute you!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


I received a letter from the city the other day to renew my Mobile Food Peddler's license. The city on the stationary was not Durham, but "Dirham". What does a person have to do to get a copy edit around here?

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Week 14: You couldn't run a lemonade stand!

When I see business projects that appear doomed to failure, I often say to myself, "Here you are trying to do X, and you couldn't run a lemonade stand!"

Well today was Lemonade Day Durham, so there was no less than three pop-up lemonade stands near the Farmer's Market (see pic of one below). These kids, who participated through their school or YMCA, showed a lot of heart hawking their product. Big up, lil' entrepreneurs!

We sold big at the market too -- our biggest day yet. We sold out about 20 challah, 35 babka, and 33 Birdseed semolina breads.

Other news at the market: Yoni and Vanessa from The Parlour marked their opening on the Durham Food Scene by giving away free ice cream near the market. Salty caramel. Strawberry. Very creamy. Be on the lookout for their minibus pulling up to a beer dispensary near you.

Big up to: George from Lil' Farm (bartered bread for chinese cabbage and turnips); Greg and Danielle from Celebrity Dairy (I just had some bartered chevre schmeared on toasted Birdseed semolina, Mon Dieu, that was good!); Kyle and Kaitlin from Sunset Farm (nice strawberries, guys); the Marvelle-ous gang; Lori; Adam.

Thanks to SZ, RML, and CW for helping out. Also thanks to CW's cousins, Toot and ZZ for hustling up some business in front of the stand, pitching samples, looking like little dapper dons.

Jeep the Kettle Corn Guy. Jeep, you unapologetically stole our location that we had been holding down since the dead of January, but's all good, you have a nice smile and you accepted my olive branch of one juicy strawberry from Sunset Farms.

Yoni and Vanessa from The Parlour.

Lemons off the chain!

Thursday, May 5, 2011


What do folks think of the new logo from the Splinter Group for the Geer Street Garden? It does have that old-school gas station feel, and the muted tones of a mechanic's overalls. I'm not a fan of using the stroke though on the lettering and border. What do you all think?

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Week 13

I baked early, then was out of town for the sale, so SSS, RML, and SZ held it down while I was gone. Everything went well -- we sold out of all the Brown Sugar Granola and Walnut Raisin Mandel Bread. Also, many thanks to BN covering my delivery route for me. Pics from SSS.

SZ breaking down the pricing to a customer.


Winners of the SEEDS Pie Social Skillshare and Mandel Bread rolling extraordinaires, Jennie and Sheila in full baking regalia. Thanks, guys!