Each Monday, I have the best of intentions. I want to write a letter to tell you all about what happened on Sunday at the market. But what I really want to do on Mondays is sleep. Saturday is for baking; Sunday is for selling; Monday is for recovering.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I was teaching two days a week. We had a tiny bubble of seven students (in two classes), one teacher (me), and my boss managing the office. Slowly, as it looked like BC had avoided the worst of the outbreak, more students returned. Last month, we added Monday classes, so now I’m teaching three days a week. But I miss those early days. I miss having Mondays off, particularly after the market. Wednesday is my first day off of the week, and it’s become the best time to write this letter.
Next Sunday is my last day at the White Rock Farmers Market. It’s also Thanksgiving weekend. In Canada, Thanksgiving is a holiday Monday (rather than a Thursday, like in the US). But many people do the big feast on Sunday, then enjoy the next day off with leftovers. Because of the market, ours will be Monday this year. My brother bought a deep fryer setup so we can do the whole turkey, and now my mom is talking about frying the entire meal. (Brussels sprouts! Wanton-wrapped mashed potato! Doughnuts for dessert!) This morning, I’ve been chopping up last Sunday’s leftover loaves to make cubes to sell for stuffing.
Bread is a wondrous and useful thing—a basic staple and an impressive centrepiece.
Along with the usual whole wheat loaves I sell each Sunday, this week I’ll be making this focaccia recipe Megan sent me. The dough is soaked in a salt water brine before baking. Then, you pour olive oil all over when it comes out of the oven. The taste and texture is exactly what my palate loves: crunchy, salty, fatty. My plan is to make small round focaccias, then sell quartered slices individually.
When I started planning All Day Breakfast at the farmers market back in December, I knew I would sell my dried sourdough starter and my homemade salt. I thought a good hearty loaf alongside would sell the starter, and a dinner-sized focaccia would sell the salt. The former was a success; the latter, not so much. The salt needs more story to sell it.
This week, I’m mixing half my sea salt supply with ground black pepper and dried rosemary (from my grandma’s garden, of course)—the classic focaccia topping. You’ll be able to taste it on my Ligurian focaccia, then buy a package of rosemary salt and try baking your own at home. I want you to try baking at home.
As I transition ADB online for the winter season, my plan is more writing. I’ve been calling ADB a “book and bakeshop,” and it’s time to write more books for you. I don’t put a lot of stock in horoscopes, but I enjoy reading them. And when I read that line, “Something is beginning again,” from this week’s Capricorn forecast by @poetastrologers, it sounded like something I tell myself all the time.
My life has been a series of beginnings. I keep trying, and if my first plan doesn’t work, I try something else. But I haven’t given up my dream of an independent life yet. I have to add a qualifier here, because I live in a socialist country, and I benefit greatly from the Canadian government support system, particularly during this pandemic. My definition of an independent life means a life defined by me. I don’t do it alone, but I do it the way I want.
Over the past 20 years of working out and working with my mental illnesses, I’ve read innumerable self-help books and taken dozens of self-guided courses. Many ask you to look inside and find your core characteristics, the one or two words that make you “you.” I’ve often fallen back on words like “independent,” “creative,” “curious,” and during my yoga teacher training in 2016, I defined my teaching perspective as “do-it-yourself.” My elementary school students would probably agree with that. I often find myself telling my classes, “I’m not here to give you the answers; I’m here to help you find them.”
Because I live so much of my life by myself, I write a lot about how you can do the same. My writing advocates independence on your own terms, but here’s what I’ve learned and how I can help. As I near the end of the farmers market season, I’ve seen the same customers return. They’ve seen my sourdough starter kit all summer. They’ve maybe asked some questions and heard me talk about how I designed my starter to be easy for beginners. They might’ve even taken my instructional zine home to read. Now customers are ready to come back and buy the starter to try at home.
Every morning this month, a thick fog has sat outside my window. Autumn is surely here, and winter won’t be far behind. I’m ready to hunker down on my couch in fuzzy socks and warm sweaters. I’m ready to return to my pandemic resolution to read all the books on my shelves. I’m ready to write more zines for you, about all the domestic arts I’ve experimented with and how you can try them, too.
Have you been baking sourdough bread during your quarantined time at home? How about we make some freshly-churned butter to go with it? 🧈
Hey there! 👋 I’m Jessica Driscoll (she/they), a baker, teacher, and writer, living on the unceded territory of the SEMYOME (Semiahmoo) Nation, in a beach town outside the city called Vancouver. I’ve documented my creative experiments online since 2002, and I sell the products of those experiments at markets around the pacific northwest. This newsletter helps people keep track of my wandering attention span and follow along as I figure it all out. Currently, I bake on Instagram and sell at the White Rock Farmers Market, as well as online at All Day Breakfast. The next market is also my last, on October 11th. In October, I’m supporting Tiny House Warriors, who are defending Secwepemc Territory and blocking the Trans Mountain pipeline.