June 27, 2013

baker's man

It was an unseasonably cold Spring evening but Nate was right at home basking in the familiar warmth of a wood-fired oven. Last month he was asked to help bake pizzas for an event at Fort Ligonier in their 18th century-style earth ovens and it was a really fun night. And the past two weekends he was the guest baker at The Compass Inn Museum. He spent the day in the 18th century cookhouse wearing period clothing and baking in the beehive oven while educating visitors. He's been invited back to bake and teach whenever he wants.

It seems that Nate is quickly making a name for himself around these parts.

He and I are both working part time at a cafe in town. We know the owner and it was always one of our favorite places to eat. It's ten minutes from home, it's a great way to connect with people, and it allows one of us to always be home on the farm with Zander. It's perfect for us. Nate bakes nothing but fermented sourdough leavened with wild yeast and over the years his skills have reached a professional level. His famous sourdough Belgian waffles have earned themselves a weekly event as they're served every Saturday at the cafe. Folks just love them and everyone's talking about them. Even people who can't normally tolerate gluten have been able to eat them because of the fermentation process. He's also started baking rolls and buns for a local grass-fed beef farm and the burger events that they host at the cafe and local farmers market.

All of this is slowly beginning to fill an empty space for Nate. I don't think anyone will ever understand the deep sadness he has felt about having to abandon the oven he built at the last farm. Obviously, it means a lot to him because he made it, but it wasn't just something he built. It was a journey of self-discovery as he conquered something he'd never done before. It was a dream of ours to start a business surrounding the oven and it was such an accomplishment to have almost finished it. It was a work of art, and we were almost there. I think it's especially hard now since he's doing so much baking.

It's been almost a year and we are only beginning to heal from that situation. It was heartbreaking for both of us. Now, plans for our wood-fired business are in the works. But the oven. . . Well, that's a wound that may never truly heal for Nate.

But this man of mine? He's baking. And that makes us both happy.

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