Over the past 2 years we were in various lockdown situations around the world and so many of us stocked up on staples and vital supplies with so much fear and uncertainty surrounding the Pandemic, vaccines, and personal protective equipment. It’s hard to imagine that just 1 year ago, we were still in quarantine and lockdown measures.
The outlook for the next few months is once again is uncertain as global wheat and grain supplies are now being affected as we approach spring and enjoy summer. As things become more expensive around the world human beings have always had to be very resourceful and one of the ways we became better during these months of uncertainty was to hold fun and remote team challenges.
As we do our own internal post-mortem Pandemic reflections,we shared some of the great moments that included opportunities to level up our culinary skills over the past couple of years. While the Pandemic is still raging in parts of the world, here in North America health officials have given the green light to head back towards pre-pandemic ways with several restrictions being lifted in public places.
Making anything from scratch is time-consuming and when we were in lockdown, we were encouraged to focus on activities and great hobbies away from our related production environments of creative and technical projects. The opportunity to be away from our screens was also rejuvenating as we all needed to eat anyways.
Do you remember what items were hard to find when we all heard of Covid-19?
Fortunately, we stayed as calm as we could, focused on our health and made better food and eating choices with often limited supplies, and many of us reconnected spiritually as we all asked for ease to difficult situations. During the first days of Covid-19 we found baking goods, face masks (PPE), Lysol wipes, and toilet paper to be on the hard-to-find item list and on the incredibly expensive side due to supply shortages that have fortunately now been addressed in so many countries. But we felt your pain as well!
With a looming threat of global war now on the horizon we have tried to remember the best of days during the most difficult of times as we were asked to reflect on what we learned as a team during the early days of the Pandemic. Fortunately, we can now laugh about some of those things, but the hardships of the world have touched every human being in some way and we are grateful. These hardships have helped us to use our time more wisely during those times of stress and uncertainty.
This year we are told that inflation and wheat supply chains are facing global shortages and so many of us learned how to bake some kind of bread or new treat in 2020 and 2021. The need to become resourceful will certainly arise again but we sincerely hope that you and your family have also skilled up during those months of lockdown in any ways that you could benefit.
We were encouraged when uncertainty came to us all by our resident coach and mentor Kelvin Ali to be grateful, to learn something new, to make memories with our families, and to be cautious and careful with our health and dietary practices. Mediation and breathing skills were taught to our team and then we were asked to do something unexpected. We were asked to go out and learn something new and to record our experiences to share with the team in 3 weeks virtually.
Many of us made arts and personal crafts and others choose to go the pre-scripted route in which we were given recipes that created a home bread-making challenge to see who could create something wonderful. It was a lot of fun and the wonderful sourdough loaf recipe we tried to perfect during those early days of hardship has truly made us patient and much better people.
We became more aware of specific ingredients, and precise measurements and some of us developed skills that had been lying dormant within ourselves or reimagined skills we may have given up on or even unlearned after childhood. 3 weeks to enjoy the moments we had been assigned and we all came up with some wonderful and of course there were some not so awesome looking creations, that still as were told ‘tasted pretty good’, as we learned something outside of our traditional comfort zones. The goal was just to become better at something new or unfamiliar to us and that is what matters most as we all had some great fun reflecting on our trials as well.
Being better in the kitchen is something we can all benefit from so if cooking a new dish or item has become your thing over the Pandemic, congratulations, it’s a wonderful skill to have. If baking isn’t your thing and like many of us, eating is generally where it’s at, then we hope that you cheer on your family chef or baker and give them great and positive feedback. Most of the time our own family chefs of all ages just want to see and hopefully hear a wonderful word or compliment from the tasty delights that they painstaking created with a lot of love and effort.
We were encouraged during our culinary and baking challenge to ‘have a good relationship’ with our food items and we were asked to really understand our own tools and equipment in our kitchen and our environment. We were asked to analyze the quality, texture, taste, and overall experience of whatever we choose to level up on.
We learned that things are not as difficult as they sometimes seem and if you keep on honing your culinary skills, we expect that it will be one of the most valuable skills you can ever learn to do for yourself and more importantly, for another.
Our team was given a variety of various recipes to re-create as a team challenge over the Pandemic and we had a lot of fun sharing our creations with each other virtually. Now as the world opens up again, we hope to share some of Pandemic-inspired creations in person with our teammates in days to come.
Would you like to try a simple recipe that will be great with coffee or tea?
This great recipe of Rye Sable was given to us as an option to re-create and we hope you have some fun as well.
175 g (1 c) sugar
250 g (1 c) butter, room temperature (not warm)
500 g (5 c) rye flour, plus more for dusting Pinch of salt (optional)
1. In a large bowl, combine eggs and sugar. Using a handheld mixer on the lowest speed, beat eggs and sugar until frothy, about 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Add the butter and beat with the handheld mixer on low speed until just incorporated, about 1 minute.
3. In a medium bowl, combine rye flour and salt, and whisk to evenly distribute salt.
4. Add half of the flour and salt mixture to the egg mixture, and bring together with a rubber spatula. Then add the rest of the flour and salt mixture, and bring together with the rubber spatula.
5. Using the handheld mixer on low speed, mix until the flour is fully incorporated and the dough has the consistency of wet sand, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula about halfway through mixing. Do not overmix.
6. Use a spatula or a bench scraper to scrape half of the dough onto a clean work surface. Use your hands to bring the dough together into a disk about 1½ inches thick, then use your palms to shape the edges of the disk into a square. Cover tightly with plastic wrap, using a bench scraper to transfer the dough if it’s sticky.
7. Repeat with the other dough half and refrigerate both dough blocks for 30 minutes.
Make ahead: Store plastic-wrapped sablé dough in the freezer for up to 3 months.
8. Lightly flour a work surface and rolling pin. Roll out the dough to about ¼ inch thickness. If your kitchen is very warm, refrigerate the rolled-out dough before cutting the cookies, 10 to 15 minutes.
9. Lightly flour a cookie cutter and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
10. Cut out cookies as close to one another as possible, to avoid re-rolling the dough multiple times, which overworks the butter. Use a bench scraper to transfer the cutout cookies to the parchment-lined baking sheet.
11. Cover with a second layer of parchment paper and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Make ahead: Freeze cut-out cookie dough for up to 3 weeks.
12. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350°F.
13. Uncover the sablés and bake until deep golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. If baking 2 sheets of cookies at once, rotate halfway through baking.
14. Let cool on the baking sheet until cool enough to touch. Store in an airtight container in a dry, cool place for up to 3 months.
With the uncertainty of food and grain prices that are expected to be coming, we hope you invest in a bag of flour or two for your pantry and just have some fun this Spring and Summer as well. It’s healthy, it’s fun, it can be a very delicious time well spent, and who doesn’t love the smell of a freshly baked piece of bread with a dab of butter freshly melting into it? ‘MMM-MMMM’ was what most of us came up with eventually and we wish you all ‘Bon Appetite’.
Have you learned a new skill or have an awesome recipe you’d like to share with the clan? We are making an awesome community space for clan members and we hope you join us for the journey as we continue to grow together.
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