So we started baking. The coffee shop wanted anywhere from four to seven dozen muffins, baked fresh daily. Plus cookies.
And we enjoyed it, especially once we realized that the mystique about muffins, that you're only supposed to stir them until they're JUST MIXED and no more, was not actually true. Muffins, in fact, are a very forgiving baked good. It's pies that are the real primadonnas. You can even add extra flour to muffins after they're mixed, contrary to what all the recipes try to tell you.
Before we had experimented a bit, we followed the recipes exactly as written. It led to disasters. If the batter was too thin, the muffins would rise up and then slop over the sides of the tins and onto the element below.
This would set off the smoke alarms, which, since we were a B&B, were interconnected and hard-wired. There was no way to shut them off. You could only stand under the one closest to the oven, flapping a newspaper and looking like a total idiot.
Which I did one afternoon when I was conducting a potential guest on a tour while an early batch was baking. I nearly fell over when she actually called back later to book a stay!
Once we got into a groove, we really enjoyed it. Alan was still working at General Motors, but I had to wait until he came home from work to start. I'd offered to bake during the day - he reacted like I was trying to take his toys away.
If we didn't have guests, we'd crank up the stereo and bake into the night. It just seemed so cool to be working. At home. AND BEING PAID!
This was a new concept to us. My Dad worked for corporations. Alan's Dad owned a shoe store. Alan worked for a corporation. The idea that you could work at home for money was very new and radical and exciting for both of us.
So I guess we learned a few important lessons from that whole experience. The importance of networking is one I'll come back to. The idea that you can make your own job has stayed with us.
And questioning conventional wisdom is hugely important for anyone wanting to strike out on their own.
On occasion, we'd have company over while we were baking. We'd fix them a drink and they'd pull up a chair while we worked. The gasps as we did all the wrong things to those muffins got to be really funny.
Everyone just knows certaing things. But do you really know what would happen if you tried something else?