The Best Volunteer Job

….bread making 

Now that may not be your cup of tea but for me it’s fun and it helps support activities at Montgomery’s Inn (an 1840s-era inn operated as a museum by Toronto Cultural Services at 4709 Dundas St W (at Islington Ave) in Etobicoke, Ontario, 416-394-8113, montinn@toronto.ca.).

Every Tuesday I go to the inn to help prepare the dough for six to seven different types of bread. There are no preservatives in the bread and most of them are made with specific  bread flours that are ordered from specialty mills. I’m usually in the kitchen for about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

On Wednesday I return to the inn where anywhere from four to seven volunteers shape the dough, fire up the outdoor brick oven, prepare two sourdough breads and one or two batches of focaccia. Wednesdays is always a longer day because it takes anywhere from two to three bakes to get all the bread baked and ready for the Farmers’ Market where a another group of volunteers sell the bread. Typically on Wednesday we’re there for five to six hours and lunch is always prepared for us by our ‘boss’ who makes some of the most amazing meals from scratch (homemade soups and stews, sausages with homemade buns, pasta and salads, baked beans, etc.).

This week I took some photos of our beautiful and delicious bread.IMG-2658
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Share Your World – July 2, 2018

….thanks to Cee for creating Share Your World

Tell us about your first bicycle or car?

I got my first bike when I was seven. I remember it well. It was second hand, black and designed for a woman and an adult woman at that. It was so big that I had to stand to ride it. I think it took a couple of years before I could sit on the seat. We lived in a new subdivision and there were no sidewalks. The roads were gravel and a few nasty falls resulted in some road rashes and scrapes that required digging out little bits of dirt and stones out of my knees. It didn’t keep me from riding while we lived in Oakville. When I turned 10 we moved back to Toronto and I don’t know what happened to that bike. If my mother had anything to do with it she probably threw it out.

What fictional world or place would you like to visit?

I can’t think of one fictional place I’d like to visit. There are too many non-fictional places that are on my to do list of places to see. For example, I’d like to go to the east coast of Canada, British Columbia, London, Scotland, and then return to some of the places I’ve already been to like Germany, Italy, Ireland and the Netherlands.

If you could have someone follow you around all the time, like a personal assistant, what would you have them do?

I would like someone who is handy and likes to fix things and build new things.

What did you appreciate or what made you smile this past week?  Feel free to use a quote, a photo, a story, or even a combination. 

This past week a number of things made me smile. First I met a friend from high school and we had lunch together downtown. We see each other at least two to three times a year. She’s still working but she’s getting her head around the notion of retiring in the next year.

On Tuesday and Wednesday I volunteer and bake bread at Montgomery’s Inn. On Thursday I drove to Hamilton and spent the afternoon with my granddaughter. We spent most of our time together at the Hamilton Toy Museum. I’ve mentioned it before but the first time I went there with Winnie the place was closed and we amused ourselves on the grounds.

This time the museum was opened and we took advantage of all they had to offer. The place is divided into theme rooms. The first was an old fashion kitchen with lots of authentic bits of equipment that young children can safely play with.IMG_2978
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The next room is a harbour theme with fish and poles, a boat deck and costumes you can try on.
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The third room is a garden with fabric plants you can pull to reveal carrots and beets and the fourth room is the activity room with arts and crafts and an aquarium with gold fish and turtles.IMG_3004
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On Friday we had dinner at our neighbours house along with a few other neighbours. It was the first time in awhile that my husband actually felt well enough to join us. On Saturday I went to the Canada Day BBQ at the Lawn Bowling Club and on Sunday we drove to Hamilton again and had lunch with daughter #2, her husband and Winnie.

As you can see it was a very busy week with lots of smiles and things to be grateful for.

Baking Bread – Using New and Old Methods

….two weeks ago I started volunteering at Montgomery’s Inn

Twice a week I go to Montgomery’s Inn to bake bread. On Tuesday we prepare the dough using an industrial mixer, proof the dough and then store it in the large commercial refrigerators. On the following day we prepare the sourdough bread with a sourdough starter and then shape the dough we made the day before.IMG_2354
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Each week we make about six different bread doughs plus two sourdough breads. So far I’ve helped prepare rustic white, whole wheat, light rye, Frankconia, thyme and garlic, rosemary and garlic, oatmeal bread, red wine and walnut bread and date and walnut bread.

We shape the dough into rounds or loaves and some of the sourdough goes into loaf pans. Some have different toppings and each bread has it’s own signature cut on top.
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I’ve also helped start the fire in the large outdoor brick oven that can hold up to 50 loaves of bread. Once the oven gets up to about 530 degrees the coals are swept out and then it is quickly swept with a wet mop. In about 25 to 30 minutes delicious hot bread comes out of the oven and is quickly transported to the Farmers’ Market at the Inn.IMG_2358
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Each day about 3 to 4 of us work on making the dough and baking the bread. I’m quickly learning the ropes and am thoroughly enjoying the experience. Presently I am the only woman in the group but my fellow bakers are making me feel right at home and allowing me to experience every aspect of this bread making process.