There are a few specific things that I've learned through my Christmas experience to look for in a new recipe (and ones that I've made for our family as well). They are:
- price of ingredients: I now know by looking through the ingredient list whether the recipe will be costly to sell or not. I'm willing to have a few higher priced items in there but I do like to keep my costs low so that I can sell for a competitive price.
- fussiness: I'm a good baker and I don't mind a few steps to get to the end product but if there is a high element of fussiness, the recipe isn't likely to make the final lineup. I can't spend too much time on single recipes in the kitchen. I just don't have the time as a one-person operation and that alone eats into my profit.
- good looks do matter: to me, at home, taste is everything but the reality when you are selling baking is that looks do matter. I test every recipe for looks. This is particularly important for squares. If I can't cut it and have it look good, I won't sell it. For example, I made a new square the other day, a chocolate marshmallow concoction. It tasted very good but it was uglier than a hedge fence. It will not be seen outside our four walls.
- freezing capability: I have to make things that freeze well. This is for two reasons: the first is so that I can make a pan of 36 squares, sell some fresh and freeze the rest for another order. If I'm not able to do this, I won't make any money and I'll gain a lot of weight eating my leftovers. The second reason is so that customers can freeze the baking until they need it or freeze their leftovers. I've found that people really value this.
A couple of unrelated updates:
I went and talked to my neighbour about the cat/bird problem. She was really good about it and sympathetic to the birds. Her problem is that one of her cats, the one Emily has named Mr. Sylvester, won't use a litter box and so scratches at the door to do his thing outside. She's tried collars with bells but the cats get them off somehow. She's going to talk to her vet and try to limit their time outside during the birds' feeding time. Summer won't be an issue since I won't have feeders up then. For me it is a winter thing.
It seems Emily has a couple of admirers in her class. Apparently one little boy, Karim, brought flowers to school for her. Emily, being Emily, said she couldn't take them until she asked her mummy if it was okay. When she asked me I tried to get a sense of what was going on here (I mean she's getting flowers in JK?! Maybe they were crayon on paper) but made the assumption that this was all typical cute 4-year old stuff. She assured me the flowers were real and he'd bring them back the next day so she could get them. I told her they'd probably be dead by then. She insisted they'd be fine (Emily knows everything or didn't you know that?). When I asked her why she didn't take them the first time she said that Mrs. B has told them that they shouldn't give away their things to the other kids because then they wouldn't have anything of their own (JK kids are very generous I've noticed. Sometimes.). And Emily is stickler for the rules. Remember her "sense of justice"?
Today I found out more of the story from my neighbour, Selma, who is Emily's best friend Mohammed's mum. She said that Mohammed wants to bring Emily a gift because Karim did and now Mohammed is all put out because Emily sat with Karim on the bus one day and not Mohammed (as is the general practice). Good Lord Almighty, did I suddenly drop into a Sweet Valley High novel?
I found this all hilarious, as did Selma, if not a little odd for JK... I mean I expected this in a few years but not quite yet. What is so funny for me is that I know that Emily is completely and wonderfully oblivious to all of this, to Mohammed being perturbed or even why he would be. I know she would say that "it's nice to sit with different people" or "I like to be friends with everyone." I love that about her. I love that she doesn't get caught up in stuff like this so far. I hope that doesn't change. And she is generally unaware of her own appeal so that she would have no idea that kids would be apt to challenge each other over her attention.
And lastly, the toilet training is on hold. Hope is so far from ready and I promised myself not to relive the showdowns I had with Emily. I'll wait a couple of more weeks and give it another try and then just keep trying that to see how it goes.
It seems that I've significantly eaten into my baking time. It looks like I might have to have a junior assistant at my side today, after she gets off the bus, that is.