Stepping into the Swedish Crown Bakery in Anoka, Minnesota, is like stepping into a hybrid of Grandmaâ€™s house. There are huge convection ovens, and huge tubs of flours and sugars, and huge mixers that Grandma never had. However, and here is where Grandma enters the picture, there are authentic ingredients lining the shelves and refrigerators. Real butter, fresh eggs, whole cardamom, and French chocolate to name a few. There are plates piled with cookies and cupcakes. Baskets of fresh, crusty, bread. And then there are the scents wafting around the roomâ€¦baked donuts shimmering with sugar and cinnamon, oat crisp cookies sandwiched with chocolate, and meringue puffs drizzled with lemon sauce. The mouth waters in that environment, and the senses hit overload in a good way.
I first met the owner, Eva, when we had college classes together. Her delightful Swedish accent and outspoken ways had us sitting together rather quickly. I was the quiet one egging her on as she lit up the room. After our college time ended she went on to acquire her naturopathy degree and I headed off for my Liberal Studies work. (See Evaâ€™s video interview under my In-ten-tions section under Menopause, what are they saying now? icon.
When I heard Eva and her husband, Fari, opened the Swedish Crown Bakery, I was so proud of her. It had been a dream she spoke of often as we took tests and read books on integrative health and healing.
About two weeks ago I visited the bakery for the first time. We hugged and smiled and recalled our love of baking while in college. Suddenly she looked at me with an intensity that backed me up. â€œGail! Would you be willing to bakeâ€¦here?â€ At first I shrugged it off. Iâ€™m looking for work, yes, but work that will allow me to write, and to be a womenâ€™s advocate in aging. The thought of baking for Eva would distract me from those goals. Or would it?
The more I thought about it the more I realized this could be a great opportunity. It would get my creative needs met in a new way. It would expose me to new techniques, people, and ingredients. And what the heck, maybe it would be a conduit for womenâ€™s stories over a cup of coffee and a raspberry thumbprint cookie.
I told Eva I would give it a try one day a week. After a trial period we could chat and determine if we should continue. Most of all I wanted to protect our friendship.
Well, today was my first day. The black shirt I wore was dusted white with flour and spices by time I arrived home. Booker wanted to lick me clean, but I took him for a walk instead.
As the cold night air hit my face I wondered how I could improve my work, what books I might read about Swedish baking, and how I could grow with her bakery. The newness of it all is overwhelming, but the work is sweet. Taking on a new challenge? It was the best part of my day.