Proposal: Naturally Leavened Babysitting Service


As I enjoy my last week of vacation before I return to New York City for school, my mind starts to wander towards all sorts of issues that didn’t really apply to me in the last year, when I was living in the woods and farming at a Jewish retreat center. The biggest one is paying rent, which I didn’t have to think about in my prime forest real estate (granted, I don’t yet have an apartment to pay rent on, anyone looking for a live-in farmer?).

Another is teaching; in the last year I’ve found that I really enjoy explaining things that I care about, but for the next two years, instead of having a relatively captive audience of Adamanicks to work with and teach, I’ll be a captive audience myself, paying very close attention to my teachers…

The other night I had an idea that I want to run by you, the Jcarrot reader. An idea that might just allow me to combine my enjoyment of hands-on teaching with traditional food preparation and preservation: What about a babysitting service that teaches our kids to bake sourdough bread? It seems like a win-win for everyone involved. Kids get to knead bread dough, which we all know they love. Parents and kids get to eat fresh whole grain sourdoughs, which isn’t just delicious, but is in fact much more nutritious than bread made with commercial yeast, since the pre-fermentation involved in sourdough breaks down the nutrients in flour to make them more accessible. Imagine, while you’re finally enjoying a night off and that movie you’ve been waiting to see, the kids are making tomorrow’s sandwich bread!

In addition to sourdough breads, there are many other lacto-bacilli that we could cultivate with your kids; we could traditionally lacto-ferment cucumbers, cabbages, and other fresh produce (in season of course) to make delicious pickles, sauerkrauts, and other great ferments. We could even try micro-brew-babysitting… or maybe that’s better left for the older crowd, who might not really need babysitting….

I’ll admit, there are still some rough spots in this business plan. How do I set the pricing for the bread-plan? Is it like regular babysitting, just with a per-loaf surcharge? Does each kid get their own loaf, or are we also trying to teach the all important value of sharing? What about parents who love pumpernickel raisin breads, but kids who think they’re gross? What about Kashrut? My (future) kitchen will be kosher, but what if someone is worried about the pedigree of my starter (it’s just flour and water, and I promise not to keep it thru pesach). Who provides the ingredients, the babysitter or the parents?

Now, you might be thinking, “is this just a plot to play with the Bieri children and get to use Phyllis’s new steam-injected oven?” Perhaps. But perhaps, this idea just might work. Traditional food preparation/preservation is so fun and easy, that even your kids could do it, all while helping a nice Jewish boy through Horticulture school!

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2 Responses to “Proposal: Naturally Leavened Babysitting Service”

  1. lux Says:

    Many of those questions could be answered by making a decision about the real goal of the activity: are you primarily trying to keep the kids occupied and happy, or are you in the service of providing quality bread for the parents? Not that the two are completely incompatible goals, but knowing which one is more important than the other give you a guideline for your decision making.

    One key piece of advice from from cooking in other people’s kitchens: never assume that they will have any of the necessary ingredients or baking implements. If you cannot do without X, Y or Z, you must bring them with you.

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