The smell of good bread baking, like the sound of lightly flowing water, is indescribable in its evocation of innocence and delight...
It's funny, Mimi and I have been talking about Awake and Bake for over 5 years now, it's crazy that it took this pandemic to get us off our asses and finally doing something about it. Well, such is life. Here we are. Awake and Bake, the joining together of two of our loves, traditional sourdough baking, and mindfulness meditation. And what could go better together than these two practices?! Well, maybe the bread and butter, with some honey, but hey, we can have that too!
So about us? Starting with me, Aaron. I run a small charity called the Glow Fund, that arranges surgeries in China for children with orthopaedic disabilities. I'm also an acupuncturist, meditation and qigong teacher. And to round it off, I am also a photographer. Kind of. More like I used to be a photographer, but still dabble, and really, once a photographer always a photographer. But most importantly, I love sourdough bread, and have been baking for over ten years. I have had short stints working in bakeries, but found that the super early mornings, and repetitiveness of baking every day isn't for me, so I've kept it as a side line, and not a job.
And now Mimi's turn, sort of, as I'm writing this. Hehe. Mimi is the guru in chief of all things qigong, mindfulness and yoga. She's written books, made videos, been a photographer, and of course helps me with the Glow Fund. She is an all round awesome person, who best of all, loves eating the bread I bake. Can you imagine if she were celiac? Anyways, she's fab, and we have a great life together in Oxfordshire, with our 3 cats, 5 chickens, and wild bees (we're actually waiting for them to decide to take residence our tree hive, I'll keep you posted...).
And because I'm the one writing this, I'm going to get back to writing about meeee and my love of all things sourdough. So I first fell in love with sourdough on one of my first photo assisting jobs with Catherine Karnow in 1997 in Point Reyes Station, Northern California. We were photographing Chad Robertson, the genius behind the bakery Tartine. Chad was probably 25 years old then, and just getting known for his insanely good bread that he was selling in farmers markets. I remember though being with Chad and his wife Elizabeth, eating this bread, right out of his Alan Scott brick oven in his garage, thinking, I need to stay and hang out with these people. learn how to bake from this guy. But after dreaming forever about being a photographer, I decided to stay on my path, and to some extent thank goodness I did, as it led to an amazing career photographing all over the world, from Iraq to Afghanistan to living in China, to most importantly, meeting Mimi!
In the back of my mind though I did always wonder what life would have been like if I had stayed and learn how to bake from Chad. Well about 5 years ago, in 2015, I decided to take a break from acupuncture, and I started volunteering at the Better Health Bakery. If you don't know it, check it out, it's an amazing social enterprise in Haggerston, East London. So after 3 months of volunteering one day a week, I was smitten, and when they offered me a job I jumped at the chance to try my hand as a baker. Ahhhh, it was a dream come true. For the first month. Then the early morning started to weigh on me, and I found myself sometime in month 3, at 3am, half asleep, grumpy, loading bread into the oven without any interest in what I was doing. I could have been loading bricks into the oven for all I cared. I was over it. Being a full time baker was not for me.
And there we are, thank goodness I found that out before my love of all things sourdough was squashed, and now baking at home a couple times a week, and teaching classes every couple weeks, my love for baking is higher and brighter than it has ever been. Wow, that's a lot about me. Oh well, hopefully I can keep this a secret from Mimi, so make sure not to tell her ok?!