Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Happy Holidays & Hopes for a Sweet New Year

Just a reminder that Bonni Bakes is now closed for the holidays but will re-open for the Friday January 2nd ArtWalk from 6-9:30pm. We won't be offering lunch that day, but I'll be baking the freshest thin crust pizzas of 2009 that evening.

We'll return to our regular schedule, lunch Tues-Sat from 11-2, beginning Tues January 6th. Of course, nothing is ever regular around here...I wouldn't stand for it. Each day we'll offer a new cuisine & menu lovingly prepared by a different chef. Stay tuned to find out who will be cooking what. At the beginning of each week I send out an email with a full description of the daily menus. If you'd like to be added to that email list, just send your name, phone # & email address to: bonnibakes@gmail.com It's that simple.

I'll leave you with some mouth-watering visual memories of lunches served over the past few weeks. As usual, refrain from drooling on the keyboard.

We wish you, your family & friends, and the rest of the world a happy, healthy and employed 2009.

Hugs from all of us in the kitchen,
Bonni, Victoria, Anna, Walter, Bonnie & Hector

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

What's Cooking this week Dec 16-20

I'm not sure how it got to be mid-December already without my being aware of it. December has always been the most celebrated month in my close family circle. My Dad & brother Teddy were born on the 22nd; my favorite sister-in-law Joyce & long suffering Uncle Irv on the 29th; me on the 30th; my parent's official wedding the 26th (the secret one on Mom's August birthday never counted); my former husband Joe's birthday on the 27th and our wedding anniversary on the 17th. Who had time to celebrate Chanukah or Christmas? Which brings me to my holiday present for you.

Since this is the last week Bonni Bakes will be open before closing for the holidays (Dec 21-Jan 1), we want to toast the New Year by offering you a complimentary drink with your lunch. Your choice of spring water, soda or a glass of wine (eat in only). I can't put 2008 behind me soon enough and I look forward to peace, happiness and positive opportunities for all in 2009.

I've been very encouraged by your support of my new concept of a different chef, cuisine and menu each day. The only way that we'll be able to sustain this idea is if you also support the chefs with your patronage. If this works we'll be adding delivery service starting in January. I love the option of great food at reasonable prices representing a greater variety of cuisines than the same old...same old. I hope you do too. This has made a believer out of me and yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and I think I even met him a few years ago at a Geer, DuBois Christmas party. But that's another story. Check out this week's menus for a real holiday treat!
Tues Dec 16 -- Victoria's Mediterranean Menu


Empanandas de Cebolla y Tono, Tuna and Onion Empanadas $2.50
Piquillo Peppers stuffed with Salmon Mousse $4
Sobresata y Manchego, Pan Frances, Soft Chorizo with warm Manchego cheese Crostini $4 Spanakopita, warm Phyllo leaves stuffed with Feta cheese and Seasoned Spinach $4.50
Risotto al Funghi, Portabella Risotto $5
Pollo al Mojo con Limon, Crispy Chicken with lemon and garlic mojo $6
Tortilla de Patata con Cebolla $4
Garbanzos con Chorizo y Patatas, Warm garbanzos,chorizo & potatoes $3.50

Dulces/Postres/Sweet Endings: $4
Crepas de Cajeta con Nata, Crepes filled with Dulce de Leche and topped with Whipped Cream Cheesecake with Cookie Crust , Strawberry garnish

Wed Dec 17 --Anna's Natural Wednesday Menu

French Lentil Soup $3.50
Seitan Vegetable Stew over Couscous $4.50
Mixed Greens with Tamari Ginger Dressing $3
Sauteed Arame with Onions $2
Pumpkin Squash Pie $3
Bancha Tea, Oolong Tea, Organic Coffee (hot or cold) $1
Wheat Grass Juice (per oz.) $2
Seaweed Nut Crunch $3.50
Complete Lunch Special $8.50 (try everything!)
Thursday Dec 18 -- Walter's French Inspired Menu

Shaved Fennel Salad with House Smoked Salmon, Citrus and Pignoli $4

Soupe aux Lentilles (French Lentil Soup) $3

Main Course
Crab Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade $7

House Smoked Roasted Chicken Aus Jus, with Haricot Vert and
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes $6

Cynthia's Dessert Selections $3
Friday Dec 19 -- Bonnie & Hector's Caribbean Menu

Fresh Juice made with daily selection of vegetables, fruit & fresh herbs $4

Soup of the Day
Sopa de Ajo y Platano 'Garlic-Plantain Soup' $4

Salad of the Day
Greens & Sprouts tossed with julienne carrot, cherry tomato, red & yellow
pepper, mushroom, egg & a Tomato-Citrus Vinaigrette $6
(additional dressings available upon request)
Add Chicken $3
Add Egg $2

Arroz Amarillo Con Gandules'Yellow Rice n Pigeon Peas' $5
Add Chicken $3
Add Egg $2

Adobo-Herb basted Chicken Salad with Avocado, Red Onion, Greens,
Fruit & a Citrus Mayo
Sandwich $7
On Greens $8

Island Fruit roasted snapper with a coconut-mango beurre blanc &
mashed yucca $8

Tangerine-Canteloupe Sorbet $4
Cafe Con Leche $3
Coffee $2

Delivery & Carry Out available
Saturday Dec 20 - Bonni's New York City Menu

Soup of the Day
Tuscan Tomato Soup with Rosemary Olive Oil croutons $4

Ses Salinas Salad
Romaine, red onion, cucumber, tomato, Spanish olives, Feta
served with Bonni's Honey Dijon Vinaigrette $4

That NYC Salad
Organic mixed greens, sweet cranberries, candied pecans, Blue cheese,
crisp apple plus Bonni's Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette $6

Grilled Chicken, added to your salad $2

Happy Chanukah
Mom's Homemade Potato Latkes w/sour cream or applesauce $6

Handmade 8" Individual Thin-Crust Pizza
Naked City mozzarella, red sauce, parmesan & fresh oregano $6
New York mozzarella, pepperoni, red sauce, parm & fresh oregano $6
Roast Veggie mozzarella, pesto, grilled veggies, chevre & basil $7
Mahon mozzarella, fresh spinach, tomato, red onion, red sauce & basil $7
Margherita mozzarella, red sauce, fresh tomato, parm, basil, olive oil $7
Chinese Chicken hoisin, roast garlic, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella $7

Large cookie (ask for today's flavors) $1.25
Brownie $1.50
Texas Muffin (ask for today's flavors) $1.75
Chocolate Orgasm Cookies (Pkg/4) $4.50

Spring Water, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper $1
Raspberry Iced Tea or assorted Hot Tea (bag) $1.50
Our House Blend of Half/Caff Flavored Coffee $1.50

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

What's Cooking this week Dec 9-13

Wow what a week it’s been. I hope you were here to share it, especially the food!! Giving birth is always the same regardless of whether you’re bringing forth a new person or a concept. The process is fraught with emotions and filled with a pulsating energy fluctuating between hectic, scary, energetic, exciting, terrifying, numbing, exhausting, satisfying then finally…it’s a done deal!!

Last year, when I came up with this idea of multiple chefs cooking at Bonni Bakes, I couldn’t interest anyone. And now that it’s up and running, it’s exciting to be in the midst of so much creativity & great food bursting forth from the kitchen. The great variety of food has been universally applauded, and everyone is looking forward to the next menus with bated breath. We’re getting spoiled in a heartbeat and it feels so good. Finally, there’s a place where talented chefs can cook what they want for a grateful audience who is just an arm’s length away. It’s a delicious win-win situation. One dedicated person had perfect attendance this week, so Owen wins the Gastronomy Gold Star and has now been elevated to Official Bonni Bakes Food Critic.

This week The Village of the Arts is hosting an extra ArtWalk weekend…galleries will be open Fri from 6-9:30pm and Sat from 11-4. You’ll find a huge array of unique handmade items, perfect for that special one of-a-kind gift. If you’re hungry, I’ll be cooking pizza Fri night and my full menu for lunch on Saturday11-2.

If you’re a member of the Bradenton Chamber of Commerce, their December Business After Hours will be held in The Village today (Tuesday) from 5-7pm at the corner of 12th St W and 11th Ave W. under the big tent. Look for me under the oak tree where I’ll have delicious samples from some of our chefs. Make sure you stop by and have a nibble.

Here are the menus for this week. Try not to drool on your keyboard, I hear it isn’t good for the computer.

Hugs from the kitchen,
Bonni, Victoria, Anna, Walter, Bonnie & Hector

Tuesday Dec 9 -- Victoria's Mediterranean Menu

® Caldo Gallego, white bean, spinach and acelgas $4

® Spinach, Red Onion, Orange Segments, Cabrales, white balsamic vinaigrette $5
® Tomatoes with Manchego, fresh herbs ExtraVirgen Olive Oil drizzle $5

“Al tiempo”/Room Temperature:
® Garbanzos sautéed with garlic, onions with pumpkin squares $4
® Grilled Brussel Sprouts, Beets, “Boniato”- sweet potatoes $4
® Pan con Tomate con Jamon o con Queso Manchego $6/$5
® Catalan bread with tomato, with Serrano Ham $6 or with Manchego Cheese slice $5

® Barquitos de Berengena, small eggplant stuffed with greek cheese, cinnamon tomatoes, fresh herbs $4.50

® Patatas Con Chorizo y Manchego, Potato skins served warm with crispy chorizo and warm Manchego cheese $5

® Gambas al Ajillo, crispy garlic and lemon shrimp $6.50

® Canelons, pasta squares filled with ground meat, baked with creamy béchamel sauce, gratinee’ $5.50

® Carnitas de Puerco encebollado, Pork loin grilled to perfection, served with caramelized onions $6

Dulces/Postres/Sweet Endings: $4
Almond Cakes with Pistachio Foam
Flan de Coco
Peras al Vino con galletitas de Miel de Abeja

Victoria Rogers 941-524-9572 vicskitchn@aol.com

Wed Dec 10 – Anna’s Natural Wednesday Menu

® Shitake Mushroom Barley Soup $3

® Baked Millet w/Squash & Roasted Pumpkin Seeds $2

® Sauteed Vegetable Mix w/Sweet Onion Pickle $3

® Boiled Collards w/Onions & Tamari Ginger Dressing $2

® Tahini Bilberry Custard $3

® Bancha Tea $1

December Lunch Special (try a bit of everything!) $8

Also Organic Coffee, Water, Ice Green Tea & other specialty fruit drinks in season

Anna D’Aste 941-746-0055 littleswamp2002@yahoo.com

Thursday Dec 11 -- Walter's French Inspired Menu

® Frisee salad with Manchego cheese and Marcona Almonds with Micro greens and organic Cara-Cara Orange vinaigrette $5

® Potage Saint Germain, organic split pea soup (vegetarian) $4
® Vichyssoise, organic potato and leek soup $4

Main Course
® Chicken Chasseur, classic hunter's style free range chicken, rich brown sauce with wild mushrooms $6

® Gulf Shrimp and Mediterranean Mussels in a saffron-wine broth $7

® Creme Caramel $3

Walter Murawinski 347-865-5297 chefwalternyc@hotmail.com

Friday Dec 12 – Bonnie & Hector’s Caribbean Menu

® Fresh Juice made with daily selection of vegetables, fruit and fresh herbs $4

Soup of the Day
® Black Bean Soup with Spanish onions & an Avocado Yogurt $4

Salad of the Day
® Mixed greens, assorted sprouts, shaved carrot, grape tomato, yellow peppers, crumbled egg, brazil nuts & a Cilantro-Recao citrus vinaigrette $6
(additional dressings available upon request)
® Add Chicken $3

® Arroz Amarillo Con Habichuelas 'Yellow Rice 'n Beans' $5
® Add Chicken $3
® Garlic-Red Pepper Plantain Stuffed Clams w/navel orange herb butter sauce $7
® Adobo-Herb basted Chicken Salad with Avocado, Red Onion, Greens, Fruit &
Citrus Mayo
® Sandwich $7
® On Greens $8

® Mango-Sweet Banana Shaved Frozen Fruit Puree $3
® Sweet Banana Brulee with Homemade Chocolate Nut Butter $3
® Cafe Con Leche $3
® Coffee $2
Delivery & Carry Out available

Bonnie & Hector Ferran 941-580-8085 bluecatering@live.com

Saturday Dec 13 -- Bonni’s NY State of Mind Menu

Soup of the Day
® Loaded Baked Potato Soup $4

® Ses Salinas Salad: organic mixed greens, red onion, cucumber, tomato,
Spanish olives, Feta with Bonni’s Dijon Vinaigrette $4

® NYC Salad: baby greens, sweet cranberries, candied pecans, Blue cheese
with Bonni's Creamy Raspberry Vinaigrette $6

® Grilled Chicken added to your salad $2

Handmade 8" Individual Thin-Crust Pizzas
® Naked City mozzarella, red sauce, parmesan & fresh oregano $6
® New York mozzarella, pepperoni, red sauce, parm & fresh oregano $6
® Roast Veggie mozzarella, pesto, assorted veggies, cheve, fresh basil $7
® Mahon mozzarella, fresh spinach, tomato, red onion, red sauce, basil $7
® Margherita mozzarella, red sauce, fresh tomato, parmesan, basil, olive oil $7
® Chinese Chicken hoisin, roast garlic, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, parm $7

Dessert -- Check the display case to see what’s available today
Frosted cupcake $2.50 (additional add-ons available)
Mini frosted cupcake $1.25
Large cookie (ask for flavors) $1.25
Brownie $1.50
texas Muffin (ask for today's flavors) $1.75
Chocolate Orgasm Cookies (Pkg/4) $4.50

Bottled Spring Water, Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper $1
Raspberry Iced Tea or assorted Hot Tea (bag) $1.50
Our House Blend of Half/Caff Flavored Coffee $1.50
Homemade Lemonade $2.00
Mango Lassi (refreshing whipped mango & yogurt shake) $3.50

Baked Goods (availability varies, some items Special Order only)
Muffins, crackers, Breadstix, Chocolate Orgasm cookies, loaves of bread

Bonni Brown 941-746-6647 bonnibakes.blogspot.com

Monday, December 1, 2008

Meet the Chefs & their menus

Tuesday Victoria kicks off the week with the real food of Spain, Turkey, Morocco and Greece. This week she's offering Tapas, like in Barcelona.

Anna & Melissa invite you to join them for Natural Wednesday, Bradenton's organic vegetarian lunch featuring locally grown produce and accompanying grains.

Thursday Walter transports you via his fresh French American menu, taking the classics and re-defining them for today's American palate.

Friday Hector & Bonnie entice you with their eclectic menu built around seasonal ingredients and interpreted with a Caribbean Latino kick.

Saturday Bonni Brown, owner of Bonni Bakes, is in A New York State of Mind and makes classic NYC favorites, including her signature thin-crust pizzas.

Tues Dec 2 -- Victoria's Mediterranean
Endive, orange, almond, goat cheese w/citrus vinaigrette $5
Baby spinach, cabrales, red onions w/Dijon vinaigrette $5
Roasted portabellas with crumbled goat cheese/queso de cabra $5.25
Cold/Room Temperature:
Tortilla de patata con cebolla $4
Tarta de Tomate, tomato tart w/carmelized onions, fresh thyme $4.50
Empanada gallega, paprika, roasted garlic, bonito in pastry $5.25
Berenjena y tomate caramelizada $4
Espinacas Catalanas, sauteed spinach, raisins, pine nuts $4.95
Pallarda de pollo, grilled chicken breast w/lemon, parsley, garlic slivers $6
Gamabas al ajillo, sauteed shrimp w/lemon, pepper flakes, garlic, olive oil $6.50
Patatas bravas con ailoli, crispy potatoes w/garlic mayonnaise $4
Postres/Desserts: $4
Fresh thin apple tart
Flan dulce de leche
Cheesecake de limon, fluffy lemon souffle-like cheesecake

Wed Dec 3 - Anna & Melissa's Natural Wednesday
Butternut squash soup

Brown rice and chestnuts

Azuki beans w/onions and fresh herbs

Cous-cous fruit cake

Oolong Tea

Thur Dec 4 - Walter's French American
Organic butternut squash soup w/nutmeg creme-friache
Maryland crab bisque w/caramelized Pink Lady apple brunoise

Composed salad of organic field & micro greens, smoked Muscovy duck breast, sauteed Seckel pears, Maytag blue cheese & candied pecans w/Meyer Lemon vinaigrette

Chicken Normande, free range chicken flambeed w/Calvados, side of sauteed Granny Smith apples & pearl onions

Catch of the Day, Day Boat selection

Cynthia's bread pudding du jour

Fri Dec 5 - Hector & Bonnie's Caribbean Latino
Fresh juice (5 oz celery, carrot, citrus, grape, tomato, cucumber, garlic) $4

Salad & Soup
Chilled calabaza soup w/celery, red onion and jerk shrimp $4

Salad of the day: egg, avocado, pigeon peas, cucumber, onion, tomato, mixed greens, Brazil nuts w/mango-ginger vinaigrette $6

House salad: egg, cucumber, tomato, onion, mixed greens, extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar $4

San Juan steak fried rice $6
Arroz con pollo w/julienne vegetables and island relish $6
Adobo & herb basted chicken salad sandwich w/avocado, red onion & citrus mayo $7
Spicy island marinated shrimp w/fruity yogurt aioli and crispy veggie slaw $7

Mango brulee w/homemade whipped cream & homemade biscotti $4

Cafe' con leche $3
Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite $1

Delivery & Carry Out available: 941-580-8085
Sat Dec 6 - Bonni's New York State of Mind

Soup of the day w/bread $4
House Salad: romaine, red onion, cuke, tomato. olives, feta w/Bonni's Dijon vinaigrette $4
NYC Salad: baby greens, cranberry, candied nuts, cheve w/Bonni's raspberry vinaigrette $6
Pick Two: soup, house salad or Florentine stromboli $7.50

Handmade 8" Individual Thin-Crust Pizza
New York: mozzarella, pepperoni, red sauce, parmesan & fresh oregano $5.50
Roast Veggie: mozzarella, pesto, assorted veggies, cheve, fresh basil $6
Mahon: mozzarella, fresh spinach, tomato, red onion, red sauce, basil $6
Margherita: mozzarella, red sauce, fresh tomato, parmesan, basil, olive oil $6
Chinese Chicken: hoisin, roast garlic, chicken, broccoli, mozzarella, parmesan $6

Daily Special Platter varies each day

Frosted cupcake $2.50 (additional add-ons available)
Large cookie or biscotti (ask for flavors) $1.25
Brownie, Blondie or Rugelach $1.50
Profiterole (ice cream in a pastry shell w/fudge sauce) $4
Chocolate Orgasm Individual Cheesecake $4

Bottled water, soda (Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Dr Pepper, Diet Dr Pepper) $1
Handblended Coffee or assorted Tea $1.50
Brewed Raspberry Iced Tea or Lemonade $1.50
Mango Lassi $3.50

Baked Goods (availability varies, some items Special Order only)
Muffins, crackers, Breadstix, Chocolate Orgasm cookies, loaves of bread

bonnibakes@ gmail.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008


After considering and rejecting "What to do with the rest of my life, plans A-R", I've come up with a new concept that I think will delight you, free-up my time, improve Bradenton's unhealthy boring lunch options and introduce a lot of people to The Village of the Arts.

I've decided to re-open BONNI BAKES for lunch 11-2 Tues-Sat with a little help from my friends. Each day another chef/caterer will lovingly present a menu of their specialties in our charming 1910 bungalow. Imaginative food made from scratch, with fresh natural ingredients, representing a variety of cuisines. This is Nirvana if you're bored with the same old...same old lunch options, or have Multiple-Personality Disorder. Since most of the chefs are also caterers, it's a great way to sample their fare if you're planning a party, business event or just need a private chef.

But this is only the beginning. In the weeks to come we'll be expanding the use of this cozy building to launch anything food related: evening parties, cooking & baking lessons, outdoor brunch, catering, kid's parties, meetings, wine tastings and private events.
I love it!!! What a wonderful opportunity to have fun, share and learn in a stress-free nurturing environment. Talking about sharing, during the ArtWalks Friday 12/5 (6-9pm) & Saturday 12/6 (11am-4pm) I need your help decorating holiday cookies which will be donated to a local charity. Last month we were able to deliver 52 fabulous cookies to Hope Family Services, including Batman, Robin and Santa. I'm sure we can do better this month. Stop by and share some love (all ages welcome) for a few minutes, you'll feel great!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The hell with the economy, it's time to have fun Latin Style~

I've been hanging out in an underground bunker, most recently occupied by Dick Cheney, who is somewhere around here packing up his box of spare Doomsday threats; "What, Me Worry?" pins, and Bahrain/English dictionary. What an inconvenient time for the economy to go belly up, just as I was trying to settle on my next career that "hardly pays a living wage", my specialty. Actually, things are a lot simpler since 80% of industry isn't hiring anyway, and the position of US President has just been filled. So, since I haven't committed to a new occupation yet, I'm going to enjoy the parts of BONNI BAKES that I love...making food and seeing you. When it feels like the quicksand under your feet is about to suck you in, it must be TIME TO PARTY! So, indeed we must.

Friday November 7 at 6pm kicks off this month's ArtWalk in the Village of the Arts, and BONNI BAKES will be in the thick of it. The Village is sponsoring a Latin Festival, complete with Art Show (at Still Life in G); Altar Contest celebrating Noche de los Muertos, and music. We're embracing our Latino spirit. We're proud to present the unique sound of Mark Burdette, accompanied by his guitar + drums; plus Latin-style roasted pork, calabaza & grilled zucchini tapas plates lovingly prepared by Bonnie (not me, note she was able to afford an "e" at the end of her name) & Hector, outside on the patio. Come inside and I'll try to seduce you with my legendary thin crust pizzas (New York & Mahon versions baked to order in minutes); Dulce de Leche filled cupcakes; Chocolate Orgasms; Blueberry Muffins, Rosemary Parmesan Breadstix, warm cookies and freshly baked Multigrain Bread. (Limited supply, call 746-6647 to reserve.)

Over the next two months I'll be teaching a small number of classes. One of them focuses on how to produce artisan bread at home without any machines, kneading or timely commitment. You'll be able to stir up the dough in minutes, leave it in the fridge for two weeks then simply take out a blob, shape it, let it rise and bake it into something wonderful. One 90 minute class will teach you everything you need to know in order to produce consistently great loaves at home. Could be the best $30 you spend...plus you get to nibble the dividends for life. Sample a whole wheat/white version of this bread when you stop in and you'll be amazed. Other classes focus on decorating cookies for the holidays; making sensational appetizers with puff pastry, and simplified delicious pizza making. Check out the class schedule for yourself, and it makes a thoughtful gift too.

This time of year usually reminds me of how important family is. Lots of cozy images about sharing love spring forward, but that isn't everyone's personal experience. So I was thinking, what can I do to make someone else feel special? Short of getting involved in a non-profit organization's plan (and there are lots of good ones that could use your time), I just want to do my own little thing. But of course there's a catch, I need a bit of help. I've made a bunch of naked gingerbread & sugar cookie people but they won't "come alive" until they're lovingly decorated. If you have a few extra minutes this weekend please stop by BONNI BAKES (930 12th St West, Bradenton) and let your creative juices flow. The cookies and icing are waiting. I need you to create a special cookie which will help someone find their smile. On Monday, they're all being donated to Hope Family Services (a domestic violence agency) who will deliver them to folks literally fighting for their lives, at the Shelter. Together WE CAN make a difference...and we will, one cookie at a time!

It's been too long, stop in so we can catch up.

Hugs from the kitchen,

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Can trees just keel over and crash?

I always thought that when trees die (and I've surprisingly lost four palm trees in the past few months) that they just stand there and take it. Oaks do, maples do. I've personally known dead trees before and sometimes you could even hang a swing and think fondly of Shel Silverstein's "The Giving Tree". Boy, did I get a gigantic shock Saturday.

There is a fenced-in side yard area known as Muffinland just north of the Bonni Bakes building. This is where my 11 year old favorite puppy hangs out when the business is open. I was about to give a lovely couple from PA a tour of the Village Saturday (they're about to relocate) when I noticed something odd. I walked over to the gated entrance to Muffinland and the dead queen palm was now in three sections. A partial trunk was still standing at about 6 feet and the rest was laying at its feet in a crumpled mess. I was beyond shocked and immobilized.

The beauty of living in a community of caring people helps to explain the resolution. There is a new bacterial disease attacking certain varieties of palms (like ones inhaling delicious cookie aromas) that rots them from the inside out. When they've had enough...they've had enough and want to return immediately to dust. Thank goodness that Muffin wasn't holding court when this one decided to bail.

My neighboring artist and friend Mark came with help and a chain-saw and not only disabled this palm, but the other three who were dead as well. I'm still gasping. When you know and love something large and alive like a tree it takes time to acknowledge that it's gone. The sun nows shines brightly on a patch whose vegetation grew up in the shade of a large tree. YIKES, I can hear them screaming. Life will adjust, but without any ceremony or formal notice when that tree fell in my non-forest, apparently no one heard. However, I feel it in my heart. The sense of loss has been mitigated by the warm comfort of friends. Thanks Mark!!

Okay, I promised to explain my plans for Bonni Bakes. You know that I wasn't going to re-open the cafe because I just can't do that 24/7 thing anymore, but I'm very committed to The Village. I will re-open for the Oct 3 ArtWalk, both Fri 6-9:30pm and Sat 11-4, serving a variety of that thin-crusted yummy pizza plus unnamed baked things. Did someone say "Chocolate Orgasms"? Time for something new and different, so instead of a cafe I'll be doing a bunch of workshops. Decorating cookies for the holidays; making bread at home so you don't have to buy lesser stuff at the supermarket; great appetizers that you can dazzle with on a shoestring; kids classes that will make them want to help around the kitchen, etc. We'll be offering personally decorated cookies & cupcakes for business or private occasions. If it deals with food and fun, I'm there.

Did I mention that although I sold a lot of unwanted furniture, I still have a slew of gently used kitchen things (I had to have muliple functioning kitchens) and a personal collection of Spanish Ceramica dishes that I personally brought back from Spain but won't fit in my current space.

So, as usual, Bonni Bakes will not operate according to a business plan (this is probably making my wonderful MBA-credentialed daughter Abby crazy), but she's lived with me her whole life. My life IS my plan, and you're part of it. I miss you and hope that we can share our creative energy to make this a better world. Right now I'm raising money for breast cancer research & education through my involvement with Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. I'm doing what I do best...make mouth-watering cookies, sell them for a reasonable price and donate ALL OF IT to charity. I need your help with this so let me know how I can bring some of these goodies to you. Just call me at 941-746-6647 or email bonnibakes@gmail.com and order some of these $2/pkg cuties. I'd post the pix but I haven't done them yet.

Grateful hugs & love,

Bonni and Muffin (who has NO CLUE that he could have disappeared back into dust)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

I’ve never dreamed of leaving a mark on this Earth. Mostly I have always lived in the “here and now” with faint thoughts of the future. Maybe it’s because my parents’ experience as children in war-torn Russia/Poland in the early 1900’s taught them to focus on survival, not daydream about the future. As a kid I was never encouraged to make plans. My modest goals were always within arm’s reach. I grew up trying to control the world around me to fit that mold. It turned out to be impossible. I continuously failed and believed it was always my fault.

Then I met Rea Brown…dreamer, artist, writer and lover with the spirit of Puck intact within him. This complex and talented man saw the world through his own unique magical lenses (no Foster Grants here). Luckily he shared his visions with some of us from time to time and it was always a treat. Rea was a died-in-the-wool fatalist. He was easy and comfortable with this belief system and I envied his surety. Over the course of almost 30 years together, his actions positively influenced me as I tried to consciously “let go” of situations (which of course, I wasn’t able to control anyway!)

You know how they say that living with someone ultimately results in both people merging? Phil Donahue proved how he grew to resemble his dog, and Muffin & I sometimes fall into that category, depending on our latest haircuts.

Rea was a genius at designing spaces. Starting with just one sharp pencil and a blank piece of paper, he could theoretically create thousands of dollars worth of construction. It happened numerous times and we were both delighted at the ultimate results. He could visualize everything in his head beforehand and produce sketches for me of how the final spaces would look from multiple angles. I couldn’t envision squat! Although we were considered an” Odd Couple” by some, most people realized we were totally complementary and personally always agreed that we “were more than the sum of our parts…and more than some of our parts.”

After Rea’s death I had to decide whether I was capable of completing the total design and construction of “The TreeHouse”, which he had barely sketched out. That was easy…of course I wasn’t capable! But in my heart, I knew I wanted to carry out our last joint project. So I spent almost a year thinking, drawing, crying, smiling, breathing and frowning. It was terrifying, exhilarating, depressing, amazing and ultimately joyous when finally I GOT IT. The design became another pulsating organ of my body and I was so busy living & breathing the details that I didn’t notice how easily I was making instant decisions. Now I too could envision the outcome. It was Rea’s ultimate gift to me. Of course I’ll always be convinced that I was able to channel Rea during that time period and he was the final designer. And, as always, he produced an extraordinary space to live in...I know from experience.

Today I faced the moment that I’ve dreaded for over five years. I finally went through the boxes of Rea’s saved pictures and papers. To say it was emotional would be an understatement! His collection includes family Christmas cards he penned as a kid; flowery prose mailed to his parents as a struggling young father; optimistic letters written home while doggedly working to establish himself as a professional in the burgeoning advertising arena, and playful letters to his sisters regarding future brother-in-laws. Rea was candid, with a lot of self-doubt, but succeeded at almost everything…ultimately. There was also the correspondence from his father, who I’d never met, written in such careful handwriting and stilted patriarchal tone that it transported me back to another time and place.

I’ve been slogging through the never-ending cardboard boxes (whose contents must be gone through piece by piece); selling off the unwanted furniture; feeling so energized that I can’t admit how overwhelming it all is; inventorying which items should be “re-homed” to a long list of “who”; praying for an arsonist; overcome by memory at times and giving in; laughing aloud in the company of loved ones merely departed but not abandoned; discussing serious things with a confused dog who never loses his patience, and sometimes accepting who I am and what yet has to be done. What I thought would/should take a few weeks has morphed into months. Not that it really takes that long, but it comes down to how much can I handle at a time. Sadly, much less than I expected, but it’s important not to cripple myself with unwarranted pressure.

Here’s the good news…and it’s VERY GOOD!! It’s done. The extra furniture is gone. The pictures are sorted (including some slides I never saw before). I can see the floor again…and more importantly, the faint light at the end of the tunnel. So whatever you think YOU must accomplish, know it can get done. In time, on your schedule, and in good stead. It’s a process, like Life, to go through. There is no ticking timer or angry parent judging you. Everything in its time. I know that magical moments seem to rush at warp speed while painful stuff feels like it’s stuck in quicksand…but hang in there. Remember that YOU set the goal and the ultimate reward is very satisfying when you get there.

I’ve also decided what I'll be doing with Bonni Bakes this year, but I'll explain that next time.

Friday, August 29, 2008

I'm picking up where I left off in May...

when I closed Bonni Bakes bakery/cafe and set off for Lund, Sweden (a bike to everywhere city) and Rome. It was a wonderful time shared with family & friends surrounded by ancient cultures, multiple languages, confusing foreign exchange rates and lots of great looking food. I was also on a personal mission to change the direction of my life and define my future path. Seemed like a good plan. In reality those two weeks became an opportunity to unwind, recharge, laugh, hug and cry (especially on the 5th anniversary of my husband Rea's death). I kept looking for inspiration, Divine or otherwise, but all I found was gelato...and more gelato. Not that there's anything wrong with gelato!

In the past I've changed careers when I wasn't happy with what I was doing and felt pulled toward something new that intrigued me. This time it was different. I loved what I was doing but work was taking up way too much time, limiting any personal life. I wasn't running from; I wasn't being pulled toward; I was feeling frustrated, confused and immobilized. Years ago, feeling bogged down in this same situation, Rea threw me a lifeline when he asked, "what do you love to do?" The answer came spilling out without a thought, "baking, cooking, playing with food". As a result I wound up reinventing myself as a baker. Today my answer is still the same, so maybe I'm just missing what's right in front of my eyes. Maybe the issue isn't what to do but rather how to do it. It'll be all about food, fun and sharing. Details to follow.