As previously mentioned, my brand-spanking new oven isn’t working. It hasn’t since we got it over a MONTH ago.

At first I thought maybe it was me. Maybe we had to become better acquainted with each other. After a few called to customer service, I was persuaded to try troubleshooting the problem before the company sent out a repair person. Well, after tinkering with the oven for a week and told the company it just wasn’t working.

The repairman who came turned out to be the most misogynistic piece of garbage I have ever met. I can’t recall a time in recent memory when a man was so overtly demeaning to me. I was so upset and called the company to complain. My oven was still broken, requiring a new part. I made it clear that repair man was not allowed anywhere near the premises. The new part was ordered and sent. A new repair company was retained and they have yet to show up to fix the oven. I am non-plussed. Actually, I am more than non-plussed. I am angry, disappointed, frustrated and I also feel helpless. I don’t like feeling like I am at the mercy of a company that took my money and delivered a substandard product and beyond crappy customer service.

To make myself feel better, I went on a road trip today with a friend of mine. We were on a mission. If I couldn’t bake in my own kitchen, I was going to live vicariously through the small country bake shops in farm country. We drove north to Sonoma County.

Our first stop was Mom’s Apple Pie in Sebastopol. It’s been around since 1984. In my head I was thinking, “oh! that’s not so long ago. I was just a kid then.” But then I remembered I’m getting old. That means the pie shop has been around for 35 years! THIRTY FIVE YEARS!!! We ordered ahead of time because it happens to be the week of Thanksgiving and we would have been sorely disappointed with the selection of pies if we had simply shown up. I got two kinds; strawberry rhubarb and apricot.

I did not get their namesake pie because I intend to bake an apple pie of my own. I also tried a mixed berry turnover while I was there, which was delicious. It was especially yummy because my stomach was growling after the two hour drive.

That’s Apricot on the left and Strawberry Rhubarb on the right. But who can tell?

After leaving Mom’s we headed to Hale’s Orchard and picked up a bunch of blemished apples, which they refer to as “seconds.” I call them C-grade apples, which aren’t nice enough to sell in a grocery store, but certainly tasty enough and useful enough to turn into apple sauce or pies. So I bought 25 pounds. Normally I would get one variety, but since I don’t know anything about the varieties that are grown out here, I heeded the advice of the nice woman at the fruit stand and bought a variety. She said the best sauces and pies come from a mixture of apples.

A variety of C grade apples from Sonoma County

From Hale’s we made a pit stop at Andy’s market, an independent grocery store that has wonderful produce, a great selection of meats and cheeses and lots of great bulk food.

But we saved the best for last! We went to Wild Flour Bakery in Freestone. The *main* street, if you could call it that, is a small unassuming road off the main highway that you would miss altogether if you blinked. There are a few shops clustered together, but that’s it.

We went just days before US Thanksgiving so it was busier than normal, according to my travel companion, Elizabeth, who frequents this bakery quite regularly. The breads and bakes are outstanding!!! I got three loaves–a Fougasse that was stuffed with cheese, herbs and tomato. I got another flat bread, also stuffed with cheese and herbs, as well as a garlic loaf.

Beautiful breads from Wild Flour Bakery

I also got two scones; one sweet, the other savoury. Both were delicious, especially the chocolate walnut. Yum!

If you are in the area, these places are definitely worth checking out.

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