Hi. I’m Kim, and I own a bakery/coffeeshop/cafe in Huntington WV. Where do I start with a blog about the bakery? How about if I start where I started, with my Mama? Her love of cooking and baking runs through my veins. From the time I could go outside and play in the dirt, I made mud-pies adorned with dandelion flowers. For my 16th birthday, Mama created a French meal from Julia Child’s cookbook. I recall vichyssoise, coq au vin, and my first taste of wine. I didn’t care much for the wine. My biggest impression from that day, of food beyond the normal in my family, expanded my palate.
I’ve always found myself drawn to the complex things just like Mama. In the olden days, students took a class called “Home Economics” and were taught basic cooking, sewing, and “housekeeping” skills. Basics were boring. I didn’t care anything about making a double-knit pant suit. I wanted to make a pair of jeans (which I did years later). But I also I found fascination in food: how yeast grows (learned at home when I made dinner rolls for Sunday dinners), how more flavor can come with the addition of searing or toasting or caramelizing, the importance of a balance of flavors, and how real food should taste.
When I became a Mama, I scoured over the ingredient labels on products in the grocery store, often appalled at the lack of real food in the alleged “food” I was holding. My kids only got soda pop on special occasions, I cooked most of our meals. We seldom ate out. I had to put my own past knowledge to test, and failed often. Trial and error taught me many things. I experimented a lot. I made things up, and I tried to make things from scratch as much as I could.
In my 50’s, my kids were grown, and I floundered for something meaningful in my life. I got involved with Create Huntington, and started attending “Chat and Chew” gatherings in Huntington’s historic Frederick Building. I found synergy there, with folks who love Huntington the way I love it. I found folks who look for solutions, and support creative and artisan efforts to improve the city. Even though my Mama was over 1000 miles away, I felt nurturing comfort with these folks. And I had lots of ideas.
The idea that garnered the most excitement was a bakery that made bread. But I knew I’d need to do more than that, so I added coffee and pastries to my vision. I opened River and Rail Bakery in March of 2011. I’d never owned a business before. I didn’t realize how wild my ride would become. But my Mama knows I never do anything the easy way, and she’s my constant supporter and cheerleader. Six years later, I’m still learning.
Thank you for following my ride.