By Bonnie Buol Ruszczyk
I’m a pretty good cook. Not Ina Garten-good, but I can put together a tasty meal that everyone enjoys. I know how to combine ingredients well, but am rather haphazard at measuring. Even when I’m cooking from a recipe, I rarely follow it exactly. Which is why I do not bake, since exact measurements are a must, and I just don’t have the patience.
But on New Year’s Eve, I decided to give it a shot. I found a recipe for some Gruyere onion bread that sounded heavenly. I thought it would make a great addition to the dinner I was preparing for a few of our closest friends to thank them for their support during what had been a very difficult year.
And this is where things went horribly awry. First, when mixing the ingredients in the food processor, as instructed, I started noticing a funny smell. Turns out, rather than mixing the ingredients together, it created a hard slab of “dough” in the bottom of the food processor, and I was literally melting the device. So we turned it into a bowl, prying the hard dough from the bottom of the food processor and tried to mix the impossibly sticky substance by hand. We added the buttermilk, creating an even gooier mess. My ever-handy husband suggested we put it into the big mixer and give that a shot. We had to scrape the dough off my hands with a spatula, but eventually it started looking a bit more like it should. Score! We put flour on the counter and turned it out to knead. The moment I put my hands into the mixture nearly every molecule of this sticky mess stuck to them like glue. There was nothing to knead because all of it was literally stuck to my hands. We added more flour only to make it stickier than before. Eventually, we admitted defeat and opened the trashcan, throwing the entire mess in. Baking – 1; Bonnie – 0.
This failing foray into baking reminded me of something I tell my clients on a regular basis. Find a niche and stick to it. No one is good at everything, and I certainly learned that while venturing into my bread-making fiasco. Figure out your strengths, and lead with them. When you try to be all things for all people, and jump at every business opportunity out there, you do yourself and your clients a disservice. By setting yourself apart and truly excelling at one thing, you become a unique provider in the market. You can then market your services to a specific audience, which will lead to clients who appreciate your skills and business you enjoy.
So, if you ever come to my house for dinner and want to know what you can bring, it’s the bread. Well, the bread and some wine, of course!