The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts


nbicomputers's picture


        I have heard from the board owner that a few members have had a few unkind things to say about some of the postings that I have placed here.  Thinking about this I kind of thought that those that people deserve an explanation.

I      don’t normally talk about this but it is nothing that I am ashamed of its just personal but here goesI was forced to leave the baking industry due a really serous illnessA few years back I was diagnosed with colon rectal cancer. This was not a polyp but full blown stage 3 cancer.

       Well I was not about to let this stop me being a tough old some bitch I fought this with all I had The result is I’m still here my even though the last blood tests were not great.Well the drugs that I took to fight the cancer 4 years ago were relatively new on the market and there side effects were known but did not really have any long term studies done yet.

     The drug combined with the borderline diabetes I also have cause a neurologic condition which make my feet feel like their in cement buckets making being on my feet for any length of time impossible.  It also has the same effect on my hands which are num most of the time.  If you notice most of the typos are a missed the key I am trying to press and hit the key ether next or underneath. I also had a small stroke during the chemo-rad treatments

     Sympathy  I don’t want like I said I’m a tough old some bitch and 4 years after the diagnoses I’m still here with the five year survival point just around the corner. I since all this happened I have been trying to pass all that have learned to others that, like myself love to bake.

   I have already done this with my 20 something year old son who is presently employed at Peter Kelly’s latest 4 star restaurant in Yonkers as the pastry chef.

     With all this extra time on my hands I needed to something to keep myself from going crazy. I started a small consulting company setting up and designing of computer systems for bakeries.  I expanded that to other markets and a small retail computer service business, also consulting on some new projects for product development that because on contracts a cannot talk about

      Without a professional kitchen at my command and thinking about my early days when baking I started doing research on ways the home baker could get the same results from a home kitchen using professional formulas that have been reduced to amounts that can be handled in a home kitchen.     And modified methods and equipment that can be found or made  with easily located materials ( all though some things specific to recipe or two that you just can’t do without  (like making chicken soup without chicken you just can’t do it)    A book is in the works but I don’t know if I have to time to finish it.

    So that’s it,  If i offend it is not my intention to do so,  if I talk as though time is short it’s because it is.  If I post something that you don’t understand, ill explain it  all can call me on Skype or email or phone.

    I offer My experience here to expand the already large base of information from all the other bakers here   And if you do not want my help feel free to ignore me I don’t offend easily.   

      With so few young people going into the baking industry  (they all want jobs behind a desk with nice clean hands)  soon the only way you will ever get to taste something other than wonder bread and ho ho’s will be to make it yourself. 

   How would you even know about it if you never saw, smelled or touched it  (children born today will never see touch or listen to a 33 rpm record)  and while there are many good books there. Most of them (that I have read) seem to hold back a little something or not explain with adequate detail so the home baker never really has a chance to make something as good as the author can. 

    So that’s all folks I just want to help and pass on what I have so it does not get lost and the generations to come don’t end off living off of wonder bread.

Ps:  if any one reading this does not know where the expression “that’s all folks” came from ask your parents better still if you’re lucky enough your grandparents to explain it to you am sure they will happy to!

PPs: this was copied and  paste from microsoft word and it would seem that all the formating was lost. i formated it.

qahtan's picture

 Me again.

I am sorry that some posters have to say things behind your back.....

I am also sorry that I was one that bitched at you for the large recipe, to which you explained.....

 You should not have to explain yourself one bit, if some body doesn't like what you have to say, then they don't have to read it.

I sincerely hope that you do finish your book and more to follow, you never know that maybe tomorrow there could be the magic that will fix your problems....

                 Excuse my swearing. and don't worry about spelling most times we know what you mean... ;-)))) ;-))))

 take care,,,, qahtan

Elagins's picture

Norm, you're the caretaker of a great tradition -- New York Jewish baking -- that is fast going the way of the handmade bagel. For those of us who are old enough to remember it, those trips to the bakery were very special and you're helping to bring some of that magic back for me through your recipes ... speaking of which, could I hit you up for some pointers on babka and russian coffee cake?


Floydm's picture

Hey Norm,

First off, my thoughts and prayers for you and your family. I hope things keep improving for you.

I can certainly understand wanting to share your passion and pass on your knowledge. And I'm honored that you've chosen to share it with us. Nevertheless, I'm obligated to point out that there was a community here before you came on board. That community had a dynamic that we enjoyed immensely and which many community members feel you've been trampling on a bit lately. I'm willing to put in effort and make modifications to try to better accommodate you (hell, I spent the entire weekend dealing with this and tweaking the site code), but in return I ask you to make an effort to be courteous to us all as well.

In my opinion that means directing things that are primarily professionally oriented to the professional section, putting random musing and stories in your blog rather than the main forum, and giving other community members a chance to answer questions even if they don't know their stuff as well as you do. Your blog can be Norm's Corner where you can go on about anything and no one will give you grief, but if you can leave a little more room for other folks on the rest of the site we'd be appreciative.

(And, yes, as you've said people can take or leave your advise, but that that doesn't mean it is always appropriate to give it. I think the guy sitting next to me would look better without the mustache, but that doesn't mean I'm going to tell him that).

Finally, let me offer my apology that this all spilled onto the site this weekend. I tried to email you and keep it on the down-low, but ended up getting a bit hot-headed and spilling it onto a thread on one of your posts. That was not the right place for it so, again, my apologies.

CountryBoy's picture

I took the liberty of calling up Norman last Friday with both a computer and a bread baking question. 

He took a very large amount of time to answer both questions and just could not have been nicer and more forthcoming.........

I appreciate the thoughts he shared with us above and wish others could get a sense of the very nice and helpful tone of who he is.....

Thanks Norm....


RFMonaco's picture

As far as I'm concerned, for the short time you have been on this forum you have contributed a great deal of otherwise unobtainable knowledge. I thank you for that and hope you keep on contributing for longer than I will be least!

My prayers are with you and your family for the best of health and continued success!


ehanner's picture

Thanks Norm, you're a first class guy. I'm glad you took us into your confidence and explained the situation. You must be very proud of your son. He has a tremendous mentor in his father. I look forward to your posts in the future.


Rosalie's picture

Norm, the biggest problem I've been having with your postings is the difficulty in reading them.  This one, copied and pasted from Word (which has a spell check) was much easier.  But the earlier ones, even with great advice or a great recipe, I was hesitant to try to read, and I would never print it out because I'd have to do too much editing.  So I have to disagree with Qahtan.

You indicated that you try to get the answer out quickly and then your typing is worse.  There's no need to rush.  None if us really needs the answers that quickly.  Please take the time to make your posts readily readable.  I had suspected that your previously undisclosed disability had something to do with your mis-types.

That said, our thoughts are indeed with you.  Your advice is valued, but please take your time.


mkelly27's picture

and kudos to you on your longeviety. I had been observing the whole scenario since you have arrived at this site. Here is what I have to say.


I am a middle aged man who has been baking bread for the last 20 years in order to replicate the breads of my youth in NE Pa.. So far I have been holding my own, but, in all of those years, if I ever had the occaision to ask a few specific questions of a professional baker I was often dismissed with either no reply and/or a stock answer like "you'll know it when you see it" ofr some other rubbish. Not only am I delighted to know that someone of your experience is actually taking the time to hang out in a site like this, but that you are so willing to relay the experiences of your life as a baker (however anecdotedly)

  I have enormous respect for someone who wants to preserve traditional recipes and techniques.  This is how w've made it so far as humans, by relying on the experiences of those who have gone before us.


BTW, at first I didn't understand the spelling errors. But upon review I realized without your admittance, that it was a "fumble-fingers" type of mistake and I knew it was probably neurological. My typo's , however, are 100% dumbass.

Nice to know you Norm.




Redundancy is your friend, so is redundancy

GrapevineTXoldaccount's picture

and they're yours.

My best friend is 84, God williing, she'll see her 85th.  Crotchety, direct, and sometimes a bit too honest, she's taught me my greatest lessons.  The most important:

Don't apologize for being yourself.

That's for commenting, opening the dialog, and giving us a window to your world.  Each of us has a story to tell, and if that power upstairs lends us enough time, we should share it.

Peace...and kudos to you.  Now, go and bake us a treat!


Paddyscake's picture

I am so glad you are a part of this community. I've enjoyed you and your contributions and quite frankly I am disappointed at the complaints. They seem
petty to me. 5 years is monumental milestone. You ROCK! All the best wishes to you. 

dmsnyder's picture

Hi, Norm. 

I've said what I have to say about the controversies elsewhere. 

Thanks for the explanation. In my view, it's unfortunate you were made to feel it necessary. But, given that you were, it was gutsy to provide it. 

I just ate a somewhat stale cheese pocket for dessert in tribute. Actually, this was no great sacrifice.  It still tasted pretty good. Because of the guidance you provided, the next batch will be better, I'm sure.  

I would be extremely  unhappy losing access to your expertise and generous sharing of it on TFL. Floyd has suggested you move your baking advice to the Advanced forum and your personal stories to a Blog. I think that would be a smart move. We have the makings of a "win-win" solution. I hope you grab it, as a favor to those (many) of us who wish to benefit from your experience.  

I sure hope you do the book you talk about. I want an autographed first edition!  

I'm going to feed my white rye sour tonight. I don't expect to live to celebrate it's 90th birthday. I hope a great grandchild does, so the tradition of great Jewish sour  rye bread lives on.    


holds99's picture


I have said openly on this site that you're a very knowledgable, generous man with both your time and your advice.  In addition to your knowledge you have a great sense of humor, as anyone who has read your stories can quickly discern.  I sincerely hope there's a place on this site for the valuable information and advice that you dispense.  I think Floyd and Dave Snyder have the answer, move your advice to the Advanced forum and that should resolve the issue and satisfy those of us who want and need what you have to offer us, maybe "Norm's Corner". I am truly sorry to hear about your medical situation but you have the right attitude and, as you said, you are tough and toughness is the 100% ingredient (like flour in the "baker's percentage").  I can tell you that the people I learned the most from in my career (and life) were extremely demanding, no nonsense people with high standards.  God bless and I hope you can get your book done... toute suite.


P.S. You should be very proud of your son...he sounds like "a chip off the old block" as they say.

proth5's picture

This morning I got out my trusty saw and cut lumber to make bagel boards (it's the kind of low precision woodworking that suits me best).

I knew about them from a book that I enjoy greatly, but I didn't really "get" the process until I read your post.

I agree that we have the makings of a win-win situation here.  I am glad that you enjoy sharing your expertise. 


bwraith's picture


I have an annoying tendency to be too technical and sometimes answer too many questions, too. Take it easy TFLers..., no need for a wave of agreement there. I've even received a tongue-lashing here on TFL, myself. Not so much fun, but I hope you won't go away. Your knowledge of those little tidbits and secrets not found in any book is great. Like Stan, I'm always interested to know more about just how to make one of those perfect bagels, as an example.

After going through some of this myself, one thing I'd suggest is to use your blog for more content. It's great because people who are interested can visit there and enjoy, but it doesn't hit the front page mainstream as much if it's either esoteric or more personal in nature. People can subscribe to your blog, which is very convenient for people who want to follow your commentary.

For what it's worth, I had no problem following your spelling either, but yeah the copy/paste from Word is all for the good.

Be Well,



fertileprayers's picture

Charlotte Fairchild


Great that you are alive and kicking! I hope you make it past 5 years, and that you keep progressing with all the setbacks you have had. I just wish that something easy would make things better for you, like people who will give others a break!


I got some flack when I first started posting because I didn't follow the rules perfectly, and didn't know what a tag was, and then I talked about kudzu, so I know how you feel. You are unique, just like everybody else!



Charlotte the flat gluten free bread maker (yuk yuk!)