Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Spoilage

I was making bread yesterday from scratch and things didn’t turn out so well. I had just purchased a new food processor and was excited to test it out. After puting the mixed liquid (water, sugar and yeast) into the processor I was ready to add my flour mixture. Little did I know that my food processor would automatically drain the liquid from the mixing bowl if the levels rose to high. With me being very careful not to go too fast and mis a step, I added half of the flour mixture and let that sit a minute before I started mixing. Before I had a chance to push pulse all the liquid drained out, leaving my counter top in a mess.

After a few minutes of peeving at my dilemma, I thought I would start from scratch again and give it another go. This time around I was able to start mixing immediately upon adding the flour to begin forming a solid that was impossible to drain from the processor. I slowly added more and more flour but in my efforts to get it just right, I over mixed it, causing the mixture to seep out into the motor and overheat the entire dough. I went ahead and completed the bread but it hardly rose at all and I realized later that I had probably killed the yeast by letting it get too hot in the processor. The third time around was a success, and my bread turned out pretty good, but I was too bummed out to enjoy it.

How many times have you been in the kitchen and despite taking all the precautionary steps and double checking your work, the meal ends up ruined, over cooked or just doesn’t taste right? This cooking example is comparable to the comedy of errors experienced when a typical print job goes bad.
It’s not that your printer doesn’t care about doing a good job. The process is so customized that it is inevitable that things are going to happen. While we can’t avoid the occasional mishap, we can be prepared. To help your printer and your kitchen experience, I have offered a few easy tips to better prepare you for the next time problems arise (or don’t “rise” at all).

• Take ownership of problems in the same way you would successes. Avoid the blaming others and don’t get defensive. This holds true on print projects and when cooking with a significant other!
• Assume the worst possible outcome and take preventative measures to eliminate that from occurring.
• Respond immediately to problems. If your dinner plans fall apart do you just decide to not eat? No, you figure out what resources and options you have left and work immediately to establish a new game plan.
• Don’t take anything in the process for granted. Whether it is in cooking or in a customized manufacturing process, actions have a ripple effect and neglecting one process can cause a series of errors.
• Always establish open and honest communication about the product and process. I want to know what is in the food I eat and how it got there the same way I want to know the exact type of materials used and the production process for my print project.

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