I should have a timer on. I should have a timer on so I can know how long it takes me to send twelve pieces of garlic swirling in a food processor, to chop 12 pieces of Trader Joe's andouille sausage, open 3 cans of beans, to measure out irregularly heaped teaspoons of cinnamon and smoked paprika and to send it all boiling.
The timing matters. The timing says whether or not this idea -- making soups for busy Brooklynites -- is profitable. Time is money. I get that. I grew up running small businesses with my family. I know how to deduct the cost of supplies from total income, how to factor in time and subtract all the messy numbers, how to hope that a little tiny digit (maybe two) will still be standing in the green once we're all done with the sweaty, furious math.
I got four orders this week. Some of them know me, most of them don't. I waved shyly to the art teacher yesterday. I only learned her name three days ago when she placed an order through word of mouth. She has bright blue hair. She looks at me, her eyes heavy from chasing children all day. Her voice is thin. She knows who I am. "I can't wait for soup," she says, bending down to pick up something off the floor.
Yes, the timing is important. I know this because I know at some point I'll have to write a business plan and get a food license and rent a proper kitchen and it will be critical to know if making four quarts of soup takes me 1 hour or 3. But right now, I don't care. My hands smell of garlic and spices. The pots are simmering. My mind for once is calm and my breathing centered as I stir and taste and season.
I've already done the math and I know my profit ratio on these four quarts is pathetic. But to be honest, I don't care. I don't care if it takes me 48 minutes or 2 hours to get the recipe right, to dig out tomato paste from the pantry, to add salt, to scrub out the food processor, to clean the four mason jars, to bottle them up and tie pieces of red and white string around their necks.
I don't care because in a few hours I will slip them into the hands of tired moms who will look at me with eyes full of gratitude. They will hold them tight and say thank you and slip them into the bottom of their strollers and tonight, maybe four, maybe 8, maybe 16 people will find something a bit like comfort.