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Published: Friday, 5/9/2008

Mother and daughter make bread their business

When the Al Hart family breaks bread together today in observance of Mother's Day, you can be sure it will be no ordinary bread from the supermarket or neighborhood bakery.

The breads that this family eats are as homemade as you can get. Would you believe from grain to flour to bread? Now that's baking from scratch, and all because of the mother-daughter teamwork of Janice Hart of Posey Lake and her daughter, Heidi Grimsey of Tecumseh.

Janice has always been interested in cooking and baking, which accounts for Heidi's enthusiasm.

"I always let the kids do a lot of baking when they were growing up," Janice said in an interview from her Posey Lake home while she was gathering ingredients to make banana nut pound cake for the fellowship hour the next morning at the First Congregation Church in Hudson. The other children are Sylvania residents: Carmen Wigmann and Eric Gauer, who is manager of Ruby Tuesday's at the Westfield Franklin Park mall.

Janice credits her grandmother, the late Jeanette Culbertson of Holland, for her early bread-baking lessons.

Janice Hart, left, and daughter Heidi Grimsey with some of the bread they sell at the Adrian farmer's market. Janice Hart, left, and daughter Heidi Grimsey with some of the bread they sell at the Adrian farmer's market.
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"My grandmother made plain but very good old-fashioned white bread," she recalls.

But not so for the mother-daughter team who have formed a company named Groovy Grains and make many more kinds than white. Their grain stock includes kamut, an ancient Egyptian amber grain that delivers sweetness in baked products, and spelt for people with allergies. Only Montana-grown grains, said to have a high protein count, are used.

While it was Janice who gave her children an interest in baking and cooking, it was Heidi, a stay-at-home mom who home-schools her four children, who got the idea for milling the grain in a bread-baking enterprise. On a visit to Indiana, she met a family who milled grain to make their breads. She brought the idea back to Michigan to her mother, and soon they bought a milling machine and began turning out several varieties of bread, which led to requests for sales.

With the business added to an already busy family schedule, Heidi says, "I sometimes wonder what we got ourselves into." But the busy mother still finds time for more projects. She was chairman Tuesday of the MOPES (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) luncheon at the First Presbyterian Church in Tecumseh. You can guess what many of the guests received as Mother's Day gifts baked by Heidi.

Baking production is about to change from Heidi's home in Tecumseh to a new kitchen at the Lenawee Christian Family Centre in Adrian. The school will open a cafe in its main lobby. Janice and Heidi will use the kitchen and their breads will be featured on the menu. The cafe opens June 2 and will be open to the public.

Al Hart may not have a hand in the actual production, but he is involved in the business as a valuable helper. On a recent grain-buying trip to Shipshewana, Ind., where the Montana grown grain is purchased, Al loaded 25 50-pound bags of grain into his van. On Saturdays at the Adrian Farmer's Market, he unloads and helps set up the stall before the market opens, and at the end of the day he loads the van up again. Heidi's husband, Tom, a salesman, also offers valuable help - he watches the children on Saturdays. The market is held Wednesday and Saturday, but Groovy Grains is only there on Saturday.

Janice thanks her sister, Pat Hoffman, in Minneapolis for the idea for Bumble Bars, another Groovy Grains product. Pat insisted Janice could make the bars and mailed samples. Janice tried to duplicate them and sent her version to Minneapolis for approval. After a few more tries, they were declared a winner. The bars are a combination of sesame and sunflower seeds, cashews, peanut butter, and honey.

Market-goers often meet the third-generation family member at the market. Nine-year-old Emmaline, Heidi's daughter, reforms scraps of dough left when the unbaked loaves are weighed into mini loaves. She sells them at the market for $1.

Breads are named for two of the Grimsey children. Emma's Bread is oatmeal. Ben's Bread, named for Heidi's 12-year-old son, is multi-grain. So far, 7-year-old Kimberlie and 2-year-old Isaiah don't have their names on a bread.

Honey wheat and cinnamon raisin are other varieties sold. The family favorite? Ben's gets the top vote, and for today's dinner at the Hart home at Posey Lake, the multi-grain dough will be formed into dinner rolls.

Mary Alice Powell is a retired Blade food editor.

Contact her at: mpowell@theblade.com.



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